The best part of Week 1 is all of the surprise performances. The worst part is all of the overreactions that inevitably follow.
We spend three months prognosticating what we believe will happen and in one weekend everything changes. Well it doesn’t really, but in some cases it sure seems like it.
The most important part of this time of year is spotting the things that really matter and not overreacting to the things that don’t. We’ll try to do our best to help you do that in this column each Monday.
We just saw the start of Melvin Gordon ‘s breakout season.
Gordon looked spectacular in Week 1 against a Kansas City Chiefs defense that most expected to be very good against the run. From a Fantasy perspective the most important thing was that the second year back found the end zone for the first (and second) time of his career. But that wasn’t what impressed me the most.
Gordon looked decisive with his cuts and ran hot when he had the ball. He hit holes hard and seemed to know precisely when to make a cut. In other words, he looked nothing like he did in 2015.
If this is the Gordon we’re getting in 2016 then you can expect more touchdowns and more weeks of No. 1 RB production the rest of the way.
Verdict: Don’t believe it. Listen, I believe everything I wrote evaluating the way Gordon was running. What I couldn’t believe was how little he was on the field.
Danny Woodhead set a career high in carries today with 16.
He out-snapped Melvin Gordon 50 to 23 and out-touched him 21 to 14.
— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) September 11, 2016
This was the perfect script for Gordon and he was playing exceptionally well. That’s what makes it so troubling that the San Diego Chargers used their running backs this way. Even more troublesome was the fact that Gordon had zero receptions.
Gordon was much better in Week 1 but there’s no real breakout with 14 carries and no impact in the passing game. Hopefully he gets a bigger role in Week 2 when the Chargers host the Jaguars.
Will Fuller is the early favorite to be the No. 1 rookie WR.
Fuller was a favorite of Jamey Eisenberg’s this week and I wasn’t so sure. Boy did I look silly. The rookie out of Notre Dame had a spectacular debut, topping 100 yards and scoring a touchdown.
Fuller made an outstanding catch down the sideline and turned a screen pass into an 18-yard touchdown. On both plays his blazing speed was evident. With that speed and the role Fuller has carved out in the offense, there’s nothing standing between him and the best rookie season of 2016.
Verdict: Don’t believe it. Not yet, at least. Fuller proved me wrong in Week 1 and he has the skill set to do that with one play in any given week. The reason I doubted starting Fuller was his quarterback play and the struggles he’s had with drops. I didn’t see enough in Week 1 to ease those fears.
I would move Fuller ahead of Tajae Sharpe and Corey Coleman in my rankings for the rest of the year, but he’s still behind Michael Thomas and Sterling Shepard . We’ll see if he moves up again next week after the Texans host the Chiefs.
We shouldn’t expect elite production from Dez Bryant until Tony Romo returns.
I caught some heat for ranking Bryant University Bulldogs outside of the top 15 in Week 1 but even I didn’t expect the results to be that bad. In fairness to those who had Bryant higher, he had two near misses in the end zone, including catch that he possessed until the moment he hit the ground.
Still, a touchdown wouldn’t exactly have made Bryant’s day “good.” Dak Prescott threw 45 times in this game but only five of those targets went Bryant’s way. And it’s hard to argue that the Dallas Cowboys star receiver should have seen more targets with what he produced on the five he did see.
Until Romo comes back, you’re still starting Bryant but you’re not going to get what you expected.
Verdict: Believe it.
Dez Bryant in 14 career games without Romo: 53-692-7 on 108 targets. Dak better be a lot better than backups he’s played with in the past
— Heath Cummings (@heathcummingssr) September 2, 2016
I sent that tweet in anticipation of Prescott’s first start and let’s just say Bryant’s production with backups didn’t get better. I mainly got two response to that tweet.
The first was that Bryant wasn’t really healthy, so last year’s games don’t count. The other was that Prescott is indeed better than the previous backups Bryant has played with.
I agree with the second point from a Fantasy perspective if only because of the threat of the run, but I’m not sure Prescott is actually better for Bryant’s value. Prescott isn’t an exceptionally accurate quarterback and I don’t think the Cowboys really want him taking a ton of shots downfield.
As for the first point, I think it misconstrues my point. We’ve really only seen Bryant perform like an elite wide receiver with Romo. Until he comes back or Prescott shows he’ll perform more like a quarterback of Romo’s level I don’t see any reason to expect consistent elite performance.
Reports of the demise of Matt Forte ‘s Fantasy value were greatly exaggerated.
We don’t like old running backs. We really don’t like old running backs on new teams. When those new teams don’t exactly have inspiring offenses, well things like Matt Forte’s 2016 ranking happen. In Week 1 he made that look pretty foolish.
Forte compiled 155 yards total yards against a very stout Cincinnati Bengals defense and looked downright spry while doing it. It was pretty clear in Week 1 that Forte is the same back that’s been a top ten option in PPR for the last three seasons.
Verdict: Don’t believe it. First, I’m not sure how good this Bengals defense really is without Vontaze Burfict . They sure weren’t that great last year without him. Maybe more importantly, I’m more worried about Forte’s age catching up with him throughout the season than I am in Week 1. I don’t expect Forte to perform close to this level the rest of the way and he’s an excellent sell-high candidate.
Carson Wentz can support a breakout from multiple pass-catchers.
We were all pretty quick to downgrade Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz when Sam Bradford was traded to Minnesota. I can’t count the number of times I heard or talked about an FCS quarterback with limited snaps in the preseason. Well, Wentz made that all look silly. Wentz threw for 278 yards and two scores and zero interceptions. It’s time to put those Philadelphia Eagles pass-catchers back where you had them before the trade, at least.
Verdict: Believe it. Yes, it was the Cleveland Browns . I know, they’re terrible. I don’t care. The two touchdown passes Wentz threw were absolute dimes. Definitively bad quarterbacks don’t make those throws. Even against the Browns.
I’m not saying Wentz is Fantasy-relevant or that we’ve learned he will be good. It will take a few more weeks against much better opponents before I go that far. But the kid isn’t trying to replace Drew Brees here. What I saw in Week 1 is enough to tell me Wentz should be competent, which is all Matthews and Ertz need in an offense that is devoid of quality receivers.