It’s so good to have football back, but it’s also maddening to try to weigh one week of data against months of research.
For the most part you should probably disregard the Week 1 surprises but you need to be judicious about what you believe. Confirmation bias runs hot this time of year and you have to fight the urge to believe only the things that make you look smart.
Thankfully, Week 2 is right around the corner and we’re back with the 10 Things You Need to Know. Like last week, we’ll start with my breakdown of each game in 140 characters or less:
So you started 0-1. It’s fine. Drafted Keenan Allen in the second round, too? That’s what waivers are for! Started RB-RB with Todd Gurley and Jamaal Charles ? Yep, me too. Don’t panic.
The absolute worst thing you can do now is sell low or start benching first-round picks because of one week of data.
Notable Week 1 performances from 2015 in standard scoring
M Mariota 27
C Hyde 30
B Sankey 20
J Jones 17
K Wright 16
P Harvin 15
— Heath Cummings (@heathcummingssr) September 13, 2016
Multiple Week 1 duds will be Fantasy stars and vice versa this season. Work the waiver wire, start your studs, and get back to .500 this week.
Dome teams outside.
It’s not nearly as important in September as it is in November and December, but three of the best offenses in Week 1 were dome teams playing at home. They will likely all see a downgrade from their Week 1 performance.
With the New Orleans Saints it probably doesn’t matter because Drew Brees , Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead could see their production drop by 25 percent and they would still be must-starts. This game against the New York Giants is projected to be one of the highest-scoring matchups in Week 2, so I wouldn’t get too nervous.
You might think the same about the Atlanta Falcons , but their game with the Oakland Raiders is kind of a question mark. We thought the Raiders would be significantly better defensively this year and I’m not sure we should change our mind on that because of one game in New Orleans. I would give Devonta Freeman one last shot and I expect Matt Ryan to somehow put up points, but he’s a borderline starter.
The final example is the Indianapolis Colts and they get the double whammy of also facing an elite defense. I’ll talk more about Andrew Luck below, but let’s discuss the other skill position players here. The tight end position is so terrible that I’m probably sticking with Dwayne Allen unless Eric Ebron is on the waiver wire. There’s no chance I’m using Frank Gore against this front seven. I still have T.Y. Hilton as a must-start because of his big-play ability but I’m trying to get away from Donte Moncrief if I can.
Birds flying high.
We just talked about the Falcons but in a strange coincidence all of the bird-named teams have seemingly outstanding matchups. Here’s a quick recap of the games you need to target.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers : Start almost all of your Cardinals, but especially Carson Palmer , David Johnson , Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd . While we’re at it, don’t drop John Brown . I’ve seen that happen in a few leagues and it’s just silly.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns : Maybe you swore off Ravens players? Nevermore! This Browns defense is atrocious. I’m definitely interested in streaming Dennis Pitta at tight end and Joe Flacco is a must-start in 2-QB leagues. I would also consider Justin Forsett as a flex and Steve Smith or Mike Wallace as a boom-or-bust play.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Chicago Bears : The Eagles are feeling awfully good about themselves right now and I’m not sure the Bears can do anything to change that. I’m absolutely starting Jordan Matthews and Ryan Mathews with confidence. Carson Wentz is a decent 2-QB option as well.
Seattle Seahawks @ Los Angeles Rams : This is the matchup I feel least confident about. The Seahawks RB situation is a mystery — we’ll talk about that shortly — and their quarterback has an ankle injury. Much like John Brown, I don’t want to start Tyler Lockett this week but I’m certainly not dropping him.
Andy Dalton against a common opponent.
Dalton was pretty solid last week against a very good defense. Everyone was surprised but Joe Goodberry. The crux of this is that Dalton is terrible against any defense that has seen him in the past year. It’s no guarantee, but it’s at least something to think about.
On the other hand, A.J. Green has had at least 100 yards and a score in three of his last four games against the Pittsburgh Steelers . In other words, don’t project your Dalton concerns onto Green.
Good players with awful matchups.
We saw in Week 1 that matchups matter, but you still can’t bench Todd Gurley against the Seahawks. Yes he was terrible in Week 1 and this is a worse matchup. I’m still not benching a guy that was arguably the No. 1 pick just a couple of weeks ago.
I’m also not benching Allen Robinson , but I’m very excited to watch him against Jason Verrett . Verrett is a spectacular corner and if Blake Bortles is intent on force-feeding Robinson like he did in Week 1 I’ll feel much better about my choice of streaming the Chargers defense.
The one matchup I am considering benching a stud against is Andrew Luck against the Denver Broncos . I don’t really care that Luck performed well against this team in the past. This is a road game against one of the best defenses in the league. If I have Matthew Stafford , Derek Carr or Matt Ryan on my team I’m starting them over Luck.
We’ll be counting snaps in these backfields.
The only thing people hate worse than sharing is when their running back has to share carries equally. Unfortunately that’s becoming more and more common. Take a look at these Week 1 numbers.
OK, this is a lot to unpack. The Seattle situation got a little clarity with the announcement that Rawls is starting in Week 2. I’m still curious what the snap breakdown will be (and if Rawls will be any better than he was in Week 1) but it’s pretty clear that for now Rawls is the better option.
The Washington situation also is easier to explain. The Washington Redskins were playing from behind, so Thompson is the clear passing back. Even the goal line carry doesn’t faze me because the team was in the hurry-up offense. I’m not excited about playing either of these guys but still feel Jones will be the better option most weeks.
In Atlanta I think there’s been a gross overreaction to the fact that Coleman caught far more passes than anyone expected and broke one of them for a big play. I was low on Freeman coming into the year because of playing time concerns but nothing much changed in Week 1. If he’s bad in Week 2 I’ll start considering benching him.
San Diego is just a complete mess. Gordon was awesome in Week 1 in the first half, had a great game script and then lost almost all of his playing time to Woodhead. For now all I can expect is something like a 50/50 split and that doesn’t excite me against Jacksonville’s above-average run defense.
What do Week 1 breakouts do for an encore?
Overreacting goes both directions and it was certainly prevalent with the breakouts. Just don’t get too crazy and start these guys over players you drafted early. Several of them likely just had their best week of the season. I’ve ranked them in order of how much I believe in them.
Willie Snead, WR, New Orleans Saints
Snead will be a major factor in the Saints passing game all season. He was underrated on Draft Day and you’ll be rewarded handsomely for grabbing him. He’s a solid flex most weeks but I like him as a WR2 against the Giants.
Jameis Winston , QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I’m not ruling out a Winston breakout and a top 10 season. That being said I’m sitting him against an 0-1 Cardinals team after making a cross-country trip. Regression cometh.
Theo Riddick , RB, Detroit Lions
Riddick elevated himself to PPR flex-worthy with his Week 1 performance. The touchdowns will be difficult to come by but he was already a monster catching the ball out of the backfield. If the Lions stick to their plan of 5-8 carries as well he’ll be startable more often than he’s not.
Will Fuller , WR, Houston Texans
Before Week 1 I thought Fuller had blazing speed, big play ability, questionable hands and a below average quarterback. Nothing that happened against the Bears that changed any of that. The one surprise was his 11 targets. If he repeats against the Kansas City Chiefs I’ll start to buy in but I’m leaving him on the bench this week.
Jack Doyle , TE, Indianapolis Colts
Do the stud running backs bounce back?
Of the top seven RBs selected in CBS drafts this year only David Johnson and Lamar Miller got off to acceptable starts in terms of yardage. No, Le’Veon Bell didn’t play but here’s how the other four fared in Week 1:
All of them were disappointing, even with Elliott’s touchdown. They’re likely starting for you in Week 2 as well. Freeman is the one question mark because of his workload, or lack of it. I could see a situation where you have two backs you’d rather start than him but I also wouldn’t go out of my way to bench him.
There is nothing worse than suffering through a dud from your star player and then watching him go off from your bench. If I had to rank these players in order of most likely to improve starting this week, I’d put Elliott at the top of the list. You saw what DeAngelo Williams did to that defense, right?
Trust Vegas for Fantasy output.
Looking for the most likely teams to put up a ton of Fantasy points? These are your teams. Now, obviously you know to start Cam Newton , Odell Beckham Jr. and David Johnson. So here’s a player from these four teams that becomes a better start due to the expected game script.
Carolina Panthers (29.5) Jonathan Stewart is going to bounce back and forth each week because of expected game script but this is when you start him. Forget about what the 49ers did to Todd Gurley. Would you be scared of this?
Case Keenum almost averaged more yards per rush (3.33) than yards per pass (3.71) but no, that game shouldn’t change anything.
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) September 13, 2016
New York Giants (28.75) I’m good with starting both Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard depending on your options, but Rashad Jennings is the must-start. This is a terrible Saints defense and they’re going to be completely preoccupied with stopping the run. Jennings should have no trouble reaching the second level and with multiple trips to the red zone, one touchdown (at least) should be the expectation.
Arizona Cardinals (28.25) I’m guessing you were won over by Larry Fitzgerald last week but I’d expect Michael Floyd to be a very solid start this week as well. Tampa Bay actually has a solid run defense and you should expect a majority of Arizona’s gains to come through the air.
Oakland Raiders (27) I’m afraid not enough people look at Michael Crabtree as a must-start this week. He absolutely is. The Falcons defense was pretty awful last week, surrendering four touchdowns to Jameis Winston. Their number one priority will be stopping Amari Cooper with Latavius Murray a close second. Crabtree should be very solid in PPR.
Backup QBs and the targets they impact.
We saw how bad Case Keenum was and hopefully already know to avoid everyone in that passing game. Stefon Diggs was able to overcome Shaun Hill but I’m not sure I’d upgrade him much on the possibility of Sam Bradford starting. Despite the glowing reports for Jimmy Garoppolo , he wasn’t great at all for his targets, but you’re starting Rob Gronkowski if he plays. The more interesting situations are with the Dallas Cowboys and the Browns.
I’m starting Dez Bryant in almost any situation, but I don’t expect elite production because Bryant has never really been elite without Tony Romo. As for the Cole Beasley situation, I’m not buying it. I expect the Cowboys to run the Redskins into the ground with Ezekiel Elliott, not dink-and-dunk with Beasley again.
On the other hand, the addition of Josh McCown means an upgrade for Gary Barnidge and Duke Johnson . Barnidge was very disappointing in Week 1 but I’d expect his targets and his Fantasy value to return in Week 2. Johnson becomes a solid flex option in PPR leagues with the ability to grow into more once again. The only thing this change does negatively is damage the breakout potential of Terrelle Pryor .
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Fantasy Football Week 2: Breakouts, busts and 10 things to know