Fantasy drafts are an exciting and emotional time for managers, but sometimes things don’t pan out as we intended. While it’s only Week 1, scoring the most possible points is always the goal here and this piece will attempt to unearth and highlight players who could over-perform expectations right out of the gate, propelling your team to the top of the leaderboard from the start.
Some could already be on your rosters, while others may have gone undrafted, waiting to be plucked off the waiver wire for some Week 1 magic.
Robby Anderson - WR, Panthers
Everybody loves a revenge-game narrative and we get a juicy one to begin the 2021 season. Robby Anderson, now reunited with his 2018-2019 quarterback Sam Darnold, will face their former team at home in North Carolina. Anderson caught 88 passes for 1,353 yards and 11 touchdowns in 25 contests as a member of the New York Jets with Darnold at the helm.
The Jets may have made some moves to bolster their secondary, but they ended the 2020 season allowing the 15th-highest schedule-adjusted half-PPR points (or aFPA) to the wide receiver position each week (30.9). Their secondary is porous enough to potentially give up some of the big-play touchdowns that have become Anderson’s bread and butter throughout his five-year NFL career.
Trevor Lawrence - QB, Jaguars
The Houston Texans are the perfect opponent for rookie Trevor Lawrence to get his feet wet as an NFL QB. They are discombobulated as a franchise and their defensive unit was bottom 10 against QBs last year. Lawrence has the wheels, along with some really solid weapons, to assist in his debut contest and we could see a fantasy-starter day out of the 21-year-old in Week 1.
Lawrence isn’t someone who may be relevant from week to week in single QB leagues, but you just can’t beat this start for the rookie. He may be someone to consider if you want a potential boom week and your drafted signal-caller is facing a difficult matchup.
Trey Sermon - RB, 49ers
The 49ers backfield may not be the most transparent heading into the season, but it really shouldn’t matter for this Week 1 matchup. Raheem Mostert will most likely already be in starting lineups, but Sermon makes for a really nice flex guy to commence the season. Detroit sat dead last in 2020 against opposing RBs, yielding 29.0 in aFPA weekly to the position, and there isn’t projected to be much improvement there for 2021.
San Francisco should pull ahead early on in this contest, creating the perfect game script for Kyle Shanahan to play with his new shiny toy in Sermon.
Michael Pittman - WR, Colts
Carson Wentz is fresh off the COVID list and is supposedly ready for Week 1 action. T.Y. Hilton is sidelined for the start of 2021 after a neck injury sustained in the preseason, leaving Michael Pittman as the Colts primary weapon against a soft Seattle secondary. Pittman may see a high volume of targets this week with the Colts' TE room deep and murky, making him a sneaky early season play.
Parris Campbell could also benefit from this matchup especially in PPR formats, so fire them up in the flex if either is sitting on your bench and you’re debating between them or a player with a tougher opponent across the ball.
Jared Cook - TE, Chargers
I know, Jared Cook doesn’t exactly move the needle when it comes to exciting fantasy starts. However, he could have a really sexy start to the season against a stout Washington defense. Justin Herbert could lean on the veteran to make key plays when Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are shut down by some of the toughest cornerbacks in the league. The Football Team was ranked third against WRs in 2020, yet they sat 13th at defending opposing TEs.
Inserting the journeyman into your lineup may not be for the faint of heart, but Cook is most likely available in your league as he’s only rostered by 27% of Yahoo managers. He could be someone who over-performs expectations in Week 1.