Fantasy Football Stock Watch: Week 1
Hello and welcome to the first weekly installment of Stock Watch 2017. I’m looking forward to riding this roller coaster with each and every one of you.
Week 1 is in the books and you know what that means. Time to panic sell your miserable 0-1 team to try and find a keeper prospect. Or maybe it’s time to buy some more trophy polish because there’s no way in hell your guy will fail to live up to the 2,500-yard pace he’s on. This is no time for balanced, nuanced analysis. It’s time to give into fear, overreact, and draw hard conclusions about the last 15 weeks, based entirely on the first.
That said, here are players that will undoubtedly win you leagues, as well as players that should be dropped for kickers.
Based only on Week 1, these players appear set to outperform their ADPs.
Matthew Stafford (QB – DET)
Legit NFL MVP candidate this year, if the Lions make the playoffs. Like Matt Ryan (QB – ATL) last year, the Lions beefed up their offensive line in the offseason. Ameer Abdullah (RB – DET) is healthy and gives them some kind of hope in the run game. And his hand isn’t busted like it was last year. Passing to score is this team’s MO. Expect him to exceed his QB14, 10th round price tag.
Kareem Hunt (RB – KC)
Hunt put the ball on the ground in his first ever NFL touch, but that might turn out to be the best thing that could have happened for his season and his career. Andy Reid went right back to him on the team’s very next offensive play, providing a much needed confidence boost. The kid has vision to find the right hole. He has balance and power, forcing one missed tackle after the other. He has wiggle and burst to enter and exit the holes that his mauling offensive line creates. His pass catching chops appear as seasoned as a veteran’s. Charcandrick West (RB – KC) stole the two-minute drill from him presumably because the coaches trust him more in pass protection, but those skills and that trust will come. Reid’s unwillingness to run within the five yard line will be the most significant factor holding this Toledo Rocket’s ceiling within the stratosphere (a negative passing play to Tyreek Hill from the one-yard line was the most Andy Reid thing I’ve ever seen). Yet he’s a stone cold lead pipe lock for 15 touches a game. And though he won’t average 10 YPC moving forward like he did in Week 1, he certainly has what it takes to capitalize on opportunity and deliver an every-week yardage floor. His stock was fourth round ADP. If we drafted today, he’d be a comfortable second rounder. He appears for now to be in the Murray-Ajayi tier of high volume three-down backs in good offensive systems.
Mike Gillislee (RB – NE)
He was who we thought he was, and we let our fear talk us out of it. The pre-season hamstring was an opening for all of us to get even more value from one of the most coveted roles in all of fantasy football: the Patriots Goal Line Back. Many of us (myself included) got scared off. But for a guy who was going in the fifth, sixth, and seventh round of standard redraft leagues, it looks like he’s going to vastly outperform his ADP. The Patriots run more than anyone else inside the opponent’s five-yard line and gets lower and has more burst than LeGarrette Blount (RB – PHI) ever did. He had 15 rushes on Thursday, which is tremendous for a short yardage back. Ten touchdowns looks like a lock if he’s healthy. Fifteen is not out of reach. Congratulations to everyone who had the guts to draft him. Here’s hoping the hammy holds up.
Ty Montgomery (RB – GB)
‘TyMont’ played 90 percent of the Packers offensive snaps, and he comfortably set a career high for carries with 19. YPC was not great, but Seattle’s is perhaps the best front seven in the league and Montgomery certainly passed the eye test running hard and fighting for every inch. There were valid concerns on draft day: The Packers not wanting to run; rookies getting significant volume; Montgomery being unable to convert to a pure RB role. Those fears are gone. His late-third-round price tag looks like great value now. The health risk involved with his sickle cell trait is perhaps the only factor capable of holding TyMont back from a huge season.
Tarik Cohen (RB – CHI)
On a roster completely devoid of wide receiver talent, Cohen is like fresh water in a desert. For a team looking to face negative game scripts all year, the electric pass-catching back should see plenty of touches. And he looked good with the touches he received on Sunday. Listed at 5’6″ 179 lbs, he looked to play above his size versus the Falcons. Talent meets opportunity here. He’s my 1A waiver priority.
Javorius Allen (RB – BAL)
My 1B. For the second year in a row, Danny Woodhead (RB – BAL) going down is going to mean a big boost for someone else. Surprisingly, it was Buck Allen and not incumbent starter Terrance West (RB – BAL) who benefited the most. Allen out-snapped and out-touched West on Sunday. Joe Flacco (QB – BAL) threw the ball only 17 times on Sunday, but Allen is a more seasoned receiver than West and so most of Woodhead’s volume should flow his way. The Baltimore Ravens will want to play defense and run the ball this year, but targets to running backs has been a staple of this offense for years.
Corey Davis (WR – TEN)
So much for preseason. The Titan’s fifth-overall pick led his team in targets with 10, hauling in six of them for 69 yards. No one really expected him to be a factor in this game, but he was perhaps the lone bright spot on an otherwise muddy day for the emerging Tennessee Titans offense. He’s an electric playmaker playing with a good quarterback. Owners should expect a solid return on investment from their 10th round pick.
Nelson Agholor (WR – PHI)
I’m old enough to remember the days when teams gave their prospects a few years to develop into their potential, and not every young wide receiver was expected to have an instant impact. This former first-round pick finally looks comfortable. And after Jordan Matthews (WR – BUF) was sent packing, Agholor looks primed for volume as the slot WR in a good Eagles offense. He was going undrafted in most 12-man leagues. He needs to be rostered now in every format.
Cooper Kupp (WR – LAR)
He had a fantastic debut at home versus the Colts. Let’s see if he can keep it going against real NFL defenses in the following weeks.
It’s still early so there’s really no need to panic, but based on Week 1 these players appear likely to fail to deliver value according to their ADP.
Russell Wilson (QB – SEA)
Same story, different year. This offensive line is bottom five in the league and that’s being generous. The only running game in Seattle this year is going to be Russell Wilson running for his life. For as dynamic and accurate as Wilson is, talent can only overcome situation up to a certain point. It’s difficult to imagine a scenario where he meets his QB5 fifth round ADP. I always try to avoid players who are priced at their ceiling, and that was Russell Wilson this year, again.
Rex Burkhead (RB – NE)
A late-round darling and sleeper pick for many experts in the fantasy community, few failed to live up to hype as much as Rex Burkhead. It’s not necessarily for lack of talent. He just did not see the usage that we hoped for. At all. The Patriots trust James White (RB – NE) to do more than just catch the ball. Gillislee will get all the red zone carries, if (big if) Week 1 trends hold up. Some (myself included) had hopes he’d be the reincarnated 2015 Dion Lewis (RB – NE) – the featured dual-threat back that keeps defenses guessing. Looks instead like he’ll be the next Rex Burkhead – third string dual threat RB who’s used to spell other, more specialized weapons. Jack-of-all-trades but master-of-none, it’s hard to see a path to fantasy relevance this year, at least on a week to week basis. Owners might still hold onto hope that Belichick simply moved away from Rex once he saw how effective Derrick Johnson (ILB – KC) was… but the leash is as short as his Week 1 stat line. I’d suggest selling his stock if only I thought you could get anything of value in return. He’s probably droppable.
Jordan Howard (RB – CHI)
The selling point for Howard coming into the 2017 campaign was that, despite being on a bad team with no QB or WR help, he was going to be a three-down workhorse behind a good offensive line. Enter Tarik Cohen. The hype is real on this kid, and he’s going to steal way too many catches for Howard to live up to the hype. Howard’s an early down back on a team that will be facing negative game scripts all year. The good news is that he still put up a good performance on the stat sheet and on tape. But 16 touches for 66 yards is going to have to be better moving forward for Howard to deliver on his price tag. I’m not panicking because barring injury Howard will still be a solid weekly contributor and finish no worse than an overall RB2, but you can’t look at his Week 1 and say with a straight face that you think he’ll deliver the value you paid to acquire him. ADP was early second round. He’s looking more like a third-round investment even behind players like Kareem Hunt and Carlos Hyde.
Darren McFadden (RB – DAL)
“We just felt like as we went through training camp and preseason that Alfred [Morris] (RB – DAL) deserved this opportunity first,” Garrett said in his post-game presser. “That’s no slight on Darren McFadden. We have a tremendous amount of confidence in him. But we just felt like if we’re going to have three running backs up, we wanted Alfred Morris to be one of them.” Apparently the same goes for Rod Smith (RB – DAL), who also saw the field Sunday night, albeit in a special teams role. The preseason argument was that McFadden’s an RB1 for Ezekiel Elliott‘s (RB – DAL) six-game suspension. The argument after the injunction was that he’s at least a high-value handcuff. Now? Even in the unlikely event that Zeke does miss time this year, McFadden looks to be in a time share with Morris. He’s still rosterable for Zeke owners if your bench is long enough… I guess. But I’m not sure why.
Mark Ingram (RB – NO)
We expected Ingram to be the lead RB, ceding a little passing work to Alvin Kamara (RB – NO), and a little early down or goal line work to Adrian Peterson (RB – NO). Instead we saw a completely dead even timeshare with no rhyme or reason to who sees the field and when. Ingram tied for fewest rushes (with Peterson no less!), and also had the lowest total rushing output — a mere 17 yards on six carries. Granted that this was a tough matchup on the road, the usage still has to feel like a gut punch for anyone who spent a fifth round (or higher) pick on him.
Brandon Marshall (WR – NYG)
I’ll normally not stress about any receiver’s poor Week 1 performance — the nature of the position is boom or bust, and it’s only one week. But one catch for 10 yards against perhaps the worst secondary in the league, without Odell Beckham Jr (WR – NYG) drawing targets? Woof. This sixth-round investment is too talented to be dropped, but at this point appears to be too low a priority in a putrid offense to be startable.
Every Colts Skill Position Player
Stock should have already been down at draft day, but new reports are that Andrew Luck (QB – IND) is still weeks away from throwing in practice. Even when he does come back, there will be an adjustment period for him. What a disaster. This is a lost season for the team. Hopefully your lineup is not dependent on any single Colt.
Luc Veris is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Lucius, check out his archive and follow him @LucVarys.