What We Learned: Week 1 (Fantasy Football)

Sep 11, 2017

Week 1 has brought its fair share of surprises and new storylines that may or may not stand the test of time over the course of the NFL season. The key to fantasy success is digesting the information and identifying players that are capable of sustaining fantasy success or, conversely, shaking off a poor performance to bounce-back in the weeks ahead. Here’s what we learned in Week 1.

Get free start/sit and waiver wire advice for your fantasy team >>

Rookie RBs asserted themselves in a big way
Kareem Hunt set the tone early for rookie RBs in Week 1 when he totaled 246 combined yards and three TDs on Thursday night. He immediately climbs into mid-to-top tier RB1 status on a weekly basis. On Sunday, a pair of rookie RBs had impressive showings of their own. Leonard Fournette ran the ball with authority, finishing with 100 hard-earned yards on 26 carries with a TD and finished as the second leading receiver as well. Fournette will hover around RB1 status. Sunday was the ideal game-flow for him to be involved in a big way, and if the Jaguars defense can play on a similar level going forward then Fournette could see 300+ carries this year in a ball control offense. The surprise RB performance came from Tarik Cohen of the Chicago Bears. He had gained some buzz in the preseason with his electric play, but the way he was able to maintain and even increase his big-play ability in Week 1 vs. Atlanta was impressive. Cohen topped 100 total yards and scored one TD while catching eight passes. He may end up being the Bears leading receiver this season, and at worst should be considered a flex option in PPR leagues going forward.

Drafting a WR on a bad offense because “someone has to catch it” is a terrible strategy
Anyone holding out hopes that Kevin White, Robby Anderson, Zay Jones, or Kenny Britt would be a viable fantasy option because “somebody has to catch it” in those offenses is feeling the effect of that misguided thought-process. Some offenses are just bad and will simply not produce fantasy-relevant players at a given position. Targets don’t magically come just because a name gets floated up a depth chart, actual talent (at QB and surrounding offensive positions) plays a bigger role. Looking at Baltimore, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, and Chicago Bears, the average performance of the WR1 on those teams was 3.8 catches for 52.6 yards.

Chris Carson is the RB to own in Seattle
The Seattle offense looked awful against Green Bay on Sunday aside from a couple quick hitting drives that resulted in scores. One thing that did stick out was the dramatic difference in play between Eddie Lacy and Chris Carson. Lacy showed little power or effort in his runs, gaining just three yards on five carries. Carson looked much more engaged in his runs, showing a determination that Lacy occasionally flashed while he was a Packer. Carson finished with 39 yards on six carries and hauled in his lone target for 10 yards as well. Carson should see a continued increase in his role, while Lacy could get phased out even more upon the return of Thomas Rawls. If I owned Lacy I would drop him to pick up Carson. Carson is yet to enter RB2/flex consideration but is worth a roster spot as it looks like he could be a capable back if Seattle is able to get their offense on track.

Several teams still have rust to shake off (but don’t panic)
Some offenses came out of the gates in Week 1 looking awful and will continue to be bad throughout the season (sorry Jets fans). Other teams laid an egg in Week 1 but should be fine once the rust gets knocked off. Specifically, the offenses in Cincinnati, Seattle, and Washington likely cost many fantasy players an opportunity to post a W to start the season. The Redskins were a mess and out of sync all preseason and that has carried into Week 1, but it feels like all they need is some confidence that would come along with a string of successful drives, which they are fully capable of at any moment starting in Week 2. There shouldn’t be much panic with their passing game weapons. Once it clicks they’ll put up big numbers. Cincinnati and Seattle have some offensive line issues that either need to get better or the skill players will need to adjust to the reality of their offensive line shortcomings. Things should get better in the weeks ahead, and I wouldn’t panic if I were relying on either Doug Baldwin or A.J. Green. The TE situation is a little more concerning, as a weaker offensive line may keep the TE’s in as blockers, or at least an initial chip block before entering a route. Also for the Bengals, Andy Dalton was just flat-out awful at times and should bounce-back with a quick turnaround and a Thursday matchup against Houston in Week 2. Hey, the reality is slow starts happen to some teams. Sometimes it lasts a quarter, sometimes a game, sometimes even a month or so, but given the talent on these offenses, it would be wise to wait out the slow start rather than panic and sell low or cut someone capable of being a difference maker when it matters later in the year.

Several top RBs/WRs struggled in Week 1
It was a frustrating week for those who had picks at the top of their drafts (aside from Antonio Brown owners). David Johnson the receiver was impressive, continuing the 10+yards per reception rate he posted last season. But David Johnson the RB was not so good, gaining just 23 yards on the ground before an injury forced him out and could cause him to miss several games. Le’Veon Bell had struggles of his own as he worked on knocking off the rust from his holdout, having just 13 touches for under 50 total yards. Neither Johnson or Bell scored on the day. Julio Jones was the third most targeted player on his team and finished with just four catches for 66 yards. A.J. Green had a similar performance, catching five passes for 74 yards as his QB couldn’t stop turning the ball over. The WRs should be able to bounce back next week with decent matchups, but there is concern for the RBs. The wrist injury for Johnson could potentially cost him multiple games and will need to be monitored as more news surfaces. Bell faces a tough Week 2 matchup against the Vikings defense.

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | Google Play | TuneIn | RSS

Micah Cedergren is a correspondent at FantasyPros. To read more from Micah, check out his archive and follow him @MicahCedergren.

What's your take? Leave a comment

Fantasy Games
DRAFT photo
Get a FREE $3 Best Ball entry with your 1st deposit
FanDuel photo
Play for your share of $1m+
for FREE with first deposit
CBS Sports photo
Serious Fantasy Football
Get our Mobile App!

Enter your phone number below, and we'll text you a link to download the app.

1Le'Veon Bell (PIT)RB
2Todd Gurley (LAR)RB
3Antonio Brown (PIT)WR
4David Johnson (ARI)RB
5Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)RB
6DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)WR
7Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG)WR
8Leonard Fournette (JAC)RB
9Michael Thomas (NO)WR
10Kareem Hunt (KC)RB
 View All Rankings 
11Alvin Kamara (NO)RB
12Julio Jones (ATL)WR
13Melvin Gordon (LAC)RB
14Mike Evans (TB)WR
15A.J. Green (CIN)WR
16Dalvin Cook (MIN)RB
17LeSean McCoy (BUF)RB
18Devonta Freeman (ATL)RB
19Keenan Allen (LAC)WR
20Davante Adams (GB)WR
21Mark Ingram (NO)RB
22Jordan Howard (CHI)RB
23Brandin Cooks (NE)WR
24Tyreek Hill (KC)WR
25Derrick Henry (TEN)RB
26Rob Gronkowski (NE)TE
27Adam Thielen (MIN)WR
28Doug Baldwin (SEA)WR
29Christian McCaffrey (CAR)RB
30Carlos Hyde (SF)RB
1Mike Trout (LAA)CF
2Jose Altuve (HOU)2B
3Nolan Arenado (COL)3B
4Trea Turner (WSH)SS
5Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)1B
6Charlie Blackmon (COL)CF
7Bryce Harper (WSH)RF
8Mookie Betts (BOS)RF
9Clayton Kershaw (LAD)SP
10Giancarlo Stanton (NYY)RF
 View All Rankings 
11Kris Bryant (CHC)3B,RF
12Max Scherzer (WSH)SP
13Carlos Correa (HOU)SS
14Joey Votto (CIN)1B
15Corey Kluber (CLE)SP
16Chris Sale (BOS)SP
17Manny Machado (BAL)3B
18Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B,3B
19Aaron Judge (NYY)RF
20Anthony Rizzo (CHC)1B,2B
21Francisco Lindor (CLE)SS
22Jose Ramirez (CLE)2B,3B
23George Springer (HOU)CF,RF
24Cody Bellinger (LAD)1B,LF
25Josh Donaldson (TOR)3B
26Gary Sanchez (NYY)C
27Stephen Strasburg (WSH)SP
28Jose Abreu (CWS)1B
29J.D. Martinez (BOS)RF
30Corey Seager (LAD)SS
1Kevin Durant (GSW)SF,PF
2Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)SF,PF
3James Harden (HOU)PG,SG
4Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
5Russell Westbrook (OKC)PG
6Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)C
7Anthony Davis (NOR)PF,C
8Kawhi Leonard (SAS)SG,SF
9LeBron James (CLE)SF,PF
10Nikola Jokic (DEN)PF,C
 View All Rankings 
11John Wall (WAS)PG
12Chris Paul (HOU)PG
13Damian Lillard (POR)PG
14Jimmy Butler (MIN)SG,SF
15Rudy Gobert (UTH)C
16Kyrie Irving (BOS)PG,SG
17Hassan Whiteside (MIA)C,PF
18Myles Turner (IND)PF,C
19Paul George (OKC)SG,SF
20Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
21Draymond Green (GSW)SF,PF
22Kemba Walker (CHA)PG
23CJ McCollum (POR)PG,SG
24Bradley Beal (WAS)SG
25Klay Thompson (GSW)SG,SF
26Marc Gasol (MEM)C
27Kevin Love (CLE)PF,C
28Paul Millsap (DEN)PF,C
29Joel Embiid (PHI)PF,C
30Eric Bledsoe (MIL)PG,SG