Players who flashed in the preseason, like running backs Zamir White with the Raiders and Tyler Allgeier in Atlanta, were non-factors when things got real. Even preseason darling Dameon Pierce took a backseat to Rex Burkhead in Houston.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that these players are doomed to the bench all season, but it does show that the preseason is to be taken to some point with a grain of salt.
Meanwhile, some players who went largely ignored during fantasy drafts impacted their NFL teams and are back on the radar in fantasy.
Here are three players to be considered when perusing free agents heading into Week 2.
Curtis Samuel may be Carson Wentz’s new BFF
It was easy to forget that Curtis Samuel was a legitimate flex option back in 2019 and 2020.
Since then, Samuel has changed teams and appeared in just five games last season with Washington.
Samuel reminded everyone that he is an offensive weapon in Week 1 against Jacksonville, appearing in a dual role as a receiver and rusher. He also appeared to be QB Carson Wentz’s new best friend. Wentz targeted Samuel 11 times, and the former Carolina Panther caught eight passes for 55 yards and a touchdown. He added 17 yards rushing on four carries to finish with 19.2 PPR fantasy points.
With the Panthers in 2020, he averaged 14.1 ppg in PPR formats. Samuel appeared in 15 games working primarily in the slot and adding another 200 yards rushing on 41 carries. He scored five total touchdowns. In 2019, he scored seven (six receiving, one rushing).
His receiving totals were stymied by erratic quarterback play. He had 54 catches on 106 targets but still managed 10.7 ppg in PPR.
In ESPN leagues, Samuel was rostered in about 8% of leagues, but that number climbed to 57.7% after Week 1 – he finished as WR 13. That means he’s still available in about 40% of leagues and worth a move for anyone needing depth at WR.
Can Taysom Hill help TE-starved fantasy football owners?
Taysom Hill is doing Taysom Hill things again.
Hill is another guy who will be expected to produce several different ways.
The New Orleans Saints gave Hill a big contract before the 2021 season with the promise of an open quarterback competition with Jameis Winston. That didn’t work out for Hill, who is much more effective as a multi-threat skill player.
This year, the versatile Hill appears to be back at tight end – and back to his Swiss Army Knife role as a pass catcher, rusher, and wildcat quarterback.
In Week 1, Hill responded with four rushes for 81 yards and a touchdown but had only one catch for 2 yards for 15.3 PPR fantasy points, making him TE3 for the week.
He is still only rostered in 21% of ESPN leagues, even after the strong showing to start the season. The popular theory is that he will not sustain top-tier fantasy production at the position despite being multi-dimensional.
But if you’re looking at Hill, who was rostered in about 4% of leagues prior to Week 1, you probably got locked out of the top couple of tight end tiers. If you did, your tight end position is touchdown-dependent, and you may be streaming or praying for continued miracles from O.J. Howard in Houston and hoping for TDs from the likes of Cameron Brate and Hayden Hurst.
So, why not take a shot with Hill and what appears to be a terrific Saints offense? If it doesn’t pan out, he’s another TD-dependent tight end in the streaming mix.
Wide receiver D.J. Chark has a home in the Lions lineup, at least for now
Wide receiver D.J. Chark made his Detroit Lions debut Sunday in a 38-35 loss to the Eagles and was second on the team in targets, routes, and snaps behind Ahman Ra St. Brown despite two early drops, finishing with 15.2 PPR fantasy points.
Chark recovered from the miscues for four catches for 58 yards and a touchdown on eight targets from QB Jared Goff.
Like Curtis Samuel in Washington, a season lost to injuries and a change in teams from Jacksonville to Detroit has made it easy to forget that Chark was at least a fantasy flex option in 2019 and 2020 for the Jaguars. He turned in his best season in 2019, catching 73 passes for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns for 15.8 fantasy points per game in PPR formats. Those numbers went down to 11.8 ppg in 2020.
Last season, he played in only four games due to injury with the Jaguars and moved on to Detroit, where he is the starter opposite Josh Reynolds and St. Brown. He appears to have carved out a role with the Lions and found some chemistry with Goff as he battles St. Brown and TE T.J. Hockenson for targets.
We’ll see how long all of that lasts when rookie first-round pick Jameson Williams returns from a knee injury he suffered in the National Championship Game while at Alabama.
Chark is rostered in about half of ESPN fantasy leagues, so there’s a chance to use him as a flex option, at least until Williams joins the lineup.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference