Week 1 Risers and Fallers
September 17, 2015 | Chet
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Week one had all of the ridiculous outcomes we’ve come to expect in a normal NFL week. Now we’re left with the broken pieces and mounds of stats to try to figure out what the hell happened. Studs flopped and flops shined; player stocks across the league have plummeted and skyrocketed. Let’s have a look at exactly who is on the Rise and who is Falling right out of the gate. If you have any specific questions about one of these guys feel free to hit up the comment box or shoot me a question on Twitter.
The ownership percentages are a median between Yahoo! and ESPN own%.
Ameer Abdullah (93.1%) made the most of his minimal touch count Sunday afternoon, accumulating 99 total yards (not counting the 105 yards on his three kick returns) on seven carries and four receptions (4 targets). Ameer scooted his way into the end zone on his very first NFL carry, a 3rd and 1 opportunity that saw how he can hit the hole with explosiveness and leave the second and third layer of the defense in the dust. While it’s slightly disturbing that he’s listed as the no. 3 running back and touched the ball on the offense only 11 times, the two guys he’s battling for action – Joique Bell and Zach Zenner – combined for only eight carries. Abdullah isn’t a blind plug-and-play at this point in the season but should give you some tough decisions in your RB2 slot in the coming weeks. Week 2 will be a good place to start as Detroit lines up against a Minnesota defense that just allowed Carlos Hyde 168 yards and 2 TDs.
Philip Rivers (87.8%) was two different players depending on which half of football you were watching. In the first half he completed two balls to the Detroit Lions; one that was returned for a touchdown and a second that was picked off in the end zone. He showed little promise for a good fantasy output outside of this perfect throw as the first half was winding down. The second half was a show in efficient quarterbacking. Rivers had a stretch of 20 straight completions as he went nuts following his no. 1 WR around the field; Keenan Allen had 12 targets in the 3rd and 4th quarter alone, finishing the game with 15 freaking receptions for 166 yards despite having a long of only 21. San Diego’s offensive line kept a good, if not great Lions defense away from Rivers and will look to prove themselves again against a Bengals defense that dismantled a lowly Raiders offense last week. As per usual with the king of douche-face, if you drafted him, you’re gonna want to play him.
Tyler Eifert (65%) came into Week 1 with some pretty high expectations for a guy who played less than 10 snaps in total last season. There were no lingering effects of his shoulder and elbow injuries as he piled up 12 targets from QB Andy Dalton; enough to lead his team and enough to lead every tight end in the NFL (Heath Miller and Jordan Reed had 11). Tyler ended the game with a monstrous 9-104-2 line that took him only 3 quarters to rack up as the Bengals were more or less trying to run the clock for the final 15 minutes. With guys like Jeremy Hill, AJ Green and even Gio Bernard surrounding him it is doubtful any teams will begin to double-team him. If you were lucky enough to draft him in the 10th-12th round of your league make sure you start piling on the mockery now as your league-mates should continue to be stung by him as long as the rest of the Cincinnati offense remains healthy.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (42.8%) doubled his career touchdown total while catching five balls for 110 yards, beating out the production of all other Tampa Bay receivers. Combined. Despite a great first week output, I would venture to bet this is his best game of the year. Mike Evans was a late scratch for Week 1, so I would assume he sees the field this coming Sunday, which immediately takes a chunk out of ASJ’s production, especially around the goal line. By the time the 41-yard second touchdown was scored the Titans were just waiting for the game to be over, having been up 42-7 with 9:30 left in the 4th quarter. Add all this together with some absolutely shoddy quarterback play from Jameis Winston and you’ve got a tight end who could deliver some absolute clunkers with random production during the upcoming games. Could be a great streaming TE but not someone you’re going to be able to lean on to give you consistent production.
Marcus Mariota (41.8%) is, of course the toast of the town in Nashville after his NFL debut and subsequent demoralization of #1 overall pick Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Marcus had almost literally the most efficient passing game possible, completing 13 of his lowly 16 attempts for 209 yards and four scores. Each of the touchdowns went to different receivers (Wright, Walker, Sankey, Douglas) and looked great in his play-action snaps with Bishop and Terrance West actually looking pretty decent out of the backfield. QB1? Nah, I don’t agree with all of that, but he can work as a backup. You don’t have to rush out and get him. Just know he’s out there.
Benny Cunningham (22%) had a surprisingly effective game against the Seahawks despite averaging a pitiful 2.8 YPC mark. Tre Mason and Todd Gurley remained on the sidelines the entire game nursing injuries as Benny accumulated 122 all-purpose yards, 77 of which were through the air. Isaiah Pead proved that he will be no part of this offense as he got two rushes for three yards while losing a fumble. The showing was nice and all, and his 7 targets in the passing game could end up paying dividends throughout the season but Gurley and Mason fully participated in Wednesday’s practice. The short lived peak for Cunnigham is likely over. I hope you had him in your DFS lineups
Tyrod Taylor (14.2%), much like Mariota, did not disappoint in his NFL debut. Though he did it in a much different manner. After plopping this gorgeous pass into the mitts of Percy Harvin, he showed us all the a 40-50 yard floor that he could possess in any given week. He may learn to start sliding sooner rather than later but for now we can have plenty of fun with a young guy running with reckless abandon. I’m not so sure I’d like to start him against Bill Belichick in Week 2 but he doesn’t look to be a bad stash as a QB2 or future streaming option.
Davante Adams (96.4%) was part of two guarantees Sunday; he was going to get upwards of 15 targets and everyone was going to laugh at James Jones as he tried to re-assimilate himself with a high-flying Packers offense. Well, neither of those two things happened. James Jones turned his year of absence from Green Bay into four receptions, 51 yards and 2 touchdowns. Davante had four receptions and 59 yards. Welp.
The good news is; this is only one week. Adams was in 58/60 offensive snaps (team lead), was targeted 8 times (team lead) and actually lead the team with his 59 yards. Oh yeah, and he’s the no. 2 WR on a team where Aaron Rodgers throws the ball. While James Jones’ production for the rest of the year will be nearly impossible to predict (at least for lil’ ol’ me), you can be sure that the 22 year old second year receiver will have plenty of eight and nine catch games sprinkled through 2015.
Eli Manning (88%) and brother Peyton each played an entire game on the same day and failed to throw a TD for the first time since 1989 (approximation). Hidden under the game clock fiasco the Giants QB really had a poor fantasy game, connecting with 20 of his 36 passes (56%) and no scores. Main pass-catcher Odell Beckham Jr caught only 5 balls for 44 yards, Victor Cruz was still sidelined and Preston Parker of all people had six targets, helping lead to only 193 passing yards. It stinks to get a clunker out of your QB1 but hang on tight; the Falcons should be an easy team to pass on, having just given up 336 yards to Sam Bradford and 14 total receptions to Eagles running backs on Monday (hello Shane Vereen).
Anquan Boldin (80.8%). Hmph. The 49ers won one of the more unforeseen games of Week 1 20-3 and quarterback Colin Kaepernick mustered only 165 passing yards (41 rushing) as Carlos Hyde ran all over the Minnesota D. This meant a very small amount of love was left over for the wideouts and exactly zero of them got enough love to put a smile on any fantasy owner’s face. This will continue to be a problem as being the top receiver on a team that is going to try it’s damnedest to not throw the ball is not a very good equation. What is a good equation is any starting receiver against the Pittsburgh Steelers’ secondary. The Niners’ defense will not hold their offense to 3 points and Colin will be forced to put it in the air whether or not he wants to. After Week 2, though? You might have more 4-36-0 weeks than not.
Eddie Royal (56.9%) was set to have a productive start in a high scoring game against the Packers’ high-scoring offense and mediocre defense with a hampered Alshon Jeffery. That did not come to fruition as he had only five balls thrown his way en route to a single catch for 8 yards. He did spend some of the game off the field being checked for a possible concussion but a 20% catch rate is not something we want to see. While short dink-and-dunks are definitely a part of Jay Cutler and Eddie Royal’s game, the latter will have to fight off Martellus Bennett for short yardage gains. Not to mention Matt Forte, who happened to snag 102 passes from his QB last season, averaging only 7.9 yards per catch. Royal is cleared to play so he won’t have any injury concerns going up against the Cardinals this week. Play him if you have to but I’d let him hang out on the bench until I see some more offensive involvement.
Joe Flacco (54.6%) was on the losing side of his elite (Lolz) QB matchup. The entire game itself was a wet-fart-meets-pants marriage and Mr. Flacco was the ring bearer. Denver’s defense rushed him all day long and he had an awful time feeding his hodge-podge group of wide receivers, completing 18 of 32 passes for a whopping 117 yards and two interceptions, including a pick-six. The lack of a rushing attack, his inexperienced receivers and an O-Line that allowed him to be hit nine times can all shoulder some of the blame but if the fantasy numbers aren’t there, we should really care less who to blame it on. He’ll have an easier matchup against Oakland in Week 2 but he has some more tough defenses in his immediate future, and throughout the season. I can’t see Flacco as even a streaming option at this point. Maybe if you want to throw a wet noodle against the wall and use him as a DFS play I could give you a pass. Ya know, unlike Joe could.
Andre Williams (35%) is just ridiculously too highly owned, even at 35%. He had 14 snaps altogether, running the ball 6 times for a meager 14 yards, staying on the sideline for no other reason than the fact that he isn’t good enough to get Rashad Jennings or Shane Vereen out of the way. By dropping him you’re most assuredly going to miss out on 3 random touchdowns throughout the season but if that’s how you run your team you probably already own John Kuhn and everybody in your league already loves playing against you.
Matt Jones (22.7%) only managed 6 carries behind a very good showing by Alfred Morris against Miami. Washington faces off with a comparable defense in the Rams for Week 2 and Jones likely won’t get much action unless he gets it in the passing game. I’d like to think the rookie will remain a good stash play and I’ll certainly continue with him on my bench but don’t be afraid to cut bait if he continues to get minimal playing time unless you love having a handcuff for Alf.