Week one has just begun and every fantasy team is still on equal footing, but things move fast in the NFL. Here’s what you need to know for week one of the 2016 season.
Theo Riddick, RB DET
The Lions and pass-catching back Theo Riddick have agreed to a contract extension, locking him in through the 2019 season. It’s a great sign for last season’s breakout player. While he’s unlikely to ever be the lead back, Riddick has a valuable weekly floor in PPR leagues that can sometimes make the difference for fantasy owners. He’s also still very undervalued if you need some running back depth or even a spot starter.
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR PHI
The Eagles are taking things slowly with their newly acquired receiver, Dorial Green-Beckham. The team likely doesn’t have much choice based on what we heard out of Tennessee. DGB might be the most talented receiver on the team, but he likely won’t get a chance to start until he proves he’s learned the playbook. Green-Beckham remains a high upside bet in dynasty leagues, but his price has dropped to make him much more reasonably priced compared to earlier this off-season.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR CAR
Panthers wideout Kelvin Benjamin picked right up where he left off over in the 2014 season during the season opener Thursday night. Reports had said Benjamin would be on a limited snap count as he continues to recover from a torn ACL, but he looked his same big and strong self, playing a majority of the snaps and leading the team in receiving. Although he has his share of non-believers, Benjamin’s dynasty ADP remained high, as did his trade value, so there’s little room for growth here, but it is obviously a good sign for the former Seminole, and possibly a bad sign for Devin Funchess, who caught just one pass for nine yards.
Marshawn Lynch, RB FA
A pre-game report Thursday night sent dynasty owners scrambling to the waiver wire as Pro Football Talk suggested retired running back Marshawn Lynch could be considering a return to the league. The decision would not likely come for another month and there would still be many decisions to be made, specifically how the Seahawks would react. For now, Lynch has enough left in the tank based on what we saw last year to be worthy of a roster spot in deeper leagues, while we wait and see how this plays out.
Garrett Grayson, QB NO
The New Orleans Saints waived former third round pick Garrett Grayson earlier in the week, and later signed him to their practice squad after he went unclaimed. There were some assumptions Grayson could be the team’s quarterback of the future, but the fact the team left him exposed doesn’t bode well for his future. Grayson can be dropped, even in super flex or 2QB dynasty leagues.
Drew Brees, QB NO
The Saints weren’t done dealing with their quarterbacks, as they rewarded veteran Drew Brees with a contract extension. While the deal, which pays Brees a $30 million signing bonus, is officially a five-year pact, it voids after 2017 and ties the two together for at least two more seasons. Brees will remain a high scoring option over the next two seasons, but could consider retirement at the conclusion of his contract.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR DEN
The Denver Broncos locked up receiver Emmanuel Sanders with a three-year contract extension, paying him $33 million total through the 2019 season. This should mean Sanders spends the remainder of his career with the Broncos. While he got off to a relatively slow start in Thursday night’s opener, he should be a reliable fantasy starter for the remainder of the season.
Jimmy Graham, TE SEA
Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham will reportedly suit up for the team’s week one tilt against the Dolphins, which comes as a major surprise considering Graham’s serious knee injury during the 2015 season. A year ago, Graham was already struggling in the Seattle offense before he went down for the remainder of the season, but all reports have been positive through his recovery. Graham’s dynasty value was decimated by the subpar play, injury and Graham’s age, but his talent clearly remains. Don’t expect Graham to make an impact early in the season, but he could become a factor as he proves he is fully healthy.
David Cobb, RB PIT
After being released by the Tennessee Titans, second-year running back David Cobb signed with the Steelers’ practice squad. Cobb’s rookie season didn’t give us much hope, but he’s clearly with a better organization and behind a star back with injury and off-field issues and a dynamic veteran who could be near the end of his career. For now, Cobb is worth monitoring, but I’d leave him on the waiver wire.
After less than two weeks combined on the 49ers roster, Jeremy Kerley and Rod Streater are both expected to be key contributors. Torrey Smith should be the team’s top receiver and many are expecting a breakout season from Vance McDonald, but the fact that these two veteran receivers could play a key role says more about they Niners than it does about any strides they might have made at this later stage of their respective careers.
Cecil Shorts, WR TB
After being cut by the Houston Texans, veteran free agent Cecil Shorts has signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s a good fit for the slot wide receiver since the team was expecting Kenny Bell to step up and claim a weekly role before ultimately being waived. Shorts is still on the outside looking in when it comes to his dynasty value, but this is about the best spot he could have found. If Vincent Jackson deals with any type of injury, Shorts could see an uptick in opportunity and might be worth a roster spot.
Christian Hackenberg, QB NYJ
The Jets head coach Todd Bowles explained that second round draft pick would “redshirt” this season, likely serving as a gameday inactive most weeks. This is no surprise considering how little the team used the former Penn State star during the pre-season. Also, they were not willing to part with either quarterback Geno Smith or Bryce Petty, meaning they know Hack is not ready. It may not be fair to say before he even takes an NFL pick, but this is looking like a wasted draft pick. He should not be on any dynasty roster.
DeAndre Smelter, WR FA
The San Francisco 49ers released wide receiver DeAndre Smelter with an injury settlement. It appeared as if Smelter would hit the team’s injured reserve list, but plans changed and Smelter is now a free agent. He’s dealt with a torn ACL and hamstring issues in the past two years, so I don’t expect teams to be lining up to sign him. Smelter can be dropped in all dynasty formats.