Fantasy Football Realities and Illusions: Week One
You did it; I’m very proud of you. You made it through the dark times of the offseason to the first NFL Sunday. But, maybe you’re a little rusty. Maybe you’re just so excited for football that every little thing that happens Week 1 is going to play with your mind, whether good or bad. Well, that’s what this column is here to help you parse out. Each week, I’ll look at Sunday’s Fantasy performances and break down what was reality and what was illusion.
You did it; I’m very proud of you. You made it through the dark times of the offseason to the first NFL Sunday. But maybe you’re a little rusty. Maybe you’re just so excited for football that every little thing that happened in Week One is going to play with your mind, whether good or bad. Well, that’s what this column is here to help you parse out. Each week, I’ll look at Sunday’s Fantasy performances and break down what was reality and what was an illusion.
James White’s Role in the Passing Game
While White may have finished tied for second in receptions on the Patriots this week behind Rob Gronkowski and Phillip Dorsett (who both had seven), he led the team in targets with nine. He had four catches for 38 yards and a touchdown, plus five carries for another 18. You should feel comfortable trotting him out as a flex play in PPR leagues, at least until Julian Edelman comes back.
Sometimes two running backs are worth owning in a time share, such as the full-strength Saints backfield; that is not the situation in San Fran. Both backs had 12 touches, with Breida out-gaining Morris 46 yards (on 11 carries) to 38 yards (on 12). Breida had one catch for five yards. Morris got four carries inside the five-yard line, but also fumbled on the two. Yuck. It’s probably worth owning some stock in this backfield, but I’m not starting either yet.
Sometimes two backs are worth owning in a time share; that may be the situation in Denver. The talk all preseason was that rookie Royce Freeman was the guy to own. And he looked good, rushing 15 times for 71 yards. But who else did the same exact thing, while also adding two catches for 31 yards and a touchdown? Hometown kid Phillip Lindsay. It’s only Week 1, but Lindsay is making an early case for “running back that comes out of nowhere and is a vital part of a championship Fantasy team.” Someone is going to pick him up; might as well be you.
We Will Not Say “Le’Veon Bell Who?”
And no, I will not say James Conner stepped immediately into the Le’Veon Bell role either. He did, however, show off his talents and has cornered the market on touches in the Steelers’ offense. His 36 total touches—31 carries for 135 yards and two touchdowns plus five catches (six targets) for 57 yards—show that he is at least capable of at least picking up the slack Bell has left behind. If you’re a Bell owner who managed to snag him, feel confident with him every week going forward maybe not as an RB1, but a solid RB2 with upside. If you’re a Bell owner who didn’t get him, feel very, very bad about it because you made a very, very big mistake.
Andrew Luck Has Finally Returned Home from the War, and His Wife (Luck Owners) is Thrilled
Dearest mother —
Although the unit fought hard, we were bested by the Tiger men. Do not fret. All will be OK. It was glorious to see the men working as one. My sidearm was true. This marks the beginning of a long campaign that’ll have many chapters on the way to victory.
With his shoulder finally healed, I guess the Colts’ plan is to have Luck use it until it falls off: He threw 53 passes in Sunday’s loss to the Colts. And while his receiving corps might be a little shaky, it’s certainly better than a running back crew that picked up 68 yards on 21 carries. Same old Colts. Start him with at least volume confidence, for now.
Davante Adams may still end up the most consistent member of the Packers’ receivers, but all the talk about Randall Cobb potentially being a victim of cut-downs seemed to look past a key fact: Aaron Rodgers loves Randall Cobb, especially late in games. Cobb scored the 75-yard game-winning touchdown when Rodgers went his way on third-and-10 in his own territory late in the fourth. When he needed someone, he went to Cobb, who ended up with nine catches on 10 targets for 142 yards, all of which led the team. Tied with Adams in targets was Geronimo Allison, who earned Rodgers’ trust when he hauled in a teardrop pass in the end zone to bring the Packers within six. With an unclear backfield situation, the Packers might just have three Fantasy-relevant receivers. Cobb and Allison are both worth owning, though I’d lean Cobb over Allison.
So Maybe It Was Paxton Lynch’s Fault
Case Keenum seems to have found his “Adam Thielen” in Denver, and his name is Emmanuel Sanders. He feasted against the Seahawks, pulling in 10 catches on 11 targets for 135 yards and a touchdown. Oh wait, he may have also found his “Stefon Diggs” in Demaryius Thomas, who had six catches on 10 targets for 63 yards and a score. Keenum has shown he’s capable of keeping two receivers highly relevant, and should do so again. Keenum himself might be worth a pickup, though the interceptions were not good.
I’m Still Beating the Drum for Brandon Marshall
Look, Doug Baldwin now has injuries in both of his knees, one of which he has already said won’t get to 100 percent this season. Tyler Lockett had a nice day, including a 55-yard touchdown catch, but there’s room for another pass-catcher in Seattle, and it’s not Will Dissly, whose 105 yards is definitely an illusion. But it could be Marshall, who led the teams in targets with six, bringing in three for 46 yards and a touchdown. He’s still looking pretty good, especially for his age, and is worth at least a pickup for now, if maybe not a start quite yet.
Alex Collins Will Be Fine
I’ll be honest, I’m concerned about Alex Collins’ day against the Bills, as he totaled just 13 yards on seven carries despite the fact that Baltimore topped the Bills 47-3. He had a touchdown, but also a fumble. I’d give it a week before really panicking, though you should scoop up Javorius Allen just in case. Collins has all the talent in the world; surely it will translate to the field like it did last year.
An Expected Rough Start for Jimmy G
Jimmy Garoppolo is still a relatively young and unproven quarterback despite his large contract, so of course a matchup with the very vicious Vikings’ defense didn’t go so well. Nothing really clicked for the 49ers on offense in general. But remember, Kyle Shanahan is his head coach, and that offensive guru should be able to at least mask inefficiencies in Garoppolo’s game. A matchup with the Lions next week should be very telling for how Jimmy G deals with failure.
“It’s Not FitzMagic, It’s a FitzIllusion, Michael”
We’ve all been here before. It’s the start of the Ryan Fitzpatrick Cycle: He started due to the starting quarterback being unavailable, lit it up just enough to make the team consider him a better starting option, then he will crash back down to Earth. I will admit, his 21-for-28 for 417 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions line against a supposedly-formidable Saints defense was his most convincing effort yet. He’s worth a pickup, but against the Eagles next week he only warrants a start in SuperFlex and 2QB leagues. Be prepared to feel bamboozled.
A Flash From Josh Gordon
Josh Gordon underwhelmed Week 1, pulling down just one catch, though it was a 17-yard touchdown. However, the catch itself was amazing, as he fully contorted his body around the defender and plucked it out of the air. While Gordon has made it a habit to show out in his first game back after long absences, you shouldn’t be too surprised by the slow start after he missed most of the preseason. I wouldn’t start him just yet, but big things are coming.
Deshaun Watson Has Only Played Eight Career Games
Yes, you invested in Deshaun Watson with a higher pick because he showed flashes of MVP candidacy before going down with his ACL tear last year. But it’s also worth remembering that he’s still essentially a rookie, and looked like it on Sunday, often going for game-breaking deep balls that didn’t pay off. Don’t press the panic button just yet; he’s got a pretty friendly schedule coming up.
With Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks gone and Julian Edelman serving a suspension, all signs pointed to Chris Hogan emerging as Tom Brady’s top target. Oh, how foolish were we to try and predict what Belichick and Brady would do. Phillip Dorsett is obviously worth a pickup after 7/66/1 day, but expect more flex-level numbers for him, and also for Hogan to pick things back up next week.
No, Andy Dalton Isn’t Good
I mean, he’s fine. But this was against the Colts, who haven’t fielded a relevant defense since… they were in Baltimore maybe? Dalton’s 21-for-28 line with 243 yards and two touchdowns and an interception is a solid line, but don’t expect that too often. We know who Dalton is, and that is as an at-best streaming QB; he won’t even consistently hit the “solid” mark this season.