Week 1 of the NFL season has come and gone. As usual, it was full of exciting finishes, underdog victories and, of course, fantasy football glory and heartache. I am a perfect testament to this; I won my matchup by less than a point thanks to Cody Parkey’s missed field goal late Monday night. While so-called fantasy experts trip over themselves to write columns assessing the fantasy landscape after key injuries (those of Andre Ellington, Dez Bryant and T.Y. Hilton, to name a few), breakouts (well, hello there Marcus Mariota) and disappointments (Calvin Johnson is still alive, right?), the damage in doing so is that most advice is focused on short-term horizons. Sure, Dion Lewis of the Patriots had a great week and could take on the role Shane Vereen once had in Bill Belichick’s offense. More likely, however, LeGarrette Blount will dominate the backfield playing time next week and Lewis will return to his status as a career journeyman. Therefore, this article targets the players who showed up in Week 1 who have the greatest chance to create a sustainable impact for your fantasy squad.
Donte Moncrief of the Indianapolis Colts headlines this crop of players. A second-year wide receiver from the University of Mississippi, Moncrief has an attractive combination of size and speed. With Hilton nursing a sore knee, Moncrief has the opportunity to gain favor with Andrew Luck in Week 2. He totaled 11 targets and six receptions in Week 1, one target and two receptions more than the aging Andre Johnson. If he performs well with Hilton out, he could overshadow Johnson for targets and become a fantasy breakout star. In Week 2, he faces a tough matchup with the New York Jets and lockdown corner Darrelle Revis. Nonetheless, he is a must-have for your team.
While Rob Gronkowski had a dominant Week 1 performance, the rest of his fellow tight ends helped prove the wiseness of waiting to target a tight end until the end of your draft. Tyler Eifert (my draft darling) had a monstrous output for the Cincinnati Bengals, and he was joined by Austin Seferian-Jenkins of the Buccaneers, Jordan Reed of the Redskins, Eric Ebron of the Lions and Ladarius Green of the Chargers. While all of these players represent strong immediate pickups, the option I like most from this group is Jordan Reed. I expect Eifert is already owned in your league, but on the off chance he is not, then go add him immediately and never let him go.
The Redskins are terrible, and this fantasy recommendation has nothing to do with my faith in their ability to succeed in the win column. Reed, however, transcends his team’s misery. Kirk Cousins only had 21 completions in Week 1 against a powerful Miami Dolphins defense, and seven of them were to the extremely athletic Reed. He has shown great potential in past seasons, but has suffered from injury troubles. If he can stay on the field he can certainly provide strong TE1 value.
The waiver wire is only one way to bulk up your fantasy lineup. The second is via the trade market, and from my experience this is where good fantasy owners can become great by evaluating undervalued talent and selling when the price is right. One player to immediately deal if you own him is Marcus Mariota. The rookie quarterback had a first half for the history books, throwing four touchdowns before his opponents, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, even realized that the season had started. While he could post a solid year, there is no way he can maintain that level of production for the entire season. If you were stashing Mariota on your bench as a QB2 and can trade him for good value to someone who sees him as a QB1, do it and don’t think twice. Some potential buy-low candidates include those injured stars I mentioned earlier, particularly Dez Bryant. I know he is out four-to-six weeks. But if your team is well-equipped, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to his owner to see if he is in a panic and will sell low on him. Bryant will definitely be worth some short-term pain if you don’t have to pay face value for him due to his injury.
Two other housekeeping notes. I assume the Ameer Abdullah bandwagon has already sailed in your league, but if it has not, then go after him with a vengeance. He is the real deal. And second, Arian Foster might shock the world and return within the next couple weeks. If his current owner is oblivious to these developments and you need some running back help, target Foster now before everyone and his grandma is aware of his miraculous healing powers.
Until next time, fantasy lovers, play on.
Joe Lanzilla is a senior in the School of Foreign Service. Fantasy Football Corner appears every other
Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.