Viable Streaming Options: Week 1
In this straight forward series, I’ll investigate players who have the potential to exceed their point projections and be viable position streamers on a week-to-week basis. Unlike a traditional start sit column, I will only seek to identify players whose current rankings and projections place them outside of fantasy starting lineups. However, considering it is Week 1, average draft position (ADP) also represents a viable and pertinent metric as most owners will simply start the first few players they drafted. With that in mind, here are four players who make for viable streamers in the first week of the NFL season:
Jameis Winston (TB vs SF): Throughout the entire off-season and training camp, Winston has been touted as a fantasy sleeper by many experts including Mr. Roto himself Matthew Berry. Although Winston has given fantasy owners little reason to believe in him as a consistent fantasy option the past four years, throwing 58 interceptions in 56 career games and losing his starting job briefly due to a three-game suspension at the start of the 2018 season, the Buccaneers are looking at a clean slate for 2019. The Dirk Koetter experiment has finally ended in Tampa Bay and the franchise chose to bring in the highly experienced and impressive offensive mind of Bruce Arians to set the franchise on a new and more promising course in 2019. Did you know that if you combined the points scored by Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick last season they would have finished as the overall QB2 behind Patrick Mahomes? Now, Fitzmagic will be doing his gunslinging for the tanking Miami Dolphins and there is no one to challenge Winston at the quarterback position in Tampa. With little running game and a perennially poor defense, the Bucs are going to have to pass a lot if they want to score and Winston will be the undisputed helm of that passing attack. Not to mention that the Bucs might have the most dangerous trio of receiving threats in the NFL with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard all poised for big years. Still, he is owned in barely more than 50% of ESPN leagues and is currently being drafted as the QB19 off the board with an ADP of 153.4 according to ESPN Live Draft Trends. The Bucs will be playing at home in Week 1 against the 49ers in a game that currently has a Vegas total of 50-points and has an even point spread between the two teams. This will be a very friendly game for fantasy matchups and I predict Winston to exceed his current point projection of 18.9.
Miles Sanders (PHI vs WAS): Unlike Winston’s criminally-low ownership rate, Sanders is owned in almost 90% of ESPN leagues as his current ADP of 93.2 and rank as the RB33 off the board puts him right on the edge of being a team’s every week flex or one of the first two bench spots depending roster format. Although Doug Pederson is infamous among the fantasy community for his dedication to the running back by committee (RBBC) approach, Sanders’ rise to the top of the Eagles’ depth chart despite the team’s trading for Jordan Howard in the off-season demonstrates the level of talent the second-round Penn State rookie possesses. The Eagles will be playing the Case Keenum-led Washington Redskins at home in Week 1 and Vegas currently has Philly as 8.5-point favorites. Even with Howard most likely on the receiving end of the Eagles’ goal-line carries, the expected game flow implies considerable running for the Eagles and Sanders could see upwards of 15-18 carries. This potential high usage makes Sanders a viable flex play and may even shoot him into RB2 status. Sanders has a great opportunity to make his mark on the fantasy community in Week 1 and exceed his ESPN PPR-projection of 10.4 points.
Rashaad Penny (SEA vs CIN): Although he is not the current starting running back for Seattle, Rashaad Penny has been on the radar of fantasy owners since the start of free agency this year as a result of the Seahawks allowing Mike Davis, and his 146 touches (over nine per game) during the 2018 season, to walk away. Yet, he is still being drafted as the RB37 with an ADP of 115. Even taking into account that Chris Carson is the clear lead back, this seems slightly extreme for a running back that will be a pivotal part of an offense that ran the ball almost 33-times per game in 2018. The Seahawks are currently 9.5-point favorites at home against the Cincinnati Bengals and in 2018, Seattle ran the ball nearly 36 times per game! Even if Carson receives the lions-share of the backfield carries, Penny should still see double digit touches and easily exceed his ESPN PPR projection of 9.3 fantasy points in a game that the Seahawks should easily win.
Michael Gallup (DAL vs NYG): What many people do not realize about Michael Gallup is that he actually saw more targets with Amari Cooper in the lineup than without him. After the Cowboys Week 8 acquisition of Cooper, Gallup’s targets per game jumped from 3.1 in the first seven games of the season to 5.1 in the final nine. With Cole Beasley now playing for Buffalo, another 87 targets have been vacated in Dallas’ passing attack and Gallup is poised to take advantage of them. Understanding those two key facts makes it clear that Gallup is currently a steal at his current ADP of 121.1 as the 42ndwide receiver off draft boards. However, what truly makes him an enticing play for Week 1, and certainly flex viable, is that Cooper missed the vast majority of camp dealing with various different injuries. This opened a huge door for Gallup t to spend several weeks operating as the Cowboys number one wideout, and by all accounts, he built up a great rapport with quarterback Dak Prescott. Even with Cooper set to return in Week 1 and the Cowboys currently coming in as 7-point favorites against the Giants, Gallup is primed to beat his ESPN PPR projection of 10.1 points.