Heath Cummings plays the fact vs. fiction game on several pressing fantasy topics.
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One of the hardest things heading in to week two of the fantasy football season is balancing what you believed for the last six months vs. what you just saw in week one. It is easy to say it’s just one week, don’t overreact…of course that’s often how people miss out on trends. Plenty of people said that about Cam Newton and Chris Johnson in 2011. On the other hand, it is just one week, you shouldn’t overreact. Confused yet? We’ll try to fix that with this installment of Believe It or Not.
#1: Chris Johnson is every bit as bad as he was in 2011 (11 carries for 4 yards, 6 receptions for 47 yards).
Eleven carries for four yards is disgusting, especially against a Patriots defense that wasn’t exactly projected to be a juggernaut. Johnson salvaged his day somewhat in PPR formats with six catches for 47 yards, but really that fits in with what we saw in 2011 as well. Johnson wasn’t good last year, but his offensive line was terrible, and it certainly didn’t look any better against the Patriots on Sunday.
Verdict: Believe it. I’m not saying Johnson won’t have a couple of monster performances, but he had three or four last season as well. If you’re counting on him for RB1 production, you’re going to be disappointed more often than not.
#2: Alfred Morris has ended RBBC in Washington (28 carries for 96 yards and 2 TDs).
Mike Shanahan’s game plan worked to perfection in week one as the Redskins shocked the world in defeating the New Orleans Saints. As I speculated last week, Shanahan gave the Saints a heavy dose of Morris in attempting to play keep away, and Robert Griffin III made just enough plays to make it happen. Many have compared Morris to Terrell Davis, and Shanahan used like he was such in week one. Fellow backs Roy Helu and Evan Royster combined for only seven touches.
Verdict: Don’t believe it. Morris and the Redskins were great in week one, but one week doesn’t change Shanahan’s long history. There will be times that Griffin struggles as a rookie quarterback and when he does the Redskins are going to fall into some pretty big holes. In those instances, Roy Helu will get most of the action as the team’s best receiver. I’m not saying you shouldn’t start Morris this week against St. Louis, but there will be plenty of owners trying to peddle him based on his week one success, don’t give RB1 value for him because it won’t last, it never does with Shanahan.
#3: The end isn’t just near for Michael Turner, it’s here (11 carries for 32 yards).
Turner was much more successful than Johnson in terms of yards per carry, but the eye test will tell you he had a much worse performance. He looks completely out of place in this Falcons offense, which is now built on speed and the passing game. Jacquizz Rodgers isn’t ready to take over a full load, but he fits in much better.
Verdict: Believe it. Turner looked slow and unable to break even arm tackles. He isn’t a threat to contribute in the passing game, so you’re only real hope is that he picks up enough touchdowns to stay fantasy relevant. The Falcons had eight snaps inside the Chiefs’ 10 yard line on Sunday and Turner had one carry. If you have a way to get rid of him for anything of value, do it now.
#4. The New York Jets are an offensive juggernaut (48-28 victory over Buffalo).
Buddy Ryan could not have asked for more help from the media before week one, with his team being called a circus and predicted by many to finish third in the AFC East. As teams often do, the Jets responded with a vicious whipping of the Buffalo Bills and looked better on offense than anyone could have expected. Mark Sanchez completed over 67% of his passes and threw 3 touchdown passes, Shonn Greene ran for a score and nearly 100 yards, and rookie receiver Stephen Hill caught 2 touchdown passes. All of this came against a defense that was supposed to be revamped with the addition of Mario Williams and others.
Verdict: Don’t believe it. This was the ultimate “nobody believes in us” performance, with Bills being the unfortunate victims. Stephen Hill is a talent, but he is far too raw to be counted on to contribute like he did in week one on a regular basis and Shonn Greene is still a plodder that need 27 carries to pick up those 94 yards.
#5. Wes Welker’s run as an elite PPR option has come to an end (3 receptions for 13 yards).
Welker had fewer targets than tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, as well as newly acquired receiver Brandon Lloyd. What’s even more troubling for Welker’s prospects is that the Patriots ran the ball 35 times, and did so successfully. For several years the Patriots have used Welker on short routes to compensate for their lack of a running game. Now that they have a running game, he’s going to put up even more stat lines like Sunday.
Verdict: Don’t believe it. As good as Welker has been over the last five seasons, he’s had at least two games each year with less than five catches and less than fifty yards. For sure the Patriots look to have a more balanced attack, but that doesn’t mean that Welker will completely disappear from the game plan.
#6. Cam Newton is in for a sophomore slump (303 passing yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 5 rushes for 4 yards).
In 2011 Newton average over 38 fantasy points per game in his match ups with Tampa Bay. On Sunday he scored 17 and finished as the 20th ranked quarterback. What’s worse is that Newton’s stat line isn’t the most depressing thing when forecasting his success. The Panthers running game averaged less than one yard per carry and only attempted to run the ball eight times outside of Newton’s attempts.
Verdict: Believe it. Unless you believe the Buccaneers are really one of the top run defenses in the league, the Panthers inability to run the ball is a big concern. Much of Newton’s fantasy success in 2011 came from running the ball in the red zone and this did not look like a team that’s going to see the red zone very often. I wouldn’t completely freak out about Newton unless the Panthers offense sputters again this week against New Orleans, but I also do not expect a repeat of 2011.