With the first week of fantasy football in the books, it’s now that time when people overreact to their players and either value them too high or too low.
We’re going to go over the week’s studs and duds, and I’m going to tell you whether you should sell as quickly as possible, or ride things out as they return to normal.
I could simply list off the best and worst performers from each position, but let’s keep the draft capital in mind and analyze the value the players’ hold on your team as things stand. I prefer to get the bad news out of the way, so we can end on a positive note and look to dominate Week 2.
The most obvious choice on the list, Saquon Barkley had a rough time against the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense. Running for a mere six yards on 15 attempts is awful, especially considering he was likely one of the top-four players selected in your drafts. The blame for his performance lies more on the ineptitude of his offensive line. On multiple occasions, the Steelers’ outside linebackers were left untouched and got to Barkley as soon as he touched the ball in the backfield. Although this might be hard to believe, Barkley might struggle until Week 5, as his next three games are against very good defensive lines in the Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, and Los Angeles Rams. You never give up on a top-five pick this early in the season, but if the New York Giants’ offensive line doesn’t improve, it might get worse before it gets better.
Mark Ingram II
As shown last year, being the RB1 in the Baltimore Ravens offense produces a lot of fantasy points, but comes with a risk. The Ravens’ rushing attack is the most efficient in the NFL, but if you’re not producing, their offense is built to adapt. Ingram had ten touches for 29 yards, and if that isn’t bad enough, rookie J.K. Dobbins was the one getting the red zone carries. It might not be a bad idea to get what you can for Ingram now, as Dobbins’ usage will only grow. Ingram definitely won’t be scoring 15 touchdowns this year, with all the talent on the Baltimore offense.
The Tom Brady era has officially begun in Tampa, but it didn’t kick off the way most fantasy players would have wanted. Matched up against Marshon Lattimore, Mike Evans was bound to be completely shut out for the second time in three games, until he scored a two-yard touchdown with a little over two minutes to go in the fourth quarter. It’s important to remember Evans drew two pass interference penalties, accounting for 67 yards of missed production. With Chris Godwin in concussion protocol, and a nice match-up against a Carolina Panthers defense that surrendered 34 points to the Las Vegas Raiders, I expect a bounce-back from Evans in Week 2.
Zach Ertz has been the “go-to” guy in the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense for quite some time, but he now has to look over his shoulder with the emergence of Dallas Goedert. Quarterback Carson Wentz has always used his tight-ends as a safety blanket, but with Ertz being the proven commodity and attracting more attention from defenses, Goedert might end up being the better play in the Eagles offense. Considering Ertz was the fourth tight-end off the board and Goedert was often undrafted or picked up as a bench player, it’s hard not to call him a dud considering his floor of targets and receptions has been taken from him.
Finishing the week as the QB19 isn’t the start fantasy owners expected out of Dak Prescott to open the season. Drafted as a top-five fantasy QB and finishing 2019 as the QB2, most people had Prescott slated to have a big day against the Los Angeles Rams, with all the weapons the Dallas Cowboys have on offense. It’s important to remember that, barring a weak offensive pass interference call, Prescott would’ve had Michael Gallup on a 47-yard pass to keep their game-winning drive alive, with more opportunities to put up points. The Cowboys signal-caller also ran for 30 yards on three attempts, so the rushing upside we love out of fantasy quarterbacks is still there in Mike McCarthy’s offense. Don’t overreact on Dak; he’ll be a top-ten fantasy quarterback by season’s end, without a doubt.
This article wouldn’t be worth reading if I didn’t put the number-one fantasy producer overall as the leading stud. Josh Jacobs went off against the Panthers, rushing for 93 yards and three touchdowns, while adding another 46 yards through the air on four receptions. Jacobs looks the part of the three-down workhorse we all drafted him for, this season. Considering he was selected at the end of the first or early-second round, he is an absolute contender to be a fantasy league-winner and finish the season as a top-five fantasy RB. His work in the passing game cannot go unnoticed, as the Raiders have been talking all offseason of getting him more involved, and stayed true to their word with six targets in the opening game. That kind of work can be the difference between him being a RB12 and RB1 by year’s end.
Going into the season, there were a lot of questions surrounding the Rams backfield and how they were going to split the touches. After the Darrell Henderson, Jr. injury, it seemed as though rookie Cam Akers was set to get an opportunity to start the season as the RB1 and have a shot at taking over the Rams backfield. After Week 1, I don’t believe there’s any doubt that Malcolm Brown is leading the way. Brown received all of the Rams’ red zone carries, and did well by scoring two touchdowns and finishing the day with 110 yards from scrimmage. Considering he was a free-agent in most fantasy leagues, placing a waiver claim on a player who finished as the RB4 in fantasy scoring is a huge steal.
The breakout year is finally upon us! Calvin Ridley has always been a great WR3/FLEX play through his first two seasons with a lot of touchdown dependency, but it seems he has finally stepped up to earn more targets in the Atlanta Falcons offense. Ridley finished the week with nine receptions for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Considering the Falcons are slated to be in a lot of shoot-outs with their high-powered offense and lackluster defense, Ridley will always be a viable WR2 with tremendous upside. Julio Jones will always be shadowed by the opposing defense’s best corners, so look for Ridley to take advantage of his match-ups with his knack for getting open in the end zone.
Is Josh Allen the best quarterback? No. Is he leading one of the league’s best offenses? No. Is he an absolute unit with exceptional athleticism and rushing ability? ABSOLUTELY. Allen took advantage of a porous New York Jets Defense by rushing for 57 yards and a touchdown last Sunday. Although those aren’t eye-popping numbers, it’s important to remember the scoring difference between yards and touchdowns gained through the air, in comparison to running the ball. Add the fact that Allen had his best passing performance of his career with 312 yards and two touchdowns on a career-high 46 attempts, and you end up with the QB3 for Week 1. Look for him to finish Week 2 in a similar spot, as he takes on a Miami Dolphins team that just let Cam Newton finish as the QB6 against them with designed runs.
Noah Fant took advantage of his opportunity to solidify his role in the Denver Broncos offense with the absence of Courtland Sutton. Fant tallied five receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown. His athleticism was on full display, as he routinely made defenders miss and refused to go down after first contact. Considering he was picked as the TE13 entering the year and finished as the TE3, he could end up having a similar season to Darren Waller’s 2019 if quarterback Drew Lock can continue to improve and get him the ball.