By: Justin Lynch
As we talked about on our fantasy football preview podcast, C. J. Anderson will likely become this year’s steal of the draft. Anderson signed an offer sheet in Miami this offseason, but Denver paid big to retain him, and strengthened that commitment by releasing his biggest competition, Ronnie Hillman. With Hillman out of the picture, and rookie running back Devontae Booker benched due to a fumble, Anderson torched the Panthers defense.
His 4.6 yards per carry was not so much the headline as his 20 carries. Playing time and touches have been Anderson’s biggest hurdle to success, and now he will get both. In addition to his 92 yards on the ground, he added four receptions on five targets for 47 yards and a touchdown. Trevor Simien looked decent in his first game, but inexperienced quarterbacks rely on dump off passes and screen plays, two areas Anderson excels. Also, the coaching staff will make sure to get Anderson his fair share of carries to lower the onus on Simien. Anderson is now an automatic, every week starter who barring injury should finish in the top five at running back.
With Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu out of the picture, A. J. Green was Andy Dalton’s everything. He caught 12 of 13 balls thrown his way en route to a 180-1 day. And he did it all with Darrelle Revis across from him. Sure, Revis has lost a step, but he’s still better than most of the corners Green will face. Green will likely face double coverage every week, but it won’t scare off Andy Dalton, as Dalton has few alternatives.
It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a quarterback with as much blind faith in a receiver as Blake Bortles has with Allen Robinson. Bortles targeted Robinson on seemingly every big play and every time he was under pressure, even if Robinson was tightly covered. It’s rare to see an outside, big-play threat wideout act also as a safety valve. But Robinson does just that, and his league-leading 15 targets reflects it. And this makes his six catches for 72 yards performance seem like his floor. Robinson will get looks every week and will certainly catch more than 40% of his targets. The Jaguars also look like they will be competitive, meaning more close games, and more pressure situations for Bortles to target Robinson.
Post-Calvin Johnson Matt Stafford may not be as fun, but he’s much more efficient. With a slew of athletes who excel at making plays after the catch, Stafford is no longer forced to make iffy throws into coverage, and instead can rely on the play-making ability of his weapons. Golden Tate and Marvin Jones are perfect for the Lions new style, but what makes their offense so promising is their running backs. Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah both had huge games, gaining most of their combined 120 receiving yards after the catch. This allows Stafford to simply dump it off and watch his receivers do the rest. Ever since Jim Bob Cooter took over, the Lions have been solid offensively, but they look even better this season, and it may finally be Stafford’s year.
Rawls entered this week with injury concerns, but his biggest problem will be getting touches. Christine Michael carried the ball three more times and recorded 4.4 yards per attempt to Rawls 2.6. Michael also tallied one more target than Rawls, despite one less reception. By no means has Michael earned the starting role, but this seems very 2015-Broncos to me. With Rawls and C. J. Anderson and Michael as Ronnie Hillman. I imagine they will run with the hot hand, but Michael will be given first dibs on the carries every week. Rawls may not completely bust, but he likely won’t live up to his draft status.
Another player who may struggle to get touches is last year’s fantasy MVP. Neither Freeman nor Tevin Coleman got much going in the running game, but Coleman looked significantly more explosive in the receiving game. Freeman’s receiving totals were his savior last season, especially as his yards per attempt dwindled late in the year, and it seems Coleman has taken over as the primary receiving back. This is especially an issue because the Falcons stink, and will likely be passing late in games. Of course, an injury Coleman likely means Freeman will return to his RB1-ways, but that isn’t something you can count on.
Simply put, this was a tough week for the tight end position. Most of the touchdowns came from guys who I hope are not in your lineup (Jack Doyle, Brandon Myers, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Larry Donnell), and all of the top guys picked were meh. Travis Kelce, Greg Olsen, Julius Thomas, and Zach Ertz all had solid weeks, but none were spectacular and none (except for Olsen) seemed to be a big part of the offense. Going forward, I imagine this will shift some, but don’t be surprised if tight end production starts to wither, as more teams opt for speedy slot receivers instead.
2 Things to Think About (actually 3)
Dez Bryant, Sammy Watkins, and Adrian Peterson
The reason I say think about these three and spared them from my three down section is how talented all three are. Peterson’s tough day can be chalked up to Tennessee stacking the box against an inept passing game. But maybe Peterson, now 31, is finally done. I mean, he got completely shut down by Tennessee and Jerick McKinnon replaced him in the passing game.
Dez Bryant only had one reception on five targets, but Dak Prescott is still getting comfortable, and Dez had a touchdown reception called back because he bobbled it. But Dez played most of the year last year without Romo and was simply bad. Maybe he needs a quarterback who is willing to throw the ball downfield, which Prescott seems unwilling to do at this point.
Sammy Watkins had a better showing than either Peterson or Dez, but six targets is low, especially in a game the Bills needed to throw. The Ravens were focused on keeping Watkins in check, and if they can do it, why can’t everyone? Tyrod Taylor did not look good throwing the ball, and the offense was generally a mess. To make matters worse, it looks like Watkins will be out for a few weeks as he nurses as foot injury.
These three are guys who you can be patient with, or you can try to trade before their value drops any lower. Personally, I would be patient with all three. One week of football is not close to enough of a sample size, and I think all three will be fine, but question marks with these three seem real, and if you feel compelled against any of them, it may be smart to deal them while they still have value.
1 Concluding Thought
Be Careful With the Waiver Wire
Week One always breeds big performances from different sources. Will Fuller, Willie Snead, Quincy Enunwa, and a bunch of quarterbacks come to mind. But be careful out there. On one hand, you don’t want to overreact to one week of production. But on the other hand, there is always a player who starts on waivers who ends up as a major contributor, and after week one may be your only chance to get him. Survey all your options, think about your team’s needs, and make calculated decisions. Understand that Willie Snead will likely not catch all of his targets every week, and the Saints won’t be throwing like that all the time, and he probably won’t be catching many touchdowns this season. But also see the value in Will Fuller who can make big plays and won’t have much attention because of DeAndre Hopkins.
The other side of this is you will have to drop someone. Did you make some bad draft picks? Yes, yes you did. But are you ready to give up on your sleeper after one week? I’m not so sure. Just as you shouldn’t get overly excited over one game, you can’t bail on your sleepers after one game. The point is that the waivers can be a dangerous place, and you have to be careful to make sure you get the right guy, and don’t drop anyone that can be productive.