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5 Things We Learned in Week 1

Sep 12, 2016

Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott wasn’t overly impressive in his regular season debut

R.C. Fischer discusses Five Fantasy Football Things We Learned From Week 1.

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After each week of preseason games, I’ll be discussing things that stood out to me — things I believe the football media is shaping the wrong way or has totally overlooked. Here’s my take after watching all the Week 1 contests…

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5) Eddie Lacy’s Weight Loss Mystery…

I’ve discovered where all the weight Eddie Lacy lost this summer went – it’s conveniently placed in the back of his pants. If this is the slimmer, quicker, motivated Eddie Lacy…I hate to see the beefier, sluggish version.

I bought into the Eddie Lacy narrative that he would slim down for a great free agent contract and balloon back up to offensive guard-like weight levels after he signed with Jacksonville or Tennessee. Nope. I’m not sure he’s going to make it to the promised free agent land. Lacy’s football career arc might be closer to that of Alabama-mate Trent Richardson than we want to admit.

I’ve gone from ‘enthusiastic’ on Lacy to ‘pause, and hold my breath next week.’

4) Well, that was a fun moment starting to like RG3 for 2016…

Robert Griffin is Robert Griffin – very flawed passer, good with the deep ball, and not as electric a runner as he was two knee surgeries ago. When Hue Jackson signed off on RG3, he signed off on his pending unemployment. I thought RG3 showed a spark in the preseason – that flame is suddenly extinguished.

Many of us are holding onto Josh Gordon, thinking we have a secret weapon come Week 5. After watching RG3 in action this week, I’m not sure the joke’s not on me for drafting Gordon ahead of my redraft league mates.

3) What do you do with Spencer Ware now?

As predicted, Spencer Ware manhandled the Chargers. He ran for 6.4 yards per carry, caught over 100+ yards in the passing game, posted 199 yards in total in Week 1, and generally willed his team at a certain point to this victory.

What? Ware just goes back to the bench now when Jamaal Charles thinks he’s ready?

The Chiefs have a real dilemma here. All kinds of athletes are back in full for Week 1 coming off major injuries/surgeries last season (Tyrann Mathieu, Jimmy Graham, etc.). But Charles is still ‘not ready.’ What if we see three more weeks of Ware blowing up opponents as a runner and receiver? He just goes back to the bench? I don’t think so.

We all thought Charles was coming back to take his main carry role back with a small share going to Ware. In about two more weeks, Charles may be the Ware ‘handcuff.’ I wasn’t kidding this entire preseason writing about how Ware is a top 20 running back talent in the NFL, right now. Well…he’s here. He’s arrived.

2) Melvin Gordon has finally arrived! He’s now a solid ‘handcuff’ for Danny Woodhead

The headlines will be that Melvin Gordon scored two TDs, which magically cleanses/pardons him from his abysmal 2015 with no touchdowns scored. “He’s back,” the football media will proclaim. What that overlooks is that fact that Danny Woodhead took more carries in this game than Gordon 16 to 14. Woodhead also saw seven targets and Gordon zero. Woodhead played 50 snaps, Gordon 23. I walk away thinking that Mike McCoy has finally woken up – the best running back he has is Danny Woodhead.

Melvin Gordon had two fortuitous, short TD runs…other than that, pretty much the same bland Gordon. The most gifted all-around running back in San Diego got the most carries and most targets in this game – and I didn’t see that it had anything to do with unusual game flow. The Chargers didn’t try to salt away their big lead running Gordon – they turned to Woodhead. And that’s a change-up from last year’s head-scratching, constant push of Gordon no matter how much he failed.

1) Ezekiel Elliott…just a regular human, not a ‘magical unicorn’

I’m sure the story on Elliott’s weak performance in this game will be spun to favor Elliott – “Oh, he’s rusty…missed time in the preseason.” “Oh, what do you expect with a rookie quarterback?” Excuses will abound, but is anyone willing to criticize this guy when deserved?

A formerly poor NY Giants defense with a lot of changed parts in 2016, and not a defense anyone feared, goes up against one of the best offensive lines ever assembled in my lifetime – and all Elliott can produce is 2.5 yards per carry? With all the advantages a running back could ever ask for in a debut, Elliott gets pushed 20 carries…and an eight-yard run was his high for the game? Alfred Morris looked exponentially better, and he averaged 5.0 yards per carry on his seven touches.

The Dallas run game schedule is a theoretical gift the next two weeks – Chicago and at San Francisco. If Elliott fails, or is otherwise mediocre…what will the Cowboys do? Will they give Morris more and more carries, trying to ‘win now?’ What if Morris looks and performs better than Elliott like he did in the preseason? Will the team want to win…or push jersey sales? Jerry Jones doesn’t strike me as a ‘playing for next year’ kind of guy. I think this running back situation could get very chaotic for fantasy purposes if Elliott stumbles in the next week or two. Elliott has all the advantages of ‘hype’ and ‘the O-Line,’ so I’d bet on Ezekiel emerging as the fantasy RB to own…but I wouldn’t bet a lot.

…and I might take out a bet on Alfred Morris just in case.