Week 1 Heat Index: Jameis Winston, Elijah Mitchell, Christian Kirk (2021 Fantasy Football)
One of the best things about fantasy football is that you never know what’s going to happen. No matter how much research and preparation you do, someone unexpected will always pop off in a given week. The tricky part is deciding whether that player is a one-week wonder or the real deal.
That’s what we’re trying to determine with the heat index. Each Tuesday, we’ll dig into the guys who surprised us most from the prior week and attempt to decipher whether they are worth burning your waiver priority or part of your FAAB. In addition to a bit of analysis, we’ll rate each of them on a scale of 🔥-to-🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
Now onto the fun stuff! Here are the players from Week 1 who gave us the most to think about:
Jared Goff (QB – DET)
Goff was the fantasy QB3 for the week (through Sunday) on the heels of a game where he completed 38-of-57 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns. Just what we all expected, right? The game script fed into his line, as the Lions were down 31-10 at halftime and had no choice but to chuck the ball on almost every play in the second half. Though I doubt that Goff will air it out that much on most weeks, Detroit’s defense looks pretty bad, so this probably isn’t a one-off occurrence. It’s still hard to get excited about him, but Goff may be worth a look in 2QB and Superflex leagues — and as a bye-week streamer.
Heat Index: 🔥🔥🔥
Jameis Winston (QB – NO)
Winston was sort of Goff’s opposite. He completed only 14 passes for 148 yards en route to a QB4 finish for the week (through Sunday). What elevated him was that five of those completions went for touchdowns. Most impressive was his 55-yard bomb to Deonte Harris in the fourth quarter, which showcased his ability to stretch the field. It’s hard to get a read on this performance since the Saints had such a massive lead for much of the game, but Winston looked the part and is worth keeping an eye on.
Heat Index: 🔥🔥
Christian Kirk (WR – ARI)
In a blowout win elsewhere, the Cardinals throttled the Titans behind Kyler Murray and his five touchdowns (four passing). Kirk caught two of those, and through Sunday, he was week’s WR8. He caught all five of his targets for 70 total yards but was only on the field for 57% of the offensive snaps and had a target share of only 15.6%. Touchdowns largely drove Kirk’s fantasy output, so I’m calling this a one-off until we see more from him.
Heat Index: 🔥🔥
Sterling Shepard (WR – NYG)
With the additions of Kenny Golladay and rookie Kadarius Toney, many felt that Shepard would see a smaller role within the Giants’ offense this season. That may still end up being the case, but in Week 1, he led the team with nine targets en route to a seven-catch, 113-yard, one-score performance. He finished as the WR10 through Sunday. He also paced the receiving room in snaps — he was on the field for 95% of the offensive plays. The reports of his demise may be premature, and he could play his way into flex consideration should these trends continue.
Heat Index: 🔥🔥🔥
Elijah Mitchell (RB – SF)
Sunday’s biggest fantasy was the emergence of Mitchell. A few unexpected events led to his strong debut, starting with Trey Sermon being a surprise healthy scratch, followed by the injury to Raheem Mostert early in the game. Mitchell shined in his expanded role. He recorded 104 yards and a score on 19 carries, which was good enough to make him the RB10 through Sunday’s games. With Mostert sidelined for about eight weeks, the only obstacle in front of Mitchell is fellow rookie Sermon, whom he appears to have already surpassed on the depth chart. We’ll see how Kyle Shanahan decides to use them going forward, but Mitchell is a must-add in all leagues for now.
Heat Index: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
Mark Ingram II (RB – HOU)
Nobody was quite sure what to make of Houston’s backfield heading into the season, but it’s safe to say that Ingram was considered the third option by most in the fantasy community. Yet for Week 1, he out-snapped and far out-touched both David Johnson and Phillip Lindsay. Ingram finished the game with 26 carries for 85 yards and a score. He was clearly the preferred runner of the trio, though both Johnson and Lindsay played a fair number of snaps. The guess here is that this will be a three-headed backfield committee all season and that Ingram’s usage will vary depending on the game script. If Houston is playing with a lead like yesterday (they likely won’t do so often moving forward), Ingram could have a fantasy-relevant week. However, if they are playing from behind, Johnson and Lindsay’s superior pass-catching skills will probably keep them on the field.
Heat Index: 🔥
Juwan Johnson (WR/TE – NO)
This preseason, there was a bit of buzz surrounding Johnson, especially after Adam Trautman went down with an ankle injury. Trautman ended up making it back for Week 1, but Johnson led the Saints’ tight ends in scoring on the back of his two touchdowns. However, he played only 12 snaps and got only three targets. So until we see a bit more usage, Johnson doesn’t feel very roster-worthy.
Heat Index: 🔥
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