Fantasy Devil’s Advocate: Don’t overreact to Week 1

Brandon Marianne Lee challenges some popular concerns and comments coming out of Week 1.

| 1 month ago
(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Fantasy Devil’s Advocate: Don’t overreact to Week 1

We’ve only seen one week of football, ergo one week of fantasy football, and already assumptions have been made far and wide.

Let’s all come together and agree that you can’t call someone a bust or a stud based on one week of usage. Let’s also accept the fact that some of these teams faced tough defenses and others didn’t even seem to have an opponent. Knowing that a variety of factors affect a game, and that those factors will change week to week is imperative.

But right now, I’m here to poke the beast and play the devil’s advocate. These are things I’m hearing accepted as fantasy truths this week, and I’d like to at least pose the idea that … they aren’t.

“Player X is a bust.”

There were some disappointing performances in Week 1. Some of them have fantasy players running scared.

If your player is now on IR, then you can bite your pillow. That sucks and yes, you’ll have to scramble.

If your player got beaten up (i.e. Russell Wilson or Sammy Watkins), you need to play close attention to your bench, but don’t completely lose your cool. Watkins is seemingly a more severe situation, but none of the players who got hurt lost their talent. They just need to heal and this is a long season.

And I know this sounds conservative, but don’t trade away your studs. You built your team around certain players and we do not have enough information for you to blow up the foundation of your team. This kind of kneejerk reaction rarely leads to a championship. Keep your eye on the prize.

You can check out some detailed, stats-based thoughts in my Relax or Panic column, but here are some initial reactions to some bad performances:

Tyrod Taylor: Don’t stream again until we learn more about Sammy Watkins.

Dak Prescott: You mean the team was conservative when starting two rookies in a home opener against a division rival? Say it isn’t so!

Kirk Cousins: That last interception was garbage, but I actually think Cousins is a buy-low candidate with a terrible defense prime for junk time production. They just didn’t know how bad their defense was until Monday night.

Russell Wilson: Hurt.

Jonathan Stewart: Got 15 carries and averaged 4.4 yards per carry against one of the best defenses in the league. He’ll be fine against other teams.

Duke Johnson: Wait and see how the team looks with Josh McCown.

Todd Gurley: Okay, I’d feel panicky. That team is terrible, but you drafted him. And so did I.

Adrian Peterson: He’s had slow starts before. Still a bell cow.

Devonta Freeman: Was put in terrible situations all day. Better luck next time.

Odell Beckham Jr.: I said a month ago they would try to get their rookie wideout and Mr. Salsa in the end zone against that weak Dallas defense. That happened. Now defenses have to respect the other receivers and Beckham will open up. Enjoy the rest of the season!

Allen Robinson: Still had 15 targets and is the No. 1 guy on the team.

Brandon Marshall: Still getting into sync with Fitzpatrick, but will be fine.

Dez Bryant: They didn’t win. Do you think they’ll lean on Beasley again? No…

Demaryius Thomas: Watch that hip issue, but it was Trevor Siemian’s first NFL start and they played against the Panthers. We knew it would be tough, but on tape, it didn’t look that bad. The turnovers killed them.

Golden Tate: A lot of dink-and-dunk in Detroit. Tate was questionable all week with an ankle injury, so that probably held down his YAC, which is usually his specialty.

Gary Barnidge: Wait and see how the team looks with McCown.

Clive Walford: He wasn’t the starter on the depth chart going into Week 1. The fantasy community can’t will people into roles. Watch to see if his placement on the depth chart changes.

Coby Fleener: He struggled all preseason. That was well-publicized.

Antonio Gates: Worried about his lack of involvement. Not going to lie about that.

Martellus Bennett: Is not Aaron Hernandez. Is a great blocker.

Jared Cook: Is not Jermichael Finley. Is a great blocker.

“Save your waiver position in Week 1.”

If you have a healthy team, I would save my waivers, that’s true. Too many people are desperate and are going to overpay in Week 1 out of necessity. There are a lot of injured players out there, so I get it. If you made it through this week unscathed, I’d save you waiver position and FAAB money.

But if you drafted Keenan Allen or Zach Ertz or Sammy Watkins or any of the number the injured players, then go pick up someone on waivers.

It’s hard to know if a player is “worth it” because each league is different. Someone reached out to me on Twitter and asked if they should pick up Theo Riddick. Yes, he was available! Don’t overpay for unproven talent, but you’ll certainly need to insert yourself into the game. These injuries are real and are affecting top players. It’s a bummer, but it’s true.

“Jeremy Hill is touchdown dependent… and that’s a problem.”

Hill has scored at least one touchdown in six of his last nine games. At some point we need to accept that part of his game is getting the goal line look and you know when you play him, he has to score to get you the fantasy points that you need.

And he will score in 66 percent of those outings. He scored 8 or more fantasy points in eight of his last nine games.

Last week he went up against the stout New York Jets defense and no one expected much from him in terms of fantasy production. They only gave up two rushing touchdowns all last season. Well, sure enough, Hill carried the ball nine times for 31 yards and a touchdown.

You got him in the fourth or fifth round of the draft, so that’s okay. I’m okay with that.

 “Ezekiel Elliott is the next Adrian Peterson.”

Actually, Elliott was fine.

He carried the ball 20 times. Good!

For 51 yards and averaged 2.6 yards per carry. Not so good.

He scored a rushing touchdown. Good!

He caught his lone target for one yard. Not so good.

In other words, he’s a young player with a ton of potential and raw talent. You should feel fine about having him on your team, but you should also take the good with the bad while he’s getting used to being in the NFL.

Should he have been an undisputed first-round pick? Time will tell. But for now, sit tight and let that Dallas offensive line do the work.

“Jimmy Garoppolo will have a tough time leading the Patriots.”

Ah, Bill. It’s black magic. We’ve all accepted that. And it works.

(Yes, maybe this should have run before Week 1, but the point is still true, and there are still Garoppolo/Patriots doubters.)

No one, and I mean literally no one, can create an effective, winning game script like Bill Belichick. In this particular game, he decided to come out of the gate with a bunch of pass plays. Sure, he’d go to LaGarrette Blount, but in his own time. He forced the Cardinals to respect the pass.

On defense he took away the downfield plays. John Brown was rendered ineffective. Although, if you watch the tape, Palmer was to blame on a lot of those throws. His arm strength and accuracy is something to monitor.

In terms of fantasy, this team will use Blount and Edelman. A lot.

Edelman caught all seven of his targets for 66 yards and then carried the ball three times for an additional 16 yards. The fantasy production was modest, but the usage was promising.

Blount carried the ball 21 times for 67 yards and a touchdown. That’s only a 3.2-yard-per-carry stat line, but the real value was controlling the clock and serving as a steady crutch for a new quarterback. It was successful.

“Kickers don’t matter.”

I played in 10 redraft matchups this weekend. And I saw a ton of people with kickers who didn’t play. Yep, kickers who were cut during preseason.

If you play with a kicker, please pay attention to them. You are missing out on points and look/are lazy.

Cody Parkey, no team. Robbie Gould, no team. Kai Forbath, no team. Shayne Graham, no team. Josh Brown, suspended in Week 1.

Ten kickers scored double-digit fantasy points: Dan Bailey, Stephen Gostkowski, Nick Novak, Jason Myers, Blair Walsh, Dustin Hopkins, Matt Bryant, Mike Nugent, Cairo Santos, Adam Vinatieri. Only four tight ends scored double-digit points in standard scoring.

I’m not saying that kickers are more important (or predictable) than tight ends, but I am saying that if you play with kickers you need to pay attention. Points are points.


Brandon Marianne Lee is a PFF Fantasy contributor, a SiriusXM host, co-founder of Her Fantasy Football and was a finalist for FSWA's Newcomer of the Year in 2014.

  • BlueNSilver

    I’m trying to flip Gurley asap. He was my keeper from last year which cost me a 5th rd pick, I was very skeptical about making this move and took me literally until days before the deadline (all offseason to decide) before making him my keeper (I should’ve kept Carr for a 16th rd pick). Gurley is a tremendous talent, but his OL isnt the greatest and even worse NOBODY respects their receivers or QB. Gurley will struggle all season, and what makes it even worse is their moronic staff takes him off the field on 3rd downs (REALLY???). If I can get someone to make a deal I will be selling him

    • Josh Stewart

      The problem with the Rams is their coach/gm. They’ve had some talent. But, they put no effort into their offensive line. It’s shit. But instead of running plays that don’t expose a weak O-Line, they line up in a power I and try to ram it down the enemy team. Which doesn’t work. Then, they have no WRs. The players can’t win early, and drop it often. 6 drops in week 1. But, instead of drafting some WRs and Olineman, they trade away all their picks this year and next year for a 3rd string QB. No QB in this system would succeed. I would never have used a high pick on Gurley lol. Can’t run with a bad Oline against 9 in the box.

      • BlueNSilver

        Exactly. Which is why I “thought” only having to use a 5th rd pick as a keeper in my league would be worth it, but I should’ve learned from last season. And everything you said is 100% correct and exactly what I said. Their coaching is horrific, and FO is a joke. How these clowns get an extension is even more baffling. I just need to hope Gurley has a decent game at home vs Sea and someone will want to trade for him (In my league Im sure one of the 11 other owners who were really high on him will bite)

    • Brandon Marianne Lee

      By the way, are you getting any offers? I’m doing some analysis for our next show and approximating the value-hit Gurley took on Monday night. Thanks!

      • BlueNSilver

        No offers yet but I may start to look in my league to see who might be willing to bite. Honestly since he was my RB1 I can’t just flip him for anyone and will need someone else’s RB1 but that won’t be easy to do with the game he had last night. I think my best bet would be a package deal like DJax and Gurley to a team that has Austin and Lockett as his Wr2, and Wr3. His Backs are Forte and L.Murray, so might try to swing a Forte/(anyone else on his team) Im stacked at WR and TE, for Gurley/Djax.

        • Brandon Marianne Lee

          Yeah, I’d pair up for better results. Good luck!

          • BlueNSilver

            So to get back to you on this. One owner has been discussing a package deal of Doug Martin/Will Fuller for Gurley, or Jeremy Langford/Eric Decker package for Gurley. Haven’t decided yet on which, might wait a little also to see who else comes knocking :)

          • Brandon Marianne Lee

            Yes, I think both of theses offers are good. Langford is the bell cow. He’s not very dynamic, but he’ll get the opportunities. Decker is reliable. And a TD monster. Martin and Fuller have upside. Both offers contain starters.

  • Andrew Gunter

    How Jeff Fisher is still the coach for the Rams is befuddling. I’m sure he’s a good guy, but he hasn’t had a winning season since 2008!!! I have heard he is getting an extension. Too bad I’m not a 49ers, Cardinals, or Seahawks fan. I’d embrace that with open arms. I am a fan of Gurley and Donald and hate to see years in their prime go to waste. Until they can throw, defenses will just crowd the box. And while Gurley is great, he can’t run over every guy on the defense. Oh, and paying Tavon Austin….not so smart. He’s not going to get 400 yds rushing ever again. And he’s never had more that 500 yds receiving. Why did they pay him again?

  • Clark Addison

    Take on Fleener here is useless, and disingenuous. Yes, he struggled in pre-season. But PFF and others had him ranked as high at TE4 in draft rankings. So – are his struggles permanent? Temporary? Situation based? Talent based? Matchup based? Those are the insights we look for from PFF. Not snark.

    • Brandon Marianne Lee

      It’s a quick hit. Clearly. And if you look at the rankings, I didn’t have him ranked that high the whole preseason, so I can’t tell you what others were thinking when they made their projections. I will tell you that his lack of production will go up as he learns the playbook and starts clicking with the team. The slow time table is concerning, but this isn’t an attribute that you will find in the box score except that he played in 56 of the 71 total offensive snaps.

    • goose

      THANK you. I criticized this writer for the same thing in another article and everyone jumped down my throat for being overly critical. There needs to be more substance, insight, reasoning. I’d say I agree with like half of these takes–a lot of them are on the money and exactly what owners need to hear, but then some of them are just totally useless. I’m sorry but it’s just frustrating to read.

      Example: RE Dez– Are you implying that Dak was intentionally leaning on Beasley as opposed to Dez, and since they lost the game, we’re gunna see more Dez next game instead? That’s just not at all how it works… They always wanna get Dez the ball, he just gets a lot of attention. Beasley played well, he was getting open. That’s a good thing for the Cowboys, not a bad thing.

      • Brandon Marianne Lee

        Hello, again. These are one or two sentence quick takes on the players causing concern, right after I say not to overreact to Week 1. This is a summary piece. If you want more detail, there are a variety of great write ups on the site. Please, check them out! Great stuff. Thanks for reading.

        • goose

          I’m not criticizing the volume of each take, I’m criticizing the utility of them. I think that’s what Addison was saying too. Like if I wrote a piece ranking all the writers on PFF, and next your name I wrote, “not a big fan”. Wouldn’t you be frustrated that there’s nothing useful to be gleaned from that? And then if my response to your frustration was “it was just a quick take, ask someone else if you want more”, would you be satisfied?

          • Brandon Marianne Lee

            If it was a quick take of one or two sentences, that would work. I’m not looking for deep analysis with major insights from a quick take. As a reader, I would get the point from your statement. This site is full of deeper dives. Great ones! This particular piece is a summary. And free. Much of our deeper stat dives are behind the paywall by design. Context is important. But again, thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I appreciate it.