Week 1 was filled with yet another miraculous comeback by Aaron Rodgers, a long Saquon Barkley TD run in his first NFL game, and unfortunately, a ton of injuries.
The first Deep Dive of the year will focus on TE replacements for Delanie Walker (ankle) and Greg Olsen (foot), players you should consider dropping, and a bench stash for larger leagues. Our Waiver Wire column covers all of the big-ticket adds, but this piece is for leagues with more intensive waiver pools. For this column, we'll try to focus on players that are less than one-third (33 percent) owned in NFL.com leagues. Fantasy football is a forward-thinking game, and we'll strive to stay one step ahead of the competition in the weekly Deep Dive.
Let's hit it.
Players to Add:
Lindsay will undoubtedly be everyone's trendy waiver add this week. While Royce Freeman (15/71) ended with a decent day on the ground, Phillip Lindsay surprisingly matched Freeman's rushing total and played on 35 percent of the Broncos' snaps (Freeman: 40 percent; Devontae Booker: 25 percent). This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone paying attention during the preseason. Denver has made it clear they do not view Royce Freeman as a workhorse back, and the team virtually split Freeman and Booker's snaps right down the middle in the exhibition games. Now, fellow rookie Phillip Lindsay is in the mix and all three backs are fighting for passing down snaps. In Week 1, Booker (15) led the way in pass routes run with Freeman (11) and Lindsay (9) right behind him. Freeman is by far the strongest bet to lead Denver in carries this year, but both Lindsay and Booker appear to be major thorns in his side.
Remember him? After scoring -0.1 fantasy point in 2017, John Ross burst back on to the scene in Week 1 with a nice redzone TD and a max speed of 19.5mph -– the 12th-fastest top speed for any WR on Opening Day so far, per Next Gen Stats. Ross also played on 66 percent of Bengals' snaps and was on-field for an encouraging 24 of Andy Dalton's 34 drop backs (71 percent). With his deep speed seemingly back and near full-time participation in place, Ross has splash-play WR3 potential in fantasy this season.
While Marlon Mack continues to deal with a clearly severe hamstring strain, Jordan Wilkins led all Colts' backs in snaps in Week 1 (57 percent) and handled 68 percent of Indy's RB carries against the Bengals. Additionally, Wilkins (28) nearly matched Nyheim Hines (31) in routes run and he led the Colts backfield in red-zone snaps (Wilkins' five to Hines' three), per Next Gen Stats. With Andrew Luck back under center, Wilkins faced an average of 6.6 defenders in the box on his 15 carries –- the fourth-fewest average box defenders for any back with at least ten Week 1 carries. The Colts never had a favorable game-script in Week 1, but Wilkins' participation and ancillary factors with Luck back on the field make him certainly worth a stash.
The Cardinals laid an egg in their Opening Day home bout with Washington, but we have to make special note of Seals-Jones' continued full-time usage. This preseason, Seals-Jones played on 87 percent of Cards' first-team offensive snaps and, in Week 1, RSJ continued playing full-time –- participating on 92 percent of Arizona's total snaps. Seals-Jones was on-field for all but four of Sam Bradford's 40 drop backs. With Delanie Walker (ankle) out for the season and Greg Olsen flaring up his Jones' fracture (foot) again, RSJ is the No. 1 TE waiver add for Week 2. Full-time TEs that see 18 percent of team targets and never leave the field -- as RSJ achieved in Week 1 -- don't grow on trees.
After dropping 3/105/1 (on five targets) against Denver, Dissly will undoubtedly get waiver wire buzz this week. Dissly hit a huge 66-yard gain and scored a red-zone TD, but he was still marginally out-snapped by Nick Vannett (60 percent to 58 percent) and he was only on-field for 20 of Russell Wilson's 42 drop backs. We chase usage in fantasy, not big plays. Dissly deserves a speculative add in a sea of murky Seahawks' pass catchers since Doug Baldwin's left and right knee are not at 100 percent. We'll see if Dissly's participation is elevated in Week 2 versus a Chicago team that just held Packers' TE Jimmy Graham to 2/8 receiving (on four targets) Sunday Night.
Players to Drop:
Unless Christian McCaffrey suffers an injury, Anderson does not need to be owned in short-bench 12-team leagues. McCaffrey just set a career-high 86 percent snap rate in Week 1 vs. Dallas while also playing on eight red-zone snaps to Anderson's four, per Next Gen Stats. Anderson did see 10 carries, but he only ran a measly two pass routes. McCaffrey ran 31. There are higher-upside RBs with standalone value available on your league wire, like Jordan Wilkins!
After not being close to playing in Week 1, Parker (finger) can be dumped in most 10-team leagues with shallow benches and sharp waiver wires. While Parker was "limited" in Friday's practice, we still have no idea if he's cleared to catch passes yet. Without Parker on the field, Kenny Stills torched Tennessee for 4/106/2 –- seeing a robust 17 percent of team targets and 28 percent of air yards in Week 1. Stills is still the 'Fins receiver you want to have on your fantasy team, by far.
The former No. 38 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft's fantasy stock is essentially non-existent at this point. Jones crept up into the early-fifth round in May/June drafts, but he's now been ostensibly "replaced" by a UDFA (Peyton Barber) and a pint-size back (Jacquizz Rodgers). Jones carried the ball 28 times for 22 yards and only played on 18 percent of Bucs' first-team snaps in the preseason. He then didn't make the active roster vs. New Orleans (healthy scratch). Yikes.
Now back at full health after a scary knee injury (torn-MCL) in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last year, Jonnu Smith will be elevated to a full-time starting role since Delanie Walker (ankle) is out for the year. Smith is yet another athletic Greek god of a TE prospect and now has substantial upside in the Titans' newly-modernized attack. Tennessee played '12' personnel (1RB, 2TE, 2WR) on 30 percent of their Week 1 snaps vs. Miami, and played in '11' (1RB, 1TE, 3WR) 59 percent of the time. Last year, the Titans ran '11' on just 35 percent of offensive snaps, the third-lowest rate in the NFL. Since Tennessee has joined the modern NFL that features TEs not only in heavier packages, but exclusively in 3WR sets -- Smith will be an intriguing player to monitor in Walker's absence.