Week-Ahead Stash Candidates for Week 1
If we take a look at what last year's Average Draft Position (ADP) looked like at the end of August, you will see a guy named Alvin Kamara sitting down with the kickers at around pick 190. You might have heard of him by now.
But 12 months ago, after a lackluster Week 1 performance of 38 scrimmage yards against the Minnesota Vikings, many fantasy owners sent Kamara to waivers, where he ended up becoming a league-winning pickup.
This weekly article series will attempt to help you in two ways. First, we are going to be examining players who may not be the hot waiver pickups of the week. This will save you Free Agent Auction Bucks (FAAB) or waiver priority for when you need it most. Second, we will be diving into stats and trends that point to players improving their fantasy scores next week, not this current week. The goal is to sift through the rough to find those diamonds who emerge every single year, except you won't be sweating over whether or not you claimed them on waivers, because you will already own them. At least that's the goal.
So let's start this up! Here are some guys who may not be startable this week, but could be valuable next week and beyond. So if you have space, add them now or hope that they fall through the waivers after this week.
Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Yahoo Ownership: 17%
Austin Ekeler is the main pass-catching running back in the Los Angeles Chargers backfield for the 2018 season. This has been further cemented by the fact that seventh-round rookie Justin Jackson has been waived by the Chargers. Ekeler is now firmly the backup running back for the Chargers in addition to his already solid catch-and-run ability.
Last year, Ekeler averaged 48.6 scrimmage yards and 2.9 targets per game from Week 4 to Week 14 before breaking his hand against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15. Ekeler boasted a 51.06% Rushing Success Rate in 2017 per our metrics, which was good for third among backs with at least 40 rushes. He also finished the season with a 66.7% Reception Success Rate, which tied him for 11th among backs with at least 20 catches.
He has some ability. Obviously Melvin Gordon is standing in the way of Ekeler seeing significant touches, but Ekeler had some solid weeks even with Gordon in the fold last year.
The Chargers open the 2018 season against the Kansas City Chiefs, who were quite stingy to runners last year. The Chiefs allowed 19.5 points per game to backs in half-point PPR leagues last year, the sixth-fewest in the league. But we're looking forward to the next week, when Ekeler will have an opportunity to exploit the weak Buffalo Bills front seven. Ekeler could have a solid day in that one.
Geronimo Allison, WR, Green Bay Packers
Yahoo Ownership: 11%
I actually wrote about how much I liked Geronimo Allison as a late-round flyer in drafts this offseason. I still firmly believe that Allison is due for a big step up this year. He has cemented his role as the third wideout, per reports, for the Green Bay Packers this season. With Randall Cobb playing 80% of his snaps from the slot since 2016, that leaves the top two wideouts on the outside as Davante Adams and Allison.
Allison may garner a similar market share to what James Jones had when Jordy Nelson was out for the 2015-16 season, which was about a 17% market share. That could project to be around 75 to 80 targets based on Aaron Rodgers average 16-game pace of 473 pass attempts.
The Packers enter the 2018 season with a tough matchup against the Chicago Bears, who have a quality defense and recently traded for all-pro edge rusher Khalil Mack. And while their week 2 matchup versus the Minnesota Vikings seems just as bad, Trae Waynes is exploitable. Assuming Xavier Rhodes takes Adams, Allison could be in for a target boost next week.
Nick Vannett, TE, Seattle Seahawks
Yahoo Ownership: 0%
Nick Vannett has been gaining some steam this offseason. Back in July, the Seattle Times published a piece saying that Vannett was going to make a major step during his third season with the Seattle Seahawks. Recently, veteran teammate Ed Dickson was diagnosed with a quad injury and placed on injured reserve. That leaves essentially all the receiving work for the tight end position squarely on Vannett's shoulders.
In Week 1, the Seahawks will be playing the Denver Broncos. It's a nice matchup, but there are a slew of enticing tight end streamers this week, and it's hard to trust starting Vannett until we see his role. But he could show well in Week 1. The Broncos struggled with tight ends last season as their strong corners funneled targets over the middle. Denver allowed 12.2 half-PPR points per game to tight ends in 2017.
Next week, many fantasy owners might be running to the waiver wire to add Vannett after he has a nice first week, so you can beat them to the punch by scooping him up now.
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Yahoo Ownership: 9%
T.J. Yeldon is becoming a solid third-down back. Over the last two years, he's averaged 70 targets, 51 receptions, and 343 yards receiving per 16 games played. This season, he could stand to produce some interesting PPR value in the right spots.
The Jaguars face off against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in New York to open the season. The Giants were porous on the ground last year, allowing the seventh-most yards rushing to opposing teams. It's a great spot for Leonard Fournette.
In Week 2, the situation could be a little different as the Jags host the New England Patriots. The Patriots allowed the third most receiving yards to running backs last year and lost their defensive coordinator this offseason. In deeper PPR formats, Yeldon could be a flex option in Week 2.
Quincy Enunwa, WR, New York Jets
Yahoo Ownership: 5%
How Quincy Enunwa has stayed so under the radar during the 2018 draft season is a mystery to me. Enunwa posted an impressive 58-reception, 857-yard, 4-touchdown campaign in 2016 under the three-headed bad quarterback combo of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith and Bryce Petty. He suffered an unfortunate neck injury just a month before the 2017 season began, causing him to miss the entire campaign. In his wake, the New York Jets turned to Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse at wideout.
Kearse was just recently diagnosed with an abdomen injury and is likely out Week 1. Anderson will open the season as the top wide out for the Jets. Terrelle Pryor will likely see the most snaps opposite Anderson, but Enunwa should be in the slot and can be a safety net for rookie passer Sam Darnold.
In Week 2, the Jets will play against the Miami Dolphins, who have turned over a large portion of their defensive roster. They also will be starting rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick as their slot corner to open the season. Fitzpatrick was a highly-touted prospect, but it might take the former college safety some time to get acclimated to playing slot corner in the pros. Miami figures to be one of the best matchups all season for Darnold and the Jets' offense, and Enunwa could be startable if he has a solid role, something we'll find out in Week 1.