Experts have said we tend to generate first impressions of new people
somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes. Depending on who you
talk to, first impressions are sometimes the only ones we ever get
to provide - be it due to circumstance or the unfortunate close-mindedness
Fortunately for those of us who follow and love fantasy football,
we typically get 60 minutes to form our first impression of teams
and players for the upcoming season. Just like in the real world,
our first impressions of the teams and players we see in Week
1 can be completely right, completely wrong or somewhere in between.
Below are the first impressions I came away with after watching
each team play in Week 1:
Fitzgerald just had the best game he's going to have
To be clear, an 8-81-2 line is a pretty high bar to set, so thankfully
this isn't a bold prediction piece. Here's the thing: The Patriots
played with enough discipline to make sure no Arizona receiver
got behind the secondary, which doesn't sound like a huge deal
when you consider the Cardinals led the league in deep throws
last year (right around 25 percent). So it seems logical enough;
take away what an offense wants to do the most and see what happens.
The problem is most opponents either don't want to do that or
can't do it, so Arizona will throw deep and be very successful
at it going forward, especially as John Brown works his way back
into game shape. In case anyone needed a reminder on how successful
the Patriots' plan was in Week 1, consider Fitzgerald, David Johnson
and Jermaine Gresham - each of whom do most of their damage in
the short passing game - were among three of Arizona's top four
receivers and combined for 16 catches and 20 targets. Many attributed
Fitzgerald's second-half fade last year to Johnson's emergence
and the fact Johnson stole Fitz's short-range targets. Week 1
represented a bit of a perfect storm for Fitzgerald in that there
were plenty of short-range targets in a vertical offense - an
occurrence owners shouldn't expect to see much more often moving
Falcons Don't be so quick to take the bait on Mohamed
The first play of the Falcons' second series of the game featured
Sanu in the slot. After Sanu delayed his release from the line
by at least a second or two and the rest of the offense sold the
play-action fake, the defender assigned to Sanu completed neglected
his responsibility and appeared to think the play was going to
be a pass to the running back in the flat. Sanu leaked out in
what looked like a wheel route and went for 59 yards. That play
accounted for all but 21 yards of his Week 1 total. While the
eight targets overall are promising, Sanu isn't going to be a
big-play receiver consistently. Is he worth a spot on fantasy
rosters as a WR4? Absolutely. Can we expect consistent 5-80-1
lines going forward? Probably not.
As far as fantasy owners were concerned, Wallace could have checked
out with 10 minutes left in the second quarter, seconds after
hauling in a 66-yard strike from Joe Flacco on a player OC Marc
Trestman has likely been dreaming about since the ex-Steeler signed
with the team this spring. As with all receivers who make their
living as mainly a deep threat, Wallace is going to be a bit of
a rollercoaster ride in terms of consistency. With that said,
it is hard to get upset about any player who can post nearly 20
fantasy points in PPR leagues on only three catches and six targets.
He's certainly worth considering as a flex option in each of the
next two weeks against the Browns and Jaguars, at which point
it should become more clear whether or not he is emerging as Flacco's
favorite receiver in Baltimore or not. I tend to believe he will,
but I wouldn't blame any Wallace owner if he sold high on him
after Week 3 (assuming he has another solid fantasy effort like
he did in Week 1).
Bills I'm not sure who authorized the Week 1 game plan, but it's
far too early to give up on Tyrod
No one has probably ever accused OC Greg Roman of operating an
aerial circus. In fact, his NFL offenses have been more ground-and-pound
than just about any other. If there was ever a time to switch
things up just a bit, it might have been Week 1. Baltimore's defense
has stopped the run for about as long as I've been playing fantasy
football, while the pass defense has tailed off a bit recently.
Perhaps a little bit of improvisation by Taylor, a slightly heavier
dose of Sammy Watkins and getting LeSean McCoy out in space might
have been a wise approach. The result of Roman's Week 1 game plan:
46 plays for 160 yards (including 24 runs and 2.7 YPC!) Baltimore
may very well end up fielding a top-10 defense this season, but
this unit may as well have been the 2000 Ravens in Week 1. The
Bills were equally conservative with Taylor in the opener last
year as well (14-of-19 for 195 yards in a MNF win against a much
worse defense in the Colts), so owners need to cut him some slack).
I saw an owner in an experts' dynasty league as well as one in
a RTS high-stakes league drop him. He averaged 22 FPPG in 14 starts
last year with essentially the same supporting cast he has now.
Ride it out a bit longer.
Panthers Defenses need to learn to body up Kelvin
Benjamin at the line of scrimmage.
Benjamin is 6-5 and 245 pounds. He also had 4.6-40 speed prior
to undergoing ACL surgery, so it is doubtful he's faster now than
when he entered the league in 2014. There is no reason why defensive
backs should be giving him any space off the line of scrimmage.
Denver has arguably the best set of cornerbacks in the league
and essentially played "off" coverage on every one of
Benjamin's catches. The Broncos appeared to spend much more time
pressing Benjamin in the second half, which may have been the
primary reason why Greg Olsen was featured. It appears preseason
reports of Benjamin's role being diminished may have been exaggerated,
but I'd still be leery of trusting him as a WR2 in fantasy. Defenses
are eventually going to wise up and take away the inside routes
from Benjamin, taking their chances with Cam Newton's scattershot
accuracy on downfield throws.
White has a long way to go to be a fantasy-relevant
receiver, and I don't know why.
This is one I'm going to put on the Chicago coaching staff just
as much as I am on White. Even though White was forced to miss
all of his rookie season due to a stress fracture (obviously keeping
him away from honing his craft on the field), he should have had
plenty of time to learn the offense. It is clear from the preseason
and Week 1 that he is even rawer than some Bears' coaches let
on during the preseason. He somehow led the team in targets in
Week 1, but most of them came late when Houston had backed off
its coverage. There is no sophistication to his routes (yet),
so for a player some observers want to compare to a young Andre
Johnson in terms of talent, it is a shame he's not further along.
It is that same talent that should allow him to succeed at some
point this season, but it is disappointing to see where he is
at right now. He's a low-end WR4 at best at the moment.
Hill is primed for a huge year.
Hill might have only received nine touches (all runs) and accumulated
31 yards, but I was awfully impressed with him regardless. He
was powerful, decisive and probably could have run for 80-plus
yards against what should be one of - if not the best - run defenses
in the league this year with a full workload. I predicted a slow
start from him last month with the Jets, Steelers and Broncos
first up on the schedule, but it gets considerably easier after
that until the end of the fantasy season. The Bengals have no
reason to change things up in their backfield, so Giovani Bernard
isn't going away and Hill isn't going to be a top-five fantasy
option. However, Cincinnati is going to be leading in a number
of games and Hill is the unquestioned option in the running game
near the goal line, so he should have plenty of opportunities
to pile up touches against tired defenses and collect short touchdowns.
If 9-31-1 against a stout defense like the Jets is his floor,
then he's going to be a very good RB2 for a lot of owners.
Based on all the drafts I took part in, owners are expecting
Gordon to relive his 2013 campaign. That's just great. Does anyone
recall who else was a part of that team three years ago? Beyond
the fact Cleveland threw the ball more than any other team that
year, Jordan Cameron (80 catches) was the only other receiver
with more than Davone Bess' 42 receptions. Why is that important
now? The Browns aren't going to air the ball out that much this
year and they have more skill-position talent than they did then.
(So good luck on Gordon being a consistent WR2/low-end WR1 after
his four-game suspension ends.) One of those skilled players is
Pryor, who seems to have a knack of getting behind defenders and
plays the ball awfully well in the air for a former quarterback.
The Browns need to strongly consider making three-receiver sets
their base formation and hope rookie Corey Coleman can thrive
in the slot (not a big ask for a player with his talent, but a
big ask for a young player coming out of a pure spread college
offense). Assuming this happens, Pryor should hit enough big plays
- for as long as Josh McCown is the quarterback - to warrant matchup-based
Cowboys Despite a disappointing 51-yard performance in his debut,
owners can still be encouraged about Ezekiel
The Giants spent a ton of money in the offseason fixing their
defense and it showed in Week 1, continually stonewalling the
Cowboys' vaunted offensive line thanks to some excellent work
from DT Damon "Snacks" Harrison. To his credit, Elliott
admitted publicly that he didn't care for the way he played, although
I'm not exactly sure how much blame he really needs to put on
himself. Dallas fed him 20 carries anyway (21 touches in all)
- a workload that will result in several 100-yard days in the
near future against run defenses that lack a 350-pound run plugger.
First up are the Redskins, who just got rolled over by DeAngelo
Williams for 171 total yards and two scores. After that, Dallas
faces a Chicago defense that surrendered 117 total yards to Lamar
Miller. Alfred Morris is going to get sprinkled in to keep him
fresh, but he is not a threat to Elliott.
Anderson will not last the season, end it as the
starter or both.
The optimist will look at the opener and see a 20-carry, two-touchdown
performance and suggest he ran physically against a physical defense.
I consider myself an optimist, but I also noticed two or three
times where Anderson struggled to get up, which is a problem for
a player who hasn't shown he can handle the workload of a full
season yet. More importantly, I was surprised how quickly Devontae
Booker entered the game. Sure, the rookie fumbled on his first
career carry, but I certainly didn't expect to see him on the
eighth play of the first series after Anderson registered only
two carries. That tells me Anderson isn't the lock to be featured
that we have been told he is.
Jones is the 1B, if not the 1A, receiver in Detroit.
It's often difficult to quantify such statements, as matchups
and game situation typically play a large role in target and catch
distribution. Nevertheless, Jones' 10 targets in Week 1 seems
like enough to say he is at least on equal footing as Golden Tate,
who has caught at least 90 passes in each of his two years as
a Lion. Is that where Jones is headed too? That much is doubtful,
but not unrealistic. The good thing for both receivers is that
Tate makes his living on yards after the catch on short passes,
while Jones works more in the intermediate area, so they shouldn't
be fighting each other for the same kind of targets very often.
Despite only finishing with four catches against a poor secondary
in Week 1, Jones owners should come away from the opener pretty
happy about their investment. As a result of controlling the flow
of the game, Detroit had about as much balance as it will have
all season and the pass-run ratio was still 39:24, which means
Jones saw more than 25 percent of the targets in a game it controlled.
It doesn't seem like much to ask for the Lions to not enjoy such
positive game script situations all that often going forward,
so Jones should be a good bet for nearly 10 targets per week.
Bay Packers Fantasy owners may need to have short memories when it comes
I promise this is not an overreaction to his touchdown catch
- a great play by both Adams and Aaron Rodgers to say the least.
One year ago and before Jordy Nelson's unfortunate knee injury,
Adams was making his case to be the third amigo in this passing
game. Of course, he got hurt as well - as did the entire Green
Bay offense. However, if he is going to have more games where
he is getting a similar number of targets (seven) as Nelson (nine)
and Randall Cobb (eight), then owners probably need to forget
2015 and think about trusting him again. I have stated a number
of times about how Rodgers can make three and sometimes four receivers
relevant in fantasy on a regular basis, so if Adams can remain
healthy this year, maybe he will become the serviceable WR3 many
thought he'd become last season.
Texans As good as Will
Fuller's debut was, it should have been even better.
Fuller was a surprise first-round selection for the Texans at
No. 21 in April's draft in part because he was known as much for
his breakaway speed at Notre Dame as he was for his drops. He
showed both in his first game as a pro. With about 1:45 left in
the first half, Brock Osweiler led the rookie beautifully on a
deep ball that NFL receivers are expected to catch. And for someone
with his speed, Fuller would have went the rest of the way for
an 88-yard score. He dropped it. To his credit, he spent most
of the second half making up for it, generating four of his five
catches, eight of his 11 targets and 100 of his 107 yards receiving
- to go along with his go-ahead touchdown - after the break. There
may not be such a thing as a consistent rookie deep threat in
fantasy, but Fuller is set up as well as any receiver at the moment
to do just that. Defenses have no choice but to respect Lamar
Miller and DeAndre Hopkins, meaning Fuller has a realistic shot
of emerging as a fantasy WR3 in 2016. In the mold of a young DeSean
Jackson, he'll get plenty of opportunity to deliver week-winning
Colts At least as long as the Colts are without top CB Vontae
Davis, their defense is going to be so bad that Andrew
Luck and the Indy passing game will be a good bet to produce
nearly 350 yards and 2-3 touchdowns on a weekly basis.
The fact that Indianapolis was going to be bad on defense shouldn't
come as a surprise to anyone. Giving up 448 total yards in the
opener - including 116 on the ground to the worst rushing team
in the league a year ago - only confirms how right most of us
were. So, as much as the Colts strive for offensive balance, owners
should probably count on plenty of negative game scripts moving
forward, which is obviously good news for T.Y.
Allen and even Phillip
Dorsett. Heck, even Frank
Gore got in on the fun last week with four catches on six
targets. The point is a repeat of Luck's 47 attempts in Week 1
is very likely. That kind of volume makes Allen and Dorsett borderline
every-week starts in deeper leagues and probably locks Hilton
and Moncrief into eight or more targets in most games. While it
may not be winning football for the Colts, owners of any high-priority
Colt pass-catcher should love every minute of it.
Yeldon doesn't deserve much of the blame for his
21-carry, 39-yard performance in Week 1, but he'll probably wear
Yeldon actually sprinkled in his fair share of 5-7 yard runs
throughout the game, but the Packers consistently won the battle
at the line of scrimmage, recording six tackles for loss alone
on runs by the second-year back. The great backs can occasionally
make something out of nothing, but very few can turn a play in
which an offensive lineman gets shoved right into the path of
the runner as the play is developing and avoid a loss. That happened
way too often in Week 1. The Jags face the Chargers and Colts
in two of the next three weeks, so if Chris
Ivory can make it back from his mystery illness in the near
future and enjoys instant success, don't be surprised if coaches
and/or fantasy owners look back at this game to fuel the narrative
that Yeldon isn't a tough runner. And if that happens, it will
be too bad; he had little shot at success in the opener.
City Chiefs Spencer
Ware has proven himself to be a good NFL running
back, but talk of him making Jamaal
Charles an afterthought is a bit ridiculous and premature.
I'm fairly confident San Diego will be one of the friendliest
defenses for running backs to face once again this season, so
I'm leery of giving Ware too much more credit, outside of the
fact he has done a fine job of rounding out his game by becoming
a very good receiver. But let's be real folks, if Charles comes
back anywhere close to 100 percent, he's leading a committee at
the very least. Has Alex
Smith proven he can carry a team offensively? Has Ware? Charles
has. Why am I so confident? IF Charles can return to form, he
holds the distinction of being the only back in the last 40 or
so years to average more than five yards per carry for his career.
The good thing about Ware is that he should have a very fantasy-friendly
role even after Charles returns, so it is very possible he maintains
low-end RB2 status as the LenDale White to Charles' Chris
Johnson to use the most recent example I can think of in the
Angeles Rams When lacking in overall talent, it helps to be more creative,
OC Rob Boras still is a relative neophyte when it comes to calling
plays in the NFL. The Rams also don't have a quarterback that
scares defenses in Case Keenum, so Boras' hands are somewhat tied
behind his back. With that said, the combination of conservative
play-calling and a limited set of playmakers is going to lead
to a lot more of what fans saw in the nightcap of the Monday Night
Football doubleheader. Yes, Tavon Austin got his targets (12)
and touches (13) as did Gurley (17 and 18, respectively), but
it's not always enough to just get your best players touches.
Austin needs to constantly be on the move and it could be argued
his most valuable contribution to the offense is when he provides
jet-sweep action to distract the defense on runs by Gurley. Austin
also has great speed and can get deep, so even if the occasional
deep shot is unsuccessful, it needs to be a part of the offense.
Los Angeles was never going to be great on offense this season,
but it certainly isn't as pathetic as it looked in Week 1.
Dolphins The Dolphins desperately need DeVante
Parker to stay healthy.
While a loss is almost never just one player's fault, a wide-open
Kenny Stills certainly did not help Miami win by committing a
flat-out drop of a beautifully thrown deep ball by Ryan Tannehill
that would have went for a 71-yard score. It's the kind of play
that helps owners understand why Stills' career hasn't progressed
as many had hoped and wonder how badly new HC Adam Gase wants
Parker to get right. For all of Parker's faults when it comes
to his durability, he is a born playmaker with sure hands. If
Parker struggles to contribute any time before Week 4, owners
should use it as an opportunity to make a play for him, assuming
his owner hasn't already given up on him by then.
Diggs is a competent quarterback away from becoming
This is not a slap to the face of injured quarterback Teddy Bridgewater,
who I believe would have started to emerge as a quality NFL starter
this season had he not torn up his knee. It's also not a slap
in the face to eventual starter Sam Bradford, who has been asked
to digest a different playbook more often than any quarterback
should have to in his career. And we already know Shaun Hill is
little more than a decent backup. With all of that said, Diggs
is going to be tied to the hip with Bradford for the foreseeable
future. Minnesota stated publicly - and followed through with
it during the preseason - that it intends on moving Diggs all
over the formation. Former Viking Mike Wallace may have been engaging
in some hyperbole when he compared Diggs to a young Antonio Brown
last year, but he wasn't completely off-base when he said it.
The Titans certainly don't present the stoutest opposition in
terms of defensive backfields, but the ease with which the second-year
wideout was creating separation in Week 1 has to make owners -
especially in dynasty leagues - very happy. After watching the
opener, I feel very good about my bold prediction of Diggs emerging
as a WR2 this season. Touchdowns may be hard to come by, but I
don't think the yards will.
England Patriots It made sense entering Week 1 that Martellus
Bennett would be a target hog, but Bill Belichick had different
With Jimmy Garoppolo showing a ton of chemistry with Bennett
in the preseason, Rob Gronkowski out and an offensive line in
shambles, it would have made some sense to many of us if "The
Black Unicorn" emerged from Week 1 as the team leader in
targets. While the Patriots' use of him was interesting to say
the least - at least two of his targets came with him split out
wide and lined up against Patrick Peterson - he served more often
as a sixth offensive lineman. While this development hurt me in
a couple leagues in which I was starting Bennett, it didn't exactly
dampen my enthusiasm in regards to what he can do in this offense.
New England just needs to get all of its pieces back so OC Josh
McDaniels feels more comfortable using all of his pass-catchers
to run routes instead of keeping them in to block. (I have a feeling
had Gronkowski been healthy enough to play, he would have a slow
day at the office too.) Keep the faith in regards to Bennett,
it will get better.
Orleans Saints The preseason reports of Coby
Fleener's lack of comfort with the playbook were not overblown.
There are reasons to believe Fleener owners have nothing to worry
about just as there are reasons to worry. Oakland isn't going
to be the same sieve it was against tight ends last year simply
because it has former Bengal Reggie Nelson and converted corner
Keith McGill at safety, so the Saints may have thought better
about attacking the seams downfield (which is a strength of Fleener's).
On the other hand, Fleener didn't see a target in the first three
quarters, which suggests he isn't anywhere close yet to being
in Drew Brees' circle of trust. Given the Saints' recent history
of free-agent busts, there is no guarantee New Orleans will get
what it should out of Fleener either. With that said, Brees has
long been a friend of the tight end position, so owners should
probably consider this time a buy-low opportunity, especially
if he struggles for targets again versus the Giants this week.
It is more likely than not Fleener will be a big part of this
offense by midseason, so keep the faith if you own him.
The Giants were only able to attempt 28 passes in Week 1 due
to the Cowboys' methodical ball-control offense, yet Manning still
threw for three touchdowns. OBJ wasn't one of the recipients,
but he didn't need to be. It has been said this was done on purpose
in order to make opponents respect Shepard and Victor Cruz, although
it should be noted Eli missed on a throw to OBJ in the front corner
of the end zone a play before he found Cruz on his score. Cruz
at least showed he has to be accounted for, which is already a
win for the Giants. Shepard appeared to be at least partly responsible
for Manning's one interception in the third quarter, but the duo
hooked up for a critical 20-yard connection on the game-winning
drive that ended with Cruz's score. Owners should expect a ton
of fireworks in Week 2 at home versus the Saints and Pittsburgh
showed us that Washington (the Giants' Week 3 opponent) can be
had in the passing game as well. The Saints just lost their best
corner (Delvin Breaux) last week and the Redskins don't have a
slot corner of note - certainly not one who should be expected
to bottle up Shepard - so the next two weeks at least shape up
nicely for the entire New York passing attack. Don't be surprised
if Manning leads the league in touchdown passes after Week 3 or
if OBJ scores multiple times in each of the next two contests.
York Jets Revis Island is accepting visitors, but admission isn't as
easy as some would have you believe (yet).
Let me first say how impressive the Jets' defense was in Week
1. It looked like a Todd Bowles' defense first and foremost, relentless
and aggressive. The front seven should be as good as any in the
NFL as long as it stays healthy. Now, for the statement in question
from above: Do receivers want to visit Revis Island these days?
Let's first say Revis is 31, so some drop-off from his prime is
to be expected. But A.J. Green's 12-180-1 line in Week 1 was hardly
all of his fault. Green's 54-yard touchdown catch came as a result
of Revis expecting safety help and not getting it. Green's 32-yard
catch in the fourth quarter? Revis had near-perfect coverage.
Nearly everything else Green ran during Week 1 was a screen or
an out route in front of Revis' "off" coverage. In fact,
roughly 80 percent of the completed throws Revis has allowed to
Green and Sammy Watkins (in Week 17 of last season) have come
within five yards of the line of scrimmage and with Revis playing
First of all, congratulations of Amari Cooper getting the first
inside-the-10 target of his career. Now, back to Murray. Jamize
Olawale vultured a two-yard TD run in the fourth quarter on his
only carry of the game for reasons I can only imagine OC Bill
Musgrave knows. Considering Murray ran one in from six yards out
earlier in the game, we can only surmise Murray needed a break
at that moment or Olawale is the designated goal-line back, although
I have trouble believing either premise. Murray's 14-carry effort
and the fact that five Raiders' backs received at least one rush
attempt might be concerning to some, but owners should not be
alarmed yet since HC Jack Del Rio stated only last week he'd like
to run his starter more (and not less) than last year. Furthermore,
Murray toted the rock only 12 times in three preseason games,
so a 20-25 carry performance probably wasn't going to be in the
cards for Week 1 no matter how successful he was.
I fully intended on writing on Carson
Wentz and why the critics need to cool the recent talk about
how the Browns blew it "gifting" him to the Eagles this spring.
Yes, he was impressive and should be a good one, but let's keep
in mind roughly a third of the Browns' roster had never played
a NFL snap prior to Sunday, so Wentz should have been solid. Is
he worth adding in fantasy as a bye-week option? Yes. Anything
more than that would be asking a lot for an offense that doesn't
plan on playing with much pace or have much in the way of dynamic
receiving talent. Now, back to the running backs. If Week 1 is
any indication, Mathews is the four-minute and goal-line back,
which was to be expected. While the game was still hanging in
balance, the Eagles followed a Mathews run by plugging in Barner
and Sproles on successive plays on more than one occasion. I suppose
if you believe Philly will be controlling the flow of the game
in most of the games it plays, this news isn't a big deal. If
you are like me and believe the Eagles won't be so fortunate,
Mathews could really struggle for consistency. The team has already
stated it hopes to use Sproles in a manner similar to Danny
Woodhead, while Barner looked much more explosive than Mathews.
Rogers is real, and he is fabulous.
OK, first of all pardon the Seinfeld reference. Rogers' fantasy
bottom line in Week 1 was certainly boosted by his fluke touchdown
that bounced off Sammie
Coates, but it doesn't take away from the fact Rogers flashed
incredible hand-eye coordination to make the play in the first
place. The UDFA out of Louisville isn't going to be the most consistent
player around - particularly after Le'Veon
Bell and Markus
Wheaton (and maybe even Ladarius
Green) return - so keep expectations in check; he's a WR4
at best and most likely a WR5. With that said, he may end up being
the same dependable short-area option Heath
Miller once was for so many years, so he's not going away
anytime soon. He's a player I expect to thrive in games in which
the Steelers are trailing, so keep that in mind whenever you might
need a bye-week fil-in at receiver. Don't expect his 9.8 YPC from
Week 1 to change much though; big plays are not his thing and
Pittsburgh already has enough weapons in the vertical passing
Diego Chargers The Chargers' offense may like it lacks much hope following
another serious injury to Keenan
Allen, but it much better equipped to handle it this season
than it was in 2015.
Near the end of last season, San Diego was trying to get by with
Tyrell Williams, Javontee Herndon, Dontrelle Inman and a broken-down
Malcom Floyd at receiver. A couple of those names might sound
familiar to the depressed (former) owners of Allen who have already
had to move on this week. Here's the difference in 2016: Travis
Benjamin already has been asked to carry a passing game and proved
he could do it with a quarterback far worse than Philip Rivers,
Williams is definitely ready for a bigger role and Melvin Gordon
appears ready to be an important part of the offense. I realize
none of these developments are going to help Allen owners and
I feel for those of you who are/were. However, these same developments
should allow Rivers to remain the same 4,000-plus yard, 25-30
touchdown quarterback he has been for most of his career. San
Diego has pretty much the same leaky defense it did last year
when Rivers was forced to air it out 662 times, so volume is most
likely going to be working in the favor of all Chargers' pass-catchers
once again. There is some thought Williams will move into the
Floyd deep-threat role Benjamin was supposed to inherit while
Benjamin and, to a lesser extent, Inman share the targets that
were supposed to go to Allen, and I would agree with that based
on how San Diego operated in Week 1 following the injury. If so,
all three receivers are worth a roster spot in most leagues. Williams
is by far the most intriguing if only because he is least familiar,
but the talent is obvious and really leaped off the film during
his two big plays in Week 1. If he can master his craft even a
little bit during this season, he's got a very good shot at developing
into a special player.
Whether one uses the box score or the eye test, Michael was the
better running back in Week 1. No matter. OC Darrell Bevell made
it clear earlier this week that Rawls has "always been our starter",
so expect Michael to return to the same role of talented backup
that he has known for the better part of his star-crossed NFL
career thus far. Be that as it may, Rawls' track record of staying
on the field - dating back to his college days - isn't all that
great, so Michael figures to be of some use down the road regardless
of what Bevell says right now. Michael's newfound enthusiasm and
maturity is obvious, so consider him in the same class of high-profile
handcuffs such as Spencer
Ware who could help owners win a fantasy title should they
ever be allowed to operate as the featured back.
Whereas Eli Rogers could be a bit of a hit-or-miss proposition,
I don't think Kerley will be - especially in PPR leagues. San
Francisco rattled off 77 plays versus the Rams - a pace not uncommon
for Chip Kelly teams. The 49ers aren't going to have the benefit
of running 42 times in most weeks either, meaning Blaine Gabbert
will be throwing the ball roughly 40 times per game on a regular
basis. While Week 1 is much too small of a sample size, consider
Kerley had a target share of 31.4 percent less than two weeks
after arriving via trade from Detroit. What's even better is that
he looked more quick and explosive than I can ever remember seeing
him. He was a poor throw from Gabbert away from potentially scoring
a 46-yard touchdown as well. While I don't expect more than 2-3
TDs from him this season, he's the only receiver San Francisco
has who can get open consistently (sorry, Quinton Patton) and
fits Gabbert's' skill-set as a short and intermediate thrower
(sorry, Torrey Smith). I currently own him in five money leagues
as well as the FFToday Staff League and honestly wish I had him
in more. Barring injury and in an offense that creates as much
volume as this one will, I would not be surprised if he exceeds
Bay Bucs On an offense full of size-speed specimens at the skill positions,
HC Dirk Koetter and Jameis
Winston trust Adam
Humphries as much as any of them.
No, Humphries will probably never be a must-add in any fantasy
league as long as he is in Tampa Bay and behind the likes of Mike
Evans and Vincent
Jackson on the depth chart. What he brings is a darting and
quick inside presence to a group of 6-5 pass-catchers, not unlike
Beasley or any other number of undersized receivers in the
game today. Humphries' five targets (and six total touches) in
Week 1 wont' raise many eyebrows in the fantasy community, but
deep-league PPR owners could do much worse than him in a pinch,
especially against any defense that features long and tall corners
or plays a lot of zone.
I'm not sure I needed to watch him play against Minnesota to
make this statement, but it didn't hurt either. Rarely ever does
a rookie receiver ever deserve to be labeled "smooth",
but that is exactly what Sharpe is. At 6-2 and 194 pounds, it
isn't as if the fifth-round rookie beats his man with physicality.
Nevertheless, Minnesota could not stop him (seven catches for
76 yards on 11 targets) despite the fact the Vikings have one
of the better and deeper secondaries in the league. While he's
unlikely to ever become a big-play threat, there is something
to be said about a player who can earn a living in the short and
intermediate areas of the field. The Titans have a keeper.
Redskins Sometime the most pertinent observation is also the most obvious:
If the team is going to pay a cornerback $15 million a year, use
him to guard the other team's best receiver.
Am I the only one that gets the sense defensive football is falling
behind their offensive counterparts? Offensive coordinators have
moved around their best receivers for some time now, while defensive
coordinators have seemingly moved away from lining up their best
against the offense's top playmaker. Part of what made Josh Norman
as good as he was in Carolina was the Panthers' pass rush and
his ability to anticipate in zone coverage. The Redskins play
more man and don't rush the passer quite as well, but that doesn't
mean Norman is useless - far from it actually. While I doubt there
is anyone who can bottle up Antonio Brown one-on-one, I'll take
my chances with Norman - a player who did a fairly decent job
last season against Odell Beckham Jr. - over up-and-coming Bashaud
Breeland. It was just another reminder that the notion of "playing
sides" is not an effective strategy and one most offensive
coordinators are exploiting on a weekly basis. It will be interesting
to see if Washington rethinks its strategy moving forward after
going years without having someone like Norman on its roster.
Doug Orth has written for FF
Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy
Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s
hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday
in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national
sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”.
Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.