Join in as we investigate numbers, news and notions that affect fantasy footballers.
In the opening weekend of the NFL’s 2018 season, we witnessed three 400-yard passers, a weather delay for the ages, and several fantasy performances to match.
As an honorable mention: While Michael Thomas’ 16 catches warrant admiration, there’s nothing to say but “wow.” It also will bring out the anti-PPR boo-birds in full chorus.
17 touches: The even split of 15 carries apiece between Denver Broncos rookie running backs Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay was a shocker. We heard plenty of noise about Lindsay during training camp and the preseason, but no one envisioned his workload would actually outpace the highly touted Freeman’s share. If there is a silver lining, Freeman played on two more downs (28-26). The two backs couldn’t have more contrasting styles, and gamers should expect plenty of hot-hand scenarios between the pair. Lindsay is an absolute must-add waiver target for RB-starved owners. Don’t give up on Freeman after one game.
48: The number of offensive snaps logged by Bucs WR Chris Godwin in Week 1. DeSean Jackson played 20 of the 66 offensive snaps, good for just 30 percent of the action compared to 70 percent for the second-year Godwin. D-Jax can house it any time he gets his hands on the rock, but Godwin should be the more consistent fantasy option, despite the veteran speedster outdoing him 5-146-2 to 3-41-1. Check your waiver wire in case your league mates were sleeping on the up-and-comer.
12.6: The average yards per play generated by Los Angeles Chargers change-up running back Austin Ekeler against the Kansas City Chiefs. He produced 39 rushing yards on just five handles and added a generous 87 yards and a score through the air on his five receptions. He contributed sparingly in 2017 but was effective when called upon. Gamers should expect PPR flex value all year.
Baltimore Ravens TE Nick Boyle was targeted six times, converting three for 40 yards. While Hunter Hurst (foot) recovers and eventually is slow to work his way into the lineup as he gets up to speed, Boyle could be a sly fantasy addition for owners in need of depth or having to replace Delanie Walker or Greg Olsen. It won’t be the trio of new receivers finding the end zone every week.
156.2: Somehow Tampa Bay interim passer Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 75 percent of his throws for 417 yards and four touchdowns — without an INT — and he still didn’t have perfect passer rating of 158.3 Lame.
Everything from the Tennessee Titans-Miami Dolphins contest … ignore any statistical takeaway one could forge from such a game. The multiple, massive lightning delays disrupted any kind of rhythm and chemistry. Look, teams have to deal with things out of their control, but this one was so wild of a deviation from the norm that it can officially be chalked up as an aberration.
Minnesota Vikings wideout Stefon Diggs is a tease … yep, I said it. Three catches, 43 yards, and a touchdown that salvaged some value for owners, but even with a new quarterback in town, he continues to play second fiddle to the more well-rounded Adam Thielen. The fluke here is that people legitimately bought into the hype that after a few inconsistently good games in the last two years, Diggs somehow was poised to become a star receiver.
Goose egg: Veteran Buffalo Bills tight end Charles Clay caught zero passes on two targets against the Baltimore Ravens. It’s hard to blame him entirely, if at all, when the Bills had less than 25 yards of offense in the first half. Quarterback Nathan Peterman was supposed to be the smarter choice as the starter over rookie Josh Allen. Completing five of his 18 attempts for an unheard of 24 yards (1.8 per ATTEMPT!!!), Peterman was sent to the bench (likely forever), and the Allen era presumably has officially begun. The Chargers are formidable against tight ends, so keep Clay in reserve next week, but don’t drop him just yet.
48 points allowed: New Orleans Saints defense simply is not that bad. This team has last five straight openers, which speaks more to the coaching than the personnel. It may have been caught off-guard or was snoozing, but there is still plenty of hope. In Week 1, the effort was nothing short of atrocious. There’s just too much defensive talent on the roster to expect consistently poor results. However, they go from a fringe No. 1 defense to a streaming consideration. Up next: Cleveland visits.
My gut says the perfect storm has been created to see a Pittsburgh Steelers-San Francisco 49ers trade for Le’Veon Bell. A few factors to consider: The Niners lost their prized free-agent running back in Jerick McKinnon on the eve of the NFL season, and while Alfred Morris-Matt Breida combo can be serviceable, neither is, nor both are, Le’Veon Bell. The 49ers have plenty of cap space to absorb a big deal this year and will have approximately $60 million freed up, without accounting for releasing a few possible expected cuts, according to Spotrac.com. James Conner gave Pittsburgh confidence in his ability, whereas Morris’ so-so results — albeit with a tough matchup — give incentive to find more explosiveness.
The Buccaneers really should stick with Ryan Fitzpatrick when Jameis Winston returns from suspension. After the 2018 season, Winston is due slightly south of $21 million in base salary. No guaranteed money. No dead cap. No commitments. … Tampa should trade him during the season, get anything reasonable in return, use Ryan Griffin as the backup, and cut its losses. Winston’s fantasy owners should be thinking the same thing … put him on the market and take what you can get.
Adrian Peterson looks lean and mean. An injury is always a concern, but he’s out to prove his critics wrong. Ride the wave as long as it lasts.
Doug Baldwin’s sprained medial collateral ligament means he has two balky knees and no immediate prognosis. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s BFF should miss a month or so, and the injury makes Brandon Marshall relevant again. He landed three of his six looks for 46 yards and a touchdown and actually had a second one called back for an disassociated penalty. The feeling here is when an opening presents itself, gamers would be foolish to dwell on the past two years of Marshall’s substandard play. Add him and expect modest returns as long as Baldwin is shelved.