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Every NFL season, the early part of the schedule sees players dropped in fantasy leagues that wind up having hugely productive fantasy seasons for a team that didn’t draft them.

It’s a phenomenon that is especially important to pay attention to early, as your impatient league mates might cut players that you want on your squad, but it can last even well into the season, to which anyone who dropped Jordan Howard last year can attest.

Right out of the gate, I’ll concede that some of the players listed below may indeed be too difficult to hold in 10-team leagues, but I feel we would be remiss if we didn’t take a closer look at some Week 1 disappointments that we should nonetheless be keeping on our rosters in deeper formats, at least for a little while longer.

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Kirk Cousins - Washington Redskins

After a preseason in which the entire Redskins offense looked out-of-sync, Kirk Cousins, predictably opened the season with a subpar performance in a Week 1 game for the third straight year. You could be forgiven for believing he looks more like a streamer than a QB1 at present, but he has two straight top 8 finishes at the position and a learning curve with his new weapons was to be expected. Hold tight.


Running Backs

Bilal Powell - New York Jets

In what looks like a tank year for the New York Jets, fantasy owners nonetheless pegged Powell as a productive piece as a potential workhorse back. We’d still bet on him being more valuable than backfield-mate Matt Forte, but the early results weren’t good. Nevertheless, the running back landscape in today’s fantasy game makes bailing on a guy with a defined role a proposition you might come to regret. His passing game involvement (he caught 5 of 6 targets) will stabilize his floor most weeks, especially in PPR.

Rob Kelley - Washington Redskins

Kelley hasn’t given fantasy owners much to smile about since his breakout game against the Packers on Sunday night in Week 11 a year ago, but for now he’s still the only game in town on early downs in the Redskins backfield. As I mentioned with Cousins, the Redskins are adjusting to new personnel and a new coordinator. Give Washington a chance to make some in-season adjustments before giving up on a back who is likely to get 15+ touches a week provided the team doesn’t fall behind early.

Paul Perkins - New York Giants

The Giants offense as a whole looked absolutely miserable on Sunday night at the division rival Cowboys. Further depressing Perkins’s value was the heavy usage that Shane Vereen saw once the Giants went into pass-heavy mode while trailing in the second half. Still, for the time being, Perkins is the lead back even if his situation is poor. There’s no doubt the GMen missed the presence of Odell Beckham Jr. and ideally we could see at least one game where the team functioned well enough to put 20 points on the board before deciding that Perkins can’t have value.

Rex Burkhead - New England Patriots

The Patriots running game is historically incredibly difficult to predict on a week-to-week basis. This is the best argument both for and against Rex Burkhead remaining on your fantasy roster. Burkhead was on the field for the first play of the Patriots season and seemed to be a big part of the game plan until being shelved for most of the second and third quarters after missing some potential big plays. The Pats are paying Burkhead three million dollars a season to play football for them. To me it’s worth seeing him play at least one more game.

*Bonus: Samaje Perine - Washington Redskins

Debatably I’m arguing against myself by throwing Perine into this mix. Clearly only a must-hold in deeper formats, the fact that the Redskins had such a difficult time getting a running game going on Sunday shouldn’t inspire an abundance of confidence in Rob Kelley’s job security. While I’m holding on Kelley, as I would any RB who was a threat to accumulate 15+ touches in a given week, if the futility continues, head coach Jay Gruden may look to turn the page sooner rather than later. Perine made some typical rookie mistakes in preseason, but he also showed flashes that he might one day be the guy in Washington. If you can afford to hold, I would.


Wide Receivers

Emmanuel Sanders - Denver Broncos

Not heavily involved on Monday night, Sanders *almost* made his fantasy owners happy by hauling in a long TD pass from Trevor Siemian in the first quarter of the opener against the LA Chargers, but it was just out of reach. Posting consecutive 1,000 yard seasons, Sanders probably isn’t yet high on most people’s drop lists, but he shouldn’t be a consideration even in shallower formats.

Jamison Crowder - Washington Redskins

Seemingly picking up right where he left off in last season’s final month, Crowder continued a string of lackluster fantasy games. All too easily forgotten is the offseason hype machine that pegged him as a potential threat for 100 catches as the stabilizing factor in the Redskins revamped passing game. It makes some sense to consider benching him in Week 2, but please do yourself a favor and don’t let the negative point output in the season opener cause you to do anything rash.

Brandon Marshall - New York Giants

Marshall was yet another victim of an atrocious day on the field for the Giants offense, hauling in only one of four targets for 10 yards on Sunday night, and in the game’s final minute to boot. Marshall was drafted as a low-end WR2 and simply can’t be cut loose yet under almost any circumstance. As with Paul Perkins, we need to see this Giants offense in a game with Beckham, and in which they can muster any production on offense generally, before we cut bait.

Chris Hogan - New England Patriots

Late August hype-magnet Chris Hogan was one of several Patriots players to fail notably in the Thursday night season opener. He caught only 1 of 5 targets for 8 yards, but he also carried the ball 3 times for 17 yards and there’s no reason to believe he won’t continue to be moderately involved in the game plan with Danny Amendola’s status for Week 2 very much in doubt. All it takes is one play for a guy like Hogan. You saw his floor on Thursday; wait at least a week or two longer and his ceiling is bound to show itself too.

Donte Moncrief - Indianapolis Colts

Moncrief’s stock nosedived from where it was in the early part of the offseason exactly in proportion to our diminished confidence in Andrew Luck’s availability. We’ve seen the Scott Tolzien show, after all, and Moncrief’s appeal came from being a starting WR in an offense helmed by a top 5 QB. Tolzien’s worst case scenario on Sunday was arguably a second-best case scenario for Moncrief as he immediately hauled in a 50 yard pass from Scott’s replacement, the recently acquired Jacoby Brissett. With rumors already swirling that Brissett may get the starting nod in Week 2, better days could be ahead for Moncrief, even without Luck. I’m not starting him in Week 2, but I’m holding him until I see what a Brissett-led offense looks like in Indianapolis.


Tight Ends

Tyler Eifert - Cincinnati Bengals

Perhaps a reminder of just what the floor of the tight end position looks like on a weekly basis, Tyler Eifert was another top 10 TE to post a dud on Sunday. Utterly dominated by Baltimore, the Bengals scuffled as a team and failed to put anything on the scoreboard. Naturally, Eifert didn’t add to his run of TD dominance (he had scored 18 over his previous 21 games played), but again, patience is a virtue for a player like Eifert for whom better days are ahead.

Hunter Henry - Los Angeles Chargers

In a lackluster season for TEs in 2016, rookie Hunter Henry bucked the conventional wisdom about first year in-line receivers to lead the NFL in TD catches at his position. As with Eifert above, it’s important to remember that the TE position is one in which very few players boast a high-floor. Hunter Henry is simply too talented to cut after just one game against an elite defense on the road.


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