Fantasy stats to know from Week 1
Each week in this space, we’ll be taking a look back at Sunday’s games to find five of the most important stats for fantasy owners heading into the following week. With 13 of 15 games from Week 1 in the books, here are the five stats you need to know:
1. Over Todd Gurley’s last 16 games, he’s totaled 890 yards on 282 carries (3.16 yards per carry). If over a full 16-game season, this would rank third-worst all-time in yards per carry average.
Gurley saw 19 carries on Sunday for just 40 yards rushing, and was our fourth-worst-graded runner of the day. Gurley’s efficiency numbers were bad, but he was productive enough for your fantasy teams thanks to a five-yard touchdown run and heavy volume as a receiver. It was a dream spot for Gurley, at home up against an Indianapolis Colts defense that allowed the second-worst yards per carry (4.82) to opposing running backs last season, and still, he was dreadful. Volume is king at the running back position, but at the same time, inefficient players tend not to carry high-volume roles for very long. After busting in such an ideal spot on Sunday, if I owned Gurley on any teams, I’d be in a frantic panic looking to sell, taking anything anywhere close to what I paid in ADP.
2. Last regular season, the Atlanta Falcons allowed 13.0 rushing fantasy points per game (17th-most) and 14.5 receiving fantasy points per game (most) to opposing running backs. In the postseason, running back James White recorded 31 receiving fantasy points against the Falcons and helped lead his team to a Super Bowl victory. On Sunday, they allowed 23.1 receiving fantasy points to Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, and could have given up even more had Howard not dropped an end-zone target.
The significance is twofold:
- We should have already known Howard was due for a regression on the 46 targets he saw in his breakout rookie campaign. He posted the worst drop rate in the league last season (21.6), which was almost double the next-closest running back (Fozzy Whitaker‘s 13.8). The team also hinted at this in the offseason when signing pass-catching specialist Benny Cunningham and drafting Cohen in the fourth round. That said, I’m sure no one expected Cohen to lead the team in targets this week with 11 — five more than the next-closest Bears receiver.
While Howard is likely in more of a committee now than he was in last year, I wouldn’t panic too much regarding his fantasy potential. It’s possible the Bears just saw this as a glaring weak spot in the Atlanta defense and attacked it with the player who fit that mold best. However, even if that’s all it is, I’d still try to be aggressive in an attempt to land Cohen off of waivers. With Kevin White suffering a fractured collarbone on Sunday, the Bears are quickly running out of quality receivers, and Cohen may continue to play a large role in the offense without eating too much into Howard’s ceiling.
- Ty Montgomery appears to be a strong play against the Falcons in Week 2. On Sunday, he played 74 of 82 snaps for the Packers, totaling 19 of 21 carries, and drawing all four of the team’s running back targets. The former wide receiver turned running back could be a matchup nightmare for this opposing defense. Montgomery saw only three carries and one target in their last contest, but was forced to leave the game early with a rib injury.
3. Julio Jones caught four of five targets for just 66 yards against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. He ran 29 routes with just three coming in the slot (zero targets). Last season, under Kyle Shanahan, Jones ran 25.9 percent of his routes from the slot and was frequently moved around the line of scrimmage to create favorable matchups.
My takeaway here has less to do with Jones than it does the Chicago pass defense. The Bears defense played in cover-six at the highest rate in the league last season, and managed to shut down WR1s at an incredible rate.
Bears did a great job of shutting down WR1s last season. Julio’s chances of a big day may come down to how often Sark gets him into the slot pic.twitter.com/9Kl6rtT1kQ
— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) September 3, 2017
This is likely what stifled Jones in Week 1. It’s not a given the Bears sell-out to stop Mike Evans in Week 2, after they’ve added some complementary pieces this offseason, but as it stands, I’m bumping Evans down in my rankings this week and upping my exposure to DeSean Jackson in DFS.
4. DeAndre Hopkins saw 15 targets, catching seven for 55 yards and a touchdown. Deshaun Watson threw 23 passes, completing 12 for 102 yards and a touchdown. Hopkins accounted for over 47 percent of Watson’s total pass attempts and yards, as well as his lone passing touchdown.
Hopkins was productive for fantasy owners in a down week, but not very efficient. He also had the misfortune of being covered by A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey (our No. 6- and No. 22-highest-graded cornerbacks last year) on 93 percent of his targets. Hopkins draws another tough matchup this week against the Cincinnati Bengals, but with similar volume he could surely rise above it. With Watson seeming to only have eyes for Hopkins, and who excelled in college throwing jump balls to a wide receiver of a similar profile (Mike Williams), Hopkins gets a significant bump if Watson draws the start.
5. Among all receivers on Sunday, rookie wide receiver Kenny Golladay ranked third in end-zone targets and seventh in yards in air. He ended his day catching four of seven passes for 69 yards and two scores.
Golden Tate was the Lions’ most productive wide receiver on Sunday, but it was Golladay who is garnering all the buzz. All offseason fantasy analysts questioned who would take over Anquan Boldin’s valuable role as Detroit’s top red-zone target. Among all receivers last season, Boldin ranked second in targets inside the 5-yard line, seventh in targets inside the 20-yard line, and ninth in touchdowns. However, it was Marvin Jones who led the team and ranked 16th in yards in air and 27th in end-zone targets. In his NFL debut, Golladay appeared to supplant both receivers from their former roles.
Golladay is the biggest wide receiver on the roster by two inches and 15 pounds, so it does make some sense he would take over Boldin’s role near the end zone. Jones did lead all Detroit wide receivers in snaps with 68, while Golladay had 44. He also out-targeted Jones seven to two. After a woeful 2016 season for Jones, it might not be too long before Golladay supplants Jones for the starting job in 2WR sets. Golladay should be a priority add across your leagues.