Fantasy Overview, Week 2 - Footballguys

Get yourself caught up on what's going on in the league as we enter Week 2 of the NFL season. Here's my take on the fantasy landscape around the league. 

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 (2017) AFTER WEEK 1

  • Trevor Siemian was the 4th ranked quarterback. He wound up playing 11 games and finished 29th.
  • Mike Gillislee had three rushing touchdowns for New England in Week 1. He finished with 5 for the season and finished 70th among PPR running backs.
  • Tarik Cohen started off with a bang in 2017, finishing as the 2nd ranked running back in Week 1. He finished 29th in PPR scoring, which is a respectable result, but he is not a Top 10 back.
  • Kenny Golladay started as the 5th ranked wide receiver thanks to two touchdown catches. He finished with three touchdowns for the season and ranked 70th.
  • Broncos wide receiver Bennie Fowler also had two touchdowns in Week 1 and finished with three touchdowns and a 78th ranking.
  • Jesse James, Austin Hooper, Coby Fleener and Charles Clay were all among the Top 6 in tight ends after Week 1 last season. None finished in the Top 15 at season's end.

On the other side...

  • Carson Wentz entered the 2017 season with 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions as a rookie. He was the 5th ranked quarterback in Week 1 which turned out to be a stepping stone to a breakout campaign. An unfortunate knee injury in Week 14 kept him from being in consideration for league MVP.
  • Kareem Hunt was the Top running back in the league in Week 1. He enjoyed a breakout rookie debut finishing 4th among PPR running backs. He was definitely not a fluke, and backed it up all season long, save a few games later in the season.
  • Todd Gurley, who ranked 5th in 2015 and 19th in 2016, was a question mark entering the 2017 season. He wasn't a forgotten player in drafts, but it wasn't a foregone conclusion that he would bounce back to his rookie form. The new Rams offense and attention to the running game turned Gurley into a star once again. He finished as the #1 running back by 40 points over the 2nd ranked back (Le'Veon Bell). Both played only 15 games.

THE SKY IS NOT FALLING

Don't give up on players like Deshaun Watson, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kareem Hunt, LeSean McCoy, Alex Collins, Rex Burkhead, Chris Hogan, Jamison Crowder, Devin Funchess, Travis Kelce, Evan Engram or Jimmy Graham. Each week is different and some teams and players take some time to get going.

Deshaun Watson is coming off an ACL reconstruction, which he has done in the past before with positive results. He's getting used to his mobility and especially his confidence against live defenses. He should be able to bounce back. If he doesn't have positive results at home in Week 2 against Tennessee, the recovery may take a bit longer.

Travis Kelce had 1 catch for 6 yards in a game where the Chiefs scored 38 points. Patrick Mahomes may favor Tyreek Hill, but Kelce is not going to be overlooked. How many more receptions would Kelce have had if not for the punt return for a touchdown that erased what would've been an entire possession? Or the 58-yard touchdown pass to Hill on the 5th play of the drive? Kelce will bounce back. Andy Reid will make sure of it.

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 - a player makes an impact on the field resulting in more productivity
  • Coach's decision - the coach likes what he sees in his player and gives him more touches

WHICH PLAYERS ARE PRIMED FOR AN INCREASE IN PRODUCTION?

  • Nelson Agholor, PHI - It's unclear how many games Nick Foles will start until Carson Wentz is ready to return, but Agholor was a big piece of the Eagles short-yardage passing game in Week 1. His performance and a constant peppering of short passes wasn't a result of how Atlanta was playing defense, Foles just did not stretch the field. Some of that was to employ a high percentage passing game, but it also was due to Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) being out of the lineup. The shark move is ride Agholor's wave while Foles is under center and while Jeffery is out. Expect more of the same in the next few games and potentially sell Agholor when Jeffery enters the fold.

  • Ryan Grant, IND - The Colts had 53 pass attempts in Week 1. It's possible that Andrew Luck will reach 600 pass attempts this year, which means the offense will be distributed to those who are on the field the most. T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle played 100% of the Colts offensive snaps, but second on the offense was Ryan Grant at 84% of the team's offensive snaps. Grant was targeted 9 times and he caught 8 of them for 59 yards. He may not be a downfield threat as of yet, but volume is never bad when it comes to fantasy production. The next closest wide receiver was Chester Rogers who was on the field for 61% of the snaps.

  • Kenny Stills, MIA - Stills only managed only 4 catches on 5 targets, but he totaled 106 yards and scored twice on those touches, plus he was on the field for 100% of the team's offensive snaps. Stills is going to be a key contributor of the Dolphins offensive attack, especially with questions at the tight end position which accounted for only 1 catch for 11 yards.

  • Joe Mixon, CIN - Mixon was a stalwart for the Bengals offense against the Colts in Week 1. He dominated carries 17 to 1 by Giovani Bernard, and he was second on the team in targets with 7. If Week 1 is any indication, Mixon is going places in 2018.

  • Chris Thompson, WAS - There was some concern whether or not Thompson would be 100% or even close to it until November. He squashed that belief with a dominating Week 1 performance against Arizona. Thompson's 6 catches on 7 targets led the team. He and Adrian Peterson split duties with a 56% and 44% split in the percentage of offensive snaps (Peterson 56%). Thompson averaged 13.0 yards per rush on five rushes and 10.5 yards per catch on 6 receptions. He may wind up being the team leader in receptions if he keeps this pace. It all points to consistent fantasy production on a weekly basis for a player who behaves like a receiver, who also gets rushing yards.

  • Jordan Howard, CHI - In addition to 15 carries for 82 yards, Howard added five catches for 25 yards. He didn't get in the end zone, which hides how effective he was. What's more impressive and surprising was that Howard was targeted more often than Tarik Cohen, who some thought might be a big contributor in the passing game. If Week 1 is any indication, Howard will see a good amount of touches as a receiver and he may best Cohen in that category.

  • James Conner, PIT - James Conner did his best Le'Veon Bell impression, equipped with a 5-catch game to go along with 135 rushing yards on 31 carries. 31 carries! You could argue that Conner's success came mostly in the first half and the fact that he could not be as productive in the second half, led to the Steelers failing to put away Cleveland. Even still, Conner and his usage aren't going to go away. Pittsburgh may have tried to make a statement to Bell by giving Conner so many touches, but the overall theme here is that the Pittsburgh running game can operate successfully without Bell. We've seen DeAngelo Williams have similar results. Expect Conner to put up similar numbers, perhaps not as plentiful as Week 1, but he's going to be a major part of the offense if and when Bell returns this season.

Which players may not be as good their Week 1 Performance?

  • Austin Ekeler, LAC - The Chargers complementary back had an impressive season debut with over 120 total yards of offense on just 10 touches (5 carries, 5 receptions). What makes this even more impressive was that he did that on only 22 snaps (30% of the team's offensive snaps). The highest percentage of snaps for Ekeler last year was only 44%. He is an efficient producer and is worthy of praise, but that level of involvement is a recipe for inconsistency.

  • Phillip Dorsett, NE - There are two main reasons for why Dorsett may not keep up the pace after his 7-catch, 66-yard, 1 touchdown performance in Week 1. First, Julian Edelman will be back in Week 5, so the shelf life for Dorsett to have an extended role in the offense is minimal. Two, Chris Hogan is not going away. Hogan was on the field for 94% of the team's offensive snaps. Dorsett, only 79%. Hogan will get his chances. We saw that in the preseason. He wasn't exploited in Week 1, but that doesn't mean it will be the case in Week 2 against Jacksonville. Hogan also had only 1 catch for 8 yards in Week 1 last year. He followed that up with 5-78-1, 4-68-2, 5-60-1 and 8-74-1 in his next four games.

  • Eric Ebron, IND - The Colts, especially Andrew Luck, have long shown a propensity to target the tight end in their offense. Usually, there is one main receiving threat and a complementary option who also can accumulate production. While Eric Ebron had a big day with 4 catches for 51 yards and a touchdown, Jack Doyle quietly was on the field for 100% of the team's snaps (Ebron 48%) and totaled 7 catches for 60 yards on 10 targets. Ebron is a bigger, more athletic option for specific routes and plays, but Doyle remains one of Luck's hot reads and short-intermediate ranged target. Doyle is more of a mainstay in the offense and should wind up outproducing Ebron, despite the Week 1 results that favored Ebron.

  • DeSean Jackson, TB - Jackson is good for a few big games a year, and last week was definitely one of them. Chris Godwin is the one who is rising up the depth chart. It will only be a matter of time before he joins Mike Evans as the other wide receiver in the Bucs offense. In order for Jackson to be fantasy relevant every week, the offense is going to have to perform like it did against New Orleans, which seems like a tall order. Ryan Fitzpatrick had the game of his life last week. Even at his best, he isn't as good as he was in Week 1. Let's see how he does against Philadelphia this week before we decide he's going to have a career year.

  • Robby Anderson, NYJ - It's early, but Robby Anderson was barely used in the game against the Lions. He scored on a 41-yard touchdown pass, but he only had the one target. Anderson has excellent hands and should be showcased more, but this is a different Jets offense than last year. A new coordinator and quarterback could have a negative impact on how often he is used. Talent usually rises to the top, but one target for a player of his caliber is something to take note of, especially given the changes that have taken place with the team.

These players have showed promise who might continue to produce

Adrian Peterson, WAS - Washington is in need of a primary running back. Chris Thompson plays the McCaffrey/Kamara role well, but in Washington's offense, they need to have a back who can move the pile and be a force so Thompson's game and the short passing game can thrive. Peterson fits the bill and he showed that he can still play at a high level. How long he can sustain that level is another topic. For now, Peterson appears to have a hold on the main rushing role and is worthy of RB2 consideration.

Quincy Enunwa, NYJ - Sam Darnold clearly has eyes for Enunwa, targeting him 10 times, while the next closest player had only 3 targets. Enunwa led all receivers with 67% of the offensive snaps and appears to be a top target this year. There's not enough clarity to know if his level of involvement will continue, but for now, he is someone to watch.

Ted Ginn Jr Jr, NO - The Saints order of receiving targets is Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and then Ted Ginn Jr. Being the third option on a potent offense is worth taking note of, especially for Ginn, whose strength is his ability to get deep. He's probably not more than a flex option going forward, but he's still someone who could emerge as a threat and is worth having on your roster.

Geronimo Allison, GB - Speaking of third targets on a potent offense, Allison is behind Davante Adams and Randall Cobb on the depth chart and target distribution, but we've seen James Jones thrive with Aaron Rodgers under center. Keep an eye out for Allison. He's someone who could reach 50-60 catches and 5-7 touchdowns.

George Kittle, SF - George Kittle led the team in targets (9) and was on the field for 77% of the team's offensive snaps. Only Pierre Garcon had more. Kittle finished with 5 catches for 90 yards against a tough Vikings defense. He performed well on the field and was the biggest target for Jimmy Garoppolo. Next week vs Detroit is a favorable matchup, which could yield similar results. He's one to watch as a tight end who can move into a weekly fantasy start for your roster.

Potential risers - but not there yet

Players who scored a touchdown with 5 carries or less

Players who scored a receiving touchdown with 4 targets or less

scores are coming?

Players who had 10+ targets but did not score

Players with 15+ carries but didn't score

top defenses

Defenses with 6+ sacks

  • 7 PIT
  • 6 DEN, CAR, BAL
Defenses with single-digit points allowed
  • 3 BAL
  • 6 WAS
  • 8 CAR
Defenses with 3+ interceptions
  • 5 NYJ
  • 3 SEA, CLE, MIA, MIN, LAR

We have witnessed players who are 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.

Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome to haseley@footballguys.com


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