BY: ZACHARY KRUEGER
We witnessed an unexpected dud in Week 1 of the NFL season that featured underwhelming performances by a majority of top-tier players heading into the season, but on the flip side, also saw some booming performances out of players who were little-known heading into the season.
Now we look to capitalize. It's time to bolster our Week 2 lineups, and move forward from unprecedented losses, and onward to fantasy success. Here are a few players you should be targeting on this week's waiver wire!
Alex Smith - Kansas City Chiefs (Yahoo! Ownership: 24%)
Nobody anticipated the Chiefs would walk into New England and put a number on Brady and company the way the did on Thursday night. Kareem Hunt had a rookie performance for the ages (246 yards from scrimmage, three touchdowns), and Alex Smith looked like a man out to prove his worth, with Patrick Mahomes hot on his trail all preseason.
Smith finished the night with 28 completions for 368 yards and an unprecedented four touchdowns. He slung the ball around all evening, hitting eight different receivers for a completion, and looked like the "Tom Brady" everyone expected to see.
He faces an Eagles defense that is without top cornerback Ronald Darby, and is playing at the friendly confines of Aarowhead Stadium. With Kareem Hunt proving to be a threat out of the backfield, the Eagles will be forced to respect the running game, opening paths to success for Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Smith is an ideal streaming candidate for Week 2, and could prove useful for the next several weeks with plus matchups in Week 3 and Week 4 against the Chargers and Washington respectively.
Sam Bradford - Minnesota Vikings (Yahoo Ownership: 26%)
Everybody's favorite bobbleheaded looking quarterback lit it up on Monday Night Football against the Saints to the tune of 346 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to Stefon Diggs on beautifully designed plays.
At least for one week, gone are the days of "Sam Bradford the Bust", as new hope is on the horizon that the 29-year old may actually be a serviceable quarterback.
Bradford's offensive line looked much improved compared to a year ago, and wide receiver Stefon Diggs looked explosive from his outside position, and Adam Thielen showed off his useful hands to the tune of nine receptions for 117 yards.
Bradford gets the Steelers on the road in Week 2, before heading home in back-to-back matchups against the Buccaneers and Detroit Lions.
Tarik Cohen - Chicago Bears (Yahoo! Ownership: 16%)
If you don't have the top waiver spot for Tarik Cohen, chances are you'll miss out on the opportunity to get him, but for obvious reasons, he needs to be mentioned.
Cohen played nearly a 50-50 split in backfield snaps with running back Jordan Howard, and it was Cohen who was the most talked about running back as Sunday's games drew to a close.
Proving to be an efficient safety valve for quarterback Mike Glennon, Cohen reeled off eight receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown, while adding another 66 rush yards on five carries.
While his yards per carry is certain to dip, the prospect of a 50-50 snap share for a running back who is the best pass-catcher on his team is a highly attractive add. Especially when you consider the numerous passing situations the Bears will find themselves in this season. Cohen has a chance to play a PPR role similar to Detroit's Theo Riddick if this trend is to continue, and is a must-add in all formats.
Chris Carson - Seattle Seahawks (Yahoo! Ownership: 16%)
Seattle's offensive line looked absolutely horrendous on Sunday against the Packers, as Russel Wilson spent nearly every passing play running for his life. That being said, Carson turned trash into treasure to the tune of six carries for 39 yards, while adding another reception for 10 yards.
He outsnapped fellow running backs to C.J. Prosise (15 snaps) Eddie Lacy (seven snaps) to the tune of 27 snaps, and appears to have a strangle hold on the team's snap share (provided Rawls misses another week).
Should Thomas Rawls sit in Week 2, Carson has a high-upside matchup against the 49ers at home. It's a game Seattle should win easily, meaning Carson could have ample opportunity to carry the ball and run out the clock. I don't care what the projections say, if Rawls is out, I am firing up Chris Carson.
Buck Allen - Baltimore Ravens (Yahoo! Ownership: 6%)
Buck Allen truthers saw dreams come true on Sunday at the expense of running back Danny Woodhead, who exited on Baltimore's first drive on their Week 1 tilt with the Bengals with what's been ruled a severe hamstring strain (expected to miss 4-6 weeks).
Allen toted the rock 21 times for 71 yards on Sunday for Baltimore, and has a chance to earn relevant PPR snaps going forward. We are only two seasons removed from Allen's 2015 rookie campaign, where he looked like a PPR stud on the rise, after hauling in 45 receptions (12th most) for 353 yards (18th), and also carried the ball for 516 yards.
Terrance West certainly isn't an every-down back, and could be moved out of his starting role altogether if Allen performs well over these next several weeks. He gets the Browns in Week 2 before heading to London in Week 3 for an early-morning run-in with the Jacksonville Jaguars. At the very least, Allen should have some PPR upside. At best, he's a three-down back, relegating West to a spell role.
Kenny Golladay - Detroit Lions (Yahoo! Ownership: 21%)
If you weren't woke to Kenny Golladay before the regular season, you were on Sunday when you couldn't figure out who that guy was that just hung four receptions for 69 yards and two touchdowns on the Cardinals was.
Golladay is a big-bodied, athletic receiver playing on an offense that was top-three in three wide receiver sets in 2016. Looking to supplant the loss of Anquan Boldin from last season, Golladay has a chance to fill in admirably in Boldin's absence, and did so Sunday afternoon.
With 95 targets from last season being vacated by Boldin, and the Lions' undying desire to pass the ball over the field, the younger, more athletic Golladay could pay big dividends for that team looking to acquire a high-upside receiver to insert in their lineups, or stash on their bench as they evaluate his role further.
Nelson Agholor - Philadelphia Eagles (Yahoo! Ownership: 16%)
For the first two seasons, Agholor couldn't catch a cold. That wasn't the case this week, when the third-year pro proved the training camp hype about his improved hands to be true, converting six of his eight targets for 86 yards and a touchdown.
His biggest play on the afternoon came on a 58-yard touchdown reception, after quarterback Carson Wentz evaded all kinds of pressure, before chucking the ball downfield to Agholor in single coverage.
He'll face tougher matchups this week against the Chiefs, and in Week 3 against the Giants, but his Week 1 performance makes him well worth a speculative add, as fellow teammate Alshon Jeffrey could draw the attention of opposing team's top cornerbacks in the weeks to come.
J.J. Nelson - Arizona Cardinals (Yahoo! Ownership: 7%)
With running back David Johnson sidelined with a wrist injury requiring surgery, the Cardinals passing attack could see an up-tick in downfield throws. This bodes well for all receivers in Arizona's passing game, but especially for speed threat J.J. Nelson, who is coming off a solid breakout campaign in 2016 (34/568/6), and got off to a good start last week against the Lions, going for 5/43/1.
Nelson is arguably the fastest receiver the Cardinals have rostered, and drew six total targets on the afternoon. He runs the risk of being a boom-or-bust player, but as he develops greater chemistry with Carson Palmer, those expectations could be elevated. He faces a vaunted Colts defense in Week 2 that just surrendered 306 passing yards to Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams.
Jesse James - Pittsburgh Steelers (Yahoo! Ownership: 8%)
Despite Vance McDonald potentially being on his heels following an end of preseason trade with the 49ers, Jesse James showed out on Sunday for the Steelers, hauling in six receptions on eight targets for 41 yards and two touchdowns. In fact, James was the only tight end to haul in two receptions all weekend.
James may be relegated to a backup role as Vance McDonald continues to familiarize himself with the Steelers offense, but the 6-foot-7, 261-pound tight end is an ideal red zone target for any quarterback looking for a mismatch.
If you faded tight end in your drafts, and selected James, you reaped those benefits on Sunday. If you didn't, take a chance on making up for that blunder this week when the Steelers host the Minnesota Vikings and their elite corps of cornerbacks. Gotta throw the ball somewhere, right?
Charles Clay - Buffalo Bills (Yahoo! Ownership: 11%)
In my final fantasy draft of this season, I faded tight end until round 15 of 16, and selected Charles Clay, largely to his perceived upside due to him being the longest tenured pass catcher in the Bills offense (I then dropped him for Austin Hooper. Still a win.)
Clay proved the usefulness of that theory correct last week against the Jets, leading all Bills pass catchers with nine targets while securing four passes for 53 yards and a touchdown. Clay has shown TE1 capability before dating back to his Miami days in 2013, and will have a chance to reach that mountain again should Tyrod continue to look his way going forward.
From a pure volume standpoint, Clay is a must-add if you're looking for any kind of improvement at the tight end position. His nine targets tied for the most among players at the position, and would have tied him for sixth most among wide receivers.
Jared Cook - Oakland Raiders (Yahoo! Ownership: 19%)
NOTE: Use at your own discretion.
For years, Jared Cook has underperformed his elite athleticism at the tight end position, but the veteran tight end did convert all five of his Week 1 targets for 53 yards, and finished as the TE9 in 1 PPR leagues.
Derek Carr has a multitude of weapons on the outside in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, but a muddied group of wide receivers after that. Cook could draw more targets as the season progresses, and we love seeing a player with his athletic prowess being tethered to a quarterback of Carr's stature. Start him if you must, for no other reason than Week 1's performance, and the fact that he gets to square off against the lowly New York Jets at home.