In case you missed it, football is officially back after a full slate of Sunday games. Despite a shortage of total offensive touchdowns across the league, there were plenty of unexpected results on the scoreboard and in the box scores to start off the season. Six teams scored fewer than 10 points on Sunday. But, there were still plenty of sleepers that performed above expectations. Whether you missed the games and need to catch up or you’re searching for your next waiver wire pickup in fantasy football, this list is for you.
Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs
Before Monday night games, the rookie had the highest-scoring fantasy performance among all players (39 points), including quarterbacks. A 58-yard run and a 78-yard receiving touchdown helped pad his stats a bit, of course. But his overall impact on the game is not to be glossed over. His 248 total yards were the most for a rookie in his debut in NFL history. An impressive feat, considering Hunt fumbled on his first carry. Moving forward, breakouts like this won’t be surprising from him. Especially if he continues to get the majority of the backfield work in Kansas City.
Tarik Cohen, RB, Bears
Cohen, a popular deep fantasy sleeper, got plenty of playing time behind consensus second-round pick Jordan Howard. He would finish with 66 yards on only 5 carries and 8 receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown. The 5’6″ back from North Carolina A&T jumped off the screen with his speed, especially on a 46-yard run in the first half. Cohen did a lot more with less work (13 touches) than Howard (16) as well. So keep an eye out for how John Fox and the Chicago coaching staff splits time between them next week.
Mike Gillislee, RB, Patriots
It sure does look like the New England newcomer will take on the same goal-line, up-the-middle running role that LeGarrette Blount used to score a league-high 18 touchdowns last year. Gillislee wasn’t ultimately that efficient (3.0 yards per carry). But, he capitalized on his opportunities near the end zone for three touchdowns. It’s hard to trust any Patriots running back to be consistent on a week-to-week basis, but Gillislee looks primed to keep his role throughout the year.
Kenny Golladay, WR, Lions
Golladay proved all the hype surrounding him in the preseason was worth it, scoring the third-most standard fantasy points among wide receivers. His four receptions and seven targets didn’t make out for an incredible workload, but he managed to get in the end zone twice, including a must-watch 45-yard snag late in the fourth quarter:
Kenny Golladay with his 2nd touchdown of the day! This rookie can ball out! pic.twitter.com/CvsfrLCkcy
— Detroit Videos 🎥 (@DetroitVideos) September 10, 2017
He should be considered Detroit’s No. 2 passing option moving into Week 2.
Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles
The Eagles brought multiple veteran free agents into the fold to improve the offense this season. But it was returning third-year wideout Nelson Agholor that saw the most production in Philadelphia’s Week 1 win. Some expected him to lose his slot-receiver role after posting only a 52 percent catch rate for the second straight season. But, Carson Wentz clearly still looks for him underneath. Their most noteworthy connection came after Wentz swiftly maneuvered in the pocket and threw for a score:
You simply cannot arm tackle Carson Wentz pic.twitter.com/3StF47zU9I
— Barstool Sports (@barstooltweetss) September 10, 2017
Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams
The all-time FCS leading receiver was another preseason favorite among some executives around the league. Once Los Angeles acquired Sammy Watkins, Kupp’s target share became more questionable. But, he still managed to put up solid production against an abysmal Colts defense. Four catches, 76 yards and a touchdown was a solid way to start his career, but the Rams certainly won’t be scoring anywhere near 46 points again anytime soon.
Jesse James, TE, Steelers
Without James, the Steelers may have fallen to the Browns for the first time since 2014. Ben Roethlisberger found James for two scores and six receptions on eight targets and looked for him a lot while Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell struggled to get going. Heath Miller was a longtime staple across the middle in the Pittsburgh offense, and it looks as though James is ready to fill his shoes.
Austin Hooper, TE, Falcons
It’s tough to leave your mark on a game with only two catches, but Austin Hooper did just that. He took those for 128 yards and made himself known early with a vicious stiff arm, easily one of the most impressive plays made in the league on Sunday:
Now that’s a stiff arm from Austin Hooper pic.twitter.com/1oqjc5xcO9
— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) September 10, 2017
Judging by Matt Ryan’s ecstatic reaction, he’ll likely continue to build a strong rapport with Hooper this season.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions
Those worried about whether the Lions would be a ball-control offense this season should be relieved to see Stafford racking up 41 attempts and four touchdowns right out of the gate. The fact it came against a Cardinals secondary with All-Pros Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu should have Detroit feeling confident. Maybe making Stafford the highest paid player in league history wasn’t such a bad move after all.
Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs
The man known for not throwing deep proved all his doubters wrong against the defending champions. His comfort within Andy Reid’s offense was clear, utilizing his running backs in the passing game and keeping an eye out for Tyreek Hill to take the top off the defense. Smith doesn’t have huge upside, but he’ll undoubtedly be a steady performer each week. Drafting Texas Tech signal caller Patrick Mahomes might have been exactly what Smith needed to take the next step.