Fantasy Football: Early Season Position Players to Watch

by Zach McGowan

QUARTERBACKS

  • Carson Wentz (PHI Eagles):

Don’t be surprised to see a strong rookie campaign from Wentz this year, as he impressed Week 1 with a strong pocket presence and arm strength. Although he did face one of the league’s worst defenses, Wentz showed a lot of promise and could be the future of the Eagles organization. Look for him as a potential QB2 with borderline QB1 potential down the stretch if he continues to impress.

  • Jameis Winston (TB Buccaneers):
winston
Photo from: http://www.tampabay.com/sports/football/bucs/jameis-winston-in-better-shape-already-during-offseason-prep-work/2272837

After a very strong performance in Week 1 with 4 TD throws, don’t expect the same output week to week. Winston faces a grueling schedule over the next 4 weeks (ARI, LA, DEN, CAR) and his numbers are almost sure to fall over the course of these weeks in comparison to what he put up in Week 1. Winston does have QB1 potential over the long haul, but it isn’t a bad idea to sell high on him now to fill some other holes in your lineup.

 

  • Matthew Stafford (DET Lions):

Matthew Stafford had an impressive output in Week 1 with 340 yards through the air and 4 TD’s in a shootout against the Colts. Stafford has consistently been one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the league, but has been inconsistent at times. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him amongst the top 5 scoring QB’s by the end of the fantasy year. If you are looking for a better QB1 with big-game potential, buying Stafford now while he’s still not too highly-valued could be your best trade all year.

 

RUNNING BACKS

  • Devonta Freeman (ATL Falcons):
tevin-coleman-devonta-freeman
Photo from: http://www.sportingnews.com/fantasy/football/news/tevin-coleman-devonta-freeman-fantasy-football-value-outlook-sleepers-busts-atlanta-falcons-running-backs/1gxr62bmgu0x91hcj6uf6n8u1f

After putting some absurdly big games last season as a goal line weapon, it appears that former 2,000 yard collegiate rusher Tevin Coleman will split carries Freeman. However, don’t be surprised if Coleman expands his role to the lead back as he was much more efficient with his touches in Week 1 than Freeman was. Sell high on Freeman while you still can.

 

  • Todd Gurley (LA Rams):

This sophomore was no-brainer first round selection in all drafts this year, but put up pathetic Week 1 stats. He didn’t face a solid run defense, but  was by far the main focus of the 49ers defense. Due to a dismal passing game in this back’s offense, he may continue to struggle and unless his teams develops a respectable passing game, I would expect his stock to continue to fall. There is obvious reason for concern, however Gurley’s upside and big-play potential could make him worth holding out another week or two before officially sending him to the trading block.

  • Melvin Gordon (SD Chargers):

After an extremely disappointing rookie campaign in 2015, Gordon took control near the goalline this week as he piled up two touchdowns on the ground. Gordon looked more confident with the ball, but should have some time stolen from him by pass-catching running back Danny Woodhead. I’d sell him high right now.

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • Tajae Sharpe (TEN Titans):

After an impressive Week 1 output, Tajae Sharpe has emerged as the clear cut number 1 option for Marcus Mariota and the Titans. A team with a solid passing attack and good ground game, Sharpe put up good production week-to-week as an important part of the offense and could project as WR2/3 throughout the year. If he is still available in on your league’s waiver wire, putting a claim on him would be a good value pick-up.

  • Tyrell Williams (SD Chargers):

Keenan Allen, the number 1 receiver for the Chargers and a consensus top 10 fantasy wideout, just went down for the season with an ACL injury. Tyrell Williams will fall into San Diego’s number 2 role, has good size and could add depth if you need better receiving. He’s worth a stash if you have someone on your bench you’re willing to drop.

  • Larry Fitzgerald (ARI Cardinals):
larry-fitzgerald-catching
Photo from: https://thesnapfootball.wordpress.com/tag/larry-fitzgerald/

Larry Fitzgerald was not too high on draft boards this season, and probably made it to most rosters as a WR4. However, this week he proved his worth in the red zone by catching two TD’s and 80 yards on 8 receptions. Buy him low now as it looks like he will be able to consistently produce in a solid passing offense.

 

TIGHT ENDS

  • Coby Fleener (NO Saints):

After being targeted just four times and making one reception in a Week 1 loss, it seems like Coby Fleener could be nothing more than a touchdown-dependent start down the stretch, I’d sell him while you can, and maybe pick up a potential waiver-wire guy option like Jesse James (see below).

  •   Jesse James (PIT Steelers):

Jesse James didn’t have big numbers in Week 1, but 7 targets is not a bad number in a Ben Roethlisberger led passing attack. Roethlisberger was throwing very efficiently, and look for Jesse James to start joining the touchdown party with Antonio Brown which he could make him a valuable option in fantasy.

  •  Julius Thomas (JAX Jaguars):
julius-thomas
Photo from: http://www.endzonescore.com/julius-thomas-blake-bortles-connection/39638

After a few injury-ridden seasons, Thomas looked to be one of Blake Bortles favorite targets in a pass-happy offense in Week 1. He caught a beautiful touchdown in that game, and his red zone expertise could make him one of the more underrated TE’s this year in fantasy. He’s a sneaky candidate for 10-15 touchdowns.

 

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