The 2016 NFL Season kicked off on Thursday night with the Denver Broncos escaping with a 21-20 victory over the Carolina Panthers in a rematch of Super Bowl 50. Unless you’re a fan of the Panthers or Broncos, there’s a good chance that the only newsworthy reason you turned into the game was to check on your fantasy football team.
The two biggest fantasy football stars of the night were Broncos running back C.J. Anderson and Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Anderson racked up 92 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown on the ground and added another 47 yards on four receptions with another touchdown through the air. Benjamin, on the other hand, hauled in six catches for 91 yards and a touchdown in his first game back since tearing his ACL in 2015.
Cam Newton, Demaryius Thomas, Greg Olsen, Jonathan Stewart, and Emmanuel Sanders underwhelmed in their first appearances of the season. Newton probably would’ve done slightly better had the referees not allowed the Broncos’ defense to make repeated helmet-to-helmet hits on him that may or may not have caused a head injury, but I digress.
Looking ahead to the rest of fantasy football Week 1 action, here are five players that likely went either late in drafts or undrafted that have a chance to put up tremendous value this weekend.
1. RB Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs
If you paid attention at all in the last week, then you probably already went out and swiped Ware off the waiver wire or drafted him late in your draft. Jamaal Charles is unlikely to play in Week 1 against the San Diego Chargers which leaves Ware as the major beneficiary. One hundred yards and a touchdown seems like a decent bet for Spencer Ware on Sunday.
2. WR Rishard Matthews, Tennessee Titans
— Amie Wells (@TitansAmie) September 1, 2016
There’s no question that the Titans will be a run-heavy offense in 2016 as the team tries to protect quarterback Marcus Mariota and play ball-control offense. That being said, they didn’t take Mariota No. 2 overall to never let him throw the ball. While all of the preseason hype has been around rookie Tajae Sharpe, Matthews is the more experienced and reliable option. He could very easily end up with 60-70 yards and a touchdown Sunday, if not more.
3. WR Markus Wheaton, Pittsburgh Steelers
There’s plenty of room in the Steelers’ high-flying offense to support a second receiver outside of Antonio Brown. The last two years, that receiver has been Martavis Bryant, but Bryant will miss the entire 2016 season due to suspension and the Steelers will also be without the now-retired Heath Miller. That leaves a ton of targets open for the receiver opposite of Brown which should be Wheaton if he can stay healthy. Against the Redskins, Wheaton will get a whole lot of Bashaud Breeland, who is beatable.
4. TE Martellus Bennett, New England Patriots
— CSN New England (@CSNNE) September 9, 2016
I would feel a little better about this selection if Tom Brady were suiting up Sunday night against the Arizona Cardinals, but Jimmy Garappolo is going to have to throw the ball somewhere. Patrick Peterson will likely be locked on to Julian Edelman, and Tyrann Mathieu will likely follow Rob Gronkowski across the field. That leaves Bennett against either Deone Bucannon or a corner. I like Bennett’s chances.
5. WR Willie Snead, New Orleans Saints
I’ve pounded the table for the last few months in support of Snead and yet he continued to go in the double-digit rounds of fantasy drafts. Drew Brees loves Snead as he nearly put up a 1,000-yard season out of nowhere last year. Now with Marques Colston out of the picture, Snead moves into that second receiver role opposite of Brandin Cooks. With a shootout expected against Oakland, Snead should have a huge day.
[Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images]