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There are a number of reasons for wide receiver depth chart changes, and they aren’t always neat and logical. However, after Week 1 things did break down fairly easily in terms of moves up and down depth charts.

As a result, the analysis in this article will be broken into three major sections. First, is the practical depth chart that we saw based on Week 1 snap count and targets. Second, we will work through injuries that could affect depth charts in Week 2. Finally, we’ll take a look at how some of the popular rookies fared in Week 1.

As always, if you have any comments, questions, etc., hit me up on Twitter @DanMarcus3

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Snap Count Winners and Losers

Buffalo Bills

After their performance in Week 1, it’s difficult to call anyone on the Buffalo Bills a winner. However, second-year receiver Zay Jones found himself on the field for 93.75 percent of the Bills’ offensive snaps, 20 percent higher than Kelvin Benjamin. While his three catch and 26 yard performance was hardly noteworthy, there should be improved quarterback play -- let’s be honest, how could it be worse -- with Josh Allen taking over. There’s not much rush to pick up Jones off waivers in any standard sized league, but the situation in Buffalo is worth keeping an eye on.

At the same, that doesn’t mean you should give up on Kelvin Benjamin. His Week 1 performance was worse than uninspiring, as it appeared that he gave up on the team and was lost in the offense. However, he still led the team in targets and had two deep targets (20 yards or more downfield), an area he should find more success in now that Allen is his quarterback.

Tennessee Titans

While this is arguably a depth chart that was shifted by injury -- Rishard Matthews role in the offense was significantly scaled back after battling knee injuries throughout the offseason -- the apparent pecking order is still worth noting. Preseason darling Taywan Taylor found himself on the field for only nine snaps, while the forgotten Tajae Sharpe was second among receivers with 58 snaps. While Sharpe’s athletic profile lags well behind Taylor’s, Sharpe has proven he is capable of maintaining a role in the NFL if we look back to his rookie campaign in 2016 when he posted 41 catches for 522 yards and two touchdowns.

Adding in Delanie Walker’s vacated role makes this an intriguing situation. Jonnu Smith may not be ready for prime time, so the secondary receivers may need to step up in his place. Unfortunately, it’s rather murky for this week as Matthews could return to his regular role in the offense, which would downgrade both Taylor and Sharpe. On the other hand, one of them is likely to emerge as the third option in Tennessee as the season wears on, and Sharpe looks to surprisingly have the upper hand after Week 1.



San Francisco 49ers

As of publishing, Marquise Goodwin still hasn’t practiced due to a deep thigh bruise he suffered early in Week 1. He’s still listed as questionable, but if he can’t practice, he likely won’t play. We have a one-game sample to see how the 49ers may deal with his absence, and if the season opener is any indication, Pierre Garcon and Dante Pettis will stand to benefit the most. Garcon found himself on the field for 80 percent of the offensive snaps, while the rookie Pettis managed 72.7 percent. They garnered six and five targets respectively, with Garcon filling his usual intermediate role and Pettis working deep. Of course, George Kittle -- one of the stars of Week 1 -- may be the real winner if Goodwin is unable to suit up.  

Seattle Seahawks

Doug Baldwin’s knee injury is certain to sideline him for at least a couple weeks, leaving the biggest void of any wide receiver depth chart after Week 1. Brandon Marshall has gotten a lot of hype after hauling in a touchdown last week, but he isn’t likely to play in all or most of the Seahawks offensive snaps. Rarely talked about Jaron Brown only played five fewer snaps than Marshall last week and could reasonably be on the field more than him this week. While he hasn’t produced exceptionally in the past, his most comparable player on is Marvin Jones. That points to the fact that Brown has plenty of athleticism to burn, and could flash with a larger role on an offense.   

While that speculation is fun, the clear beneficiary of Baldwin’s absence is Tyler Lockett. He was on the field for 19 more snaps than any other wide receiver on the team in Week 1, though it didn’t translate to targets. Finally, it’s notable that Lockett ran 15 of his 21 routes from the slot after Baldwin exited the game, which should put him in an advantageous matchup for Week 2 against the Bears.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The situation in Tampa isn’t worthy of as much conversation because it appears that DeSean Jackson is in line to play in Week 2. If he doesn’t,  the hype train on Chris Godwin will be off the rails.


Rookie Review

Courtland Sutton is the most likely rookie receiver to make a fantasy impact besides the aforementioned Pettis. Sutton hauled in two 20+ yard receptions in his debut.  

D.J. Moore saw the field on only 25.37% of snaps in the Panthers Week 1 game against Dallas and played 34 snaps than Torrey Smith. While Greg Olsen’s injury opens the door a crack, he’s a long-term stash at this point.

Calvin Ridley found himself on the field regularly but without targets to show for it. He is a watch list worthy player once the Falcons’ offense sheds some of the ineptitude they displayed in Week 1.

Christian Kirk was on the field but also didn’t see targets. The Cardinals offense didn’t look good, so I’d need them to prove otherwise before considering Kirk in redraft.

Anthony Miller played behind Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, but did slot in ahead of Kevin White.

It’s hard to figure out exactly why the Michael Gallup is buried on the Cowboys depth chart, but he is.

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