Fantasy football Week 1 recap and waiver wire suggestions

The fantasy football season opened up the throttle on Sunday, and there were definitely some high-octane performances.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/R Brent Smith)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/R Brent Smith)

Andrew Luck started his attempt at a bounce-back year with a stellar performance; he threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns without committing a turnover. Drew Brees might have been the top scorer of the week had he not lost a fumble. He threw for 423 yards and four touchdowns, including a 98-yard score to Brandin Cooks. And A.J. Green had a brilliant start, catching 12 of his 13 targets for 180 yards and a 54-yard touchdown.

A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown over Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown over Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The best performance by a running back came from the waiver wire pickup of the week, Spencer Ware. Once word got out that Jamaal Charles wasn’t quite ready, owners rushed to pick up his main backup before the season kicked off.
Ware didn’t disappoint as he rushed for 70 yards and a touchdown while catching seven passes for an additional 129 yards.

At the tight end spot, both of the Colts’ ends found paydirt. Dwayne Allen caught four passes for 53 yards and a touchdown while Jack Doyle had three catches for 35 yards and two scores.

The top defense of the week started slow but turned it on in the second half. Minnesota allowed 16 points to the Titans but forced three turnovers and added two sacks in addition to scoring two touchdowns.

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter celebrates as he scores a touchdown on a 24-yard run after a fumble recovery against the Tennessee Titans in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. The Vikings won 25-16. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter celebrates as he scores a touchdown on a 24-yard run after a fumble recovery against the Tennessee Titans in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. The Vikings won 25-16. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

It wasn’t all positive in the fantasy world. Quite a few players had some games to forget:
At the top of that list has to be Dez Bryant, who caught just one pass for 8 yards in the Cowboys’ loss to the Giants. He had a touchdown called back when it was reviewed and determined that he didn’t control the ball before touching out of bounds in the end zone.

Brandon Marshall, the top option for the Jets, had just three catches for 32 yards despite being targeted eight times.

Sammy Watkins also disappointed as he caught four passes for 43 yards. Additionally, Tyler Lockett, who was expected to break out for the Seahawks, had just three catches for 17 yards.

At running back, we saw Devonta Freeman produce just 40 total yards as Tevin Coleman gained 117 yards on 13 touches for the Falcons.

In Tennessee, Adrian Peterson rushed for just 31 yards as the Titans were able to key on the run with Shaun Hill starting at quarterback for the Vikings.

A striking theme from Sunday was the great performances from second-year players. Jameis Winston, David Johnson, Melvin Gordon, Donte Moncrief and Stefon Diggs all produced well to start their sophomore seasons.

Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rolls out of the pocket agains the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on September 11, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rolls out of the pocket agains the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on September 11, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Cooks, also in his second season, had 143 yards and two touchdowns.
Unfortunately we saw Keenan Allen go down with a torn ACL after catching six passes for 63 yards. And word broke on Monday that Robert Griffin III could be done for the season with a shoulder fracture. Russell Wilson also has a sprained ankle to be monitored.

With that, look to the waiver wire:

Quarterbacks
Alex Smith, Chiefs (363 passing yards, 3 total TDs)
Carson Wentz, Eagles (278, TD)
Jimmy Garoppolo, Patriots (264, TD)
Dak Prescott, Cowboys (227, 0 turnovers)

Wide receivers
Will Fuller, Texans (5 catches, 107 yards, TD)
Mike Wallace, Ravens (6-91, TD)
Chris Hogan, Patriots (60, TD)
Nelson Agholor, Eagles (57, TD)
Sterling Shepard, Giants (43, TD)
Victor Cruz, Giants (34, TD)
Tajae Sharpe, Titans (7-76)
Michael Thomas, Saints (6-58)

Running backs
Tevin Coleman, Falcons (117 total yards, 13 touches)
Jalen Richard, Raiders (95, TD, 5 touches)
Shane Vereen, Giants (61, 9 touches)

Fantasy sleepers and lottery tickets

These next two weekends are the busiest in terms of fantasy drafts. It’s time to talk sleepers and lottery tickets.

Sleepers are those players that aren’t really on anyone’s radar, but can come through for you in the late rounds of your draft. Sleepers are all about finding that player who has the potential to significantly out-perform his draft position. You’re not drafting them to be your starters, but you can hope they’ll work their way into your lineup sooner rather than later.

Lottery tickets are players who, frankly, need the starter in front of them to go down with an injury or demotion in order to be productive.

Here’s a look at some of the potentially most productive sleepers and lottery tickets.

Looking for sleepers and lottery tickets for your fantasy football draft? Here are six possibilities for 2016 (clockwise, from top left): Bill quarterback Tyrod Taylor, Falcons backup running back Tevin Coleman, Rams receiver Tavon Austin, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, Saints rookie receiver Michael Thomas and Bears receiver Kevin White.
Looking for sleepers and lottery tickets for your fantasy football draft? Here are six possibilities for 2016 (clockwise, from top left): Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor, Falcons backup running back Tevin Coleman, Rams receiver Tavon Austin, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, Saints rookie receiver Michael Thomas and Bears receiver Kevin White.

SLEEPERS

Kevin White, WR, Bears: He had high expectations before a stress fracture caused him to miss his entire rookie season. He’ll be Chicago’s No. 2 receiver behind Alshon Jeffery, who many fear might not hold up due to his soft tissue injury history. White’s been going around the eighth round in mock drafts, so he could be a WR3/WR4 that produces like a WR2 if things pan out.

Michael Thomas, WR, Saints: There are quality receivers in New Orleans, but Thomas could end up being worth a later-round pick if he continues to impress like he did in his first preseason game — four catches for 67 yards, though just one catch for five yards in his second game. He’s being drafted in the middle of the 10th round, so if he’s around at that point, you might as well snag him.

Tavon Austin, WR, Rams: I’m opening myself up for ridicule with this one, but he totaled over 900 yards of offense and had nine touchdowns last season. He’ll be nobody’s first, second or even third option, but it looks like he finally started to find ways to contribute last year. The Rams will need to lean heavy on Todd Gurley and find ways to continue to get the ball into Austin’s hands in a variety of ways. Going typically in the 11th round, you can afford to take a flyer on this guy.

Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati: Another rookie that could end up contributing meaningful numbers. He’s had three catches for 78 yards and a touchdown so far this preseason. With little reason to believe in Brandon LaFell as a solid No. 2, Boyd could end up being A.J. Green’s lightly covered counterpart. He could be a steal in the 12th round.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd (83) catches a 12-yard touchdown pass as Detroit Lions defensive back Tavon Wilson (32) defends in the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Detroit, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd (83) catches a 12-yard touchdown pass as Detroit Lions defensive back Tavon Wilson (32) defends in the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Detroit, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

Sammie Coates, WR, Steelers: He could end up filling the role vacated by Martavis Bryant, who’s suspended this season. Markus Wheaton has had ample opportunity to be the second option behind Antonio Brown, but has been passed up multiple times. Coates has been getting drafted around the 11th round, but you might even be able to get him in the 14th.

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills: With an ADP around the 10th round, he could be a nice insurance policy for whichever starter you pick before that. He accounted for 24 touchdowns and more than 3,500 yards last season while missing two games.

Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys: He’s been pretty consistent his entire career, gaining at least 700 yards every year after his rookie season. If you want to carry a second tight end, he could be had in later rounds. It could be one final solid season from the tight end and a healthy Tony Romo.

Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers: Even with Doug Martin’s resurgent season, Sims had more than 1,000 yards of total offense. He’s getting drafted early in the ninth round and could be a nice flex player even with Martin as the lead back.

LOTTERY TICKETS

Tim Hightower, RB, Saints: He was one of the best running backs at the end of last year, gaining 456 total yards and scoring four touchdowns in the final four games. A pick in the 14th round could end up winning you the lottery.

Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks: Thomas Rawls was impressive last season, but 583 of his 803 rushing yards came in just four games. Michael has looked good in the preseason and might just need an opportunity. He’s going in the 10th round, but might be around in the 12th.

Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael is tackled by Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael is tackled by Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

DeAndre Washington, RB, Raiders: Latavius Murray should be used heavily in Oakland, but Washington has shown flashes in the preseason. He could carve out a nice role for himself, but if Murray goes down, then he could really shine. His ADP is in the 11th, so it shouldn’t be too tough landing this potential lottery ticket.

Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons: It was odd that Atlanta drafted him a year after taking Devonta Freeman. Freeman then went on to have a great year. I’m not sold on Freeman duplicating his early success last season. He rushed for more than 80 yards just twice in the final eight games. He scored just four touchdowns in that span. Coleman should be available in the middle of the ninth round.

More fantasy football mock draft notes and trends

With NFL training camps in full swing, I decided to take another stab at a mock draft to help prepare for the upcoming fantasy football season. This time I entered a standard league, 12-team draft on ESPN’s website. Last time out, I drafted in a 10-team standard league on NFL.com. Here’s a look at the team I selected this time around.

  • Round (overall pick) Player, Pos., Team
  • 1st (4) Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
  • 2nd (21) Brandon Marshall, WR, Jets
  • 3rd (28) Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders
  • 4th (45) Jeremy Maclin, WR, Chiefs
  • 5th (52) Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals
  • 6th (69) Drew Brees, QB, Saints
  • 7th (76) Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles
  • 8th (93) Ladarius Green, TE, Steelers
  • 9th (100) Willie Snead, WR, Saints
  • 10th (117) Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons
  • 11th (124) Markus Wheaton, WR, Steelers
  • 12th (141) Texans defense
  • 13th (148) Derek Carr, QB, Raiders
  • 14th (165) Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings
  • 15th (172) Matt Prater, K, Lions
  • 16th (189) Jordan Cameron, TE, Dolphins

With 12 teams in this mock league I decided to make sure I went with running backs in two of my first three picks. Interesting to note is that before I selected Adrian Peterson with the fourth pick, three receivers were already off the board (Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr., in that order). Also of note, the next three running backs selected were Todd Gurley (5th), Ezekiel Elliott (6th) and David Johnson (8th). Dez Bryant went 7th overall, which is a bit high in my estimation, since he went ahead of DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green and Jamaal Charles.

Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at TCFBank Stadium on January 10, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at TCFBank Stadium on January 10, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

It was a little surprising that the suspended Le’Veon Bell, who’s set to miss the first four games of the season, managed to sneak into the first round at no. 12 overall. That seems a little high for a player that will miss a quarter of the season. I’d look for him early in the second round of a 12-team league. He can put you over the top, but not if you’re using your first pick on him.

My WR1 is Brandon Marshall, and I see no reason he’d  drop off, especially now that he has Ryan Fitzpatrick back behind the center. Fitzpatrick knows how to get the ball to his big receivers and Marshall going at 21 overall went right about where he probably should. I selected Jeremy Maclin as my WR2 and if he’s targeted 124 times, like he was last season, he could prove to be a solid pick at 45th overall.

Jeremy Maclin #19 of the Kansas City Chiefs bobbles the ball at Arrowhead Stadium during the third quarter of the game agains the Cleveland Browns on December 27, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jeremy Maclin #19 of the Kansas City Chiefs bobbles the ball at Arrowhead Stadium during the third quarter of the game agains the Cleveland Browns on December 27, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

I was able to grab an aging Drew Brees with the 69th overall pick, so I have to hope he stays healthy and that his young receivers come along. Derek Carr, who I picked in the 13th round, is my backup and we’ll see if he makes a big jump with weapons like Amari Cooper and Latavius Murray. Murray, who I selected in the 3rd round is expected to be a do-everything back for the Raiders if he doesn’t let rookie DeAndre Washington take away touches.

That leaves me with Jeremy Hill and Jordan Matthews as my flex options. I feel good about both, hoping Hill has a bounce-back season, though he did score 11 rushing touchdowns last year. Matthews has scored eight touchdowns in each of his first two seasons and looks to go over 1,000 yards for the first time. If he’s around in the seventh, you’d be lucky.

Jeremy Hill #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals carries the ball during the fourth quarter of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Baltimore 24-16. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
Jeremy Hill #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals carries the ball during the fourth quarter of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Baltimore 24-16. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

Ladarius Green, the tight end who I selected at 93 overall, should excite some owners as he joins a prolific Steelers offense.

Other notes from this mock draft:

  • Seven wide receivers were selected in the first round, including Allen Robinson.
  • Jamaal Charles was taken in the second round, he should go higher.
  • Jordy Nelson went 14th overall and I’d be nervous about that if I made that selection early in the second. I’m in the minority.
  • Lamar Miller, who the Texans will let loose on the field, went 16th. Wouldn’t be surprised if he goes higher in most drafts.
  • There are options at RB in the third round, with Eddie Lacy, Matt Forte, Murray and Carlos Hyde all going in that round.
  • T.Y. Hilton, who went 39th overall, might be undervalued if Andrew Luck returns to previous form.
  • The Cardinals defense was the first to go at 89, followed by the Broncos at 95 and the Seahawks at 113.