Eric Giessler, Across the Board Fantasy Expert
The NFL Season is short and runs in phases; right now is phase one. This phase does not last long, typically less than three weeks. There are many unresolved situations amongst the skill positions throughout the league. Many patient owners will cling to a fallacy they knew as true for far too long while they slide in the standings. Don't be that guy/gal, be pro-active on the wire during phase one. Before the games start, try to identify fluid situations and false "facts". Patience is needed only on the top 75% of your roster, your bench is full of sh*t birds that you think are worth more than they are, especially if you play in a league with twelve or more managers and deep rosters. During phase one, try to use your bench to target upside and unresolved situations. Some you will hit on, and some you won't; identify the new facts every week and maneuver your bench accordingly.
I'm going to run through some fluid situations at each position and recommend a few players at different ownership levels, using Yahoo's player universe. I will try my best to not simply list obvious players. These aren't even necessarily players I endorse as studs, or real life stalwarts; these will be players who could wake up Monday morning with an opportunity that was maybe overlooked today.
Nyheim Hines IND 48% owned- Do you believe in Marlon Mack? I do, but that is irrelevant, even a Mack truther should know that he is a volatile option post-Luck retirement. There are two scenarios that are very likely, that would result in Hines being a sneaky value. If Mack gets hurt, which is likely at some point, boom Hines! If the Colts stink without Luck, negative game scripts, Hines and his well documented PPR skills will be featured.
Justin Jackson LAC 36% - This one should be obvious, Melvin Gordon is not walking through that door. Austin Ekeler is a clear beneficiary; but what about Jackson? I'm not certain that Ekeler can handle a full-time role for more than a month. Also, it's been years since we have seen a Chargers team without Gordon. My gut tells me that Jackson is the goal-line man and I'd put my money on 10 carries for him or more week 1. Don't wait until Monday for Jackson, if you can get him now, do it. If he stinks move on after week one.
I considered writing Ronald Jones II for my next guy at 31% owned, but my boss called and said if I did that he would find a new person to write this column.
Ito Smith ATL 22%- Do I like Ito Smith? Not really, but does he fit the ideology of this article? Yes.
Chase Edmunds ARI 5% - This guy can make plays, Kingsbury wants to run a lot of those. Just take a wait and see approach with Edmunds; if he appears to have a role in week 1 and you have room, give him a shot.
Dontrell Hilliard CLE 1% - Hilliard is the direct back-up to Nick Chubb and has very nice receiving ability. With Duke traded to Houston, I think there is a good chance Hilliard soaks up more targets than most people anticipate; if he doesn't, oh well you spent nothing on him. If he takes Duke Johnson's old role, 1% is criminally under-owned.
Donte Moncrief 71% and James Washington 38% - Monitor this situation closely. I cannot remember a time when Big Ben's second target wasn't valuable. Who is his second target? Debatable. If possible, circle the wagons here and own both.
Geronimo Allison GB 58%- Last year, in five games Geronimo had 20 catches for 303 yards and 2 TDs. Not a bad rate there. I'm not sure who will emerge as Rodger's numero dos, but that spot will hold value. If you like Valdes-Scantling better, he is 68% owned.
Courtland Sutton DEN 57% - Year 1 was considered disappointing for this 2018 hype darling. Hop on the post-hype train and see what happens.
San Francisco WRs - Pettis 68%, Goodwin 29%, Deebo 19% - I'm a believer in the 49ers ability to move the ball. Despite Shanahan being a running game O.G., I think this team will have to throw the ball a lot. Monitor this situation and try to own the winner of the target hustle.
Tre'Quan Smith NO 17% - This guy plays for the Saints and doesn't sit the bench; keep close watch.
Albert Wilson MIA 7% and Devante Parker MIA 14% - Have you guys ever seen that movie where an Ivy League overachiever makes it to the NFL and gets signed by every bad team around? Yep Fitzmagic is back son!! I prefer Wilson over Parker.
Mecole Hardman KC 16% - I don't think Hardman has a role right now, but follow the Chiefs; if at any point he appears to start gaining traction and cuts into Watkin's snap count, get on it as fast as you can and sort it out later.
Darren Waller OAK 24% - This guy has a WR skillset and plays TE. He is firmly atop the depth chart on a team that may be forced into throwing the ball a lot. I like him over a lot of the names ahead of him.
Dallas Goedert PHI 18% - If you own Ertz and play in a league with deep benches it may be a wise plan to stash this beast. With an injury, Goedert is an immediate top 5-8 TE option. Without an injury he may still pop off at times.
Noah Fant DEN 15% - He is fast. He is actually very fast. Has some depth chart problems, monitor this one week 1.
Gerald Everett LAR 5% - Is this the year the high powered Rams utilize the TE position? Probably not, but there is a non-zero chance that they do. Reports of Everett having an amazing off-season are abundant and he passes the eye test. Wait and see on Gerald.
Jimmy Garoppolo SF 56% - This former GQ model has displayed a lot of competence in the past. Reports of his pre-season were mostly negative. I say he is worth a flier for week 1, if he looks bad throw him on the heap.
Josh Allen BUF 33% - I don't personally like Allen, but fantasy football has a hack; QBs who run are more likely to score more points. It's simple and proven.
Phase one of the NFL Season requires the paranoia of a forest gatherer with no defense mechanism. Grab everything you can without dying, wake up tomorrow and do it again. Once you've done solid work during phase one, you should be able to chill out a bit for phase two; AKA the winter. Remember to watch unresolved situations and don't assume all of your opinions are facts. False beliefs can be a major roadblock to seeing reality.
Eric Giessler - Across the Board