Since Alex Gelhar already dropped some of the top streaming options for Week 1 at both quarterback and defense, I was left with some deep options just in case you're really struggling to find some upside plays in the opening week of NFL football. Keep in mind, most of these players/teams are bottom-of-the-barrel targets for deep leagues, and I'm not saying they're going to be top scorers at their position, but they should do enough to keep your team competitive in Week 1 if you need some assistance. So, let's break it down.
Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams | 1.2% owned: A home matchup against the Indianapolis Colts will provide fantasy fans the first look at a revamped Los Angeles Rams offense under new head coach Sean McVay. Now, you're not looking to start Jared Goff at quarterback in a 10, or even 12-team fantasy league. But there are two-QB formats and deep leagues where he's worth consideration, based on the matchup.
It's always difficult in the first few weeks of a new season to pinpoint which defenses are good matchups, because all we have to go with are last year's statistics. But here we go: In 2016, the Colts defense allowed the seventh-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks (17.69). The Indy defense also ranked bottom 10 in the NFL overall in each of the last three seasons, and allowed 262.5 pass yards per game, sixth-most in the NFL a season ago. The team will be without veteran cornerback Vontae Davis as he deals with a groin injury.
These weaknesses in the Colts defense may allow Goff to move the ball downfield at will. Los Angeles added some solid offensive pieces to the mix in the offseason including wideouts Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and rookie Cooper Kupp, along with rookie tight end Gerald Everett and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth. Let's not forget Todd Gurley's ability to make plays as a pass-catcher either.
Add to all of this the fact that the Colts will be without Andrew Luck under center, and the Rams could dominate time of possession in this game. A projection of 250 pass yards and two touchdown throws is not out of grasp for Goff in Week 1, which equals 18 fantasy points in a standard league. That's all you're really looking for if you're so desperate for a streamer that you need to consider Goff in Week 1.
For starters, the Washington defense has not necessarily been a stout unit the past few years. In fact, the team has allowed 300-plus yards of total offense to opposing teams in 42 of 48 games since 2014 ... that's second-most in the NFL after only the Cleveland Browns. The unit also allowed the eighth-most passing yards per game at a clip of 258.1 in 2016.
Wentz set Philadelphia franchise records for rookie quarterbacks with 379 completions, 3,782 pass yards and 16 pass touchdowns. And he posted his second-highest passing yard total of the season against Washington in Week 14. In terms of overall fantasy potential, Wentz's 212.98 standard fantasy points in 2016 was the seventh-most in history by a rookie quarterback, and that was with a much less intimidating arsenal of pass-catching weaponry around him than he has heading into 2017. His top pass-catchers in terms of total receptions last season were tight end Zach Ertz, wideout Jordan Matthews and running back Darren Sproles, in that order.
Philly's wideouts combined for a mere eight touchdown catches last year, second-fewest in the NFL. That's why they added Alshon Jeffery in free agency, a wideout who in his last full 16-game season scored 10 times by himself. He's a threat all over the field but especially in and around the end zone. Jeffery and Wentz have already hooked up for two touchdowns in preseason action. The team also added deep threat Torrey Smith, who could be a game-changer for this offense. As a rookie, Wentz averaged 5.3 air yards per completion, while Smith boasts the second-highest yards per reception average in the NFL since 2014 (16.6). Upgrades all around the Eagles offense could make for a much more promising sophomore campaign for Wentz, beginning in Week 1 against the Redskins.
Enter rookie tight end Evan Engram. He looks to be leading the pack thus far in terms of the 2017 tight end draft class, and posted six receptions on nine targets for 75 yards in the preseason, working mainly with the first-team offense. The rookie's metrics are off the charts for a player of his size, mainly his 4.42-40 speed with a 6-foot-3, 235 lb. frame. He looks to be a big part of New York's passing game out of the gate, and the team's jettison of Will Tye is further notification that they're comfortable moving forward with Engram as their main pass-catching tight end.
With Beckham's status in question, Engram could be in line for a solid target share in Week 1 against a Dallas defense that allowed 119 receptions and 1,199 receiving yards to tight ends in 2016, both the highest mark in the NFL.
Nobody wanted anything to do with Julius Thomas in fantasy drafts this year, and for good reason. He's coming off a career-worst season with the Jaguars in which he only played in nine games due to injury. In a new situation in Miami, Thomas does have some potential as a streamer against the Buccaneers in Week 1.
First, Thomas is reunited with coach Adam Gase who was Thomas' offensive coordinator during some of his most productive seasons in Denver (obviously, Peyton Manning helped, too). In 2013 and 2014, Thomas posted 24 total touchdowns. He's not likely to get anywhere close to that kind of production with the Dolphins, but he has a favorable matchup against Tampa Bay to start the year.
The Bucs allowed 48 receptions on the road to tight ends in 2016, the fourth most in the league. Plus, Tampa Bay allowed the second-most receiving yards on the road to tight ends last season, second-most in the NFL. Home/road splits are not the end all, be all, but like I said earlier, all we have to go on here is last season's defensive stats to help point us in the right direction.
With Jay Cutler under center, I can see Thomas being a security blanket for him in and around the end zone. At 6-foot-5, and 263 lbs., Thomas is a mismatch no matter where he lines up and offers Cutler a towering target in high-value situations. So if you're desperate, Thomas is a low-end streaming option for Week 1 matchups.
Philadelphia Eagles D/ST | 22.8% owned: Under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, the Eagles D/ST is a sleeper fantasy option heading into 2016. The unit did a lot of under-the-radar good things a season ago, mainly improving from 28th in the NFL in points allowed in 2015 to 12th in the league in 2016 under Schwartz's scheme. The unit posted 10-plus fantasy points eight different times in 2016 which was second most among defenses. Two of those instances came against the Redskins: 14.00 points in Week 6 and 10.00 points in Week 14. Philadelphia also allowed a touchdown on just 46 percent of red zone drives last season, fourth lowest in the NFL.
Washington has a tough task ahead of them considering the team's lackluster preseason performance. The first team offense didn't show much chemistry, and the run game was stagnant. What's more, the team lost two 1,000-yard receivers in the offseason in Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. They're rolling with Terrelle Pryor, Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder as the top options in the passing game, none of whom can be considered proven, consistent talents at this point. Pryor is a converted quarterback who posted his first 1,000-yard receiving season with Cleveland last year, Reed is often injured and Crowder could be asked to do too much as a WR2 in this offense.
All of these factors point to the Eagles being a solid streaming option for Week 1 fantasy matchups, and the unit could be a strong option going forward if they show well on the road against Washington.
Dallas boasted the NFL's No. 1 rushing defense and finished as the league's fifth-ranked scoring defense a season ago. The Giants averaged 88.3 rushing yards per game a season ago, fourth-worst in the league. In addition, the team totaled just six rushing touchdowns, worst in the entire NFL. So they're definitely not getting it done against Dallas on the ground.
With Odell Beckham Jr.'s status in question (ankle) for the season opener, the Cowboys may not have to worry about his game-changing field presence. Of course, Beckham's availability is yet to be determined, so it's something to monitor. Following a 2016 campaign in which the Cowboys owned the league's worst passing defense, the team overhauled its secondary in the offseason. Cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne are no longer with the team, nor are safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox. The team added four secondary pieces in the draft, plus veteran cornerback Nolan Carroll and safety Robert Blanton, one of the top-ranked safeties in free agency.
One final factor in why the Dallas D/ST unit could be a force to reckon with this season, second-year pro Jaylon Smith finally seems ready to rock after he missed his entire rookie year with an ACL injury. While Dallas could keep his snaps on a pitch count early-on, he's poised to wreak havoc on opposing offenses.