Week 1 of the NFL season has come and gone. It's important to take note of different storylines and situations, but it's also important not to overreact on some of these circumstances and occurrences.
LAST YEAR AFTER WEEK 1
- Alex Smith was a Top 3 quarterback - he finished 23rd playing in 15 games.
- DeAngelo Williams was the Top fantasy running back. Carlos Hyde was ranked 6th, Jalen Richard 12th, T.J. Yeldon 14th - they finished 49th, 18th, 42nd and 34th respectively.
- Tajae Sharpe started off with 11 targets, 7 receptions and 76 yards. He never had double-digit targets again and failed to exceed 4 catches in a game last season.
- Willie Snead IV had 9 receptions on 9 targets for 172 yards and a touchdown. He did not have another 100-yard game and he finished with 4 touchdowns on the year.
- Eric Ebron had a touchdown reception in Week 1 and didn't register another all last year.
On the other side...
- Devonta Freeman, who is notorius for slow starts, had 11 carries for 20 yards in Week 1 in 2016. He finished as the 6th overall running back in PPR scoring.
- Dak Prescott had a 55% completion percentage in Week 1 in 2016 with 0 touchdown passes or rushes. He finished with a 67% completion percentage and 23 touchdown passes with 6 more rushing.
- Rishard Matthews had 3 receptions for 26 yards and finished with 65 receptions for 945 yards and 9 touchdowns and finished 11th overall in PPR scoring.
THE SKY IS NOT FALLING
Don't give up on players like Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, Dez Bryant, Alshon Jeffery, Emmanuel Sanders, Kelvin Benjamin, Le'Veon Bell, Ameer Abdullah, DeMarco Murray, Jordan Reed, Tyler Eifert, etc. Each week is different and some teams and players take some time to get going. Le'Veon Bell didn't play a single snap in the preseason nor was he a part of the team until September 1st. Greg Olsen led the Panthers in targets (129) and receptions (80) and he's coming off three consecutive 1,000 seasons, a feat no other tight end has accomplished in league history. He'll bounce back.
REASONS FOR INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY
- Injury ahead in depth chart - an injury elevates a player. "Next man up" mentality is a strong motivating force
- Improved Performance - player makes an impact on the field resulting in more productivity
- Coach's decision - coach likes what he sees in his player and gives him more touches
WHICH PLAYERS ARE PRIMED FOR AN INCREASE in production?
- Andre Ellington, ARI - Losing David Johnson is a crushing blow and the short answer is that nobody will replace his production. Kerwynn Williams is the next running back on the Cardinals depth chart and Chris Johnson was just re-signed, but people seem to be forgetting about Ellington. Nobody will fill Johnson's shoes as a dual purpose threat, but Ellington could be the back that sticks. He still has youth and drive, plus his receiving skills are adequate for what the Cardinals need in Johnson's replacement. He's someone to consider, especially if your leaguemates target Williams and/or Johnson.
- Allen Hurns, JAC - Allen Robinson is out for the season with a torn ACL, so it's next man up in Jacksonville. Leonard Fournette is going to be a major piece of the offense, but when the Jaguars do pass, Hurns could easily be the team's top target. Marqise Lee is also in the mix, but Hurns to me, is the one to own in Jacksonville.
- Josh Bellamy, Kendall Wright, Markus Wheaton, Tanner Gentry, CHI - Season long injuries to Cameron Meredith and now Kevin White is a big loss for the Bears receiving corps, but with loss comes opportunity and there's three receivers who I think will see an increase in productivity moving forward. Josh Bellamy, Kendall Wright, Markus Wheaton and rookie Tanner Gentry all figure to be involved in some degree. Who comes out on top is yet to be determined.
- Javorius Allen, BAL - Danny Woodhead is expected to be out for at least six weeks while he recovers from a hamstring injury that never fully healed. He tried to return to soon and got burned. Terrance West is slated to be the team's starting running back, but Allen also see carries. Both backs combined for 40 carries in Week 1 with each netting positive results. This looks like a RBBC for now until one back takes charge. Allen's production will increase regardless and it could be significant.
- WR Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola, NE - Both receivers figure to be a big part of the Patriots offense this season. Amendola is coming off a concussion and may not be available for Week 2, which would make Chris Hogan an immediate start against New Orleans. Both receivers should see an increase in production, making them a bargain from the depths of your roster or in some cases, the waiver wire.
- WR Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram NYG - We could see Brandon Marshall bounce back after a dismal one-catch performance in Week 1 without Odell Beckham. In the event he doesn't become more involved, Sterling Shepard and rookie tight end Evan Engram should not be forgotten. The Giants are struggling to sustain a running game, which means more drop backs for Eli Manning. Odell Beckham will return soon, possibly Week 2, giving Shepard and Engram reduced coverage.
- WR Cooper Kupp, LAR - The Kupp Wagon is boarding. It's clear that Sean McVay wants to keep Kupp involved heavily in the Rams offense. Sammy Watkins will command a lot of attention and if Todd Gurley can keep defenses guessing, Kupp will emerge as one who sees a lot of targets on underneath routes. Kupp can play all over the field in several different formations. He is "football smart" and will do what is needed to give his quarterback a reliable target. This is someone the Rams haven't had in the past - not since the Danny Amendola days. I wish he didn't score in Week 1, because I'd be all over him as an upside play.
- Tarik Cohen, CHI - Everyone wants to know what to expect from Cohen this year after his enlightening performance in Week 1. He joins five other running backs since 2000 who had 12 targets in Week 1 (below). He's in pretty good company, but keep in mind he's not the lead back and he's only 5'6, 176 pounds. Durability could be an issue. I think we'll see decent production from him this year, but the chances of him putting up those numbers on a consistent basis is hard to imagine.
Running Backs with 12+ targets in Week 1 since 2000
- Sam Bradford was sharp in Week 1 vs. the Saints. Can we expect to see more of the same? Bradford did have a league-high 71.6% completion percentage last year and was a Top 10 quarterback from Week 10 on, last season. The Vikings have a formidable, underrated receiving corps. There's no reason to think he will drift away.
- Kareem Hunt had one of the best Week 1 running back performances of all time. Below is the list of running backs with 200+ rush/receiving yards in a Week 1 performance since 2000. He's in good company and should continue to be a strong fantasy producer as the lead back on a good offense, who has a history of successful fantasy backs.
Below is the small list of rookies in all positions to reach 200+ rush/rec yards in Week 1
There are several other players who have showed promise that might continue to produce
James White and Rex Burkhead, NE - This is a scenario where we could see one of these backs come up big any given week, while giving way to the other the following week. Unless an injury presents itself in the Patriots backfield, this is a muddy situation, but one that bears watching.
Malcolm Brown RB, LAR - If you are among the crowd of people displeased with Todd Gurley, Brown is one to watch. He may be the ultimate proactive stash. If Gurley goes down, or if he struggles to find consistent success, Brown is someone I have my eye on. His late game touchdown in mop up duty made him more aware to the fantasy crowd, but he is still a virtually forgotten man who is likely on your waiver wire.
Chris Carson RB, SEA - The snap counts for Seattle running backs was 26 for Carson, 16 for C.J. Prosise and 7 for Eddie Lacy. Carson looks to be the favorite to see increased action. Monitor this situation. He's worth a waiver pick now to stash (if available).
Marquise Goodwin WR, SF - Goodwin is a speedster and he's seeing opportunities around the field, not just as a deep threat. He nearly brought in a long ball last week vs. Carolina and would've had a much higher box score if he didn't let the ball slip right through his hands. He is someone that Brian Hoyer will gravitate to that many people aren't aware of yet.
Nelson Agholor WR, PHI - Carson Wentz and the Eagles leaned on Agholor in Week 1, but it may have been aided by Josh Norman's coverage on Alshon Jeffery. Agholor was the talk of training camp and now he's showing his potential in real games. He bears watching and is a decent waiver flier as a proactive pickup.
We have witnessed who is capable of success. The next step is continued production as we look to gain more clarity on which players are here to stay and which ones were a flash in the pan. Bring on Week 2.
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