Fantasy Football Week 1: Jamey Eisenberg picks Sam Bradford, Zay Jones among sleepers to consider in season openers

Every Friday during the season, we take the sleepers written about in Start 'Em and Sit 'Em and expand on them. These are the fringe players on your roster or potentially on the waiver wire who could be difference makers for your team.

James White was someone I mentioned prior to Thursday night's game with the Patriots and Chiefs. I thought he would have a bigger role with Julian Edelman (knee) out, and he played okay, finishing with 10 carries for 38 yards and three catches for 30 yards.

I wish I mentioned Mike Gillislee instead -- although I had him ranked in my top 20 at the position -- as he was the best Patriots running back, with 15 carries for 45 yards and three touchdowns. I also wish I had Alex Smith as a sleeper quarterback since he went off for 368 passing yards and four touchdowns.

As for the rest of the sleepers heading into Sunday and Monday, let's hope they deliver in a big way. 

Editor's Note: Projections are provided by CBS Sports and not Jamey Eisenberg.  

21.7 Projected points
Tyrod Taylor Buffalo Bills QB
Taylor is cleared to play despite coming off a concussion in the preseason, and he should take advantage of this matchup with the Jets. The last time he faced the Jets was in Week 2 last year, and he went off for 29 Fantasy points. The Jets defense could be terrible, and Taylor should be fine even without Sammy Watkins on the roster -- Watkins had just two catches in that game in Week 2. Look for Zay Jones, Jordan Matthews and Charles Clay to have favorable matchups this week.
18.0 Projected points
Carson Wentz Philadelphia Eagles QB
Wentz didn't fare well against the Redskins last year, with a combined 21 Fantasy points in two games, but he didn't have the weapons he has this season. That includes new receivers in Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith to go with Zach Ertz and Darren Sproles. This game is projected to be one of the highest-scoring contests of the week, so look for Wentz to do his part. He's a good replacement option for Andrew Luck (shoulder) or Jameis Winston (Hurricane Irma).
19.6 Projected points
Sam Bradford Minnesota Vikings QB
Bradford could be a surprise Fantasy quarterback this week given the matchup with the Saints. If you don't have Luck or Winston available  this week, consider Bradford a worthwhile fallback option. He actually averaged 17.3 Fantasy points per game over his final eight outings last year, including four games with at least 18 points over that span. There were 11 quarterbacks who had multiple touchdowns against New Orleans last year.
Running backs
5.5 Projected points
Matt Forte New York Jets RB
Forte fell apart after the Jets' bye in Week 11 last year, but he actually wasn't bad through the first 10 weeks of the season, especially when the Jets were competitive. They had seven games in their first 10 where they won or lost by 10 points or less, and Forte had at least 10 Fantasy points in a standard league in six of those outings, including 28 points at Buffalo in Week 2. I expect the Jets to be competitive this week, and Forte is a flex option. I still like Bilal Powell more, but don't be surprised if Forte plays well.
6.7 Projected points
Derrick Henry Tennessee Titans RB
DeMarco Murray should be locked into his regular workload, but the Titans want to get Henry more involved this year. And he closed last season with at least eight carries in four of his final five games. He got a lot of work in the preseason with Murray banged up, and he scored three touchdowns over three games. Henry had 10 carries for 45 yards in Week 3 vs. Oakland last year, while Murray went off for 155 total yards and a touchdown. Maybe Henry takes some of that production from Murray, and he has flex appeal in Week 1.
4.1 Projected points
Wendell Smallwood Philadelphia Eagles RB
I would expect LeGarrette Blount and Sproles to get the most touches for the Eagles this week. But if you're stuck, take a flier on Smallwood. If he gets a hot hand, the Eagles could ride with him. Smallwood looked better than Blount in the preseason in limited action, averaging 7.0 yards per carry compared to 2.8 for Blount. I'm hoping Smallwood takes over as the starter in Philadelphia in the long run, so even if you don't use him this week he's worth stashing in case Blount continues to flop.
5.6 Projected points
Adrian Peterson New Orleans Saints RB
Peterson has embraced the revenge game angle this week, which is great. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Peterson said of facing his former team, "Of course I want to stick it to them. I want to stick it to everyone we play. But going back to Minnesota, playing the Vikings? Yeah, I want to stick it to them." Peterson remains in a tandem with Mark Ingram, who should remain the starter, but Peterson should get enough work to matter this week. He's definitely worth using as a flex.
7.6 Projected points
Paul Perkins New York Giants RB
I would only consider Perkins as a flex option this week, but he does have some upside given the matchup. The Cowboys have new starters at defensive tackle, middle linebacker and safety, and the Giants offensive line should be able to get some push this week. Perkins will hopefully take advantage of the situation, and maybe this is the week he scores his first NFL touchdown.
Wide receivers
10.0 Projected points
Stefon Diggs Minnesota Vikings WR
Diggs is obviously more of a "starter" than a "sleeper," but I wanted a place to write about him. He should have the chance for a big game this week. He has 34 catches in his past five home games, and the Saints allowed the fifth-most receptions to receivers last year. There is some concern that lining up outside more than in the slot could hurt his production, but he's going to see plenty of targets from Bradford, along with Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph. All three are viable options this week against New Orleans.
7.2 Projected points
Eric Decker Tennessee Titans WR
I like Rishard Matthews also given his rapport with Mariota, but Decker has a great matchup this week lining up in the slot against Oakland's T.J. Carrie, especially with rookie cornerback Gareon Conley (shin) banged up. Don't be surprised if Decker scores, because he's found the end zone in 14 of his past 18 games. Decker's a No. 3 receiver with upside this week.
8.0 Projected points
Brandon Marshall New York Giants WR
Marshall is expected to play through a shoulder injury, and he has a good matchup against this Cowboys secondary. He could see a significant amount of targets also if Odell Beckham (ankle) is out as well. In his past three first games with a new team (2010 with Miami, 2012 with Chicago and 2015 with the Jets), Marshall has combined for 23 catches, 234 yards and two touchdowns. He could look to make another splashy debut in a prime time game.
7.6 Projected points
Robby Anderson New York Jets WR
The Jets have arguably the worst receiving corps in the NFL, but someone is going to benefit from this lack of talent with a lot of targets, even with Josh McCown under center. Enter Anderson, who should play well against a revamped Bills secondary this week. He should be considered a No. 3 Fantasy receiver with upside in this matchup.
7.3 Projected points
Zay Jones Buffalo Bills WR
It sounds like Jordan Matthews (chest) is going to play, but Jones should still see a significant amount of targets and might be the Bills' No. 1 receiver this week, as well as for the rest of the year. Even though he's just a rookie, he has the best rapport with Taylor compared to the other receivers on the roster. He's worth using as a flex in deeper leagues or as a potential starter in three-receiver formats.
8.4 Projected points
Ted Ginn New Orleans Saints WR
This isn't going to be an easy matchup for the Saints given the Vikings defense, especially at home. But if Minnesota standout cornerback Xavier Rhodes is successful at making things tough on Michael Thomas, then Drew Brees will look elsewhere for production, which is where Ginn, Brandon Coleman and Coby Fleener come into with since Willie Snead (suspension) out. Ginn has the most upside of this group, and he's worth using as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver or flex.
Tight ends
4.9 Projected points
Jason Witten Dallas Cowboys TE
Witten-plus-Giants, plus season-opener equals success. He's faced the Giants in Week 1 in three of the past four years, and he's combined for 25 catches, 196 yards and four touchdowns over those games. He's a better option in PPR these days than standard formats, but the old man (35) might be able to get the job done in this matchup based on his track record against the Giants.
5.6 Projected points
Coby Fleener New Orleans Saints TE
Without Snead, we could see Fleener having a big role. His best game in 2016 was Week 3 against Atlanta when Snead was out with a toe injury, and Fleener had seven catches for 109 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets. That could be a sign of things to come until Snead is back, and Fleener is a solid streaming option this week. As bad as Fleener was in 2016, the Saints need him now until Snead returns in Week 4.
3.2 Projected points
Zach Miller Chicago Bears TE
The Bears need help in their receiving corps with Cameron Meredith (knee) lost for the year, and Miller could play a big role, along with Kevin White and Kendall Wright on the outsides. Miller is a good streaming option this week, as the Falcons allowed the seventh-most Fantasy points to opposing tight ends in 2016. Eight tight ends had at least eight Fantasy points in a standard league against Atlanta last year.
Senior Fantasy Writer

Jamey Eisenberg has been a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBS Sports since 2006 with a focus on Fantasy Football. A University of Florida grad (class of '98), Jamey got his start in the newspaper business and... Full Bio

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