Week 1 fantasy pickups: Priority adds to fill your roster holes ahead of the season

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 22: Ravens RB Justice Hill (43) carries the ball in the first half during the Preseason game between the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles on August 22, 2019 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Justice Hill has a shot at a substantial role in a run-heavy offense. He's a priority add if he went undrafted in your fantasy league. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Draft season is officially behind us, people. Or rather, it's behind most of us. Technically, it's not too late to assemble another squad. Just hit this not-so-subtle signup link right here ...

... and you can draft another team or three. Build yourself a deeper fantasy portfolio.

In any case, we're definitely beyond the point at which we need to discuss anyone's ADP or sleeper status. This is opening week. We're in it. Your fantasy season is happening. Game on.

Some of you, no doubt, have drafted your way into situations that demand immediate transactions. If so, we're here to help. Each week, we offer a collection of names (plus a team defense) deserving fantasy attention, available in over 50 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Let's begin with a promising Baltimore rookie who's currently rostered in only 27% of Yahoo leagues ...

Justice Hill, RB, Baltimore Ravens

Hill was among our game's buzziest players throughout the summer, and with good reason. He was a terrific three-year player at Oklahoma State, where he ran ahead of Chris Carson back in 2016. Here's the sort of stuff Hill regularly did to would-be tacklers while with the Cowboys:

He now seems locked into a rotational/third-down role with Baltimore, a team that's likely to lead the NFL in rush attempts (perhaps by a lot). Kenneth Dixon has been placed on injured reserve, removing a significant obstacle from Hill's path. No matter your format, Hill deserves a long look. An injury to Mark Ingram at any point would make him a must-start fantasy asset.

Carlos Hyde, RB, Houston Texans

Hyde's addition to the Houston backfield should probably be viewed as good news for Duke Johnson's fantasy potential because the Texans were always going to add someone. At this stage, Hyde is an early-down plodder coming off consecutive unimpressive seasons. He's averaged only 3.7 YPC since 2017 while being passed around the league like a virus.

Still, we have to acknowledge that Hyde has a shot at a meaningful workload in Houston. If he sees goal-line work in this team's offense, he's gonna deliver a few useful fantasy performances. Houston heads to New Orleans in opening week for a likely high-scoring affair. Anyone involved in that matchup is worth considering in fantasy.

Oct 7, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA;  Atlanta Falcons running back Ito Smith (25) is greeted by his teammates after scoring a fourth quarter touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 41-17.  Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
Ito Smith is in line for a valuable role in Atlanta. Don't forget him. (Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports)

Ito Smith, RB, Atlanta Falcons

Although Tevin Coleman produced three straight RB2 seasonal finishes as Devonta Freeman's understudy, we don't seem terribly interested in the guy who has the role in 2019. Smith is rostered in just 21% of Yahoo leagues as of this writing. He delivered three touchdowns during the preseason, cementing his position ahead of Brian Hill in Atlanta's backfield. Although Smith wasn't a particularly efficient runner as a rookie (3.5), he put a few excellent plays on film (like this one and this one). He also caught 27 of his 32 targets. Don't be surprised if he sees 8-12 touches per game (or more), with a share of the goal-line responsibilities.

Frank Gore, RB, Buffalo Bills

This year, the NFL is celebrating its 100th season — and in every damn one of them, Frank Gore has destroyed the value of a much younger running back. You’re up next, Devin Singletary. Veteran fantasy owners should already know how this ends. Gore is inevitable.

Jamison Crowder, WR, New York Jets

Jets beat writers have been consistently predicting big things from Crowder, with some floating the possibility of a 100-catch season. But fantasy managers who invested in Crowder during the Washington years have, of course, heard such forecasts before. So what's different this time? For starters, he's actually had a healthy preseason, which is new. Crowder has been a breakout candidate in prior years, but hamstring and ankle issues have interfered.

It's also notable that Crowder has been a preferred target for Sam Darnold throughout the summer, and the pair connected on an early preseason score:

You might recall, Jets head coach Adam Gase talked up Crowder as a potential 90-catch receiver way back in March. Yet for reasons unknown, the fantasy community seems unmoved. Crowder remains unattached in 55% of Yahoo leagues. Add him now, before the rush.

Anthony Miller, WR, Chicago Bears

After suffering an ankle injury in early August, Miller's sleeper stock took a hit. But he returned to practice a week ago, so there's no reason to fret about his availability for Thursday night's season opener against Green Bay. Miller caught seven touchdown passes as a rookie, despite dealing with a persistent shoulder injury that severely limited his strength and range of motion. He enters his second pro season as an obvious breakout candidate. Miller was monstrously productive over multiple collegiate seasons at Memphis, delivering a 96-1462-18 stat line as a senior. Find a spot for him on your bench if you have a need at receiver.

Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers

George Kittle is the unrivaled top receiving option for the Niners, but, beyond him, the battle for targets is wide open. Trent Taylor (foot) and rookie Jalen Hurd (back) are both dealing with injuries at the moment, which leaves Samuel with an uncluttered path to playing time. The second-rounder from South Carolina had a few wow moments during the preseason ...

... whereas Dante Pettis had a notably un-buzzy summer.

San Francisco travels to Tampa Bay in opening week for a matchup with an uncommonly generous pass defense. Last year, the Bucs allowed a league-worst 8.2 yards per pass attempt along with 34 passing scores. There's a decent chance Samuel will be one of the most popular waiver adds in fantasy heading into Week 2, so here's a chance to beat the rush.

Darren Waller, TE, Oakland Raiders

Waller received a dose of Hard Knocks hype, so he's not exactly an unknown. At 6-foot-6, he's a gigantic target for Derek Carr, presumably a prime option near the goal line. Let's remember that Jared Cook finished as the fifth-highest scoring tight end in fantasy last season in Oakland, so Waller has a clear and well-established path to relevance. He's available for free in nearly 80% of Yahoo leagues.

Buffalo Bills, D/ST

This recommendation isn't so much about Buffalo's opening week matchup with the Jets as it is the overall quality of the defense. The Bills ranked No. 1 against the pass last season in terms of yardage (179.2 YPG) and Y/A (6.3), and they added interior mauler Ed Oliver via the draft. This squad is legit, and the team opens with a series of friendly matchups (at NYJ, at NYG, Cin). Add as needed.

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