Ezekiel Elliott, RB, DAL (redraft) - The best thing Elliott redraft teams could hope for is Scott Linehan getting fired. The bump in targets and passing game involvement never materialized in Week 1, and the pass offense was as bad or worse than the worst-case scenarios envisioned after it was clear that the team lacked strong outside options and players who can consistently win in 1-on-1 matchups. Elliott will still get volume and he’s still a great player, but this offense won’t support a top-five fantasy running back season, and he gets the Giants this week in a negative run matchup. This could be last time Elliott garners top five pick value in the trade market.
David Johnson, RB, ARI (redraft) - This one is tougher to follow through on than Elliott, and like Elliott’s situation, there’s a back door out here for Johnson if Sam Bradford doesn’t improve and Josh Rosen elevates the offense. Still, Johnson was bailed out by a garbage time score and the Cardinals offense couldn’t stay on the field. Their defense couldn’t get off of the field. Maybe Washington is one of the NFL’s elite teams this year, but if they aren’t, this home blowout loss indicates the Cardinals will be one of the worst teams in the NFL this year. With the Rams and Bears up next, the window for Johnson to return top five value is going to close quickly.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, MIN - Rudolph was targeted twice, and he caught one for a score, which keeps a pulse to his fantasy value. He might have some appeal with the fantasy wasteland at tight end, but will probably be about as effective as streaming in redraft leagues and his value is only going to decline in dynasty leagues. He’s unlikely to be a consistent core part of the Vikings passing game.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, KC - The preseason Mahomes to Hill bomb that traveled farther than any pass in the 2017 regular season was indeed a sign of a seismic change in the AFC West. Mahomes is conducting himself like a veteran in his poise and decision-making and the Chiefs have a set of personnel that defenses just can’t account for on every play. Their defense was as bad as advertised, which will tilt most game scripts to high-scoring, back and forth affairs. Mahomes has a real shot to be the #1 fantasy quarterback this year.
Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, WR, NYJ- Enunwa had a strong first week on only 21 Sam Darnold attempts. The offense moved him around and emphasized Enunwa in the high percentage game, and he delivered. Darnold looks like a natural and he might foster better fantasy receiver value on the Jets than we imagined in the short and long term.
Sammy Watkins, WR, KC - Yes, Tyreek Hill is going to be the apple of Patrick Mahomes’ eye, but Watkins is still a more than viable target, and defenses are going to soon overplay Hill to force someone else to beat them. Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt also arguably belong in this take after Week 1 duds, although they came with high redraft costs and unattainable dynasty values, so the buy low window might not be open yet. Watkins was met with skepticism to open the season and the Week 1 small game could be seen as evidence that he’s becoming ordinary despite the exceptional situation.
Spencer Ware, RB, KC - The Chiefs offense is going to be an accelerant for fantasy values of any competent player involved. Ware is more than competent, in fact, he’s looking like his old self in limited work. Ware is a Kareem Hunt injury away from starting and turning 27 this November, there’s still tread left on the tires for his dynasty value as he becomes a free agent next year Wouldn’t he look good in Rex Burkhead’s role?
Julian Edelman, WR, NE, Mark Ingram II, RB, NO - Both of these suspended players will be returning to very fertile fantasy situations that they have flourished in before. The Patriots short passing game and Saints offense are as healthy and robust as ever, and Edelman and Ingram will be entering the season with a Week 1 freshness that teammates and opposing defenders will lack. Both are also at advanced ages for their positions and should be cheap in dynasty leagues.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, PIT (dynasty) - If you’ve coveted Bell on your dynasty team, you may never have a better moment to acquire him. Let the Bell team know of your interest this week, even if it doesn’t bear fruit in negotiations. If they keep losing games and feel the season slipping away and Bell continues to show no signs of reporting any time soon, they may crack.
Aaron Jones, RB, GB - Jamaal Williams doesn’t look like he’s going to add a lot as a runner, and he wasn’t heavily used as a receiver against the Bears. Jones has been forgotten in redraft leagues and isn’t very sexy in dynasty leagues right now, but his ability as a runner is underrated because of his draft pedigree. The Packers aren’t going to morph into a run-first offense, but if Jones put up big games with both Rodgers and Brett Hundley under center last year, which points in the right direction for his future.
Brandon Marshall, WR, SEA - Marshall still has more game than you think, and he’s going to be playing with a resourceful quarterback who already appears to have a penchant for targeting Marshall in the red zone. Doug Baldwin’s injury is going to open the door to a big opportunity for Marshall, and he looks ready to walk through it.
Jay Ajayi, RB, PHI - Ajayi was able to convert two red zone opportunities, and the Eagles should provide them consistently this year, but once the passing game is on track, it’s difficult to say how many of them will go to Ajayi. He is still going to be in a committee backfield and need to get touchdowns to be relevant most weeks. If he’s not one of your top two backs, he might draw a good bounty from a running back-needy team.