Every Saturday throughout the regular season, The Inscriber will bring you fantasy football relief in the form of the “All Stream Team” or “The Best of the Rest.” These are three players at each position—two available in 50% or more of Yahoo! Leagues and one available in 75% or more. While you should roll with your guys you drafted week one, you might want to look into these players if you are unhappy with what you drafted (though you shouldn’t be, you drafted these players for a reason).
Robert Griffin III at Philadelphia (23% owned)
The last time we saw RG3 in regular season action he was a broken shell of a man, both physically and mentally. He ended up sitting an entire year and watching a player drafted three rounds after him (Kirk Cousins) lead Washington to the playoffs. Now he’s gone to Cleveland and has seemingly reformed his game with QB whisperer Hue Jackson. He was remarkably efficient in the preseason, but also showed off his cannon on deep bombs to Terrelle Pryor. He can get you 50 yards and a score on one play, and he can do that more than once. His rushing is still there, as well. He’s even learned to slide instead of exploding in a sea of flailing limbs at the end of runs (which will keep his health up).
The Eagles completely overhauled their defensive scheme and talent with the extraction of the Chip Kelly Regime and are unlikely to allow the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks again this year. They will slow it down considerably and try to keep it away from the Browns, but it’s unsure if they even have the personnel to pull that off. RG3 is a deep shot, and it’s his deep shots that will pay dividends.
Alex Smith versus San Diego (21% owned)
Ol’ Steady Alex Smith. Doesn’t go too crazy and get ridiculous fantasy weeks but also doesn’t do any real bottoming out as well. Smith averaged a solid 19.8 fantasy points per game last season, which is right on the edge of QB1 production. He doesn’t get a lot of hype or publicity surrounding him because he exceeded 25 fantasy points twice last season, so while he’s always on the edge of QB1 production, he will never turn in top-five QB games. He’s just a steady presence that will get you between 18 and 22 fantasy points per game. His low passing yards are buoyed by his rushing yards: he was two shy of 500 for last season, the fantasy points equivalent of him throwing for an extra 1250 yards. Smith has a very high floor but a very low ceiling.
Joe Flacco versus Buffalo (18% owned)
Joe Flacco doesn’t get any respect in fantasy football circles and his 18% ownership is going to skyrocket this season. He averaged just under 22 fantasy points per game last season, but he went down week eleven and wasn’t able to put up the numbers to get out from under two disastrous performances from week one and week four. Excepting those games, Flacco was over 25 fantasy points in six of eight games last year. Now he’s recovered from his injury and has a bevy of weapons at his disposal, including a deep threat he was desperately missing in Mike Wallace. He may or may not be elite, but he will be worth having on your roster this season.
Will Fuller versus Chicago (48%)
Chicago’s defense is very bad, and the only good players they have are now hurt. It is going to be an absolute bonanza for the Texans. Rookie Will Fuller is getting a lot of run opposite DeAndre Hopkins, and the Bears do not have the defensive presence to stop both of them. Fuller is a deep threat a la Ted Ginn (including the drops), and is better off as a DFS punt play week one, but he should be on your radar going forward.
Tajae Sharpe versus Minnesota (45%)
This is plain disrespectful. Sharpe is a rookie but he has quickly vaulted his way up the Titans’ depth chart and now sits alone atop it. His play was good enough for Tennessee to jettison Dorial Green-Beckham and Justin Hunter and instead focus their attention on developing Sharpe. He’s tall, but thin, and may get beat up a bit but has already shown the speed and athleticism to get after Marcus Mariota’s passes. Delanie Walker is the #1 target in town, but Sharpe should be on your rosters. I wouldn’t recommend starting him this week, but he should definitely be a player you look at to add ASAP. He’ll be on tons of waiver wire columns come Tuesday.
Dorial Green-Beckham versus Cleveland (16%)
I know we’ve all been burned by DGB before. Tajae Sharpe is becoming the player we hoped DGB would be. Now he is in Philadelphia and he has become their de facto red zone weapon through the couple of preseason games he was in Philly. This one is a matchup play because the Browns defense is bad. Their run defense gets a lot of publicity for being terrible but their pass game had fits trying to stop the #2 receiver. Josh Huff is listed as the #2, but it will be DGB who feasts. Last year the #2 receiver against the Browns averaged 10.3 fantasy points per game, and scored a touchdown in 50% of games. Like Fuller, he’s better off as a DFS GPP play, but if you’re terrible at drafting and hate all your WRs week one, you could do worse than DGB for this week only.
James White at Arizona (46%)
When Dion Lewis went down earlier this year, we all sort of threw our hands up in the air and declared that we would not know what Belichick would do with his running backs. But on a more realistic plane, we do. They’re going to pound the ball with LeGarrette Blount and pass it to James White. Over the last five games last season, White averaged seven targets a game (reeling in six of them). Toss in his 9 rush attempts over those five games, and he averaged 67 yards per game and scored in three of five games. Now, there are a lot of running backs you should start this week ahead of White, but he is one you can grab to get ahead of the curve. He will be a mini-Dion Lewis until Lewis gets back (if Lewis gets back). He’s well worth your time and literally unowned in over half of Y! leagues.
Theo Riddick at Indianapolis (33%)
I’m guessing that 33% of Yahoo! leagues are PPR or 0.5 PPR, since those are the only leagues where the #2 running back in catches and targets gets any run. If you play in non-PPR, he’s likely still sitting on your waiver wire. If you need a guy to get you 6-8 points in standard scoring, Riddick is your man. Under Jim Bob Cooter, the Lions started throwing tons of short routes, with many of them going to Riddick. He had only 6.3 fantasy points per game last year, but his targets were through the roof. He’s a built-in handcuff for Ameer Abdullah, as well (whether AA is marginalized through game planning or injury). Riddick is a must-own in all PPR leagues and a viable roster stash in standard scoring. For this week, he’s a flex play that could net you a score. The Indy-Detroit game is going to be a track meet, and Riddick is as good a bet as any to score a touchdown this week.
Charcandrick West versus San Diego (14%)
With Jamaal Charles likely down and West healthy, it’s starting to look like we are getting back to the split-time backfield that happened when Ware & West were healthy and Charles wasn’t. West isn’t worth a start this week, but you can stash who may potentially be the starter in week two, depending on how things shake out. He’s free in most leagues and worth a roster spot if you have one you’re questioning.
(the following is an excerpt from my Replacing Rob Gronkowski article yesterday):
“Vance McDonald vs. Los Angeles (23% owned)
Chip Kelly’s offense is tailored to feature the tight end. In many plays, the TE is the very first read. Your gut reaction tells you that taking on the Rams’ stout defense is a bad proposition, and you would be right, except for the tight end. The Rams gave up the thirteenth most fantasy points per game last season to TEs so starting one against them was a middle-of-the-road matchup. The 49ers are not good, but neither were last years’ 49ers and let’s not forget how feisty they got for Monday Night Football week one last year. Vance could be this year’s Carlos Hyde’s late night week one breakout performance with a line that mirrors his preseason stats (6 catches, 94 yards, and a score).
Jesse James at Washington (19% owned)
James isn’t a huge standout of any type, but he is the perfect confluence of opportunities. He’s unowned in 80% of leagues, but this is mostly because of the lingering question marks surrounding Ladarius Green.
The Steelers love the tight end, mostly because of Heath Miller, but ether way, he will be a big part of the offense. He’ll likely be Ben’s release valve if Antonio Brown is covered given his massive 6’7” frame.
He won’t have a ton of yards, but could get a ton of catches, low yards, and likely a score coming from near the goal line. The Pittsburgh-Washington game is going to be a shootout, and if you’re desperate, there are worse situations to entering than a primetime shootout.
Clive Walford at New Orleans (16% owned)
Walford is my favorite of these options. He’s a young, athletic tight end taking on the Saints in New Orleans. This means two things: first, the game is going to be a shootout so large, it will make PIT-WAS look like a 13-14 knockdown drag-out slugfest. Second, the Saints were the worst in the NFL at stopping tight end production last season and haven’t done anything to stem that fact (12.19 fantasy points per game last year).
The Raiders threw it to the tight end a lot last year, but those ~100 targets were split between Walford and Mychal Rivera. With Walford set to get the lions’ share of those targets this year, he is due for a breakout. That starts Sunday in the Big Easy. Even if you don’t have Gronk, Walford is worth a look.”