The Best Of Footballguys Week 2

Matt Waldman scouts our in-season content and shares five must-knows and his takes on each.

You guys have a ton of articles.

This statement about Footballguys is a blessing but it can feel like a curse. Our staff delivers insights that change seasons for the better yet realistically, no fantasy owner has the time to read everything we publish in a week.

If this describes you, let me be your scout. Here are five insights from Footballguys articles that I find compelling for the weekend ahead. I'll share what should help you this week, touch on the long-term outlook, and sometimes offer a counterargument.

Since it's Week 1, I'm going to begin this series with some need-to-knows as a Footballguys subscriber.

1. Footballguys' Roundtable: LeSean McCoy

Until we acquire meaningful data to actually look at in-season trends, there's usually a lot of noisy information out there. Our weekly Roundtable provides a fair bit of observation, fantasy experience, and occasional debate that hopefully keeps everyone sharp.

This week, I asked the panel to supply both sides of the LeSean McCoy argument, share where they actually stand at the end, and deliver actionable fantasy advice. Here's how it unfolded...

Parsons: LeSean McCoy is a top-flight talent and moves to the friendly confines of an Andy Reid offense. Even with limited time with the team, McCoy was highly involved in Week 1 and effective.

On the downside, Damien Williams took much of the passing game work, which would be a limiting element to McCoy's upside. I side on McCoy taking over as the clear preferred back in terms of snaps and total touches within the next week or two.

Williams will spell McCoy and probably have more catches. However, there is plenty of juice in the Chiefs offense to support McCoy in the RB10-18 range and Williams as a flex option.

Tremblay: The argument for McCoy is that whoever lines up in the Chiefs' backfield is going to score a lot of fantasy points, and McCoy may be the best running back they've got. He had significantly more success than Damien Williams in Week 1 (8.1 yards per rush compared to 2.0, and 12.0 yards per target compared to 6.5). Andy Reid will go with the hot hand, and if you believe that McCoy is a better running back than Williams, you can expect him to settle in as a top-20 fantasy RB.

The argument against McCoy is age. He was largely ineffective in Buffalo last year, and 31-year-old running backs seldom find rejuvenation in the NFL. He looked good in Week 1 on a small sample of runs, but as the wear and tear accumulate over multiple games, he'll remain behind Damien Williams in the rotation.

It's why I'm selling McCoy. Damien Williams had a rough Week 1, but he'll bounce back, and I don't think McCoy will get enough touches in Kansas City to be a consistent fantasy starter.

Grant: McCoy is back with Andy Reid and hungry to show he can still play. The Chiefs were not completely sold on Damien Williams anyway, and his stock was falling at the end of the summer. McCoy won't get 25 touches a game, but in a KC offense that looks like it could average 35 points per week again this season, there will be plenty of action to go around.

In Buffalo, he was the starter and people were still looking at him as an RB3 / Flex. Why did that change when he went to a team with a clear starting running back in Williams and a young guy like Darwin Thompson who is more suited to be the future of the franchise than McCoy is? McCoy's upside is capped and he's not a guy you can count on from week to week. He'll do just enough to make you wish you had stated someone else, but not enough to make you want to trade or drop him.

It's why I'm selling him. The Chiefs embarrassed the Jaguars last week and McCoy had just 11 touches. I see nothing that convinces me he'll suddenly go to 15 or 20 a game. He's good insurance for the Chiefs in case Williams or Thompson go down to injury but unless that happens, or you have a deep fantasy roster, I'd rather take a chance on a guy with some upside.

Hindery: The biggest argument in favor of McCoy is simply that he is a part of the best offense in football. The Chiefs scored 66 offensive touchdowns last season.

In Week 1, they went on the road to face a talented Jacksonville defense and scored four offensive touchdowns while racking up 491 yards. There are going to be yards and touchdowns to go around given the huge offensive pie.

The optimistic view of McCoy’s Week 1 performance hinges things on two things. First, he was a much more efficient runner than Damien Williams, gaining 55 more yards on the ground despite three fewer carries. He looked like he still had plenty of burst and he probably earned more carries in subsequent weeks from his performance.

Second, while McCoy only played 29 percent of the snaps, we can make a solid argument that is only because he signed with the Chiefs approximately one week before the game and still didn’t know the entire playbook. It is easy to see his share of snaps rising.

The pessimistic view of McCoy would be that it is possible we don’t see a big change in the distribution of snaps or offensive roles we saw in Week 1. Damien Williams played 66 percent of the snaps, which is typical for Reid's starting running backs.

Williams also saw six targets to just one for McCoy and the biggest strength of Williams’ game is as a pass-catcher. Williams also received the short-yardage and goal-line carries, another role he has handled well. If the roles don’t change much and McCoy doesn’t get the goal-line work or a big number of targets, it is hard to get too excited. Even averaging 8.1 yards per carry, he still finished as just the RB30 (PPR scoring) last week.

As long as the price is right, I am buying any and all pieces of this Chiefs offense, including McCoy. It isn’t crazy to set a baseline expectation of four offensive touchdowns and 425 yards from this offense heading into each game. It is hard to figure out exactly how this backfield will play out but McCoy has a reasonable path to a featured role, either through injury to Williams or by simply earning more playing time at Williams' expense.

Hicks: There is no doubt that LeSean McCoy is a better fantasy option in Kansas City than in Buffalo, despite a likely drop in touches. To be a fantasy starter in two-back leagues last year required less than 10 fantasy points a game. McCoy did that in his first game and has significant room for more touches, receptions, and touchdowns.

Damien Williams and the other backs are clearly not in the same class as McCoy, so best back sees the most points. The against argument relies on his age being an issue and the presence of Damien Williams stealing his touches and touchdowns.

I would clearly be buying McCoy while he can be acquired at below his value. We saw ample evidence in week one that McCoy has better vision and more adaptability in an offense that will allow him more room than he has seen since his Eagle days.

Simpkins: McCoy is in one of the best offenses in football. Despite not being the running back he once was, like Frank Gore, McCoy understands the nuances of the position to such a degree that he can compensate for his diminished athleticism.

Damien Williams is really just a guy and Darwin Thompson, while talented, is not ready to take on a featured role with this team. Williams and Thompson will get work, but that work will decrease as time passes because the team will see that McCoy offers the best value per touch of any of the three.

Still, there's an argument that McCoy’s skills have diminished significantly from where they were even three years ago. He’s in a three-headed committee with Damien Williams and Darwin Thompson that will limit his touches and upside, despite being in a good offense. McCoy will be the victim of irrational coaching and, while he will have good weeks, he is not trustworthy as a fantasy starter.

Once again, I’m taking the former argument. I’m buying McCoy wherever I can. If I’m hard-up at running back, I’ll look to trade someone like D.K. Metcalf or Cortland Sutton-- guys who had good weeks but probably will not be consistently steady producers.

Matt's Recommendations: I had McCoy as a top-20 fantasy runner as soon as he landed in Kansas City. It's difficult for many to separate a running back from his offensive line when analyzing the runner. However, if you watch how McCoy set up blocks or managed his decision-making behind a Bills' offensive line that no longer had the personnel that made it and McCoy one of the top running games in the NFL prior to Sean McDermott's head coaching tenure, you could see evidence that McCoy still had potential to be a productive running back.

The fact that Andy Reid and the Chiefs could separate process from outcome when studying McCoy and immediately signed him to a one-year, $4 million deal indicates that they believe he'll be Kansas City's best backfield weapon soon enough. McCoy made better decisions than Damien Williams this weekend and outproduced Williams despite a week of acclimation to the system—a scheme that has some similarities to what McCoy did in Philadelphia under Reid but not as similar as many claimed.

Because Reid has a penchant for leaning on one excellent back when he has one, there's an opportunity for McCoy to shut the door on the competition and take over as the feature back this year while the Chiefs are in a window of contention for an AFC Championship. However, Reid is usually patient enough to continue with a committee for 3-5 weeks before making the call.

Knowing that Reid will allow his backs to compete, Damien Williams and Darwin Thompson have the talent to force a committee with McCoy if McCoy lacks the stamina and special sauce he once had to deliver elite performances week after week and manage a high volume of touches. While I'm not a believer in Williams as anything more than a competent NFL running back, that's enough for solid RB2 production or low-end RB1 PPR production in this offense.

Thompson earned minimal touches this week but if Williams and/or McCoy falter, Reid will give Tompson an opportunity. Reid did this in the past with Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware, Damien, and Darrel Williams.

As mentioned, I'm on the McCoy side of the argument and if I find myself weak at running back, I'd value McCoy as a fantasy RB2 with hidden upside. It means that I'd try to acquire him at an RB3 value but I'd potentially pay RB2 capital if I had the depth live with that expense because I think there's a viable scenario where Reid makes McCoy the feature back and he delivers 1,500-1,600 total yards and double-digit touchdown totals as a surprise RB1 in his last hurrah.

I don't want to count that on that possibility but if the RB market is thin and I don't want to wait because I believe my trade bait will turn into rotten pumpkins soon, then I might take the chance, knowing that I usually can build contenders with strong talent at other positions while living with my best back having low-end RB2 value.

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