Each week of the NFL campaign we will sift through the deeper options at each position with an eye on identifying streaming fantasy commodities with valuable matchups to consider.
Do you need replacement options for injured or suspended players? Or are you merely dealing with depth issues? We have some choice names to consider for those seeking widely available options at each position.
Fresh from a rousing divisional win in the season opener against Denver, Carr and the Raiders next host the rival Chiefs and their video game offense. The Chiefs present an inviting matchup for opposing arms dating back to last season, when they allowed 2.33 points per drive and ceded a touchdown on 28.2 percent of opposing drives, which rated fifth- and fourth-worst in the league in 2018. It's additionally intriguing that Carr posted 417 yards and three scores in a home win over the Chiefs last October. Further fostering a healthy spectrum of statistical outcomes for Carr is the game's robust 53.5 opening total, the biggest number we've seen this young season. If you are already streaming at QB or need a viable QB2/superflex candidate, Carr is in a stellar spot to return value given real potential for Oakland's game script to prove pass-heavy.
In just 11 starts last season, Allen somehow compiled 605 rushing yards to go with 2,000 through the air. When you consider his eight rushing scores as a starter last season, the 10-12 touchdown-to-interception ratio as a passer looks much more palatable. A similar balance unfolded in Week 1's inspired comeback victory over the Jets that saw Allen salvage suspect passing results and turnover trouble with 38 yards and a score on the ground. Like with Carr, Week 2's inviting matchup with the Giants inspires additional interest in Allen's fantasy ceiling. Last season, the Giants surrendered the seventh-most points per drive to opponents and allowed the seventh-most rushing yards to quarterbacks in 2018. Allen is rostered in just one-fifth of ESPN leagues as of Tuesday morning, yet enters Week 2 with a top-10 projection at the position.
Another unfortunate knee ailment for Derrius Guice elevates Peterson into the early-down workhorse role for the Redskins for this week's visit from the Cowboys. AD saw mixed results against Dallas last season, getting held to just 44 scrimmage yards on 14 touches in late November on the road, while he rumbled for 107 scrimmage yards in a win over the Cowboys in October. We know Thompson will handle a heavy share of routes and targets out of the backfield, making him a solid streaming candidate -- especially in PPR formats -- while Peterson should claim a dominant share of early-down touches in this meeting of longtime rivals.
This unique prospect sits in the 100th percentile of speedsters thanks to posting a record 40-yard dash time of 4.22 seconds at the combine in 2017. After two largely lost seasons with the Bengals, even including last season's outlier touchdown production, we finally saw Ross's dangerous speed and playmaking ability surface with a full complement of routes and targets for the Bengals in Week 1 in Seattle. He delivered against a capable Seattle secondary by regularly getting behind the defense. Andy Dalton certainly noticed, as Ross averaged a team-best 14.1 air yards per target (compared to 6.9 for Tyler Boyd). Next up for Ross is a home matchup against the traveling 49ers, a team that allowed the sixth-most yards per catch to receivers last season. Stacking Dalton and Ross as streaming partners in deeper formats could prove rewarding.
It qualifies as bold to stream Hardman, since he was held without a catch in his professional debut this past Sunday, but there is some supporting evidence worth considering. For one, Hardman is another elite burner who rates in the 95th percentile in the 40-yard dash among receiving prospects since 1999 with a 4.33 time this past winter in Indianapolis. The main selling point here isn't Hardman's difference-making speed, but rather that he trailed only Sammy Watkins in routes run on the Chiefs in Week 1, given Tyreek Hill's early exit due to injury. With Hill expected to miss multiple weeks, the spotlight is rightfully on Watkins and his career outing, but this lineup shift also means Hardman will run a full batch of routes against the Raiders this weekend. Oakland allowed 14.02 yards per catch to receivers last season, second most in the league. It might require a deep league or a somewhat desperate scenario to stream Hardman, but the potential payoff is quite big and increasingly possible.
Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders (55.2% rostered; vs. Chiefs)
Likely a popular waiver addition this week, Waller was second only to Tyrell Williams in routes run for the Raiders in Monday night's win over the Broncos. Waller served a valuable intermediate role for Carr against Denver, securing 88 percent of his targets with a healthy 4.3 yards after contact per reception. This week's opponent, the Chiefs, allowed 12.43 yards per catch to tight ends last season, fifth most in the league. Kansas City also yielded 10 scores to tight ends in 2018, the most in the league. The blend of positive usage and matchup metrics combine to make Waller a strong streaming candidate for Week 2.
Still widely available in ESPN leagues after going as the 18th tight end on average in drafts this summer, Graham's seven looks from Aaron Rodgers in the opener with Chicago tied with position peers Zach Ertz and Delanie Walker for 10th in the league among tight ends in targets in Week 1. More impressively, only T.J. Hockenson's robust 17.3 air yards per target bests Graham's 12.0 air yards per target among the 20 tight ends to see at least five targets this past week. If the Packers lack proven playmaking beyond Davante Adams in the receiving corps, Graham might help fill that void given such strong usage in the opener. The Vikings have been solid against tight ends dating back to last season, yet did allow Austin Hooper to enjoy a strong nine-catch showing this past Sunday.
Dallas Cowboys (29.3% rostered; at Redskins)
Rostered in less than a third of ESPN leagues as of Tuesday, the Dallas D/ST is in a great spot to deliver fantasy production with this upcoming trip to face the Redskins. Washington got off to a scintillating, if somewhat aberrational, start in South Philly in Week 1, but were essentially shut down on offense for the final two-thirds of the game against the Eagles. The Cowboys claim arguably the best tandem of linebackers in the league and a ball-hawking back seven, setting this group up for a solid streaming showing this week.
Houston Texans (41.4% rostered; vs. Jaguars)
With an eye on the other Texas team, we find Houston hosting a green Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars. With Nick Foles sidelined, Minshew was impressively efficient against the Chiefs last week, so this matchup does come with some risk. That said, I'll take a strong pass rush led by J.J. Watt for the home opener against a young quarterback and somewhat listless crew of playmakers for the Jags.
Individual defensive players
Za'Darius Smith, Green Bay Packers (0.7% rostered; vs. Vikings)
A key offseason acquisition for the Packers' new-look defense, Smith tied for the league lead with 10 quarterback pressures in Week 1, per Pro Football Focus. We also find that Smith produced five of those pressures lined up on the interior, revealing a Michael Bennett-like versatility and value that could convert into worthy fantasy results. The Vikings' offensive line has struggled with interior pressure dating back to last season, signaling real potential for another strong showing from Smith.
Found for the price of a few clicks and a roster spot in more than 97 percent of ESPN leagues, Davis tied for the league lead with 14 total tackles in his debut with the Bolts. Drafted in 2005, this longtime playmaker never left the field for the Chargers in Week 1 and is in a great streaming spot this week against a run-heavy Lions scheme that should produce a bevy of tackle opportunities.
Karl Joseph, Oakland Raiders (3.9% rostered; vs. Chiefs)
Joseph struggled to see regular snaps last season, but he rarely left the field for the Raiders in Monday's win over the Broncos. A punishing hitter and first-round talent who mostly just needs snaps to deliver fantasy-relevant production, Joseph is finally in a good spot to thrive and should see a bounty of tackle and breakup opportunities against the Chiefs' elite offense.