Fantasy Football: Overlooked rookie RB leads Week 2 priority pickups

·Fantasy Analyst
·7 min read

It's never too early to remake a roster, people. Each week, we offer a collection of viable fantasy adds, prioritized for your convenience. All players mentioned here are available in a majority of Yahoo fantasy leagues and all are approved for use. Let's begin with an under-hyped rookie who broke out in opening week...

Running backs who demand attention

Eli Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers (8%)

A few days ago, if a visitor from the future would have told you that a rookie running back was gonna blow up for the Niners in the opener, you would not have been surprised. In fact, you probably would have immediately extended a bunch of trade offers for Trey Sermon.

As it turned out, Sermon was actually a healthy scratch on Sunday, having failed to beat out anyone for position on the backfield depth chart. Raheem Mostert was set up for a monster performance against Detroit's user-friendly defense and he came out hot, gaining 20 yards on his first two carries. Unfortunately, Mostert's terrible injury luck surfaced yet again; he checked out with a knee issue — that turned out to be much more serious than first thought — leading to a substantial workload for sixth-round Louisiana rookie Elijah Mitchell. And then Mitchell promptly did this...

Nothing especially difficult about that run, but sometimes that's life in Kyle Shanahan's offense. Mitchell out-carried JaMycal Hasty, 19 to 1, and he out-gained him 104 to 3. So it wasn't exactly a committee beyond Mostert.

Sermon seems likely to enter the mix in some capacity with Mostert's season being unfortunately over, but Mitchell looks to be the top backfield option and the guy we want. He gets the Eagles next week and then Green Bay, so the schedule is plenty appealing. Mitchell averaged 6.2 YPC over a four-year career in the Sun Belt and he demonstrated on Sunday that he can take full advantage of a clean rushing lane.

Waiver offer (assuming $100 budget): $16

Mark Ingram, Houston Texans (20% rostered)

It feels as if Ingram broke into the league with the Saints in the mid-90s alongside Mario Bates and Ray Zellars, but my research staff tells me that's factually incorrect. Anyway, he's been around a little while. Ingram was out-played and eventually leapfrogged by multiple running backs in Baltimore last season, leading pretty much everyone (except the Texans' front office) to believe he was cooked. On Sunday, Houston fed him one of the largest rushing workloads of the week.

Ingram carried 26 times for 85 yards (3.3 YPC) and a short score against the Jaguars in a relatively comfortable win. He didn't catch a pass, but we can't reasonably complain about a 26-carry workload. When a player controls a backfield to that extent, he's an auto-add. Phillip Lindsay had only a supporting role, carrying eight times for 25 yards.

Offer: $11

Additional RBs worth stashing

James White (this PPR legend is available in two-thirds of Yahoo leagues and he caught six of seven targets against Miami), Kenneth Gainwell (he played ahead of Boston Scott, handling double-digit touches and finding the end-zone), Tony Jones Jr. (he won the backup job from Latavius Murray with a solid camp, then rushed for 50 yards in the season-opening win).

Wide receivers and tight ends on the wire

Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (39%)

Shepard led the Giants on Sunday in targets (9), receptions (7) and receiving yards (113), plus he hauled in Daniel Jones' only touchdown pass. His 37-yard score involved some impressive work after the catch...

This is a player who averaged 7.5 targets per game last season, which is certainly enough to pay the PPR bills. Shepard is back in action on Thursday night in a rough matchup against Washington, but he gets to feast on the Atlanta secondary the following week. He also has the full Reception Perception endorsement as an exceptional route-runner. We definitely haven't seen his last 9-plus target game. He deserves a home in all but the shallowest leagues.

Offer: $14

Rondale Moore, Arizona Cardinals (27%)

Yeah, OK, so the rookie was substantially out-snapped by both Christian Kirk the withered husk of A.J. Green. It's a short-term concern. But Moore still managed to haul in four of his five targets, gaining 68 yards. He's live-wire quick and gifted with sub-4.3 speed, and it definitely translates to the field. There's no chance Moore's role is going to shrink after his promising regular season debut. It also seems clear that we should want shares of Arizona's offense.

Offer: $8

Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints (10%)

The middle tiers at tight end are a carnival of pain. If you drafted the position late and your opening week starter whiffed, there's no reason not to take a shot with a player who just spiked twice. Juwan Johnson, come on down...

We all know that Jameis Winston has a rich history of targeting his tight ends in goal-to-go situations, and it happened again on Sunday afternoon. We can't say with certainty that Johnson will be a volume receiver, but he's pretty clearly going to see high-value opportunities. After switching positions from wide receiver to tight end, Johnson is also the rare player who carries dual-eligibility.

Offer: $5

Other WRs and TEs to target

Nelson Agholor (he spiked in the opener while drawing seven targets), Cole Beasley (he's coming off a big year and he just saw 13 targets from an MVP-level QB), Jalen Reagor (caught all six attempts that came his way, with a TD included), Christian Kirk (we've all chased his big weeks before, so let's not get too crazy here), Tim Patrick (Jerry Jeudy's ankle injury should lead to additional snaps and targets, plus he's facing Jacksonville and the Jets in his next two), Jared Cook (the vet drew eight targets in opening week, he's tied to a great offense and the schedule ahead is a gift: Dal, at KC, LV).

Quarterbacks to consider

Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints (44%)

We didn't exactly know what to expect, but we kinda knew it would be a party. Jameis didn't disappoint. He somehow managed to throw five touchdown passes against the Packers while finishing with fewer than 150 yards, which never, ever happens. He finished 14-for-20 with 148 yards, five scores, no picks and 37 yards on the ground. Taysom Hill only rarely surfaced, completing his lone pass for three yards and carrying twice.

All things considered, it was a triumph for Winston, an extension of his excellent preseason. This bomb to Deonte Harris was among the best throws of the day...

Winston gets the Panthers next week, an obviously friendly spot. His situation only gets better down the road, too, when the Saints' receiving corps gets healthier.

Offer: $7

Other assorted QBs of interest

Ben Roethlisberger (his schedule opens up over the next three: LV, Cin, at GB), Teddy Bridgewater (he's coming off a clean, efficient performance and he gets the Jaguars and Jets over his next two), Tyrod Taylor (game script should be his friend most weeks, and his rushing ability is a plus).

If you're streaming defenses...

New Orleans Saints D/ST (32%)

This group just held Green Bay to three points and picked off Aaron Rodgers twice. Over the next four weeks, they face Sam Darnold, Mac Jones, Daniel Jones and ... well, whoever is at the controls for Washington in Week 5. We can ride with this defense for at least a month without burning through acquisition dollars.

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