Feast or Famine: Antonio Brown, Damien Harris, Tim Patrick (2021 Fantasy Football)
Week 1 in the NFL can be fickle. It’s easy to overreact about player outcomes, but it usually takes a few games for them to adjust to new schemes and personnel groupings or shake off some rust. What the first week does offer, though, is some insights. With all this in mind, below is a list of players that I think will either feast or suffer from famine based on the Fantasy Pros consensus rankings.
For this column each week, I will assess players with some of the most considerable variances (standard deviations) in the PPR rankings by my FantasyPros colleagues. My goal is to aid with starting lineup decisions by highlighting contrarian plays I feel most strongly about for season-long and DFS leagues. My focus will be on less obvious and trending players when possible.
Antonio Brown (WR – TB)
ECR: WR24 – STDEV 4.7
First of all, always start most of your fantasy skill players against the porous Atlanta Falcons defense. Secondly, what do you think Tom Brady and his elite receiving corps will do if Philadelphia’s quarterback Jalen Hurts and their pass catchers just carved the Falcons up? Thirdly, Antonio Brown is now fully clicking with Brady after joining the Buccaneers late last season. Lastly, Brown is back – like near 2018 form.
Some analysts believe Brown can emerge as the top target on this team. It isn’t a stretch to view him as the second option at minimum. Mike Evans is oft-injured and has become touchdown-dependent as of late. Brown received the third-most targets in Thursday’s win against Dallas, just one less than Rob Gronkowski. Also, Brady has been singing Brown’s praises since the offseason. I don’t know why my fellow rankers aren’t more in agreement on Brown this week. They have him ranked anywhere from WR11 to WR40. If Brady likes him, then I do too. I believe Brown finishes as a high WR2 and could crack the top 12 again this week.
Damien Harris (RB – NE)
ECR: RB14 – STDEV 3.7
My peers are at odds over Damien Harris‘ projections this week. He’s ranked as high as RB6 and as low as RB26. I understand the lower rankings since Bill Belichick is notorious for utilizing a running back by committee. But Harris was great in the game versus the Panthers, rushing for 100 yards and dominating the touches with 25 with James White a distant second with ten. While Harris is not in the same class, the Jets got thrashed to the tune of 187 all-purpose yards by Christian McCaffrey last week. Harris could eat in this one, and a finish of RB14 or higher is very plausible.
Tim Patrick (WR – DEN)
ECR: WR53 – STDEV 11.1
Tim Patrick becomes the next man up in the wake of the injury to wide receiver Jerry Jeudy. Before Jeudy even left the game, Patrick essentially saw the same amount of snaps as him. Patrick’s been productive for fantasy in the past and should start along with KJ Hamler in three-receiver sets behind Courtland Sutton. The matchup is exploitable this week, as the Jacksonville Jaguars surrendered 291 receiving yards to the Houston Texans pass catchers last week. While Sutton and tight end Noah Fant will undoubtedly get a bump up, Patrick is in the WR3/Flex conversation this week.
Jared Goff (QB – DET)
ECR: QB27 – STDEV 3.4
Here’s a clear example of an overreaction to a player’s Week 1 fantasy production. I’m afraid I have to disagree with my fellow rankers who have Jared Goff as high as QB14 this week. We’ve all seen this movie before, and we all know how it ends. Just because Goff is on a new team and kicked off the season on fire doesn’t make him a reliable quarterback for fantasy. Goff finished the week as the QB4 in a losing effort against the 49ers but garnered most of his points in garbage time. He could rack up points in mop-up duty again as the Lions will likely play from behind against Green Bay. But in single QB leagues, do you want to bank on that?
Juwan Johnson (TE – NO)
ECR: TE24 – STDEV 4.8
I can understand the rankings variance for Juwan Johnson this week. On the one hand, he is coming off a two-touchdown game against Green Bay and could also see more usage in the passing game with the New Orleans receiving corps depleted. On the other hand, he could be very touchdown-dependent. He only saw three targets, which was half the amount Adam Trautman received. Johnson is talented and could emerge, but I’d like to see more consistency before inserting him into lineups.