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Ten Things To Watch For In Week One That Will Shape Fantasy Football

Ten Things To Watch For In Week One That Will Shape Fantasy Football
Davis Mattek September 4, 2019 3:48PM EDT

Ten Things To Watch For In Week One That Will Shape Fantasy Football

Everything that we think we know is about to be blown to bits. We have spent the entire offseason conjecturing on how the 32 teams in the NFL are likely to allocate their time on the field between runs and passes, and who will touch the ball on those runs and passes. There are probably some coaches that still don’t know exactly what they expect to happen. There are players who are about to have the best fantasy football season of their careers and have no blue. Several players will play the worst games of their career and feel great right now. All of this is attempted to be accounted for our in projections.

All of this is true. However, our job as fantasy football players is to take the information we have at hand and make the very best and most accurate predictions that we can. In order to do that, we need to be on the lookout for new information before it happens. I know what I would think about Leonard Fournette or Nick Chubb IF x, y or z happened so it is simply a matter of reacting after x, y or z happens. What follows is a list of known unknowns (i.e things we know that we do not know) that I expect will become known knowns by the time Week One is however and we should react.

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1. Are The Arizona Cardinals A Good Offense?

To me, this is really one of the biggest keys of the 2019 fantasy football season. Hardly anyone on their roster was startable in fantasy last year outside of David Johnson but if the Air Raid scheme that Kliff Kingsbury has planned, there could be five or six players on this offense who you want on your fantasy team. The matchup against Detriot is a really intriguing one for the style of offense Arizona wants to run because Detriot is the exact opposite. Detriot will run a lot of 12 personnel and try to massively win in time of possession. However, if Kyler and the Cardinals are able to race out to a 14-0 lead, that will not be possible. There is no team that will have my attention more in Week One.

2. Will Nick Chubb Remain In On Passing Downs?

Nick Chubb plays for a team with a Las Vegas win total of nine or 9.5 depending on the sportsbook, a quarterback who had the best rookie season since Peyton Manning, one of the five best wide receivers in the game and an offensive coordinator that made Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick a top-five NFL passing offense. He has every possible contextual factor going in his favor. The only thing holdin him back from joining Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliot, Alvin Kamara, and Christian McCaffrey at the very height of fantasy drafts is working as a receiver. Chubb had only 18 receptions in four seasons at Georgia and increased in passing work late in the year for Cleveland last year. It is a real question mark and not something we can know until we actually see how the Browns play against Tennessee in week one.

3. Is Todd Gurley Still An Every Down Player?

There have been many suggestions as to how the Rams might choose to use their All-Pro running back. Some have suggested the NBA method, where a player can get his full load of touches/playing time but only play in half of the available games. Let’s call this the Kawhi Leonard path. The other option would be to keep Gurley active in all games but scale back his usage in short-yardage situations or early downs where he is likely to not be allowed to get out into space. If Gurley has 20 carries and five targets in this first game against the Panthers and reports no swelling or knee concerns, his fantasy value is going to change rapidly.

4. Is Dede Westbrook The Clear Top WR In Jacksonville?

You do not have to travel that far back in time to see the top wide receiver being a valuable commodity in fantasy football. Marquise Lee and Allen Robinson posted good-to-great fantasy seasons while in Jacksonville even though the team had a defensive lean as an identity. Nick Foles is half-a-yard better in career yards per pass attempt than Blake Bortles and new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo got fired from Minnesota for liking to throw the ball too much. If Westbrook comes out of this Chiefs game with 90% snap share, 21% market share, and an end-zone target, he might be a top 50 player in fantasy and a guy I would act quickly on rather than wait in trades.

5. Just How Horrible Is Miami?

Despite actively trying to make their team worse for the last six months, there are still fantasy owners who are counting Kenyan Drake, Kalen Ballage and assorted Miami players for their fantasy teams. “Counting on” might be strong, but at the very least, they are owned in fantasy leagues. If Ryan Fitzpatrick looks ANYTHING like he did last season for Tampa Bay, there has to be a decent chance that Preston Williams, Albert Wilson or Davante Parker could be rostered in normal 12-team leagues. Drake and Ballage have uphill sledding against Baltimore so I will not put them in a fantasy coffin after one week but overall offensive cohesion is something I am going to watch for out of Miami.

6. How Will Philadelphia Dole Out Backfield Touches?

Corey Clement, Jordan Howard, Darren Sproles and prized rookie Miles Sanders all remain on the team and will get some undetermined amount of playing time. Sproles is a Super Bowl champion with this coaching staff and one of the best receiving backs of all time; he is also in his late 30’s and coming off of a serious injury. He might be just as likely to get zero touches as 10. Sanders blew up training camp and is revered as the Eagles most impressive spring player but it is hard to sustain fantasy value if the majority of your work is coming on between-the-20’s carries and not targets. I tend to not buy expensive players with uncertain playing time like Sanders but would entertain trade offers for him if he plays on third downs or in the redzone in this game against Washington.

7. Does Mike Williams Become A Legit WR1 For The Chargers?

As great as Keenan Allen has been for the Chargers, he has never been a true WR1 in the way that Julio Jones/DeAndre Hopkins/Michael Thomas/ect are WR1’s. He plays mostly in the slot, has never had double-digit touchdowns and has a lower average depth of target than you would want out of your top wide receiver. The team brought in Mike Williams (a first-round draft pick) and Hunter Henry likely because they know that Keenan is unlikely to hit any further heights. I don’t actually think many in the fantasy football world would be looking for this switch (especially according to ADP) but I would be fairly unsurprised if the most valuable fantasy wide receiver for the Chargers was Mike Williams in 2019.

8. What Is The Backfield Split In Seattle?

Former first-round pick Rashaad Penny should theoretically be in for a decent amount of work in 2019 despite all of the outside hype surrounding Chris Carson. The Seahawks had enough rushing volume last season to support two fantasy relevant running backs (Mike Davis along with Carson) and with the release of J.D McKissic, I think it is possible that the team views Penny as the primary passing-down back for Seahawks. This is a low-pressure game, as the Seahawks are nine-point home favorites against the lowly Bengals. On the other hand, if Penny barely plays and is losing snaps to Travis Homer and C.J Prosise, that is a giant red flag for his value the rest of the year.

9. Is Josh Gordon A Full-Time Starter For The Patriots?

This situation is most interesting to me out of everything that could happen in the NFL this season. I have Gordon on both of my FFPC Main Event teams that have already been drafted (one more left to go!) and think it is pretty possible that he swings fantasy leagues more than any other player in 2019. No player averages more adjusted yards per attempt when getting targets from Tom Brady in Brady’s entire career than Gordon who once lead the league in receiving while getting targets from Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell. If Gordon is just a rotational player on Sunday against Pittsburgh, none of us should be surprised. However, if he plays as the legit top wide receiver and fills in the role left by Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan’s vacated targets right away in the Steeler game, he is going to shoot up my rest-of-season ranks.

10. How Much Does Duke Johnson Get The Ball?

The Houston Texans have the potential to have the top quarterback in fantasy football, the top wide receiver in fantasy football and… the top running back in fantasy football. If Duke Johnson gets the majority of touches in this backfield, both rushing and receiving, he has the physical profile of a player who could have a legit RB1 season. The Texans scored the 11th most points in the NFL last season despite having no second wide receiver for most of their games and Lamar Miller leading the team in touches. Now, they have a real left tackle, a dynamic running back, and three good wide receivers to rotate opposite Hopkins. If Johnson is the undisputed starter in this game, he will be at the very top of my list for trade targets after Week One.

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