Fantasy Football: Hot or Not?
Writer: Noah Magaro-George
The first week of the 2018 NFL season is in the books, and fantasy football owners across the nation are on the hunt to bolster their rosters with unclaimed talent. Plenty of players showed promise in week one, but not every opening day performance can give an accurate look into the future of the fantasy season.
Whether you're looking to stash a steady streamer or uncover the next fantasy superstar, it's not always simple to separate the contenders from the pretenders. Let's take a look at the top available players to see who's hot and who's not.
Ryan Fitzpatrick QB Tampa Bay Buccaneers: ❄️
While top-tier talents were busy letting their fantasy owners down, veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick led the unsuspecting Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 48-40 win over New Orleans Saints in an absolute shootout. Fitz also led all players in scoring in week one, but don't let his astounding season debut fool you. He’ll square off against a much stingier Eagles defense next week, and Jameis Winston returns from suspension in two games. He won’t remain a serviceable streaming option for much longer, so don’t sweat it if he’s already taken. Make room for a safer bet.
Patrick Mahomes QB Kansas City Chiefs: 🔥
Fantasy football participants and Chiefs fans alike had high hopes for Patrick Mahomes heading into the 2018 season, and good lord did he show out. The former Texas Tech Red Raider showcased his arm strength and backed up his gunslinger reputation with several huge passing plays including four touchdowns. He can hurt you with his arm, but don’t give him a running lane. He’s extraordinarily mobile for a player who ran a 4.80 40-yard dash just a year ago. Only 85 percent of all fantasy leagues house Mahomes, but with weapons like Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt, he's a full-fledged QB1 and a must-have fantasy star.
Joe Flacco QB Baltimore Ravens: ❄️
Yes, the former Super Bowl champion guided the Baltimore Ravens to a 47-3 victory on the first NFL Sunday of the year. No, it wasn’t an accomplishment worth noting. The blowout win came against an abysmal Buffalo Bills defense whose offense couldn't stay on the field long enough to give them a chance to catch their breath. Joe Flacco’s stellar season premiere was a fluke. He's a 33-year-old quarterback past his prime. It’s time to pump the breaks on a comeback year for Flacco because it isn’t happening. If he’s not on your roster, don’t waste your time. If he is, look for a replacement as soon as you can.
James Conner RB Pittsburgh Steelers: 🔥
James Conner isn’t just one of the best feel-good stories of the NFL season, he's a legitimate stud in the backfield. He had a costly late-game fumble in the fourth quarter, but 192 total yards and two touchdowns on the ground more than make up for his untimely mistake. As long as Conner learns to take better care of the ball, the Steelers should hardly miss Le'Veon Bell. Although Bell was the obvious starter coming into the season, Conner's week one explosion has muddied the waters. He can catch, run and bully his way into the end zone. Snag him if you can because he’s a legitimate RB1.
Adrian Peterson RB Washington Redskins: ❄️
After two straight seasons of uninspiring running, Peterson's not worth the risk. Don't believe me? Take a look at the numbers. Over his last 16 games, he has rushed for just 868 yards on an atrocious 3.34 yards per carry. Remove his three 100 yard games from the equation, and those numbers plummet to 471 yards on 2.69 yards per carry. Adrian Peterson has earned a spot in Canton, Ohio when he decides to call it quits, but he simply doesn't deserve a roster spot on any fantasy team anymore.
Isaiah Crowell RB New York Jets: ❄️
Did anyone expect Isaiah Crowell to pop off for 102 yards on Monday night? Didn't think so. Crowell has never surpassed 1000 rushing yards in a season, and his two touchdowns in game one already match his season total from a year ago. The New York Jets run a rushing attack by committee, and Crowell clearly won’t be their primary option. He was out-touched by starter Bilal Powell, and fellow backup Trenton Cannon got six tries to show his worth. Don't count on any back in New York's rotation.
Dion Lewis RB Tennessee Titans: 🔥
With the Tennessee Titans starting quarterback Marcus Mariota going down with an elbow injury, Dion Lewis could see a hefty increase in his workload. He didn’t start game one of the season, but after out-touching and outplaying Derrick Henry, he'll likely get the nod as we head into week two. While Henry didn't look particularly special against the Miami Dolphins, he could easily increase his fantasy output on sheer volume. The sixth-year back sits miles away from claiming RB1 status, though he just might make for a solid RB2.
DeSean Jackson WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 🔥
Not many receivers can torch a secondary the way 32-year-old DeSean Jackson can. Despite a down year in 2017, he looked as fast and agile as ever. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, Jackson's 146-yard two touchdown reemergence was quickly followed by a brutal blow to the head and a one way trip to concussion protocol. He'll probably come back down to earth once he returns, but Jackson's available in over two-thirds of all leagues and definitely worth stashing away for now. He’s always been a boom-or-bust WR2 and that’s not changing any time soon.
Kenny Stills WR Miami Dolphins: 🔥
Superstar wideout Jarvis Landry is gone, DeVante Parker is injured, and Danny Amendola looked slow and out of synch with his new quarterback. With all the changes around him, Kenny Stills will have an opportunity to shine as Ryan Tannehill's safety net and new favorite target. Stills silently had a top 30 fantasy season at the receiver position last year, and he's already off to a hot start in 2018. He's still up for grabs in about a quarter of all leagues. Don't hesitate to add him if he's there for the taking, he might just fly under the radar and pan out as this year’s breakout fantasy performer.
Kenny Golladay WR Detroit Lions: 🔥
What better day to have your first 100 receiving yard game than the season opener? Despite Matthew Stafford's struggles against the Jets defense, Kenny Golladay still managed to get himself open and gain yards. The second-year wideout was Detroit’s lone bright spot in a five-interception 17-48 loss to the New York Jets. After just 13 designed runs by Detroit, it's safe to say Golladay’s double-digit targets are safe in this pass-heavy offense. He's by far the most available player on this list, so pick him up before it's too late.
Randall Cobb WR Green Bay Packers: 🔥
The return of Aaron Rodgers and departure of Jordy Nelson in the offseason opened the door to a handful of opportunities for the Packers receiving corps. Although Davante Adams appeared destined to become the biggest beneficiary of their new circumstances, Cobb stepped up to the plate and took advantage of his increased snap count. Rodgers gave us an injury scare in his season debut, but as long as he's running the show, Adams and Cobb are both viable fantasy starters. He's not as attainable as some of the others above, so add Cobb quickly before he's gone.
Will Dissly TE Seattle Seahawks: ❄️
Jimmy Graham who? After a trip to the endzone and spectacular 66-yard catch and run in week one, fourth-round rookie Will Dissly already has Seahawks fans drooling. Known primarily for his blocking coming out of Washington, I’m sad to say the rookie’s spectacular NFL debut was nothing more than a freak accident. He’s not a TE1 or TE2, he may not even be a TE3. We know Russell Wilson likes to spread the wealth on offense, but getting the ball to his tight ends has never been his priority. You can hope for Dissly to emerge as a surprise star, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
Eric Ebron TE Indianapolis Colts: ❄️
Eric Ebron was never very reliable in Detroit, and a change of scenery won't do much to help him shed his bad reputation. Though he had solid start to his Colts career on Sunday, there's little reason to think he'll continue to build upon his production. Fellow tight end Jack Doyle received double his targets and ran twice as many routes as Ebron. Despite an unusually thin crop of tight ends across the league, he doesn't project well as a streamer. Don't bank on Ebron becoming a red zone threat, he's never had much of a nose for the end zone anyway.
Jared Cook TE Oakland Raiders: 🔥
Jared Cook led the Raiders in targets, receptions, and yards in week one. Fun fact: Following a career-high 180 yards against the Rams, Cook sits dead even with Saints receiver Michael Thomas for the league lead in that statistical category. While this will likely go down as his best game of the season, that shouldn't discourage you from picking up the catch-first tight end. He's consistently racked up the yards and receptions necessary to maintain fantasy relevance over his career, so it should come as a pleasant surprise that Cook sits idle in almost 60 percent of all leagues. He's one of the few serious options at tight end. Add him to your roster, he won’t disappoint.