The NFL season officially starts tonight with the Chiefs vs. Patriots kicking off at 8:30 ET. As you look over your teams, you may be feeling apprehensive about the guys you drafted in the later rounds. These rounds are often a toss-up and many players selected here will end up being dropped at some point. This list will help you make decisions on these players and is particularly useful in deeper formats. All players on this list are currently owned in less than 30% of ESPN fantasy leagues. A-lot of these guys are total gambles and none are worth banking on, but some could prove useful in leagues with 14+ teams.
Cooper Kupp, WR Rams: 14% Owned
Kupp enters the league this year following an illustrious college career at Eastern Washington University. Over four years, Kupp hauled in 428 passes for 6,464 yards and 73 touchdowns. He heads into LA with last year’s first overall pick Jared Goff at the helm and a first year coach in Sean McVay. The potential is certainly there, but the bottom line is that Kupp is an unproven commodity with lots of questions marks surrounding him. However, at 14% owned he is certainly worth keeping an eye on and could become an option in deeper PPR formats. Kupp is one of several new wide outs in LA and only time will tell who will get targets. Teammate Robert Woods (2% owned) is higher up on the depth chart for the time being and is also worth watching.
Wendell Smallwood, RB Eagles: 8% Owned
The Eagles head into the season with a three headed monster of Legarrette Blount, Darren Sproles, and Smallwood. A second year man out of West Virginia, Smallwood hasn’t done a whole lot between the preseason and his rookie campaign to warrant much hype. However, Sproles is 34 and Blount is a specialist who will be primarily used in short yardage situations. Sproles is also the type of player who is best used sparingly, so theoretically there will be room for Smallwood to get looks. With how paper thin running back depth is right now, Smallwood is certainly an intriguing option at 8% owned.
Laquon Treadwell, WR Vikings: 1% Owned
Treadwell is purely speculation at this point. One of the most highly touted rookies in last year’s draft, Treadwell was a complete non-factor last season, hauling in only one pass for fifteen yards. Treadwell is also buried on the Vikings depth chart, so at this point he certainly isn’t worth a roster spot. However, Treadwell is one of the youngest players in the league and will have a year of experience under his belt going into this season. At 1% owned, he’s almost certainly available and worth putting on your watch list. He could become a game changer in deeper formats if he shows signs of reaching his potential.
T.J. Yeldon, RB Jaguars: 1% Owned
The hype train has long gone on the former Alabama star and Yeldon has failed to gain traction in Jacksonville thus far in his NFL career. Yeldon’s fantasy prospects are further dampened with Leornard Fournette now in the mix after the Jaguars grabbed with the fourth overall pick. Yeldon will also be competing with Chris Ivory for touches. That said, Yeldon’s primary value will come in the passing game. Over two seasons in the NFL, Yeldon has hauled in 86 passes. He isn’t expected to play week one due to a neck injury, but Yeldon should continue to get looks in the passing game once he is healthy. He is still young, and one can only hope that he will live up to his expectations now that the hype has died down.
Taylor Gabriel, WR Falcons: 8% Owned
Gabriel made a name for himself last season after being claimed off waivers by the Falcons in September. He hauled in 35 passes and scored six touchdowns and also had three grabs in the Super Bowl. Gabriel is due for some touchdown regression, but he is still an intriguing option due to the fact that the reigning MVP will be throwing to him. He also heads into this season having played with the team for some time and going through training camp with Atlanta as opposed to being thrown into the mix last September. Keep an eye on him as the season progresses.
Torrey Smith, WR Eagles: 29% Owned
Smith enters Philadelphia as part of a revamped receiving corps under second year QB Carson Wentz. Smith is best known for his time in Baltimore but was not the same player in San Francisco. Still, Smith begins the season as the #2 receiver behind Alshon Jefferey and specializes in long receptions. If Wentz improves in his sophomore campaign, look for Smith to be a viable option going forward.
Kendall Wright, WR Bears: 14% Owned
Wright is the only Bears receiver with any significant NFL experience. No matter how poor the Bears passing attack may be this season, Wright is a solid bet to be right in the middle of it. He may be a couple seasons removed from his peak production, but Wright should see healthy targets that could prove valuable in PPR formats. Look for his ownership percentage to rise over the course of the season.
Charles Clay, TE Bills: 4% Owned
Clay’s stock has dropped over the years and he can no longer be considered anything close to a viable starting option at tight end. Still, Clay will likely vulture some touchdowns this season and could be worth stashing as a backup tight end. His value is essentially touchdown or bust.