The New Reality No.93: Assessing the Damage

Navigating the ever-changing landscape of dynasty fantasy football

Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season ripped through dynasty rosters like a hurricane or flood, dismantling some lineups with lost players and blowout defeats. Here is an assessment of players and depth charts with recommendations going forward:

David Johnson

Game Plan: With Johnson out for most, if not all, of the 2017 fantasy football season, Arizona resigned Chris Johnson. Kerwynn Williams ran as the No.2 back in Week 1 and Andre Ellington, who spent more time at receiver in the offseason, should be back to running back more than receiver this season. While the upside of any singular option of this trio is not overly high, I recommend having a horse in the race. Williams is the most likely to be owned already in leagues, but Chris Johnson and, to a lesser degree, Ellington are out there on waivers this week. I advocate 20-40% bidding on Johnson depending on league depth or running back premiums and 10-15% on Ellington. As for David Johnson, selling a stud immediately after an injury is typically a losing play long-term. I have seen Melvin Gordon III straight up and similar type construction since Sunday. My formula for injury adjustment is accelerating the player's age until they project to return (Week 1 of 2018 in this case) and assess if their production or competition should be notably different. For Johnson, the result was a small drop due to age alone. He maintains his status in the top-4 of running back rankings and is more likely to be a buy than a sell in the near term.

Allen Robinson

Game Plan: Robinson is out for the season with an ACL tear. Blake Bortles and the Jaguars offense was already earmarked for a run-centric approach with Leonard Fournette. Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee are the notable uptick receivers, but they offer WR3 or flex potential at best considering likely volume and being miscast as No.1 options on a depth chart. With a crowded top group of receiver talent for dynasty rankings, Robinson drops down more than David Johnson as a comparison among running backs. Partly for missing a prime season but mostly with the higher probability of Jacksonville not being the same team as when Robinson's broke out in 2015. Plus the team is more likely to add receiver talent next offseason than Arizona with a challenger to Johnson. I am more open to selling Robinson. Is DeVante Parker, Stefon Diggs, Alshon Jeffery, Keenan Allen, or Davante Adams available in a swap? I would take any of them - plus an additional piece - for Robinson within the same value range on my board.

Kevin White

Game Plan: White almost has more lost years due to injuries at this point than career games played. White drops way down in my dynasty values partly because time is running out on him to get tiebreaker with his draft pedigree and Chicago is earmarked to bolster the wide receiver position next offseason with questions about White and Meredith returning from 2017 injuries. White is likely best served stashing on IR and reassessing in the trade market in January (or holding to see what Chicago does in free agency). White may not survive dynasty roster cuts around rookie draft time, but his market value is shot for the time being.

Danny Woodhead

Game Plan: The PPR maven is out for at least a month. Javorius Allen is the hot name as Allen posed as a handcuff to Terrance West or Woodhead if either should miss time. Allen is a weekly RB2/3 option and West remaining largely unchanged in projection. What helps Baltimore running backs in general is their receivers and tight ends struggled mightily in Week 1 outside a singular big play from Jeremy Maclin. When at all possible, expect a strong dose of both Allen and West in the coming weeks. Woodhead is a hold unless a second round pick and an upside player is obtainable in the trade market. Woodhead is likely back in October, but hamstrings can be tricky.

Kareem Hunt

Game Plan: The Day 2 rookie burst onto the regular season stage with a huge game against the Patriots. My film study showed more pause than the unbridled enthusiasm shown by some. Hunt had free access to a number of running lanes to gain 5-10 yards without encountering a tackle attempt. Plus, Matt Waldman did an outstanding job outlining Hunt being a work in progress as a pass protector. While Hunt moves up in my dynasty values, I would still want to optimize Hunt's value by adding a second piece and upgrading to Leonard Fournette, or getting a higher level secondary piece and shifting to Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, Carlos Hyde, or others in the next segment of my rankings.

Tarik Cohen

Game Plan: The 'human joystick' as he was dubbed during his college and pre-draft time was another rookie running back highlight of Week 1. Chicago needs playmakers on offense desperately as their wide receiver corps has been gutted and Mike Glennon is the quintessential 'only as good as his situation' level quarterback needing ideal conditions. Cohen, however, remains behind Jordan Howard and has already earned a quality profit considering his purchase price of a third round rookie pick (or less) during the summer. If owners are able to acquire a future first, even if adding a smaller second piece to Cohen, I highly recommend the move.

Seahawks Backfield

Game Plan: What a mess Seattle was in Week 1. The biggest recommendation among the group is to exit from Eddie Lacy, if possible. Lacy saw sparse action even with Thomas Rawls inactive. Lacy still has some name value to shift to another asset. While his supporters will balk at my valuation most likely, exiting now prevents a complete value loss. I have options like Chris Carson, Rex Burkhead, Javorius Allen, and Charcandrick West ahead of Lacy because of their opportunity spectrum this season. At least one of those backs can be had for Lacy in the trade market of most leagues and likely a mid-round rookie pick tacked on.

The Tight End Carnage

Game Plan: One of the typical streaming positions was at its best in Week 1. Strong projections like Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, Jordan Reed, Martellus Bennett, Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, Tyler Eifert, and Eric Ebron all finished outside the top-10 with most of them outside the top-20 finishers. Austin Hooper needed a big-play finish to his week to not be a fantasy bust. Jesse James caught two touchdowns, one being a shovel pass at the goal line, to be the top producers in most formats. Scoring was down in general for the position as just nine tight ends finished with 10+ PPR points.

Three Houston tight ends suffered concussions and C.J. Fiedorowicz is on injured reserve as a result. Most owners have more questions at the position than quality depth after Week 1. Of the above list of underperforming tight ends, I have the most concern about Tyler Eifert and Eric Ebron. Eifert is still living off his one big (touchdown-infused) season of note. Cincinnati added John Ross and Joe Mixon to the passing game this offseason with premium picks and A.J. Green remains the focal point. Ebron has yet to show much development through three seasons and Kenny Golladay will be a threat to any semblance of red zone touchdown upside for Ebron this season.

For owners seeking cheap (or free through the waiver wire) shots at depth or spot starters, look towards Will Tye, Dion Sims, Stephen Anderson, or a Baltimore option. Will Tye has a golden opportunity to be the clear starter for the Jets in Austin Seferian-Jenkins' suspension absence. Anderson (or potentially Ryan Griffin) are snap upside options in Houston with C.J. Fiedorowicz out for the season. Ben Watson and Nick Boyle had solid snap counts in Week 1 (despite minimal results) and Maxx Williams also saw time. With Baltimore's receivers struggling, tight end and running back are poised to present value compared to their fantasy market value.

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