In what should be a weekly article, we will take a look at players who had excellent fantasy performances who were likely unowned, or at least not started in almost nearly every league. We’ll take a look at one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, and one tight end who had surprising performances.
(Article possibly will be edited if someone in one of the two Monday Night Football games deserve to make the list more so than someone who already is.)
Alex Smith, Chiefs
Week 1 stats – 368 yards, 4 passing TD, 0 INT, 3 rushing yards
Smith’s zero interceptions aren’t a surprise, as he has only averaged 6.3 over the last six seasons. Now in his 12th season, he has never thrown more than 23 touchdown passes in a season, and only had 15 in 15 games in 2016. Last season he threw for 363 yards in the season opener, but no more than 287 in any other game. He had zero games of 3+ touchdown passes.
Tarik Cohen, Bears
Week 1 stats – 66 rushing yards, 8 receptions, 47 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
Cohen was drafted in the fourth round in last April’s draft. The diminutive back (5’6, 181 lbs.) wasn’t expected to play much of a role behind second-year running back Jordan Howard, who was second in the NFL in rushing yards last season. He made the most of just five carries (13.2 ypc), but was targeted a remarkable 12 times, catching eight passes.
Mike Tolbert, Bills
Week 1 stats – 42 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD, 1 reception, 12 receiving yards
Tolbert averaged just 149.7 rushing yards and 106.3 receiving yards with five total touchdowns over the last three seasons as a member of the Carolina Panthers. With Mike Gilislee off to New England, he took the role of backup running back with the Bills and received 12 carries, one of which went for a score.
Kenny Golladay, Lions
Week 1 stats – 4 receptions, 69 receiving yards, 2 TD
Golladay was selected in the third round by the Lions in the 2017 draft. He was only owned in 7.8% of ESPN leagues heading into the opening week. His first career game will be one he clearly never forgets, as he finished with two scores which both came in the fourth quarter.
Nelson Agholar, Eagles
Week 1 stats – 6 receptions, 86 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
Agholar has been a major disappointment for the Eagles since they selected him in the first round in 2015, as he tallied up just 59 receptions for 648 yards and three touchdowns in his first two seasons. He reached both career-highs in receptions and receiving yards in the opening game, as he never topped more than four catches or 64 yards during his first two seasons.
Jesse James, Steelers
Week 1 stats – 6 receptions, 41 receiving yards, 2 receiving TD
James was seen by a fantasy sleeper by some last season, but despite playing in every game he only finished with 39 catches for 338 yards and three touchdowns. Standing at 6’7, the large-bodied James had a career day in the first game of his third season. He tied a career-high in receptions, and it was the first multi-touchdown game of his career.