Fantasy football Roundtable: Are David Wilson's owners in trouble?
Which surprise players emerged in Week 1? What were some moments in Week 1 about which fantasy owners should be worried? Which players should owners start shopping around? Our fantasy experts Michael Beller and Brian Flood discuss in this week's fantasy roundtable.
1. What three "uh-oh" moments most caught your attention most during Week 1?
Beller: Easily topping this list was David Wilson's second fumble. He fumbled early in Week 1 last year and didn't get out of Tom Couglin's doghouse until November. We can talk about the overreaction of benching a guy because of a fumble (I don't like it at all) some other time, but the good news for Wilson's owners is that the Giants don't really have any other options this season. They're bringing in Brandon Jacobs and Willis McGahee for workouts, but even if they sign one, Wilson will still be the man. Now he just has to do something this week that gets him back in Coughlin's good graces.
Second would be the no-show from Lamar Miller. Three rushing yards on 10 carries and 10 total yards certainly wasn't what Miller's owners expected out of the guy who was likely their fourth-round pick. However, there's a silver lining here, too. First, the Browns have a very good defense, and Miller won't be the only back to struggle against them this year. Second, Daniel Thomas didn't show up either, so it's not like we should expect Miller to take a backseat this week. You should still plan on deploying him as usual.
The third was the lack of explosive plays from the Patriots. We're used to Tom Brady and Co. ripping off huge chunks of yardage, but those plays just weren't there in the passing game. Danny Amendola left in the second quarter with a groin injury, though he did return and finish with 10 receptions for 104 yards. Kenbrell Thompkins caught four of the 14 passes thrown his way. Brady ended the day with just 5.5 yards per attempt. Perhaps the greatest uh-oh moment for the Patriots came Monday when word broke that Shane Vereen broke his wrist. Rob Gronkowski can't return soon enough.
Flood: As someone who owns Dez Bryant in numerous leagues, I yelled a lot more than just "uh-oh" when it looked like he broke his ankle on Sunday night. It appears he only has a mild sprain, but I'm petrified. Also, I agree with Beller -- another "uh oh" moment was when David Wilson fumbled the first time. I practically expected his second fumble, since I was so annoyed with him. Finally, watching Chip Kelly's offense on Monday night. The Eagles' explosiveness was completely unexpected, and many owners may have underrated the Eagles' offense this season.
2. Will Maurice Jones-Drew be in for a long season?
Beller: The last few years there has been a risk inherent in drafting Jones-Drew since he's part of a historically bad offense. That risk looked greater than ever against the Chiefs on Sunday. You could choose from a litany of facts to sum up the Jaguars' futility, but my favorite is that they didn't cross midfield until the fourth quarter.
Let's take a deep breath, though. MoJo has been on terrible offenses before and still put up huge numbers. In 2011, the Jags went 5-11 and were 28th in the league with 15.2 points per game, yet Jones-Drew was the rushing champ, racking up 1,606 yards and eight touchdowns. He added another 374 yards and three scores through the air. Sunday was a rough game against an improved team. MJD will be fine.
Flood: MJD's deal included $17.5 million in guaranteed money, so I'm not losing any sleep for him. But for his fantasy owners, yes, they're in for a long season. Jones-Drew is not only coming off Lisfranc surgery, but also playing in a terrible offense that will typically be behind in games. MJD could be a nice value pick next season when he's over a year removed from surgery, and Teddy Bridgewater is his quarterback. The only positive thing the Jaguars have going for them in 2013 are those cool new matte black and gold helmets.
3. Which players might you start already shopping?
Beller: Everyone can smell a sell-high deal a mile away. If you're going to make a deal after week one, you have to bring something legitimate to the table. On the flip side, you're never going to get fair value for someone like David Wilson, an early-to-middle round guy who struggled this week. One of my favorite sell-now guys is the aforementioned Amendola. He had a great statistical game, and if anything his value should be higher now than it was before the season. At the same time, he's already dealing with a groin issue, and it's going to be a challenge for him to make big plays in the offense.
Another guy I'd think about shopping is Eddie Lacy. Admittedly, I did not like him at all coming into the season. I simply did not trust that a back who was likely to be a non-factor in the passing game. Now he did catch a 31-yard-pass on Sunday, but the more telling number is he had just two targets. The Niners are a very tough matchup, so it's not even the 2.9 yards per carry I'm really holding against Lacy. I just don't see the Packers giving him enough carries on a regular basis to be a reliable fantasy starter. Sure, he'll have a few good fantasy games this year, but he won't be the kind of guy you can plug into your lineup with confidence. Play up the fact that he scored against the stout Niners defense and try to swing a deal this week.
Flood: Do not sell low on a player you loved last week. If you thought David Wilson was the next elite fantasy running back three days ago, don't ruin your season by trading him for 50 cents on the dollar. Never trade a player for less than his draft-day value until at least after Week 4. If anything, buy low on players that will obviously bounce back. If someone offers you Julian Edelman for a first-round pick that didn't produce in Week 1, it means he or she thinks you're an inferior owner. It's too early to give up on anyone, but I will say Lamar Miller really scares me -- I wouldn't want him starting for my fantasy team.
4. Knowshon Moreno started for the Broncos, Ronnie Hillman played sparingly and Montee Ball finally graced the field with the Broncos attempting to seal the game in the fourth quarter. After one week, do you trust any of these guys?
Beller: Yes, I still trust Ball. Look, the fact that he made his first appearance as the Broncos were trying to take as much time off the clock should tell you whom they believe is their best runner. As we heard all preseason, he's still shaky in pass protection, and that's priority No. 1 for a back in Denver. I trust that he will continue to get better, and when he proves himself capable of consistently picking up his assignments, he'll get enough playing time to make an impact in fantasy leagues. I'm not starting him this week, but then again I'm not starting any Bronco running back this week. Despite Moreno being the starter, though, Ball is the only one I want to own.
Flood: I do not trust any of these guys. Ball is the only one with the potential to be trusted eventually. If he were in a different offense, I'd love him. But until further notice this is a situation to avoid for fantasy purposes. Hypothetically, if a different team drafted Ball -- say the Steelers or Giants -- he would have been a third-round fantasy pick with enormous upside. The Broncos simply throw too often inside the red zone. Also, keep in mind the games John Fox played in Carolina at the running back position. If you have three running backs, you don't have any.
5. Before you go and spend your entire FAAB budget on Terrelle Pryor, a friendly reminder that Mark Sanchez went 19-of-27 for 266 yards with three touchdowns and an interception in Week 1 last year. Having said that, which surprise Week 1 star are you buying?
Beller: He didn't quite have a star performance, but one under-the-radar guy I'm really trusting after Week 1 is DeAngelo Williams. Even without Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril, the Seahawks have one of the best defensive fronts in the league. Williams ran for 86 yards on 17 carries and had the Panthers knocking on the door late before losing a fumble on the Seahawks' 8-yard-line. With Jonathan Stewart on the PUP list, Williams is the only show in town. Mike Tolbert will spell him from time to time, but Williams will be a true workhorse for the Panthers. He's a strong weekly flex play in 12-team leagues.
Flood: The NFL is a copycat league. That's a cliché statement, but it's true. The new trend is athletic, tall, versatile tight ends that catch a lot of touchdowns. Jared Cook, Jordan Cameron and Julius Thomas are for real. Even Kellen Winslow could make a fantasy impact. Tight end is suddenly a very deep position. I'd spend big money on any of the sexy, high-upside tight ends if you're starting a vanilla option such as Jermaine Gresham or waiting on Gronk or Heath Miller to return.
6. What is your take on the four teams that played Monday night?
Beller: Can I just talk about the Eagles instead of addressing all four teams that played? Man, was that fun. Right off the bat, I think we need to recalibrate our expectations for LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson. McCoy could very well be the top player in fantasy in this offense, and Jackson looks reborn. Michael Vick looked electric for most of the night, but he took some big shots and limped around at one point during the game, reminding everyone why he's such a risky fantasy player even when he's lighting up the scoreboard. And if I could make a personal plea on behalf of football fans, please don't throw blocks around, Mike. The league is a lot more fun with you playing.
I'd chalk up most of the Redskins' struggles to a rusty Robert Griffin III. He turned it around in the second half, and ended up giving his owners a nice fantasy line of 329 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. However, I remain worried about Alfred Morris. Prior to the season, I thought the reduced threat of Griffin as a runner would have an adverse effect on the second-year back. He had a career-low 45 yards last night, picking up fewer than four yards per carry for the fifth time in his career. I'm not expecting this team to be the fireworks show it was in 2012.
Why is there a large subset of the fantasy community that stays away from Andre Johnson? Is it because he's boring to pick? Because of his injury history? Because of the surprising lack of touchdowns? I suppose it's a combination of the three, and perhaps a few other factors, but all the guy does is produce. As we expected, the most interesting part of this offense from a fantasy perspective was the breakdown of touches between Arian Foster and Ben Tate. The latter did the same amount of damage with half the carries, but the fact remains that Foster had 18 totes and six catches on eight targets. You can believe that Tate is the better runner all you want, but Foster is the man so long as he's healthy.
Don't let the four touchdown passes fool you. Philip Rivers is no more a viable starting fantasy quarterback now than he was a week ago. The more important numbers are 48.2 and 6.7. That would be his completion percentage and yards per attempt, respectively. Ryan Mathews ran for 33 yards on 13 carries, and no one had more than three receptions. These are not the Chargers of old. You should not be buying this fantasy offense.
Flood: I believe in Chip Kelly and think the Eagles offense, as a unit, is for real. Philadelphia could lead the NFL in scoring, so don't sleep on kicker Alex Henery either. Griffin looks rusty and, if he were my starting fantasy quarterback, I'd make sure I had a capable backup. I'd even bench him in Week 2 for Terrelle Pryor against the Jaguars.
I have a gut feeling that Ben Tate will finish the season with more fantasy points than Arian Foster. Oh, remember Andre Johnson? He's still elite. Owners that snagged him as their third or fourth best fantasy player are in very good shape. Ryan Mathews was typically among the last starting running backs to be selected in fantasy drafts, and last night showed why. Mathews will need to do better than 2.5 yards per carry if he's to stay relevant in fantasy circles.
MORE WEEK 2 FANTASY FOOTBALL CONTENT:
BELLER: Fantasy football Week 2 player projections
STAFF: Week 2 Composite Player Rankings
GONOS: Week 2 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
BELLER: Best NFL survivor pool picks for Week 2
FLOOD: Waiver wire -- Julius Thomas, Julian Edelman worth a pickup
McQUADE: Risers and Sliders -- Terrelle Pryor, Geno Smith worth stashing
BELLER, FLOOD: Roundtable -- Are David Wilson's owners in trouble?
BELLER: Fantasy football Fast Forward -- The NFL is back with a wacky Week 1