The Fantasy Football season is finally here. Boo Yahhh!!! The games count and the stats are official. The predictions and the projections are being put to the test while the predictors and the projectors are on notice – they are being judged.
This week marks the first time waiver wire decisions are made based on real usage and actual statistics rather than training camp position battles or the motivation to make sure a team enters the regular season healthy. Performance now means something, and that is what this weekly column is going to address. I will bring to your attention what you need to know to be ahead of your co-owners with analysis of what it all means. That’s what Trending and Noteworthy has been designed to do and trends begin in Week 1, so let’s get after it. Here are some noteworthy players and their production and usage from week one that Fantasy owners need to know.
Week 1 Players You Need To Notice
Kenny Golladay, WR Detroit Lions
* Seven Targets
* Two Touchdowns
* 69 Receiving Yards
Fantasy Impact – RotoExperts Staff Writer and FNTSY Host @GeorgeKurtz suggested during draft season that Golladay could be the Lions’ best wide receiver in 2017. In Week 1, he had two touchdowns, was second in wide receiver targets and led all Lions wideouts in receiving yards per target at just under 10 yards per. He will have to continue to earn his targets, but he made significant strides in his attempt to be the Lions’ No. 2 WR behind Golden Tate. At 6’4”, 213 lbs. Golladay could be a Mike Evans-like red zone mismatch going forward. If you already own him, he is now a serious Flex consideration for Week 2. If he is on the waiver wire then he is at the top of my list of who to claim.
NE Patriots RB Committee – Mike Gillislee
* 15 carries
* Half of the Patriots Week 1 rushing attempts
* Three TDs.
* Two short yardage, fourth down attempts.
Fantasy Impact – LeGarrette Blount handled 75 percent of the Patriots’ carries, was the goal line running back and led the NFL with 18 touchdowns in 2016. Gillislee’s Week 1 usage strongly suggests that he will lead the Patriots in attempts and be their first choice at the goal line, providing some level of confidence in the schizophrenic “game plan determined” committee situation in New England. Gillislee doesn’t have explosive ability but goal line opportunities should make him a flex consideration or an affordable play in Daily Fantasy, especially in tournament formats.
Adam Thielen, WR Minnesota Vikings
* Nine Receptions
* 10 Targets
Fantasy Impact – Thielen had more touchdowns and receiving yards than Fantasy darling Stefon Diggs in 2016, and he led the Vikings in receptions and receiving yards in Week 1. Thielen is an early season trade target if you didn’t take my advice to draft him rather than reach for Stefon Diggs, and he will be a better value in DFS until owners and DFS sites realize that he is every bit as good as, if not better than, Mr. Diggs.
Inconclusive but Noteworthy
Cooper Kupp, WR Los Angeles Rams
* Six Targets
* 76 Receiving Yards
* One TD
Fantasy Impact – Robert Woods was the Rams’ offseason free agent signing, while Sammy Watkins was acquired via trade, but it was Kupp who led the Rams’ wide receivers in targets, receptions, yards, touchdowns and Fantasy points in Week 1. He is only owned in 27 percent of Yahoo leagues and could be Jared Goff’s preferred target if this past Sunday is an indicator of things to come.
On the other hand, Watkins is more explosive, and both Watkins and Woods are veterans with track records while Kupp is an unproven rookie. Kupp was labeled a sleeper by a variety of outlets, and his Week 1 performance and usage suggests he may be a viable contributor going forward, or it could have just been the fact that the Colts have a bad defense and Kupp was the fortunate beneficiary this week. That’s why he should be considered inconclusive.
Nelson Agholor, WR Philadelphia Eagles
* Eight Targets
* Six Receptions
* 86 Receiving Yards
* 20.6 Fantasy Points
Fantasy Impact – Agholor is owned in 15 percent of Yahoo leagues because he has never had 40 receptions, three touchdowns or 400 receiving yards in an NFL season. He had a strong Week 1 Fantasy performance that was inflated by a 58-yard touchdown. I was going to write him up later in this column as a “Don’t Be Fantasy Fooled” candidate because of his disappointing career, but there is a fair amount of uncertainty surrounding this Eagles offense. Wentz targeted him more than Alshon Jeffery and Torre Smith in Week 1, making Agholor a player worth monitoring to determine whether it was a fluke or a sign of things to come. I have more doubts than optimism that Agholor is on his way to a breakout campaign, but there is enough uncertainty to discuss him as inconclusive.
Keenan Allen, WR San Diego Chargers
* 10 Targets
* Five Receptions
* 35 Receiving Yards
Fantasy Impact – Entering the season, Allen was a “Comeback Player of the Year” candidate, and I attempted to make the argument that Tyrell Williams was the Fantasy value you should target in the Chargers’ passing game. Allen led the team in overall targets, while he was the worst of the Chargers’ wideouts in Yards Per Target in a disappointing Fantasy week that was salvaged by a touchdown. There are a lot of viable passing options for Philip Rivers but Allen is too expensive in Daily Fantasy to invest in until he turns targets into production. Tyrell Williams and even Travis Benjamin may not be the best Fantasy options on the Chargers’ roster, but they should be the best values in Daily Fantasy. I am still in the Tyrell Williams’ camp, but 10 targets for Allen was among the week’s leaders and deserves some respect.
Javorius “Buck” Allen, RB Baltimore Ravens
* 21 Carries
* Danny Woodhead Injured
Fantasy Impact – Javorius Allen (or Buck Allen for short) is unlikely to be one of the sexier names claimed this week (owned in only three percent of Yahoo leagues) but he was the Ravens’ most impressive running back in preseason, and he out-carried Terrence West in Week 1. It’s a committee situation that was made a little less crowded by the hamstring injury to Danny Woodhead. West is the biggest loser after Week 1 in Baltimore, but Allen may be on his way to being relevant as a Flex play purely because of the potential carries he may receive.
Jamaal Charles, RB Denver Broncos
* 10 Rushing Attempts
* 40 Rushing Yards
Fantasy Impact – Charles was drafted 136th overall as the 48th running back in Fantasy and is owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. Week 1 didn’t make him a must-own running back, but it suggests that as his workload increases he could work his way in to being a Flex consideration because of his explosive potential. If you expected Charles to break away and be a Fantasy star from opening night in Denver then you’re disappointed, but realistic expectations see opening week as a solid sign that Charles could become a viable Fantasy contributor in 2017.
“Don’t Be Fantasy Fooled”
Tarik Cohen, RB Chicago Bears
* Eight Receptions
* 12 Targets
* Five Rushing Attempts
Fantasy Impact – Cohen’s explosive performance against the Falcons will have him at the top of the Week 1 Waiver Wire, but he was out-carried 13 to five by Jordan Howard in the running game while being targeted 12 times in the passing game. In 2016, the Falcons ranked last in receiving yards allowed to running backs, which could explain the success and the opportunities for Cohen.
Howard is a workhorse runner who ranked twelfth in rushing attempts and third in yards per game in 2016. While Cohen’s Week 1 performance was impressive and justifies a claim by someone, you may not want to spend the majority of your FAAB budget or a high waiver wire pick on a 5’6”, 179 lb. running back who may need significant targets in the passing game to be relevant. There is a good chance that Cohen is a mirage and there are better options to spend your FAAB money or waiver priority on.
Bennie Fowler, WR Denver Broncos
* 17.1 Fantasy Points
* Two TDs
Fantasy Impact – Fowler had two touchdowns and 21 receiving yards on only three targets and receptions. He isn’t an upstart rookie with breakout potential, and you shouldn’t let him fool you into thinking you found a cheap gem on the wire. He isn’t worth a claim.
Austin Hooper, TE Atlanta Falcons
* 128 Receiving Yards
* Two Targets
* 20.8 Fantasy Points
Fantasy Impact – Tight end is a wide-open field with very few reliable options, which makes Hooper somewhat intriguing but more likely nothing more than a Week 1 fluke. Hooper had two receptions; one for 40 yards and one for 88 yards, including a touchdown. He only had 19 receptions in his rookie year, three of which were touchdowns. Matt Ryan only targeted him twice in Week 1, suggesting he hasn’t suddenly become a meaningful part of the offensive game plan. If your roster is pathetic at the TE position, then he might be worth a claim, but owners shouldn’t look at this game and see greener pastures or a brighter future. The only star named Hooper fought a shark on Cape Cod in the movie Jaws, not Saints and Panthers in the NFL for Atlanta.