Welcome to the 2023 season. We all begin the season with optimism for our players and a (mostly) healthy roster. But to win, you have to make moves that keep you ahead of the game. That’s what this weekly post is all about. Here, I’ll be looking at lightly rostered players who could benefit you this season. Being as it’s Week 1, your roster is probably already packed. But in case you have some fringe options, let me make a few suggestions. All roster percentages are courtesy of the NFL.
Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Roster Percentage: 2.8
About: I know, I don’t feel good about it either. But most of us are playing Superflex, which means you need quarterbacks. Having one of the starting 32 NFL quarterbacks becomes crucial, and Baker is one of those 32 quarterbacks. He’s not heavily rostered, which makes sense, but if you’re weighing options in Week 1, he might not be a bad choice. Baker and the Buccaneers will match up with the Minnesota Vikings, a team that struggled mightily on defense in 2022. The Vikings also put up points, meaning the Buccaneers will need to throw. And Baker has a set of weapons that still includes Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Cade Otton. Week-to-week success is sometimes about playing the matchups, and this is a decent matchup with a player who could put up decent points.
Desmond Ridder, Atlanta Falcons
Roster Percentage: .6
About: I don’t get the low percentage for Ridder. While many have fallen in love with Sam Howell during the pre-season, Ridder was taken two rounds earlier in the draft, started four times as many games in 2022, and has a better-supporting cast. I also think the Falcons have a much more winnable division. If you’ve followed me this off-season, you know I like the Falcons. I’m not saying Ridder is a set-it-and-forget-it QB2, but I’m definitely picking him up and keeping him in the mix, particularly in Superflex leagues.
Deon Jackson, Indianapolis Colts
Roster Percentage: 23.6
About: This is 100 percent about Jonathan Taylor. He’s out for at least four weeks. In addition, Zack Moss is recovering from a broken arm. That means Jackson and rookie Evan Hull are sort of the last men standing in the Colts’ backfield. We’ve seen Jackson be productive in relief before, and I’m banking on him being a flex-worthy contributor these first four weeks. If he’s out there, you should roster him.
Damien Harris, Buffalo Bills
Roster Percentage: 4.6
About: Harris was a productive back in his four years with the Patriots. The question with the Bills is James Cook. If you believe Cook will carry the full workload, maybe this is a waste. I’m more skeptical. I also think Harris could be the answer to protecting Josh Allen from so many goal-line hits. A quiet off-season also has Harris going at a discount, one that I’m willing to buy at this point in the season.
Marvin Mims, Denver Broncos
Roster Percentage: 3.8
About: The Broncos shocked many, me included, by keeping only four receivers on the active roster. Of those, Jerry Jeudy is battling an injury and likely won’t be ready for the first few weeks. That kicks the door wide open for Mims, who was already tracking to be the Broncos’ WR3. He looked good in the final pre-season battle, and he’s likely in line for a good workload early in the season. If he’s successful, that could carry through the whole season. He should be on a roster.
Van Jefferson, Los Angeles Rams
Roster Percentage: 1.9
About: The Rams are in something of a rebuild. The team has Cooper Kupp, a great receiver, and Tyler Higbee, a solid tight end. They will likely be the top options in the passing game. But the Rams will need other options. In addition, Kupp is battling a soft-tissue injury for which he’s already suffered a setback. That opens the door. People have feelings about Tutu Atwell and Puca Nacua. Both could play a role. But Jefferson is sitting there with a roster percentage below two. He should be on a roster, and he could well be a great flex option, especially with Kupp ailing.
Adam Trautman, Denver Broncos
Roster Percentage: .2
About: People want to believe in Greg Dulcich. I want to believe in Dulcich. Dulcich could well be the most talented tight end on the Broncos’ roster. But he’s not atop the depth chart. That is Trautman, who has a history with Sean Payton. Yet he’s largely going undrafted and sitting as a free agent. Having a starting NFL player on your roster is a value. Trautman is the Broncos’ starter. He should be rostered.
Mike Gesicki, New England Patriots
Roster Percentage: 3.4
About: If you followed my Sleepers series, you know I’m in on Gesicki. A lack of targets in 2022 has people forgetting he was a Top 10 TE in 2020 and 2021. He’s now on the Patriots, a team in need of targets. Hunter Henry is there, but it’s Gesicki that has me intrigued. And at his current price, that’s a gamble worth taking.
Matthew Fox is a die-hard NFL fan and Broncos’ homer. He’s a member of the FSWA. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton Network.