5 Burning Questions For Week 2 (2021 Fantasy Football)
Well that was exhilarating. If you feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of new information we received this past weekend, well, that’s normal. Week 1 always brings with it an onslaught of data to sift through. A lot of it is relevant, but we need to be careful not to overreact to the noise. Football is a wildly “noisy” game, after all.
Therefore, every Thursday morning throughout the 2021 season, I’ll be discussing the most burning questions entering the weekend. Remember to reach out with questions on Twitter (@toomuchtuma) anytime.
1. Is the Seahawks’ new offense here to stay?
In last week’s edition of “5 Burning Questions“, we discussed the possible impact that new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron could have on Seattle’s offense. My theory was that Waldron, who comes from the Sean McVay coaching tree, would run the Seahawks’ O in a similar fashion to the models created by the Rams and 49ers. Both McVay and Kyle Shanahan build their offenses around running the ball, which appeases Pete Carroll. But Waldron differs from previous Seattle OCs since he emphasizes tempo and play action.
Through one week this new scheme is looking like a wild success. Per Warren Sharp, on early downs in the first three quarters, the Seahawks increased their PA% from 34% in 2020 to 53% in week 1. That’s a very noticeable development. Russell Wilson went on to complete a highly efficient 18-of-23 passes for 254 yards and four scores through the air. Seattle maximizing their offensive talent is good news for all of their fantasy relevant players. A cupcake matchup against the Titans is on deck in Week 2.
(early downs, first three quarters)
The results? Russell Wilson completed 18-of-23 passes for 254 yards and 4 TDs
Shoutout new OC Shane Waldron!
— Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma) September 14, 2021
2. Can we trust any 49ers RBs this week?
Apologies if you’re sick of fantasy football analysts discussing San Francisco RBs by now. I know I’m reaching my breaking point, personally. But Elijah Mitchell became the No. 1 fantasy story with waivers running this week. My recommendation was to bid 20-25% in most leagues (up to 35% if you were desperate for another RB), but no more than that.
The reason is obvious. We just can’t have faith in how Shanahan will distribute his backfield workload moving forward. Mitchell looked fantastic on Sunday, as most 49ers RBs typically do, rumbling for 104 yards and a TD on 19 totes. Yet would it really surprise anyone if Trey Sermon, the ultimate surprise Week 1 inactive, led this backfield in touches in Week 2? JaMycal Hasty is still around as well, but he looks like the worst best of the trio after handling just two touches against the Lions.
The Eagles seem like a neutral Week 2 opponent. Sermon obviously can’t be trusted in starting lineups while Mitchell shapes up as a volatile FLEX option. I’d prefer to not have to start him, so that we can simply evaluate how things shake out this Sunday, but he’ll likely be ahead of Sermon in most Week 2 ranking lists.
3. Has Austin Ekeler been phased out of the passing game?
Week 1 came with mixed results for Ekeler managers. The good? He finally received goal-line work and already has as many carries inside the 5 (two) as he did all of last season. The bad? He wasn’t targeted in the passing game. This was bizarre usage for a player who seemingly had such a high floor as a receiver. There were likely a few factors at play. For starters, Ekeler didn’t practice on either Wednesday or Thursday. Perhaps the team wasn’t able to draw up many plays out of the backfield for him. It also could’ve been matchup based.
Yet I feel obligated to point out the below video of Justin Herbert‘s post-game press conference. The sophomore superstar was asked about the lack of Ekeler targets, and Herbert noted the goal of this offense is to push the ball down the field. For Herbert’s development and the Chargers’ offensive success as a whole, this is THRILLING. But it also means Ekeler might not receive as many check downs as we’re used to. LA has a new offensive coordinator in Joe Lombardi, remember.
Ultimately, we aren’t panicking after one game. If anything, Ekeler could be considered a “buy” if the receptions return and he maintains the goal-line role. A date with the Cowboys presents a juicy Week 2 matchup.
Austin Ekeler died so that Brandon Staley’s offense could live. pic.twitter.com/ehPpz2qzzm
— John Daigle (@notJDaigle) September 13, 2021
4. Should we worry about the Titans?
Yes, it was quite tilting to witness *checks notes* Chester Rogers lead Tennessee in receiving on Sunday. AJ Brown and Julio Jones were bottled up for 49 and 29 yards respectively, though Brown at least found the end zone. This was ultimately one to write off for the Titans’ top wideouts, but I’m mildly concerned with the team’s play calling as a whole.
Over the past two seasons, the Titans were able to salvage Ryan Tannehill‘s career by incorporating a heavy dose of play action into their offense. Many thought new OC Todd Downing would simply replicate the model Arthur Smith provided, but that wasn’t the case in Week 1. Downing utilized play action just 11.6% of the time against Arizona, which was down from 36.4% in 2020. Perhaps this was just matchup based. I’m hoping we see a spike in PA% against the Seahawks in Week 2.
One of the most questionable Week 1 coaching decisions came from the #Titans
Former OC Arthur Smith saved Ryan Tannehill's career by embracing play action (36.4% in '20)
However, new OC Todd Downing utilized PA just 11.6% of the time in Week 1 against Arizona
Stats per @PFF
— Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma) September 14, 2021
5. How short will the Kyle Pitts buy-low window be?
It’s unlikely that the Pitts manager in your league is looking to sell. If they are, though, then go get him. The unicorn rookie totaled a measly 31 yards on four receptions, but it came on eight targets. Additionally, Pitts ran a route on 90% of Matt Ryan‘s drop backs against the Eagles. This included 23 routes from the slot and 14 out wide. That underlying usage is fantastic. The buy-low window could be slammed shut if things go right against the Bucs this weekend.