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1. Allen Hurns WR/Jacksonville Jaguars (3.2% Owned)
After four receptions, 110 yards, and two touchdowns, it's safe to say that little known rookie wide receiver Hurns is now widely known among the fantasy football community. If you paid attention to the Jaguars in the preseason then these totals may not surprise you. Hurns led the NFL in receiving yards during the preseason (293) and established himself as a sleeper candidate to many fantasy football owners.
With veteran wide receiver Cecil Shorts ruled out with a hamstring injury, Hurns was given a chance to start opposite Marqise Lee. Although Hurns splashed in week one, I think he will struggle to find consistency throughout the regular season. Chad Henne is average at best and as long as the quarterback play is inconsistent the Jaguars receivers cannot be counted on.
Now if you want to swoop Hurns up off of the waiver wire you had better have one of the top waiver positions, as he will likely be one of the first players picked up once bidding opens up Tuesday. Hurns holds the value of a WR4 at the moment, but if Shorts continues to miss time, Hurns will be given more and more opportunities to make plays for an offense that is in desperate need for playmakers.
Value: Low Flex/WR4
Advice: Stash in Deep Leagues
2. Kelvin Benjamin WR/Carolina Panthers (38.2% Owned)
With starting quarterback Cam Newton sidelined with a fractured rib, it's reasonable to believe that the Panthers passing game would struggle during week one. However, Kelvin Benjamin showed that he is going to be the focal point of the Panthers passing attack regardless of who's under center.
Benjamin was targeted 8 times, second only to tight end Greg Olson for the Panthers, and led the team with 92 receiving yards. Benjamin also flashed some of his elite athleticism when he made an acrobatic touchdown catch around the body of Buccaneers cornerback Mike Jenkins. With quarterback Cam Newton returning to the lineup next Sunday, Benjamin could see a more increased role in the passing game.
Going forward, Benjamin should be viewed at the very least a WR3 for fantasy owners as he has clearly developed a solid relationship with the Panthers' quarterbacks. With the Panthers lack of talent the wide receiver position aside from Benjamin, there's no reason to think that Benjamin will lead the Panthers receivers in targets and receptions.
Value: Low WR2/FLEX
Advice: Add Immediately (All Leagues)
3. Brandin Cooks WR/New Orleans Saints (65.5% Owned)
While Cooks is the least likely on this list to be available once the waiver wire opens, if you are lucky enough to have the opportunity then don't hesitate to put in a waiver claim on the rookie wide receiver.
Cooks tallied a 7/77/1 line in his NFL debut, showing that the positive reviews coming from Saints training camp were not just hearsay. Cooks was often referred to as the “star of camp”, and reportedly made “at least one highlight reel catch” per day according to several beat reporters in New Orleans.
With the ability to line up in various spots in the offensive formation, Cooks is a mismatch for nearly anyone trying to cover him. The Saints broke in their new toy, lining Cooks up in the backfield, slot, and out wide on any given formation. With the departure of Darren Sproles to the Eagles, Cooks will be asked to play the role of scat back and make up for the loss of Sproles’ production in the passing game.
Although Cooks plays on an offense with Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston, there's not reason to think that Drew Brees cannot spread the ball around. Now filling the role that Darren Sproles had, as well as lining up as the primary slot receiver Cooks has the potential to reach WR2 value, especially in PPR leagues.
Value: Low WR2/Flex
Advice: Add Immediately
4. Josh Gordon WR/Cleveland Browns (25.3% Owned)
After the NFL announced that Gordon’s yearlong suspension would stand, there was no reason to waste a draft pick on the troubled receiver, however fantasy owners may be getting an early Christmas present courtesy of the NFL.
Earlier this week it was reported that the NFL and the NFLPA had an agreement to finally begin testing for HGH, as well as make other alterations to the NFL’s drug policy. Due to the alterations of the current drug policy, the NFLPA would fight for suspensions issued in the current year to be revoked.
Gordon is currently serving a yearlong suspension for his third violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, but if the league establishes higher thresholds for THC in the new NFL drug policy Gordon could see most, if not all of his suspension wiped away. If Gordon is able to play next weekend with a clean slate, he immediately becomes top flight WR1 for any fantasy team.
Last season, after missing the first two games of the season due to a suspension Gordon took the league by storm, leading the NFL in receiving yards (1646) and finishing second in yards-per-catch (18.7). If Gordon is still available in your league now would be the time to grab him, because when a new drug testing policy is instated Gordon will more likely than not have his suspension reduced, or even completely thrown out.
Advice: Stash and Wait
Well one game in and Ben Tate is already battling injuries, something that should come as a surprise to no one. If Tate misses an extended period of time, it will be up to rookie third round selection Terrance West to carry the load for the Browns running game.
After Tate got injured it was up West to stabilize the Browns rushing game. West did exactly that rushing for 100 yards on 18 carries, showing to be a great fit Coach Shanahan’s zone-running scheme. After having a rough preseason, it was good to see West bounce back and show continued development within the Browns offense.
Even though Isaiah Crowell was the guy to get the touchdowns during today’s game, he is not someone that you can currently count on as a consistent fantasy option. If Tate misses next week’s game Crowell will be used as the COP back to West, and could be the primary option near the goal line.
If Tate misses next week’s contest with the Saints, West will be asked to carry the workload for the Browns. Head Coach Mike Pettine has been adamant since training camp about establishing a more balanced approach to the offense, so if West does start in week two there is potential for West to reach RB2 value, and at worst would make for a serviceable flex play.
Advice: Add Immediately