By: Jackson Marvin
Week 1 felt a little weird in the world of fantasy football. A lot of hyped up players fell flat, while some consistently great players turned in uncharacteristic performances. Of course there’s no reason to overreact to an up or down Week 1—look how Allen Hurns (number two receiver after Week 1, finished 43rd) and Eddie Lacy (51st running back after Week 1, finished sixth) turned out. However, it is surprising to see the top five running backs read: Carlos Hyde, Matt Forte, Chris Ivory, Bishop Sankey, and Danny Woodhead. Bishop Sankey was so bad last year he probably benched himself last week. Or how about Andrew Luck, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, and Peyton Manning being outside of the top ten quarterbacks? Shout to the stud that put in Andy Dalton over any of those guys. Regardless, even if there are always fluky things about Week 1, here are five takeaways from the action, and five predictions for this upcoming week.
- There’s no shortage of quality tight ends: Going into drafts if you didn’t snag Gronk, Graham, Olsen, Kelce, and maybe Martellus Bennett or Jason Witten then you pretty much had zero options. However, Week 1 featured some big days from guys that have been hyped up for awhile. Tyler Eifert finally delivered big time, with two touchdowns, as did Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Jordan Reed stayed healthy for a full game and produced, and Ladarius Green demonstrated the potential he’s always had behind the currently suspended Antonio Gates. Deeper leagues will have a harder time finding these guys on the waiver wire, but those are definitely a few of the many high-upside tight end trade targets.
- Julio Jones will be the number one receiver this year: No disrespect to Antonio Brown’s casual 9-133-1 line, but on Monday night Julio Jones made sure everyone knew this season was his. Not only did he post a 9-141-2 line, but he had two big plays called back because of penalties thanks to Leonard “HankTime” Hankerson. Clearly the focal point of this passing offense, Julio will be breaking personal, and maybe league records this season.
- Running back rankings are in limbo: Remember when everyone was saying to take Adrian Peterson as a dark horse number one? Or Matt Forte was getting too old? Or how Carlos Hyde was a plodder, likely due for a 4.0 YPC and a couple touchdowns? Yeah well now who knows what’s right or wrong anymore. For right now it seems like there’s no sure things at running back, after disappointing debuts from the likes of Peterson, CJ Anderson, Justin Forsett, and big games from Forte, Hyde, Chris Ivory, and Jeremy Hill have muddled what was already cloudy running back tiers. The overall message, however, is to not panic if your first or second round stud looked bad this week, and to give it some before getting a fourth round return on it.
- Old receivers look… old? Steve Smith has been known for historically high first game performances, averaging 108 yards per game and a touchdown over the last five seasons. Week 1 this year: two catches, 13 yards on seven targets. Andre Johnson was supposed to be revitalized in a great offense with a quarterback finally worthy of his talent. Week 1 this year: four catches, 24 yards on ten targets, and just looked horrible. Vincent Jackson eclipsed 1,000 yards for the sixth time in his career, but only hauled in a disappointing 2 touchdowns. Maybe with Jameis Winston at the helm things would change? Week 1: four catches, 51 yards on 11 targets—a league high five in the red zone. Generally regarded as strong WR3s/FLEXs in most formats, it might be time to consider moving on after a decade of success.
- Respect Carson Palmer: After shredding the Saints’ weak secondary to the tune of 307 yards and three touchdowns, Carson Palmer now has 14 touchdowns in his last seven games. He’s somehow owned in only 56.9% of ESPN leagues when it’s not too bold to say he should be started in most 10-team leagues. Last week I did throw a little shade at Palmer, saying he’s just playing until another injury comes around, which I still believe, but while healthy he’s worth at least an add in any league he’s available in.
- Danny Woodhead keeps the production up: One of the league’s best receiving backs before getting hurt last season, Woodhead proved he hadn’t lost a step, receiving third down and red zone work last week, posting a 12-42-2, 4-20 line. This week he faces a suspect Cincinnati defense that was solid against the run, but allowed 14 catches to running backs and fullbacks last week against the raiders. Woodhead is a definite RB2/FLEX start in PPR leagues.
- Ryan Mallett puts up all sorts numbers, mostly to Deandre Hopkins: It took only seven minutes of strong play from Mallett to earn the nod, which is really a testament to how bad Brian Hoyer was for most of the game. Facing a Carolina Panthers’ defense that shut the Jaguars down last week (which doesn’t mean all that much—for now), Mallett will lean heavily on his favorite target, Deandre Hopkins. Six of Mallett’s 13 throws went Hopkins’ way, one going for a touchdown. Facing a secondary that’s not as good as Houston’s, but still formidable, I think Mallett will hold his own this week and help Deandre Hopkins fully emerge as one of the league’s best receivers.
- Ameer Abdullah officially knocks Joique Bell out of the conversation: One of the preseason’s most notable revelations, Abdullah continued the spark he showed in August on his first carry of his NFL career. Abdullah took a 24 yard run to the house, and consistently showed big play ability on his carries and catches, averaging 7.1 yards per carry, and 11 yards per catch. This week facing a soft Minnesota defense that was toasted by Carlos Hyde last week, Abdullah should be able to prove himself far ahead of Joique Bell (as if he hasn’t already), but most importantly, too good to take off the field.
- Ryan Tannehill comes out of his shell: A really weird game flow led to a disappointing Week 1 from this late-round sleeper QB. The Redskins had nearly 40 minutes of possession, surely throwing off the Tannehill and the Fins’ offensive rhythm, but this week they’ll square off against an underwhelming Jaguars team. Within a few seasons the Jags could be a competitive team, but for now they’re a group that teams like the Dolphins should look at and think “there’s a W”. The defense will have to perform of course to get the ball to the offense, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tannehill eclipse 300 yards and three touchdowns, with a heavy amount of that production going Jarvis Landry’s way.
- Stephon Gilmore and the Bills’ defense shut down Gronk and the Patriots: Rex Ryan even admitted only King Kong could guard Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski, but emerging star corner Stephon Gilmore has vocally requested to guard the 6’ 6” touchdown machine. While this may seem like a death-sentence, Gilmore graded out as ProFootballFocus’s number one corner last week against Andrew Luck and the Colts. It’s too early to declare a verdict on Gilmore’s shutdown abilities, but Ryan has demonstrated the ability to take great cornerbacks and make them elite, like, don’t judge for dropping this comparison, Darelle Revis. No, tickets to Gilmore Island are not on sale yet, but I see this as Gilmore’s coming out party, and proof that the Bills are legitimately the NFL’s best defense.