Week-Ahead Stash Candidates for Week 2
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.
The transparency report, looking back at past suggestions and their results, will be here starting with the Week 3 article, since the guys I told you to get before Week 1 were to play Week 2.
Here are some guys who may not be startable for Week 2, but could be valuable next week and beyond. So if you have space, add them now or hope that they fall through waivers after this week.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Yahoo Ownership: 32%
If Blake Bortles isn't already on your waiver wire, he's about to be. The Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback opened the year against the New York Giants with an abysmal 176 yards passing, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. The Jags' offense as a whole was lackluster in Week 1, as an injury to Leonard Fournette put a wrench in the machine, and their passing attack never got rolling.
The Jaguars' Week 2 matchup is the New England Patriots. Last week, the Pats stifled sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson in his post-injury debut. Oddly enough, Watson's Week 1 stats were almost identical to Bortles', except with two fewer rushing yards. The Patriots' defense looked very strong in their opening game; they forced a punt or a turnover on 69.2% of the Houston Texans' offensive drives.
In Week 3, Bortles draws a much better head-to-head against the Tennessee Titans. In his career, he averages 257 yards, 1.8 touchdowns and 0.8 interceptions across 8 games against the divisional foes. To make matters better for him, in Week 1, the Titans allowed Ryan Tannehill to throw for 230 yards and 2 touchdowns against them in a long, weather-delayed game. And in addition, the Titans may be without starting quarterback Marcus Mariota and will definitely be without injured Delanie Walker, so the Jaguars offense should be on the field more often.
Mike Gillislee, RB, New Orleans Saints
Yahoo Ownership: 3%
I know this is a longshot, but Mike Gillislee looked like an intriguing option entering Week 1 in the absence of the suspended Mark Ingram. Once the New Orleans Saints signed Jonathan Williams back off of their practice squad, hopes of a short-term running back option dwindled. Even worse, he only had three rushing attempts before fumbling in a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In Week 2, the Saints go against the Cleveland Browns. And while they just gave up a big day to James Conner, the Browns are a young unit that allowed the eighth-fewest rushing yards in 2017. Almost no one will start Gillislee in Week 2, and for good reason.
Where things get interesting is Week 3 against the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons recently lost big name defensive players Keanu Neal to an ACL tear and Deion Jones to a foot injury. They were already eighth in points given up to running backs through the first week of regular season. The Saints should be favorited in this game, with running the ball and eating up the clock a larger part of the game plan.
Dede Westbrook, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Yahoo Ownership: 16%
This pick pairs very nicely with the Bortles selection for Week 3, since, ya know, he has to throw the ball to someone. Keelan Cole is considered the top target in the Jaguars' receiving corps at the moment, but second-fiddle seems to be up for grabs. In Week 1, Dede Westbrook played just 49% of snaps to Donte Moncrief's 68%, but he out-produced him significantly. Westbrook turned 6 targets into 5 receptions for 51 yards, while Moncrief had 5 targets with only 1 reception for 14 yards.
Like with Bortles, the Patriots will not be a plus matchup in Week 2 for Westbrook and the passing game.
In Week 3, however, the Jaguars get those Titans. Top cornerback Adoree' Jackson was banged up on a punt return, but he came back into the game. Should he miss time, Logan Ryan would take outside corner duties, leaving the slot defending role to inexperienced Kenneth Durden or mediocre LeShaun Sims. Even if Jackson plays, Ryan was coming off a down year with no interceptions and only 11 passes defended. Westbrook should be able to eat from the slot.
Vance McDonald, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
Yahoo Ownership: 14%
There's not much to say about Vance McDonald's 2018 season thus far, because he hasn't played yet. He's been sidelined with a foot injury that kept him to limited practices before the Week 1 matchup against the Browns. It sounds like the injury was minor and that he almost played anyway, but it was encouraging to see his fill-in Jesse James get 3 receptions for 60 yards on 5 targets.
The Steelers' second game of the year is at home against the Kansas City Chiefs, who allowed the fifth-fewest points to tight ends in 2017. Many fantasy players are probably trying to figure out if James or McDonald is the answer, and for Week 2 the answer is neither of them.
As for Week 3, you hope that you don't get "Road Ben" Roethlisberger, because Ben and the Steelers' offense get to take on the enigma Buccaneers. The Saints may have lost their Week 1 game against the Bucs, but in doing so they passed for 432 yards and 3 touchdowns. Their defense is projected as one of the worst, per our metrics, and we saw why on opening weekend. Ben and Vance will be a huge touchdown upside play in Week 3, so if you are streaming tight ends especially, keep this play in mind following this week's games.
Yahoo Ownership: 81%
Many fantasy owners grabbed the Pittsburgh D/ST for the Week 1 matchup against the Browns, and it paid off to the tune of 11 fantasy points. The only problem for them now is that the Steelers play against the high-octane Chiefs offense in Week 2. The Steelers D/ST ownership may be high now, but they will likely get dropped by many this week in fear of the dynamic Patrick Mahomes/Tyreek Hill combo.
Typically, I am not a proponent of carrying two defenses on your roster, but in this case I may make an exception with deeper rosters. Similar to what I laid out above with McDonald, the Steelers' defense will likely walk in to Tampa Bay and expose Fitzpatrick for the middling, journeyman quarterback that he is. In his career, Fitzpatrick has never passed for more than 265 yards or 2 touchdowns against the Steelers, and in their last matchup in 2016, the Steelers were able to get three sacks on the day. T.J. Watt and company should be able to repeat that performance in a couple of weeks.