Week 1 was wacky, wild, often offensively challenged, and provided us with many shocks to what we thought. Young players in new roles emerged, and it’s time to incorporate what we just saw into our thoughts and opinions on players.
The Waiver Wire recommendations will run at 8 p.m. ET every Tuesday, so you can check for the full recommendations on guys likely available tonight.
Tarik Cohen isn’t going away
Tarik Cohen took the NFL by storm on Sunday, totaling 93 yards, scoring on a catch and run, and making big play after big play.
While Jordan Howard is still the primary between-the-tackles guy, Cohen will still be very valuable in PPR leagues. The Bears don’t have wide receivers. Cameron Meredith got hurt in the preseason, and Kevin White did not make it through the game. While he won’t get 12 targets each week (he trails only DeAndre Hopkins, Randall Cobb, Larry Fitzgerald, and Amari Cooper), he will be a big part of the Bears passing game while also adding rush attempts.
Cohen, tight end Zach Miller, and Jordan Howard made up 23 of the 40 targets in the passing game, and I don’t expect that to change given the injuries at receiver.
What to make of the quarterback leaderboard?
Here are the top 8 QBs by fantasy points after one week (using 20 yards passing, 6 points for all TDs):
- Alex Smith
- Matthew Stafford
- Sam Bradford
- Trevor Siemian
- Derek Carr
- Carson Wentz
- Philip Rivers
- Tyrod Taylor
Of those, only Derek Carr was being drafted in the top 12 at the position (8th QB taken on average). I just checked one of my 12-team leagues and the only two on that list that were started this week were Carr and Siemian (by the guy who had taken Luck and had Cutler, picking him up out of desperation).
My gut is it’s a mix of randomness, matchups, and some unexpected guys stepping up who could become this year’s surprises. Alex Smith has weapons in Hunt, Kelce and Hill (and the Patriots defense was bad). Bradford had an improved line and a second year, and drew a great matchup. Siemian isn’t a brand name but is probably a QB2 going forward and seems to have that job on lock down. Stafford has healthier backs and Kenny Golladay. Many of the top quarterbacks had tougher matchups (Rodgers-Seattle; Brees-Minnesota).
Bold prediction: Javorius Allen and Terrance West won’t get 40 combined rush attempts again.
Javorius Allen went from afterthought to one of the leading rushers in week 1, thanks to an early injury to Danny Woodhead and a game where the Ravens led throughout and the Bengals could not score. But don’t expect that many attempts going forward.
There were two games in all of 2016 where a team had the running backs get 40 combined carries: Atlanta and New Orleans both against San Francisco. Both also involved comfortable wins where the teams played it safe with a big lead.
While we await Woodhead injury news, Allen is a flex option, just don’t go overboard.
Charles Clay may be the only Buffalo Bill not named LeSean McCoy worth rostering
Buffalo traded away Sammy Watkins and the starting receivers, playing with a running/low pass volume quarterback, are rookie Zay Jones and Jordan Matthews, just acquired in trade.
After one week, it looks like Charles Clay, who is likely available, is the one to own. He led the team with 9 targets (no one else had more than 4). Here’s a summary of the top 10 guys in terms of % of targets among the top 4 WR/TE on each team:
Running Back Usage Breakdowns
Here’s a breakdown of the percentage of total touches, adding up the top 3 running backs/fullbacks on each team by rush attempts + receptions. I categorized them by Feature Back (one back got 65% or more of touches), Semi-Feature (one back got more than 50% and less than 65%, no other individual back got more than 35%), Duo (two backs combined for 90%+ of touches, but neither had 65%+), and Platoon (three backs, all with more than 10% and less than 50% of touches).
My thoughts on this list:
- Ty Montgomery is the man in Green Bay as long as healthy, should be in your lineup;
- Mike Tolbert is a sneaky veteran handcuff in case of a LeSean McCoy injury because you know Buffalo is going to run the ball a lot;
- Ameer Abdullah had a disappointing day, but the usage shows a guy closer to a feature back than a platoon. Riddick was used as a receiver, while Washington got the carries when a spell was needed;
- Kelley was the guy when Washington ran, and Samaje Perine was not a factor at all;
- Stewart played a bigger role because the Panthers were a big favorite and played with the lead throughout against the 49ers. I would expect McCaffrey to be more consistent in his usage than Stewart;
- I already talked about how I think Mike Gillislee is a sell-high candidate after his 3 touchdown game. Unless you think he’s getting 20+ touchdowns rushing I don’t see how he gets the yards to put him in the top 20 at season’s end on a per-game basis.
- Don’t give up on Joe Mixon yet, but I would not start him until that situation shakes out in Cincinnati;
- Do give up on Eddie Lacy, Carson surpassed him and Thomas Rawls probably will soon as well, while CJ Prosise is still a factor in the muddled Seahawks backfield.
- Adrian Peterson is in “close to give up” category. Alvin Kamara got a lot of work, and the aging star who doesn’t realize he isn’t as good anymore and can’t function as a receiver is a bad combo if he’s not the man. If there’s another week against the Patriots where he is 3rd in touches, then go ahead and move on.
- Marlon Mack might have gotten as many touches as Frank Gore because of how that game went, but Mack was in early, and it’s notable because the entirety of Gore’s fantasy value has been because he was the only one carrying the ball with the Colts the last two years.