Football is not only back … but moving into its second week!
With the continuation of the season comes the joy of overseeing one’s own virtual team. The most dedicated and passionate managers find zeal in exploring the concepts and happenings occurring under the radar. While your roster may allow for snoozing on sleepers in some weeks, it’s always beneficial to keep tabs on emerging trends and players. This weekly column is for those who understand the satisfaction of digging deep.
All of the listed players are rostered in under 60 percent of Yahoo leagues (at time of writing) and/or are a significant value in our daily game. They’re not the obvious picks, and they’re not without their risks … but that’s what makes them so intriguing. Last week James Robinson popped and Carlos Hyde scored, but Tyrod and the WRs underwhelmed. Let’s kick it up a notch in Week 2!
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers (51% rostered - $24)
Despite a decent stat line (259 yards + 2TDs, QB17), Jimmy G’s performance last Sunday looked anything but good. Whether it was the air quality or his lack of top-tier receivers, the Handsome One struggled to find a flow or consistently move the chains, completing just one of six passes beyond 15 yards. This Sunday, however, he’ll have a chance to turn things around and avoid opening the season 0-2 after playing in the Super Bowl seven months ago. Not only will Garoppolo likely have dynamic rookie Brandon Aiyuk (hamstring) at his disposal but he’ll also be facing a below-average Jets secondary.
Quite clearly missing Jamal Adams' electric versatility, New York’s defense gifted Josh Allen with 33 of 46 completions and allowed Stefon Diggs and John Brown to convert a total of 14 grabs out of 19 targets. Interestingly, except for 2 passes, the bulk of Allen’s air production came from throws under 20 yards. That means, when facing this secondary, Garoppolo is less likely to have to push the ball deep, which, as noted above, is a challenge for him. His stats could be additionally padded given that both of the team’s corners are banged up, which should translate to more passing opportunities. Though … let’s be honest … it’s not like the Jets are going to put up a ton of production against the former NFC Champs.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Detroit Lions (57% rostered - $17)
All Day was feeling himself last Sunday. A member of the Lions for only a week, the 35-year-old vet took control of the team’s backfield, leading their cadre of RBs in carries and yards with 14 for 93. He also looked good doing it, ripping off an 18-yarder and another for 21 yards, which is particularly impressive given the fact that the Bears only allowed nine runs over 20-yards in all of 2019. Finishing the season opener as fantasy’s RB18, Peterson managed 2.47 rush yards over expected per attempt (RB1).
There’s no denying that the Lions backfield is crowded, but with D’Andre Swift potentially in the doghouse after dropping what would have been the game-winning score and with Kerryon Johnson being a non-factor (7 carries for 14 yards), it’ll be hard to deny Peterson the ball. It’ll be even harder to not feed AP when traveling to Green Bay this Sunday. Given the injuries to the Lions secondary, it makes sense that Detroit will want to #establishtherun and play keep-away from Aaron Rodgers. The Packers' d-line is stout, and UDFA linebacker Krys Barnes flashed in his debut, but Peterson proved last week that he can produce even against a solid defense. Furthermore, the return of Kenny Golladay should stretch the field for Peterson.
Parris Campbell, WR, Indianapolis Colts (37% rostered — $17)
Kudos to Andy Behrens for not giving up on Campbell and reminding all of us of his existence throughout the summer. After being sidelined with numerous injuries in 2019, it was difficult to project how the Ohio State product would mesh with the Colts heading into his sophomore effort.
Turns out the answer is: GREAT!
Leading the Colts receivers in snaps (83.8% snap share), Campbell tied T.Y. Hilton in looks with a team-high nine targets. He converted six of those opportunities for 71 yards (11.8 YPR), which was also a team-best. Working as Indy’s primary slot receiver, Campbell and Rivers demonstrated excellent chemistry and timing on downfield strikes while utilizing the 23-year-old’s 4.3 speed by picking up an additional 18 yards after the catch. This Sunday he’ll face off against Minnesota’s relatively green cornerback trio (Mike Hughes, Holton Hill, Cameron Dantzler) that gave up a total of 22 catches (off 27 targets), 315 yards, and 4 TDs to the Packers’ top-three WRs (Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard).
Tre’Quan Smith, WR, New Orleans Saints (5% rostered — $10)
Plenty of flowery passages outlining Smith’s unending potential and sky-high ceiling have been written in vain. I know, because I’ve authored a few of them. Still, if the third-year WR is ever going to break out it has to be now. With Michael Thomas (ankle) expected to sit for a considerable chunk of time, Smith is in line for an elevated role.
His matchup on Monday night is also particularly juicy, as he’ll run against the Raiders’ largely untested secondary. In Week 1, rookie CB Damon Arnette gave up 110 yards and a score to the Panthers receiving corps (mostly Robby Anderson, who burned Arnette on a 75-yard TD) and allowed Teddy Bridgewater a QB rating of 158.3. It’s entirely likely that Drew Brees & Co. will stay conservative and feed Alvin Kamara, but given that this is a primetime game with the third-highest over/under for the week, Smith’s big-play ability shouldn’t be overlooked.
Jordan Akins, TE, Houston Texans (1% rostered - $10)
If you had Blake Jarwin and/or missed out on adding Logan Thomas, consider giving Akins a look. Now in his third year, the UCF product is a receiving tight end who caught Bill O’Brien’s eye during the 2018 Combine (O’Brien acted as the South’s HC). Over the summer, Akins was considered the “most improved veteran” at Texans training camp and received praise for his outstanding athleticism (fun fact: Akins was selected by the Texas Rangers in the third round of the 2010 MLB draft).
In Week 1, he led all of the team’s pass-catchers with a snap share of 81% (ahead of even Will Fuller, who logged a snap share of 80%). While he only drew two targets in the season opener, he was the recipient of Deshaun Watson’s lone passing score. This Sunday, he’ll host a Ravens squad that shut down every position in Week 1 … except the Browns TEs, who converted six of 8 targets and accounted for Cleveland’s only TD of the contest (David Njoku, 3-50-1).
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