With the first week of NFL action behind us, let’s take a look at players and situations that fantasy owners need to reassess.
Don’t fear the rookie
It didn’t take long for this year’s crop of rookie rushers to imprint themselves on the fantasy world.
Kareem Hunt blew everyone away with his 246-yard, three-touchdown debut for the Chiefs last Thursday. It’s not just Hunt’s talent that will help him sustain success as a 22-year-old, but his situation as the unquestioned lead back in an Andy Reid offense known for producing quality ball carriers. Hunt is the latest and a surefire RB1 the rest of the way.
Leonard Fournette was brought into Jacksonville to be the bellcow in a run-game revolution that would help the team limit/hide Blake Bortles. After 29 touches and 124 yards in a Week 1 win, there’s reason to believe that plan can work. Fournette’s also locked into RB1 numbers, albeit on the lower-end of that group.
Dalvin Cook also established himself as an instant workhorse for the Vikings with 137 yards on 25 touches. All the talk about Cook’s bad combine in February looks foolish now as he’s firmly in the conversation as a borderline RB1.
Christian McCaffrey and Tarik Cohen may not have backfields all to themselves, but they have clearly defined roles, which they excelled in during Week 1. McCaffrey saw a near-even split with Panthers teammate Jonathan Stewart, something that will tilt in the rookie’s favor as the season progresses, making him an intriguing RB2. Cohen, meanwhile, is the perfect complement to Jordan Howard, and will be a big part of the passing game after the Bears receiving corps was decimated by injuries. Cohen is my top waiver wire add after the opening weekend and has a shot to flirt with low-end RB2 numbers this season.
Others like Joe Mixon and Alvin Kamara will emerge as fantasy starters as the season goes on, so be patient.
All Days come to an end
Unfortunately the outlook isn’t as positive for Kamara’s teammate Adrian Peterson, who saw six carries in his Saints’ debut. That was the same amount as Mark Ingram, and one fewer than Kamara.
The bigger story is that Peterson saw the field on just nine snaps, throughout a game where he was looking for revenge against his former team. That even led to what appeared to be an intense exchange between Peterson and his new coach Sean Payton, though the pair later denied it.
The Saints were trailing, which resulted in a negative game script for Peterson, but that doesn’t alter the fact he’s part of a three-back committee and at the moment it looks like AD is the third best option in that group.
If you own Peterson, hopefully you didn’t invest much to get him because his days as a valuable fantasy asset are over.
Teams with new identities
It’s important to readjust your perceptions early in the NFL, otherwise you might get left behind by owners who are adapting to the new landscape.
For example, the Vikings’ offense that was tough to watch at times last season due to their offensive line woes, has pulled a complete 180 and looks like a unit capable of supporting multiple fantasy starters. We already discussed Cook, but Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are breaking out at receiver, while Kyle Rudolph continues to have a nose for the end zone. Even Sam Bradford makes for a streamer you can start with confidence in most matchups.
In Kansas City, the threat of losing his job to rookie Patrick Mahomes caused Alex Smith to take more chances downfield and the results were outstanding in Week 1. Smith came away with a four-touchdown night and might give the Chiefs a new dimension to their offense. That means big things for Hunt, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce.
It’s even possible the Rams’ offense is competent now, though we may need a little more convincing. Dominating a banged up Colts’ defense isn’t enough to forgive Jared Goff and company for their past Jeff Fisher-induced mistakes. Goff did show good chemistry with rookie Cooper Kupp, and the additions of Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods are already proving to be massive improvements over last year’s weapons. The jury is still out on Todd Gurley, who managed just 2.1 yards per carry during the blowout. Gurley will be a sell-high candidate throughout September before the Rams’ schedule gets tougher.
Lynch hasn’t lost a step
Beast Mode was fully engaged Sunday, as Marshawn Lynch reminded everyone what he brings to the field.
Lynch looked like he was enjoying himself as he bounced off, dodged, or simply ran over defenders, racking up 76 yards on 18 carries, while adding a 16-yard reception. He didn’t score on opening day, but playing behind one of the league’s best offensive lines, touchdowns are coming.
The 31-year-old is facing increased injury risk and the possibility of wearing down later in the season, but for now fantasy owners who drafted him should be having as much fun as he is.
Offensive line matters
Having a horrible offensive line seems to be like getting stuck in a bad relationship. Everyone else can see it’s not working except for you, but nothing will change until you address the problem.
The front offices for the Seahawks, Giants, and Bengals let their teams go into the season with subpar blockers and the negative impact was felt immediately.
The Seahawks should be able to overcome their situation thanks to the athleticism and scrambling ability of Russell Wilson, however, the Giants and Bengals won’t be so lucky. Eli Manning‘s already looking like a shell of his former self with no time to operate and Andy Dalton‘s history of crumbling under pressure had a new chapter written during his five-turnover debacle against the Ravens in Week 1.
Don’t cut bait on players like Odell Beckham Jr. or A.J. Green, but unless the Giants and Bengals offensive lines can miraculously solve their issues, secondary fantasy options on each team could have their fantasy value derailed as the overall effectiveness of both offenses drops off in 2017.