Last season, the Rams didn't have anyone who could reliably step up in Cooper Kupp's absence. If Week 1 was any indication, they might have multiple guys capable of doing it, and both Tutu Atwell and Puka Nacua look like they'll be worth adding on waivers heading into Week 2.
Atwell, who had just 298 receiving yards in his first two NFL seasons, exploded for 119 yard on six catches, as he hit on several big plays from Matthew Stafford. He was second on the team with eight targets, but was a bigger part of the game plan than Van Jefferson, who many assumed would step into a big role without Kupp. They may end up alternating weeks as Stafford's preferred deep threat, but at least for this week, Atwell was the clear preferred option.
However, it was Nacua, in his NFL debut as a fifth-round pick, who looked like Kupp. He was by far the top target in the offense, with Stafford looking his way a whopping 15 times. He caught 10 of those and matched Atwell for a team-high 119 yards, and he could have had even more – he had a couple of tough passes go off his hands, and was just overthrown on what could have been a 35-yard touchdown As big as Nacua's game was, he could have been even better.
I liked Nacua a bit as a late-round sleeper, especially after Kupp's injury, and he showed why Sunday. With Stafford's arm strength and aggression as a passer, teams have to respect the downfield throw, which is going to leave the shorter areas of the field less open, and that's where Nacua can thrive. He isn't the best athlete on the field, but Nacua showed the ability to make plays after the catch in college, and he led the team with 42 yards after the catch Sunday.
Nacua won't replicate Kupp's production every week, but he did a pretty nice impersonation Sunday, and I think he's got a real chance to remain Stafford's No. 1 target at least until Week 5 when Kupp is eligible to return from IR. And that could make him a very useful Fantasy option in PPR formats especially.
Nacua should probably be the top target on waivers this week, especially if you're looking for a pass catcher. I'd be willing to put down 10% of my FAB budget to add Nacua (where I don't already have him rostered), while Atwell is more like a 5% budget guy, at most.
Here's who else we're going to be looking at adding heading into Week 2 of the Fantasy Football season.
PHI Philadelphia • #14
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
We heard a lot out of Eagles camp about how Kenneth Gainwell was being used as the lead back, but we were skeptical after they went out and added D'Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny this offseason. However, Penny was a healthy scratch Sunday, while Swift was almost a complete nonfactor despite being active, as he touched the ball just twice. Gainwell was, in fact, the clear lead runner, carrying the ball 14 times for 54 yards, while Swift and Boston Scott combined for just 6 yards on two carries. However, it was the work in the passing game that was arguably even more surprising, as Gainwell caught four of four passes thrown his way, while Swift caught just one of two targets. I expect this backfield to be fluid throughout the season, and it's not like Gainwell was so productive that there won't be room for Swift or Penny to emerge. But Gainwell was the clear lead back Sunday, playing 21 more snaps than Swift, and he's the clear guy to use in Week 2 if you need one.
LAR L.A. Rams • #23
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
There was some talk in training camp that the Rams really liked Kyren Williams and had a role planned for him, but I don't think anyone saw him challenging Cam Akers as their No. 1 back by Week 1. Akers still led the team with 22 carries, though he only managed 29 yards (and a touchdown), with much of his work coming late as the Rams were trying to run out the clock. Through three quarters, Williams had 11 carries to Akers' 10. This might just be a committee, but that's a bigger role than we expected Williams to have. He's the clear passing downs option, but also stayed in the game near the goal line and scored two touchdowns, a situation you would expect the Rams to turn to Akers for. That's a pretty good sign for Williams, who could end up being the better Fantasy option of these two.
Gus Edwards RB
BAL Baltimore • #35
Age: 28 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Edwards and Justice Hill will probably be the focus of a lot of waiver-wire speculation over the next few days in the wake of J.K. Dobbins season-ending ruptured Achilles. And they definitely need to be added in all leagues this week. But I'm not planning to break the budget for them. If I was truly desperate for a running back, I might be willing to go up to, say 10-15% of my FAB budget for Edwards, with Hill a less intriguing option despite scoring two touchdowns Sunday. Edwards started three of the four drives after Dobbins' injury, out-carrying Hill six to four, though it was Hill who got two short touchdowns. If he had that short-yardage role moving forward, Hill could be useful for Fantasy, but it's worth noting that this is his fourth season since entering the NFL and he has just one game with double-digit carries – he had 10, to be exact. Edwards is more likely to be the lead back, though because the Ravens figure to split up work and he doesn't catch passes, he'll likely just be an RB3 moving forward. That still has value, but he just shouldn't be viewed as one of those league-winning type waiver adds.
LV Las Vegas • #16
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
I thought Meyers was overlooked throughout draft season, and he proved it in his first game, as he emerged as Jimmy Garoppolo's early favorite target. He led the team with 10 targets, nine catches, and 81 yards, along with his two touchdowns from Garoppolo. Obviously, I trust Davante Adams to be the team's No. 1 option moving forward, but this was a game where only three players had more than one target for the Raiders, so this could be a heavily concentrated passing game moving forward, and that could still leave enough room for Meyers to be worth using, especially as he benefits from the defense attention Adams draws – Adams was often shadowed by All Pro corner Patrick Surtain Sunday. One thing that'll be worth watching here is that Meyers did leave the game late after a hit to the head, so he could be dealing with a concussion for Week 2.
Nico Collins WR
HOU Houston • #12
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
The Texans offensive line struggled to protect C.J. Stroud, but when he had time, he looked to Collins more than any other player. Collins earned a target on 11 of Stroud's passes in the game, catching six of them for 80 yards as he put together arguably the best game of his NFL career. Robert Woods also had 10 targets, so Collins wasn't far and away Stroud's top target, but he was the team's best receiver in Week 1. The case for him in Fantasy always revolved around his ability to earn a big target share in a shallow Texans receiving group, and that's what we saw in Week 1. This might still not be a great offense, but Collins has the opportunity to be a very useful Fantasy option, and he passed his first test.
NO New Orleans • #22
Age: 25 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Shaheed popped toward the end of the season, but was then overlooked in many Fantasy leagues behind Chris Olave and Michael Thomas. Olave and Thomas led the team with 10 and eight targets, respectively, but Shaheed still played a solid role, earning six targets on Derek Carr's 33 passes. That kind of target share could make a big-play guy like Shaheed a big factor in the offense, and he turned those six targets into five catches, 89 yards and a touchdown – and he added a couple of carries for 11 yards to get to 100 scrimmage yards. A running game role could help Shaheed remain Fantasy relevant, because he might be inconsistent as a pass-catcher as a relatively low target share guy who relies on big plays down the field. However, his Week 1 usage was encouraging enough that it's worth adding him if you've got the roster spot to play with.
ATL Atlanta • #25
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Allgeier wasn't the starter for the Falcons in Bijan Robinson's first game, but he did end up leading the team in both yards and carries, while scoring the Falcons' two short rushing touchdowns. Now, some context is necessary here – he scored his first touchdown only after Robinson did the heavy lifting, getting the Falcons down to the 4 yard line with a 21-yard run, while the second came as the Falcons were trying to run out the clock. However, for much of the second half especially, the Falcons were switching off drives with their two backs, and Allgeier actually started the drive that ended in his first touchdown. Robinson is going to be the primary back here, but Arthur Smith's ideal game plan might involve getting both of them 20-plus carries. Allgeier is going to matter more than we might want, and he could be a touchdown-dependent RB3/4 moving forward.
NE New England • #84
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
There were times this offseason when it wasn't sure Bourne was going to have a guaranteed spot on the Patriots roster after he took a big step backwards last season. However, he ended up earning a job and played a massive role in Week 1, emerging as Mac Jones' clear top option. The Patriots were playing without DeVante Parker, which is worth noting, but still, Bourne led the team in targets, catches, and yards, in addition to his two touchdowns. Bourne was a productive, efficient receiver in 2021, but never built on it amid the Patriots overall offensive struggles, so maybe this can be a delayed breakout. I'm skeptical that Bourne can keep this up, but he was impressive enough to warrant a look on waivers.
Zack Moss RB
IND Indianapolis • #21
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Moss didn't do anything to help his standing Sunday – he didn't even play Sunday as he continues to work his way back from a fractured arm. But, the way Sunday went for the Colts backs, not playing was the best thing he could have done. Rookie Evan Hull left Sunday's game with a knee injury, while Deon Jackson was just kind of disastrous. He had just 14 yards on 13 carries, added a paltry 14 more yards on five catches, and fumbled twice, both of which the Colts lost in a game against the Jaguars they might have won otherwise. If Hull had been healthy, you have to wonder if Jackson would've started to lose playing time already; I'll bet that's coming when Moss is cleared to play. That could happen as soon as Week 2, and Moss could be an RB3 if he gets that opportunity. Jackson did nothing Sunday to suggest Moss won't.