Top fantasy football streaming options for Week 1

Several Baltimore Ravens players could be worth streaming off the waiver wire and into your Week 1 starting lineups. Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, ESPN fantasy analysts Ken Daube and Jim McCormick will sift through the deeper options at each position with an eye on identifying streaming fantasy commodities with valuable matchups to consider.

Did you draft Tom Brady and need a capable fill-in for this first week of fantasy football competition? Or did someone get DeAngelo Williams before you could handcuff your selection of Le'Veon Bell? We have some choice names to consider for those seeking players who are widely available at each position.


Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons: Ryan may not have had much respect among the fantasy community on draft day, as he placed 21st among all quarterbacks in terms of average draft position, but his Week 1 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers presents great value. In away games last season, the Bucs allowed an average stat line of 288 passing yards, two touchdowns and more than 19 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. That aligns with Ryan's performance in his previous four home games against the Buccaneers, when he averaged 291 passing yards with a 9-1 ratio in touchdowns to interceptions. - KD

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: Standard league investors in ESPN leagues are finding Stafford well into the QB2 mix as the 15th quarterback off the board on average. Stafford was second in the league in completion percentage (70.0) and posted 19 touchdowns to just two interceptions over the final eight games. Now the team is looking to up the pace on offense, as Stafford completed all six of his attempts to Golden Tate and Marvin Jones for 108 yards out of the no-huddle in the preseason, per Pro Football Focus. The Colts are missing several starters on an already suspect defensive roster, namely top cover corner Vontae Davis. With a blend of efficiency, pace and favorable matchup factors, Stafford is well positioned to produce QB1 results in Indy this weekend. - JM

Running backs

James White, New England Patriots: Many people project the Pats to rely on a power running attack behind LeGarrette Blount as Jimmy Garoppolo takes the reins under center. That doesn't align with how the Patriots typically attack aggressive defenses. Look for the Patriots to feature White on screen and swing passes while also sending him on underneath and wheel routes (much like they utilized Shane Vereen in Super Bowl XLIX). Since the Arizona Cardinals allowed the sixth-most yards per reception to opposing running backs last season, this could be a dream scenario for a deep play at this position. - KD

Terrance West, Baltimore Ravens: While his stock is surely rising, West's average draft position is still 132nd overall and 44th among backs in ESPN leagues. Even with Justin Forsett rejoining the roster after being cut this past weekend, it became clear throughout the preseason West is the team's leading candidate for early-down duties. We can also assume West is the team's lead back in short-yardage and goal-line scenarios, given the profiles of the pass-catching backs on the depth chart. Up first in West's revival season is the Buffalo Bills -- a team that will be without its top interior defensive lineman -- who ceded a generous 2.63 yards before contact per rush to tailbacks last season, sixth most in the NFL. Don't be surprised if West, who is available in nearly half of ESPN leagues, is a top waiver addition this time next week. - JM

Wide receivers

Kamar Aiken, Baltimore Ravens: Aiken was severely undervalued on draft day, as he was the 56th wide receiver taken off the board. In his last eight games, he had 50 catches and 611 yards. He posted those numbers despite playing those games with four different quarterbacks: Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub, Jimmy Clausen and Ryan Mallett (each started two games). With Flacco returning under center and only the 37-yard-old Steve Smith Sr. as competition for targets, Aiken shouldn't just be on your start list for this week -- but for the whole season. - KD

Mike Wallace, Baltimore Ravens: I'm interested in picking on this seemingly fallible Bills defense to start the season. Buffalo allowed the seventh-most yards per completion and the ninth-most yards and touchdowns to receivers in 2015. Without an established pass-rusher beyond Jerry Hughes on the front seven, and with a patchwork secondary in place, this is a prime position to have shares of the Ravens' volume-driven passing game. Flacco raved about Wallace throughout the summer, and while that's a trip down #NarrativeStreet, he also peppered him with targets in the preseason. As the 60th receiver off the board on average and available in more than 60 percent of ESPN leagues, Wallace is a widely available asset to consider for Week 1. - JM

Tight ends

Virgil Green, Denver Broncos: Gary Kubiak-led offenses have typically taken advantage of the tight end position, and this season, that points to Green being a productive member of the Broncos' offensive attack. While it's unlikely that you'll need someone at this position this early, as the only tight ends who are projected to miss Week 1 are Ladarius Green and Tyler Eifert, keep an eye on Thursday night's contest and how many opportunities Green receives. He could be a solid sleeper for the rest of the season and is worth stashing just in case. - KD

Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts: Allen could return to -- and even improve upon -- his solid 2014 numbers now that Coby Fleener and his flowing locks are in New Orleans. Allen ranked seventh among tight ends in grading on Pro Football Focus in 2014 (minimum 50 percent of a team's snaps) and finished ninth at the position in targets within 10 yards of the goal line that season. The Colts will trend pass-heavy given the lack of depth and playmaking in the backfield, plus a suspect defense in place, thus Allen's expected uptick in snaps should also come with increased routes and targets. The Lions, meanwhile, allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends last season. - JM


Detroit Lions: If there are two truths about the Colts' offense, they are Andrew Luck is a phenomenal quarterback and their offensive line is so porous that it makes Luck look pedestrian. Look for the Lions' defensive line, featuring Haloti Ngata and Ezekiel Ansah, to get consistent backfield penetration. This should result in multiple sacks and a likely pressure-based turnover, making the Lions' defense an under-the-radar streaming play this week. - KD

Tennessee Titans: The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists the Titans-Vikings game with the week's lowest implied point total. This is quite impressive in a week with the Cleveland Browns facing a raw rookie signal-caller in Philadelphia. This low total, combined with the likely presence of Shaun Hill behind center, drives contrarian interest in the Titans' aggressive defense -- a group led by legendary coordinator Dick LeBeau. The Titans were second in the league in 2015 in a unique stat termed "QB contact percentage," which weighs the rate of hits and sacks. The Titans were third in blitz rate, sending added pressure on 43.1 percent of opponent dropbacks. The Titans are being drafted 29th on average among D/ST groups and owned in fewer than 2 percent of ESPN leagues, but they could make for a rewarding streaming option in redraft and fine punt play for daily fantasy this week. - JM

Individual defensive players

Eric Kendricks, LB, Minnesota Vikings: Facing the Titans' run-heavy "exotic smashmouth" scheme should lead to plenty of tackle opportunities for this up-and-coming every-down linebacker, who was regularly drafted outside the top 15 at the position this summer. Going a bit deeper, Oakland's Ben Heeney earned the green dot as the team's defensive quarterback and should see three-down exposure in the Superdome this Sunday. - JM

Karl Joseph, DB, Oakland Raiders: Only Chip Kelly's Eagles produced more plays than the Saints over the past two seasons, and New Orleans leads the league in pass attempts over this stretch. Enter Joseph, a hard-hitting rookie safety taken in the first round out of West Virginia, who gets to face the snap-happy Saints this Sunday. Joseph will work in the box against the run and in coverage, offering rare tackle upside for a rookie defensive back. Going a bit deeper, Denver's veteran safety T.J. Ward has played some nickel linebacker looks in the preseason, which suggests we could see him near double-digit tackles against the Panthers' run-heavy attack. - JM

Brandon Graham, DL, Philadelphia Eagles: The Browns have seen their offensive line erode over the offseason without much investment in replenishing talent, while the Eagles fortified their front with Jim Schwartz's aggressive Wide 9 arrangement. Graham always has been a capable edge menace, but now he should see the snaps and scheme that fit his profile. I also like shares of teammates Connor Barwin and Vinny Curry in this one. - JM