Now that week one of the 2018 NFL season is in the books, it’s time to analyze which players performed well so that we can understand how to attack the waiver wire.
Unfortunately, there were more injuries than we cared to see, some of which included the likes of Aaron Rodgers (knee), Greg Olsen (broken foot), Delanie Walker (ankle), Leonard Fournette (hamstring), Jeremy Hill (knee), and Ben Roethlisberger (elbow). Many of these players were either taken high in drafts or may play a recurring role in how other fantasy assets perform going forward. For example, Antonio Brown.
This week, and every week, we’ll take a look at some of the top fantasy Target Monsters throughout the NFL. To be considered a ‘Target Monster,’ a player needs to be targeted at least seven times within the given week. Hopefully this breakdown will give you insight as to which players to gravitate toward while assembling or tweaking your own roster.
Let’s start with the Target Monster of the the week, Saints’ Michael Thomas. Not only did Thomas nab 16-of-17 targets thrown his way for 180-yards and a touchdown, but he essentially doubled his opening day targets from last year , and increased his reception percentage by 32%. While Thomas was busy tracking down missiles from Drew Brees, teammate Alvin Kamara still managed to catch 9-of-12 targets for 118-yards and a touchdown of his own (not including the two rushing touchdowns he racked up!). To put it lightly, the Saints appear to be in full video game mode, so any piece of this offense that you can get your hands on will likely pay dividends. We already know that Ted Ginn is always one strike away from a long touchdown, but it may be a good idea to also keep an eye on the rookie wide receiver, Tre’quan Smith, as a potential mid-season stash.
Tyreek Hill opened the season the same way he did last year (sans QB Alex Smith) by catching 7-of-8 of his targets. This time however, he scored a total of three touchdowns instead of one, which included a phenomenal opening kick return. With the rocket-armed quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, at the helm, it’s not far-fetched to think that Hill can’t sustain a good portion of his insane numbers from week one. Hill is super fun to watch and reminiscent of Allen Iverson running up-and-down the basketball court in years past. While Hill flourished, teammate Travis Kelce failed to break into the Target Monster rankings, something we don’t expect to see much of going forward.
DeAndre Hopkins failed to reach one hundred yards or score a touchdown as quarterback Deshaun Watson struggled mightily. Fellow wide receiver, Will Fuller, also sat out with an ailing hamstring. While there is slight concern over Watson’s performance (and Houston’s offensive line in general), Hopkins will always find a way to catch footballs, so there’s no worry here. Start Hopkins with confidence for as long as he’s in uniform. Hopefully, Will Fuller can stay on the field as well.
Despite the long-awaited debut of rookie running back Saquon Barkley (106-yards rushing, 1 TD), Odell Beckham Jr. managed to see his normal rate of targets, easily nabbing 11-of-15 for 111-yards. If Eli Manning can show any sign of life whatsoever (just a measly pulse!), then the Giants offense could put up big numbers.
Aaron Rodgers managed to do just that on one good leg (in one half). Rodgers spread the ball around to all of his receivers almost evenly, hitting Cobb (9-142-1), Adams (5-88-1), and breakout candidate, Geronimo Allison (5-69-1) for three separate touchdowns. Matthew Stafford proved that he could spread the love in Detroit as well by getting Tate (7-79-1), Jones (4-54-0), and his own breakout candidate, Kenny Golladay (7-114-0) involved. It’ll be worth monitoring to see if both Allison and Golladay retain major roles for their respective teams throughout the season, or exceed expectations. If either are on your waiver wire, then don’t let the opportunity pass you by…scoop them up!
Keenan Allen (8-108-1), Jarvis Landry (7-106-0), Adam Thielen (6-102-0), and Emmanuel Sanders (10-135-1) did what they were supposed to do. They all topped 100-yards.
With Le’Veon Bell continuing to sit out for the Steelers, both Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster continued to do what they do best. Make plays! Despite Big Ben’s struggles (three interceptions), Brown still saw 16-targets and hauled in a touchdown for a total of 93-yards on the day. Juju caught 63% of the passes thrown his way and topped 100-yards, something we expect to see more of this season with disgruntled Martavis Bryant banished to Oakland.
Speaking of the Raiders, Gruden and his band of castoffs looked absolutely hideous on Monday Night Football. Quarterback Derek Carr looked skittish all night. Marshawn Lynch and Jared Cook were the only bright spots for a team in a lopsided matchup. Cook went bananas and hauled in 9-of-12 targets for 180-yards. While Gruden’s plan to stay in the middle of the field worked brilliantly, wideouts Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson were mere mentions throughout the game. If Carr continues to play hot potato, then Cooper’s already fragile fantasy value may be all but useless for a second straight season.
Ryan Fitzpatrick made us forget about Jameis Winston for a moment, as he connected with Mike Evans seven times on seven different targets for 147-yards and a touchdown. The only other receiver to catch 100% of his seven-plus targets this week was Phillip Dorsett (7-66-1), as he did his best Julian Edelman impression. Dorsett could continue to earn regular targets while Edelman is out (suspension), but it’s unlikely that Belichick will keep such a vanilla scheme, nor will Dorsett continue to be this good. For the time being, Gronk (7-123-1) is the only game in town for the Patriots.
As Denver’s running back Royce Freeman split time with under-the-radar Phillip Lindsay, the latter gave us a sneaky look at a potential game changer in the Broncos passing game. Lindsay appears to be a good waiver wire add and a future Target Monster if he continues to be featured in the passing game out of the backfield. Nyheim Hines also fits this role in Indianapolis and is worth a flier.