The beautiful chaos of fantasy football is back, with Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season officially in the books. This isn’t the time to rest on your laurels – snap counts, surprise benchings, and emerging stars remind us that our fantasy lineups must always be evolving.
Eli Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Yahoo! Ownership: 8%
Draft Kings salary: $5,000
This one is sure to be one of – if not the most – popular roster adds ahead of this weekend. We all need to try and get ourselves some shares of Eli Mitchell. Like a “Stone Cold Stunner” out of nowhere, the sixth-round rookie shocked everyone by appearing on the 49ers’ active roster against Detroit instead of fantasy darling Trey Sermon.
An early knee injury to RB1 Raheem Mostert saw the San Francisco backfield handed to the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajun alum. In an offence built on establishing the ground attack, Mitchell rumbled for 104 yards and a touchdown, averaging an elite-level 5.5 yards per carry. We do have to remember his success came against a Lions defence that gave up the most fantasy points to running backs in 2020.
Keep in mind that head coach Kyle Shanahan loves running by committee (even if Mostert is expected to miss at least eight weeks) and there are still plenty of unknowns, including how much Sermon sees the field, and the lurking presence of JaMycal Hasty who vultured a TD on Sunday. However, since RB fantasy production is at a premium around the NFL, I advise throwing some FAAB Mitchell’s way and seeing how this all works out.
Jared Goff, QB, Detroit Lions
Yahoo! Ownership: 7%
Draft Kings salary: N/A
Despite having the reputation as a dink-and-dunker, it seems like Jared Goff may have stumbled into a nice situation for himself in Detroit. Battling one of the league’s tougher defences on Sunday, the 2016 first overall draft pick posted 338-yards through the air for three touchdowns against San Francisco, throwing just one interception and running three times as well.
All that equalled a top-four fantasy QB performance for Week 1. Granted, many of those fantasy points came late when the game was (mostly) out of reach, but garbage time still counts! The Lions should find themselves playing from behind often in 2021, which means more fourth quarter stat-padding. This makes Goff a decent streaming option and nice DFS contrarian choice in Week 2 when Detroit faces a Packers club coming off a 38-3 shellacking courtesy of New Orleans.
Anthony Schwartz, WR, Cleveland Browns
Yahoo! Ownership – 1%
Draft Kings salary – $3,300
After he missed a good chunk of training camp with hamstring issues, it was a surprise to see Anthony Schwartz so involved so early in Cleveland’s offence in Kansas City. The Auburn track star unleashed his world-class speed on Sunday, out-pacing coverage for a 44-yard reception, hauled in two others and rushed once for a 17-yard gain that gave him 86 total yards from scrimmage.
Star WR Odell Beckham Jr. was a last-minute scratch as he looks to come back from ACL surgery, which is likely why Schwartz was so busy in Week 1. If OBJ sits again in Week 2 versus the Texans, Schwartz is worth a flex spot start – and, at worst, is a smart bench stash for now.
Marvin Jones Jr., WR, Jaguars
Yahoo! Ownership – 61%
Draft Kings salary – $4,700
Targeted nine times in Sunday’s season-opener against Houston, Marvin Jones Jr. caught five passes and found the end zone to the tune of 77 yards and 18 FPTs in PPR formats. That’s the type of production I was expecting when I made him a sleeper selection in my pre-season wide receiver fantasy rankings. A WR-18 last year, the veteran quickly found chemistry with first overall pick Trevor Lawrence in training camp and that carried over to this past Sunday.
Jacksonville quickly found themselves in a 14-0 hole opposite the lowly Texans, and that of course forced them to the air. Lawrence chucked it up 51 times, and Jones tied teammate Laviska Shenault Jr. for the second-most targets. If the Jaguars’ defence couldn’t handle Houston, then it is very likely that they’ll be playing catchup again when they host Denver.
The ball should continue to come Jones’ way often. He offers a high-floor solution as a third receiver or flex moving forward.