Terry Blount: Players who emerged in Week 1 to help your fantasy team

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen, left, made nine receptions for 157 yards in a 29-19 win against cornerback P.J. Williams and New Orleans on Monday in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

Welcome to Week 2.


In Week 1 we saw a number of rookies emerge as fantasy stars. We also saw some perennial fantasy studs come up a bit short of their expectations.

This week we’ll be looking at a few players who emerged in Week 1 who could be fantasy contributors in Week 2 and beyond.


Out of left field (I know, wrong sport), a fantasy prospect has materialized in Chicago. Bears rookie running back Tarik Cohen out-performed teammate Jordan Howard in Week 1, rushing for 66 yards on a mere five carries while adding eight receptions for 47 yards and one receiving touchdown.

Howard, last year’s rookie sensation, only out-touched Cohen 16-13. Howard owners should not abandon their guy, but Cohen’s display cannot be ignored. This week he’ll face a Tampa defense that generously allowed 19.7 fantasy points per game to running backs in 2016 (12th most in the NFL). Cohen should be available on almost any free agent wire. If you’re looking for depth at the position, then give this guy a try. I think he could be flex-worthy in Week 2, but you have to act now, as he’ll be one of the top free agents on the board this week.

With three touchdowns in a losing effort to the Kansas City Chiefs — you all heard about that, right? — New England running back Mike Gillislee could emerge as a top performer in the Patriots running back committee. While he was stopped twice on fourth-and-inches — you remember that, don’t you? — and only gained 45 rushing yards, he had 15 carries while teammate James White only managed 10 totes.

That all three of Gillislee’s scores were in short yardage at the goal line and being the Patriots’ red zone back could make him the most popular fantasy option over White, Rex Burkhead or Dion Lewis. While the other backs combine for more targets in the passing game, Gillislee shouldn’t have to share the red zone touches.

This week he’ll face New Orleans, a team that allowed a whopping 18 rushing touchdowns to the running back position in 2016 (tied for second most in the league). For now, call him a flex, but he should get some decent points along the way and make for nice depth on your squad. If you play him you will have a bigger smile than Tom Brady’s in the fourth quarter, guaranteed.

Minnesota wide receiver Stefon Diggs rewarded his owners in Week 1, posting seven receptions on eight targets, 93 yards and two touchdowns. Not a bad line, right?

Well, another Viking wideout was at least equally impressive, if not more. Minnesota wide receiver Adam Thielen was a target and yardage machine, racking up nine receptions for 157 yards on 10 targets. While being held out of the end zone, Thielen seemed to surpass Diggs in performance and even became a favorite of Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford.

This week he’ll face a Pittsburgh team that held Cleveland’s wideouts to a paltry 15.8 points in Week 1, but Minnesota’s offense should present much more of a challenge. Get this target monster on your squad ASAP and feel free to start him as a flex or even a WR3.

After posting only four touchdowns in first two NFL seasons, Pittsburgh tight end Jesse James racked up two scores in Week 1. His line of six receptions for 41 yards on eight targets indicated that James has taken things up a notch in his third NFL season. I think James will rob a few fantasy points from Minnesota in Week 2.

Philadelphia tight end Zach Ertz had a nice outing in Week 1, garnering eight receptions for 93 yards versus Washington. His eight targets actually tied running back Darren Sproles and wide receiver Nelson Agholor in the category. He’ll face Kansas City in Week 2, and while Chiefs safety Eric Berry did a great job against New England tight end Rob Gronkowski — did you see it? — he is out for the year with an Achilles injury.

I expect Ertz to post decent numbers, but KC might be able to slow him down if the Chiefs’ linebackers can cover him over the middle. I’ll call Ertz a low-end TE1, but KC will win its second game in Week 2.



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