Fantasy Football: Week-Ahead Stash Candidates for Week 2
Fantasy football is all about being a step ahead of your competition and this weekly column aims to help you achieve that in a couple of ways.
First, I will identify players who could ultimately provide some value for your teams before they become hot waiver-wire adds. This will save you from spending an exorbitant amount of your free agent acquisition budget (FAAB) or using a high waiver priority on them, ultimately allowing you to save each of these for when you most need it.
Second, I'll dig through the data and player trends to illustrate why these players will be worth taking up a spot on your roster. I'm going to try to find the diamonds in the rough that inevitably emerge each and every year so that you don't have to sweat over whether or not you claimed them on waivers -- because you will already own them!
After this week, I'll also include evaluations of the players that I identified as stash candidates to see how well they did in the week you were saving them for. My goal each week is to provide you with starting- and flex-caliber players at each of their respective positions. That means I'm looking for top-12 quarterbacks, tight ends, and defenses, and top-36 running backs and wide receivers. If I've done that, then I've done my job.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers
ESPN Ownership: 27%
Jimmy Garoppolo's first game back after tearing his ACL in 2018 wasn't all that inspiring as he posted only 166 passing yards for one touchdown and an interception.
But what isn't recorded on the box score are the two George Kittle touchdowns that got called back due to penalties. Had those been upheld, Jimmy G's day would have looked much differently. Alas, they did not, and fantasy owners are scratching their heads wondering how he didn't perform against a below average Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense.
However, when Week 3 rolls around, Garoppolo will be facing a Pittsburgh Steelers secondary that just allowed nearly 350 passing yards to the New England Patriots. Granted, Tom Brady and Garoppolo are in different tiers, but the Pittsburgh offense has enough firepower to put up points against the 49ers' defense, putting Garoppolo in what should be a pass-heavy game script. Not to mention, the Steelers allowed over half of the quarterbacks they played against last year to throw two or more touchdowns, so expect a bounce back from Garoppolo over the coming weeks.
Ito Smith, RB, Atlanta Falcons
ESPN Ownership: 9%
Let's be honest, the Falcons' offense looked far from spectacular in their season debut. With Dirk Koetter back in the offensive coordinator seat, expectations were high for this offense to return to elite form. They definitely didn't in Week 1.
What's most discouraging for Devonta Freeman owners is that him and Ito Smith both had 50% of the snaps in Week 1 and Freeman had just two more carries. What also plays well for Smith is that he recorded the 23rd-highest rushing Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP, 1.00) in Week 1. Meanwhile, Freeman struggled tremendously, finishing last in Rushing NEP among 86 qualified running backs (-6.72) without recording a single rushing success, meaning none of his rushes increased the team's expected points.
Seen as purely a handcuff to Freeman, Smith could be in line for more work if these trends continue. The Falcons play an Indianapolis Colts team in Week 3 that just got gashed by Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson for 115 rushing yards (6.4 yards per carry), so the opportunities could be valuable if Smith gets them.
Willie Snead, WR, Baltimore Ravens
ESPN Ownership: 3%
All eyes are focused on Marquise Brown following his two long touchdowns and monster debut on Sunday. Despite his huge performance, Brown was used only sparingly throughout the game.
The Ravens were very deliberate about how much they wanted to use Brown throughout the preseason so as to not to aggravate the Lisfranc foot injury he suffered last year. It seems as though that continued into the first regular season game as he played only a mere 14 out of 77 snaps on Sunday.
However, slot receiver Willie Snead played 50 of the Baltimore Ravens' snaps against the Miami Dolphins, but he amassed only two catches for 41 yards. His day was saved by catching one of Lamar Jackson's five touchdowns, and Snead figures to see more work as the season continues.
When Jackson is forced to throw more underneath passes, that will likely shift targets towards Snead. In fact, in games that Jackson started last season, Snead was second on the team in target share at 16%. The Ravens will travel to Arrowhead in Week 3, and the Kansas City Chiefs' secondary was just exploited by the likes of Gardner Minshew, so I'm confident Jackson will be able to do the same with Snead as a top option in a game in which the Ravens should have to go to the air to keep up with KC's offense.
Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts
ESPN Ownership: 31%
One of the more under-the-radar injuries in Week 1 was that of Devin Funchess, who was placed on Injured Reserve because of a clavicle injury. While it's likely that Eric Ebron's usage goes up, it's fair to expect that Jack Doyle will also see a bump in his work, too.
During the 2017 season, Doyle averaged 7.2 targets and 5.3 receptions per game with Brissett at the helm. Doyle also saw 43 snaps on Sunday, compared to only 25 for Ebron, indicating he could be on the field for more scoring opportunities than Ebron will be.
Green Bay Packers, D/ST
ESPN Ownership: 6%
Well, apparently the Green Bay Packers have a defense. In the first game of the NFL's 100th season, Green Bay's defense tallied five sacks and an interception while only allowing 254 total yards and three points. Granted, it was against a putrid Chicago Bears offense "led" by Mitchell Trubisky, but it got the job done.
In Week 3, the Denver Broncos -- who just got held to 16 points by the Oakland Raiders of all teams -- come into Lambeau to play the Packers. During the late-night Monday Night Football game, the Raiders were able to sack Joe Flacco three times, so be prepared for another strong showing from the Packers defense come Week 3.