Fantasy Football Week 2 Waiver Wire: Kyle Shanahan Has a New Breakout RB
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The first week of an NFL season is among the most critical for fantasy football managers.
No matter how much time you spend poring over depth charts, watching preseason games and reading reports from training camp, Week 1 consistently proves no one can predict all of the breakout fantasy stars.
Plenty of under-the-radar players have already emerged as potentially viable fantasy options. Meanwhile, some projected contributors did not live up to the hype and made much less of an impact than expected.
Here, we’ll focus on the former group. These players may still be available on your league’s waiver wire, as they were rostered in no more than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues as of Monday morning.
Target these players with your waiver-wire priority and FAB bids for Week 2.
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The New Orleans Saints rode a scintillating performance from new starting quarterback Jameis Winston to a 38-3 blowout victory over the Green Bay Packers in Week 1.
Winston was hyperefficient in the victory, completing 14-of-20 passes for 148 yards and an eye-popping five touchdowns. New Orleans’ offensive line kept him from getting hit, hurried or pressured a single time, which gave him plenty of time to go through his progressions and find the open man.
While the Saints will eventually face bigger challenges than what Green Bay offered in Week 1, this offense should keep firing on all cylinders. Winston appears to have matured significantly from his time in Tampa Bay, when he put up some big fantasy numbers but was highly turnover-prone.
Fantasy managers who aren’t satisfied with their current quarterback should place a claim on Winston this week. The 27-year-old appears ready to turn over a new leaf and become far more efficient than he was with the Bucs, which makes him a potential top-10 option at quarterback this season.
FAB Bid: ~5%
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Lon Horwedel/Associated Press
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan consistently infuriates fantasy managers. With a complicated offense chock-full of moving parts, it’s hard to predict which of Shanahan’s skill-position players will make an impact, especially early in the season.
That was the case again in Week 1 when rookie running back Trey Sermon wound up being a healthy scratch against the Detroit Lions. The Niners went with Raheem Mostert, Eli Mitchell and JaMycal Hasty as their top three backs, as Shanahan later said the latter two outperformed Sermon in camp.
The Niners had to adjust their plan quickly after Mostert went down with a knee injury on his second carry. Mitchell became their go-to rusher and racked up 104 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
Mitchell could now become San Francisco’s go-to back for at least half the season. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Mostert will be sidelined for approximately eight weeks, opening the door for the rookie to take control of this backfield.
After his Week 1 performance, Mitchell deserves the first crack at being San Francisco’s new lead back.
Fantasy managers who went with the zeroRB draft strategy should have Mitchell atop their waiver claims.
FAB Bid: ~35%
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Matt Patterson/Associated Press
Many fantasy managers wanted nothing to do with the Houston Texans’ crowded backfield platoon during their drafts. Houston employs a slew of former fantasy weapons, including Mark Ingram II, Phillip Lindsay, David Johnson and Rex Burkhead, but their recent production has left much to be desired.
Ingram surprisingly emerged as the Texans’ bell-cow running back in Week 1, rushing 26 times for 85 yards and a score. The rest of Houston’s RBs combined for 35 yards on 11 totes, with Lindsay punching in a score on one of his eight carries. QB Tyrod Taylor was the team’s second-leading rusher with 40 yards on four runs.
The volume is the story here, even with Ingram only seeing one look in the passing game. Even if Houston won’t be able to dial up as many rushes in more competitive matchups or while playing from behind, Ingram should continue to be the first option when the Texans want to run.
Considering that Ingram had never topped 20 totes during his two-year stint with the Ravens—including his Pro Bowl season in 2019—the veteran RB appears well on his way to a resurgent campaign in 2021.
Don’t break the bank to get Ingram, but he’s well worth a bench spot in nearly every format. He should be a quality starting option against Cleveland in Week 2 for managers in deeper leagues or those with a depleted RB corps.
FAB Bid: ~5%
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Steve Luciano/Associated Press
The much-maligned New York Giants offense sputtered in their 27-13 loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 1. Quarterback Daniel Jones seemed as shaky as ever going into his third year as a starter, finishing only 22-of-37 for 267 yards and a touchdown.
While most of the Big Blue offense played poorly, wideout Sterling Shepard was one of the few bright spots. The veteran reeled in seven catches for 113 yards and a touchdown against Denver, showing he can be a worthwhile fantasy player even while playing in an inconsistent offense.
Shepard is currently rostered in fewer than 40 percent of Yahoo leagues, but that should change moving forward. His 37-yard touchdown connection with Jones early in the second quarter was a textbook example of how dangerous he can be with the ball in his hands.
Prized offseason signing Kenny Golladay projected to be the Giants’ WR1, but he caught only four passes for 64 yards against Denver. With tight end Evan Engram banged up, Darius Slayton was the only other pass-catcher of note, hauling in three receptions for 65 yards.
Shepard’s familiarity and rapport with Jones makes him a worthwhile waiver wire option. After all, garbage-time points count just the same in fantasy football.
FAB Bid: ~8%
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Wade Payne/Associated Press
This offseason, the Arizona Cardinals signed veteran A.J. Green and drafted Rondale Moore to augment star wideout DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk. It seemed like Kirk might be the odd man out, but the 24-year-old hauled in five passes for 70 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Cardinals’ 38-13 blowout victory against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
Kirk’s most impressive moment came early in the third quarter. Quarterback Kyler Murray lofted a 26-yard pass toward the corner of the end zone, and Kirk looked like a center fielder getting under the arcing ball for a score. He could have done even more damage had the Titans been able to keep the score close.
The Cardinals aren’t likely to grind the clock and wait for the final whistle for as long as they did in Week 1. Murray threw 32 passes against Tennessee in comparison to 33 total carries by the Cardinals, but many of those rushes came late with the game already in hand.
With the potential for volume and an MVP-candidate quarterback slinging the rock, Kirk could finally have a breakout season. He’s already a third of the way toward tying his career-high six scores from last year, so it’s worth taking a flier on him in case this production proves sustainable.
FAB Bid: ~8%
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Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press
If you didn’t get one of the top tight ends during your draft, it’s often difficult to find a reliable option. New Orleans Saints tight end Juwan Johnson could be a godsend in that regard.
The converted receiver put his stamp on the Saints’ blowout of the Packers on Sunday by catching three passes for 21 yards and a pair of scores. He joined Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce as the only tight ends to nab two touchdowns in Week 1.
After his pair of scoring tosses to Johnson, Saints quarterback Jameis Winston now has 34 touchdowns against zero interceptions while targeting tight ends in the red zone since 2015, per Pro Football Focus. That bodes well for Johnson and the Saints’ other tight ends moving forward.
The 6’4″, 231-pounder is an ideal target in traffic, as he uses his athleticism and big body to separate and make contested catches. Even if he remains touchdown-dependent for fantasy production, he could be a low-end TE1 for fantasy managers.
Considering the dearth of talent on waivers at tight end, you should make a claim on Johnson if you don’t have a reliable option. He also has eligibility at WR in Yahoo leagues after lining up there for New Orleans in 2020, which makes him even more valuable.
FAB Bid: ~5%
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