I feel good about last week’s column overall, save for stating Matt Forte was likely to underwhelm. Perhaps Forte is an avid RotoExperts reader and wanted to show me a thing or two, or perhaps it’s just strengthening my case that you dump him after a month or so. Time will tell about him. Either way, here are some guys who are trending up or down this week. Remember, this isn’t necessarily a season forecast (i.e. don’t trade Le’Veon Bell for Tevin Coleman just yet) but rather a week-to-week look that will chart trends over time. Someone who is trending up this week might be trending down in two or three weeks. For Week 2, here are the names that should be top of mind, and possibly top of your waiver claim list.
Tevin Coleman – During the preseason, Coleman was splitting time with Devonta Freeman pretty regularly, and that certainly carried over into the Falcons’ Week 1 game. Freeman, thought to be a candidate for a breakout season, was on the field for just four more plays than Coleman (36-32). Coleman did most of his damage in the passing game, oddly enough, reeling in five Matt Ryan passes for a staggering 95 yards; he rushed for just 22 on eight carries. That’s 117 yards on 13 touches, whereas Freeman delivered 40 yards on 15. Not good for Freeman owners, great for those who scored Coleman about seven rounds later.
C.J. Anderson – Rebounding from a semi-disastrous 2015 was paramount for the Denver RB, and boy did he take a nice first step. Anderson was the safety blanket Trevor Siemian needed in his first NFL start, rushing for 97 yards and a score on 20 touches and adding 47 more through the air (four receptions) and another trip to the end zone. Now that Anderson isn’t looking over his shoulder, he should be able to focus more on punishing the defense ahead of him. The Broncos draw the Colts at home this weekend, and if there was anything to learn about them in the shootout loss to Detroit it’s that their front seven is soft, and their linebackers have no sideline-to-sideline speed. This is a dreamy matchup for C.J. and he’s a solid RB1 play because of it.
Spencer Ware – Jamaal who? With the Chiefs’ premier offensive player of the last five years on the sideline nursing his torn ACL and other ailments, Ware and Charcandrick West were thought to be a committee while taking on the Chargers. It was as one-sided as it gets as Ware carried the ball 11 times for 70 yards and a score and managed a staggering 129 yards receiving on seven receptions. Nearly 200 total yards is nothing to sneeze at no matter who you play. Ware is a no-brainer RB1 against Houston if Charles doesn’t suit up, and even if J.C. is out there, I think Ware has earned FLEX consideration with the expectation he sees about 9-13 touches a game. He just has too much ability to be parked on the heated seats.
Matt Jones – Jones was essentially handed the keys to the car in D.C. after Alfred Morris was not welcomed back, and he didn’t have a great showing on Monday evening against the Steelers. Jones looked like an upright runner with little drive at the point of contact. While the Steelers certainly aren’t a creampuff team, I think we all expected more than seven carries for 24 yards. Backup Chris Thompson, who is not a real threat to supplant Jones because of his slight size, rushed for 23 yards and a touchdown on just 3 carries. Keep an eye on undrafted rookie Rob Kelley out of Tulane, who rushed for 198 yards on 38 carries (5.21 YPC) in the preseason. I predict he’s involved in the game plan before Week 4 and could push Jones to a 50/50 split.
Melvin Gordon – It’s tough to malign a man after he scored two touchdowns and 15-plus Fantasy points for those who trusted him. But, here we are. Gordon was in on just 23 of the Chargers’ 73 offensive snaps, which means that Danny Woodhead was in for 50. Sure, that may have been a product of the fact that the team was without their best receiving option, Keenan Allen, for the majority of the second half and will be without him for the remainder of the year. Woodhead is well-suited for the Chargers’ offense, besides field general and super-virile man, Philip Rivers enjoys a special connection with him. It’s not time to dump Gordon by any stretch, but it will be interesting to see if his usage follows suit to Week 1: a busy first half followed by fading in the second half. I don’t know how many games the Chargers will be salting away in the fourth quarter in need of a plodder to pound the rock, but if I had to “buy” one back of this team’s tandem after Week 1, it would not be Melvin. A tough test ahead this week as the team faces the Jaguars, and that makes Gordon an RB2/3 candidate for most lineups.
T.J. Yeldon – In a week that saw presumed starter Chris Ivory end up missing the first game of the season due to an undisclosed injury, the second-year man had every chance to avail himself of the opportunity to demand more touches even when a healthy Ivory returns. After rushing for a putrid 1.9 YPC (21 carries, 39 yards, 1 TD), it seems that won’t be the case. Yeldon started fast, but ended up looking like he was on a treadmill in the second half. It’s cause for concern for a young guy with some level of hype or promise around him, The Jags take on the Chargers in Week 2, and if Ivory is still out of commission, perhaps Yeldon is a FLEX consideration. But long-term, he’s a middling RB3-4.