The first game of week 2 is already in the books, and most of week 1’s heroes have already seen a sharp increase in their fantasy ownership. But, there is still plenty of talent available for fantasy owners looking to bolster their rosters headed into the NFL’s second week. Below I’ve compiled a list (in no particular order other than being sorted by position) of players who are still available and have considerable upside for this week and/or the rest of the season. The parentheticals ()() beside each player’s name will give their ownership percentage in NFL.com and ESPN fantasy leagues respectively.
To be included on this list a player must be owned in less than 30% of leagues, though there are sometimes exceptions. If these names go a little too deep for your league or you’re wondering about some of the more popular pick-ups from this week you can check out my previous post, Five players that should be owned in all leagues. All right, enough intro, let’s get to some names:
Karlos Williams, RB, Bills (3.0% on NFL)(17.5% on ESPN) The Bills new coaching staff loves Williams, don’t believe me? They cut fan favorite Fred Jackson before the season to give Williams a better chance at getting on the field early. Follow a season opener that saw Williams log just 6 carries (which he took for 55 yards and a TD) they released Bryce Brown, who had been competing with Williams for the primary backup job. LeSean McCoy continues to be hampered by a hamstring injury and Williams physical running style fits what Greg Roman and Rex Ryan want to do on offense. If you’re counting on McCoy this season, Williams is a definite must own as he will be the guy in a run heavy offense if McCoy misses time, and if he can continues to run well, could become a well balanced dose of thunder to McCoy’s lightning.
Lance Dunbar, RB, Cowboys (2.9% on NFL)(13.7% on ESPN) With Dez Bryant sidelined for the foreseeable future with a broken foot, Dunbar’s Dallas teammate, Terrance Williams, has gotten a lot of the love from fantasy owners. But Williams he won’t be the only one who sees an increase in targets with Bryant on the sidelines. Dunbar caught 8 passes for 70 yards in the opener, clearly establishing himself as the passing down back. The Cowboys next 4 opponents are the Eagles, Falcons, Saints and Patriots, so passing downs may not be as hard to come by for big D as they were last year.
Brandon Coleman, WR, Saints (4.1% on NFL)(35.4% on ESPN) Coleman followed up an impressive preseason with a solid week 1 showing. Saints fans have been excited about the Rutgers product since he was signed following the 2014 NFL draft, and the fact that the Saints traded wide receiver Kenny Stills and cut Nick Toon (both of whom were expected to play big roles in the offense following the Jimmy Graham trade) should tell you how the coaching staff feels about Coleman. No one’s going to confuse him for Calvin Johnson, but at 6’6, 220 lbs. he’s a mismatch for defenses, especially in the red zone and will have value even if he continues to only play in three wide receiver sets. (His ownership on ESPN has spiked out of my usual range, but is still available in nearly all NFL.com leagues, so I figured he’s worth talking about.)
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks (8.3% on NFL)(22.4% on ESPN) Lockett is must own if you’re in a league that counts return yardage. For the rest, he’s still a worthwhile target whose role will likely only expand in the Seahawks offense as he gets more game time under his belt. Lockett is a special sort of playmaker and looking at the impact he’s had so far I can’t help but think: this is the guy the Seahawks thought they were getting when they traded a first and a third round pick for Percy Harvin, this is the guy they thought they were getting when they drafted Paul Richardson in the second round of the 2014, this is the explosive playmaker they’ve been waiting for. Maybe I’m wrong, and he’s just a return specialist who never sees more than a handful of targets in the pass game, but the upside is tremendous and if you’ve got the roster spot, Lockett could be worth stashing for the next few weeks to find out.
Marlon Brown, WR, Ravens (0.1% on NFL)(0.6% on ESPN) It’s easy to make a case against Brown, he’s flashed potential, but never been consistent, the Ravens will likely be run first due to their limited weapons in the passing game, but at some point Baltimore will need someone to step up as a starter alongside Steve Smith Sr. and I think Brown is their best bet. He’s 6’4 with good speed, quickness and solid hands. As it stands he’s just not seeing many targets, but that should change with Kamar Aiken failing to impress in week 1. I like Brown’s chance to catch a TD this weekend if you’re looking for a dart throw player, but i’m more interested in what he could become as the season goes on.
Tedd Ginn Jr., WR, Panthers (0.4% on NFL)(1.8% on ESPN) There’s something encouraging about the fact that Ginn was targeted seven times in week 1…though it is equally discouraging that he caught only two of them for 54 yards…then again that’s a per catch average of 27 yards. I guess what I’m getting at is I really like the opportunity for Ginn, who remains a starter for Panthers, especially in this week 2 match-up with the Texans. It’s a big risk/big reward play to be sure, but if you’re desperate you could do a lot worse.
Jared Cook, TE, Rams (3.4% on NFL)(8.7% on ESPN) Nick Foles likes throwing to his tight end (remember Zach Ertz?) and Cook is one of the best pass catchers on the Rams. Despite their best efforts, the Redskins are still weak when it comes to pass protection in the middle of the field. In his last trip to FedEx Field, Cook caught 4 passes for 61 yards with 2 touchdowns. The Redskins proved stout against the run in week 1, so expect the Rams to be throwing, with plenty of targets going Cook’s way.
One to Watch:
Ryan Grant, WR, Redskins (0.0% on NFL)(0.1% on ESPN) Okay this is a deep pull, with plenty of caveats, but keep an eye on second year receiver Ryan Grant. With DeSean Jackson missing the next few weeks Grant stands a chance at more playing time, and an outside chance at garnering a start. Andre Roberts is better known in Washington for his drops than his receptions and the team sees rookie Jamison Crowder as strictly a slot receiver for the time being. Grant has also shown chemistry with starting QB Kirk Cousins in the preseason. With Jackson out and TE Jordan Reed questionable, Grant is the ‘Skins next best shot at a reliable set of hands behind Pierre Garcon…it’s just a matter of whether or not the team will see it that way.