Third-down back Phillip Lindsay scored
an ealy touchdown that paved the way to more reps in Week
1. Josh Gordon limited? Not so much
We heard media reports early Sunday morning that Gordon would be
playing roughly 20 snaps in Week 1. In reality, Gordon was on the
field for 78 percent of the Browns’ offensive snaps an according
to ProFootballFocus, he ran 44 routes but saw just 3 targets resulting
in 1 reception, 17 yards and 1 TD. Not to mention, Gordon actually
started the game against head coach(?) Hue Jackson’s wishes.
Cleveland has loads of NFL talent and while their inept organization
and dysfunctional coaching staff makes them a must watch every week,
it can also lead to fantasy owners pulling their hair out.
2. Taywan Taylor buried on the depth
Taylor flashed during
preseason game number two with 4 catches, 95 yards and 2 TDs.
He quickly became a late-round flier favorite around the fantasy
community. However, in Week 1, Taylor was a non-factor (9 snaps)
playing behind Tajae Sharpe (58-of-69 snaps) and Rishard Matthews
(36 snaps) who missed most of the pre-season with a knee injury.
Taylor can be dropped in the majority of redraft leagues.
3. Who is Phillip Lindsay?
All off-season we closely watched and dissected the Broncos running
back battle between rookie Royce
Freeman and Devontae
Booker. Week 1 rolls around and UDFA Phillip
Lindsay carves out a role matching Freeman’s output with 15
carries and 71 yards on the ground. Lindsay tossed in 2 catches,
31 yards and 1 TD through the air making him the most profitable
fantasy RB in the Denver backfield for Week 1. Booker was an afterthought,
notching only 4 touches. Head coach Vance Joseph admitted he was
riding the hot-hand and suggested he might take the same approach
in the future. Great.
4. Eagles RB rotation
Jay Ajayi naysayers were in full force on Twitter last Thursday
night as Darren Sproles received the bulk of work in the first
half while Ajayi saw a grand total of 9 snaps. The second half
rolled round and Ajayi became the back with the hot-hand, playing
twice as much as both Sproles (11 snaps) and Clement (10 snaps).
According to head coach Doug Pederson that was the plan along;
to ease Ajayi into the game as the former Dolphin had been dealing
with a foot issue for the last few weeks. The Eagles are not going
to abandon their committee approach but Pederson did say when
referring to Ajayi: “we’ll see him more” moving
forward. If you believe the coach, Ajayi still a reasonable shot
at RB2 numbers by season’s end.
5. D.J. Moore is not a thing
Carolina’s rookie wideout was fourth in-line for playing
time (17 of 67 snaps) on Sunday behind Devin Funchess, Torrey
Smith and Jarius Wright. There may better days down the road for
Moore but even with the expected loss of TE Greg Olsen (foot),
Moore isn’t worth holding in 12-team redraft leagues with
McCaffrey and Funchess expected to dominate targets.
6. Is David Johnson still a workhorse?
The Cardinals struggled offensively against the Redskins on Sunday
which led to a grand total of 53 offensive snaps so we probably
shouldn’t be jumping to conclusions here but it’s
worth noting that backup RB Chase Edmunds saw a good chunk of
playing time (17 snaps), in the second half. DJ, did see 9 targets
on the day but this dink and dunk display we typically see from
Bradford may weigh on Johnson’s fantasy output throughout
7. Patriots keep Hopkins in check…
I got a bit of blowback for my No.20 ranking of DeAndre
Hopkins this week which I ultimately adjusted up to No.13
after we learned Will
Fuller would miss with a hamstring injury. I should’ve stuck
with my initial feeling, relying on the history that Bill Belichick
has for the most part has kept Hopkins from any blow-up performances.
Here are results of Hopkins’ last five games against the Pats…
It was odd day for the Titans that included two game delays due
to lighting, the loss of tight end Delanie Walker (dislocated
ankle) and Marcus Mariota leaving early with an elbow injury.
The Titans got down early in the fourth quarter so it shouldn’t
be a surprise that Dion Lewis saw the bulk of the playing time
at running back over Derrick Henry. Lewis capitalized in catch-up
mode, playing on 70 percent of offensive snaps posting a 16-75-1
line on the ground adding 5-35 through the air on 8 targets. Henry
did have a long TD run called back on a holding penalty. If the
Titans continue to be on the wrong side of game script, Henry
is going to have a tough time being a trustworthy RB2. The Titans
upcoming schedule (HOU, @JAX, PHI, @BUF) seems to indicate Henry
might be a good bet in Weeks 2 and 5.
9. Inefficient Chiefs
Tyreek Hill doing his Tyfreak thing (2 more 50+ yard TDs) overshadowed
the fact that Kareem Hunt (16-49, 1 target) and Travis Kelce (1
catch, 6 yds, 6 targets) had subpar performances despite team
racking up 38 points. The Chiefs had trouble sustaining drives
and never really got the running game going. Add in a defense
that allowed Philip Rivers to rack up 424 yards passing and 123
yards on the ground and that left few opportunities for fantasy
success for KC’s other fantasy studs. While Hunt and Kelce
owners can certainly be disappointed at the Week 1 output, their
usage remains intact and better days are certainly ahead.
10. Two pass-catching RBs in Chicago?
Jordan Howard made an effort this off-season to work on his receiving
skills. His work paid off Sunday night as he notched 5 catches
for 25 yards on 5 targets in the passing game. This is encouraging
for his fantasy prospects especially in PPR leagues and should
allow the Bears coaching staff to feel comfortable with Howard
playing on third downs instead tapping the shoulder of Tarik Cohen
(4 targets, 5 carries in Week 1). The Bears largely kept Cohen
off the field during the pre-season (1 rec, 10 yards) and while
his role in the offense is secure, he shouldn’t eat into
Howard’s value. Based on what we saw in Week 1, Howard owners
should feel comfortable with him as an RB2 in any format with
RB1 upside regardless of game script.
11. Regression outliers
Fantasy analysts (myself included) talked a lot this off-season
about regression for Alvin
Kamara and Tyreek
Hill. Their insane efficiency last season surely would come
back towards the mean, right? Sometimes we as analysts have to
learn to accept the data outliers and not let regression thoughts
creep into our forecasting of certain players. If you’ve watched
football for any length of time, you can tell Hill is just simply
faster and quicker than anyone on the field. So, it shouldn’t
be a surprise that Hill blasted out of the gate with 7-169-2 receiving
to along with a 91-yd punt return TD and it won’t (and shouldn’t)
be a surprise if he sustains his outlier efficiency through the
For his part, Kamara had 17 touches in Week 1 and produced 41.1
PPR fantasy points. I’ll save you the calculation and let
know that’s 2.41 FPts per touch. Kamara’s historic
efficiency from last year netted him 1.56 FPts per touch. Forget
regression with these two. They’re playing on another level.