Don't Go Chasing Week 1 Trends
Week 1 is celebrated around the country as the return of football. It’s also infamous for being Overreaction Week.
Witness Week 1 last season. Shonn Greene (94 rushing yards, touchdown) looked like a fantasy horse. Kevin Ogletree was among the hottest waiver wire pickups after his shocking 114-yard, two-touchdown debut. And no one was willing to pin the hopes of their fantasy team on Russell Wilson’s shoulders after a loss to the Cardinals.
So what happened after that? Greene collected 97 rushing yards in his next three games combined. Ogletree failed to score again until Week 9. And Wilson went on to have one of the finest rookie QB fantasy seasons ever.
That will be this week’s theme: trying to separate ourselves from one misleading set of games. Do we crow at the shockingly bad performances of the Dolphins’ Lamar Miller or the Giants’ David Wilson? Should we sweat Cam Newton’s slow start or relish in what Terrelle Pryor did? What about one-catch Mike Wallace and 140-yard Jerome Simpson?
Read on for Week 2’s Starts and Sits.
Start: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
In case you were concerned about Newton’s slow start last season coming to fruition again, or that new offensive coordinator Mike Shula won’t figure out how best to feature him, please reconsider. All things equal, the Bills—Newton’s opponent this week—fared quite well against Tom Brady and the Patriots. But the Panthers have short, intermediate and deep threats to use at running back, receiver and tight end, something the Patriots lacked for most of Week 1. Expect a more diverse attack, and better results, from Newton against this shorthanded secondary.
Benoit Says: “Like he did far too often in 2012, Cam Newton left a lot of open receivers on the field this past Sunday. In 2012, he had a tendency to be erratic in his accuracy when targeting open receivers; last week, he too often failed to even target open receivers. Newton must learn to come off his initial reads quicker when they're covered, otherwise he'll continue to not see receivers who come open at the back end of his progressions."
Sit: Terrelle Pryor, QB, Oakland Raiders
Pryor actually outscored, depending on your format, quite a few fantasy luminaries in Week 1—Drew Brees, Robert Griffin III, Matthew Stafford and others. With the Jaguars and their shaky defense heading three time zones west, you’d assume automatic start, right?
Well, here’s the thing: The Jaguars didn’t let Alex Smith go nuts against them in Week 1, and you starting Pryor likely means you’d be benching your true starter. Let’s just hang out a few weeks before we assume he’s the next running-QB darling, shall we?
Sit: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins
It’s easy to say that the Colts were gashed on the ground by the Raiders in Week 1, but a closer look shows that they contained Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings and really only had trouble with Pryor’s scrambling.
Those are two different types of run defending. Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill won’t offer that same threat, and it was a shootout the last time these teams met in Indy last season between Tannehill and Andrew Luck. Expect a similar type of game. The Dolphins obviously want Miller to get going, but if he’s boxed in, they won’t be afraid to go to Daniel Thomas again. Miller has game-breaking ability, but it won’t show itself here on Sunday. Look for other options.
Benoit Says: "Miller split the snaps with Daniel Thomas in Week 1. He showed marked improvements in all phases as a pass-blocker, which means he'll continue to get playing time. He was unproductive on the ground because he doesn't have the quickness or explosiveness to overcome an offensive line that lacks the necessary athletes for a zone-running scheme."
Start: David Wilson, RB, New York Giants
Wilson committed a few big sins in the loss at Dallas, namely fumbling the ball twice and missing badly on a pass-protection assignment that got Eli Manning crunched. That has not put Wilson in Tom Coughlin’s good graces. But what choice do the Giants have? They’re not turning the ball over to Da’Rel Scott again, and they have a lot invested in Wilson—they know they need him to come up big until the insurance of Andre Brown returns in a few weeks hopefully.
Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce had little success against the Broncos’ defense that Wilson will face, so this is not a strong recommendation, but don’t be surprised if Wilson breaks at least one big run and earns his fantasy value in some form this week.
Start: Mike Wallace, WR, Miami Dolphins
Wallace was visibly upset in the locker room following the Dolphins Week 1 victory over the Browns in which he had one catch (for 15 yards) on five targets. For $60 million, this is not what Miami was hoping for. In theory, as long as others are producing, Wallace’s value can come as a decoy—but that’s a pretty expensive diversionary tactic. The coaches know they must find a way to hit him downfield a few times per game, and the Colts’ secondary might be ripe for the picking. Wallace has shown in the past the ability to put up some startlingly big games in contests such as these, so even though it could be a somewhat frustrating season overall, this might be a good spot to stick by him.
Sit: Jerome Simpson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Wide receiver is a position fantasy owners love to mine from the waiver wire, plug and play. It makes sense, as there often is a dearth at the position, so when a player comes seemingly out of nowhere, it’s common to see people jump on players such as Simpson, who had seven big grabs for 140 yards at Detroit.
Don’t fall for that trap. Simpson has been a painfully inconsistent player since his Cincinnati days, and the Vikings hope Cordarrelle Patterson eventually can handle more of a chunk of the passing game. Plus, the Bears are the type of disciplined defense that can stymie a player such as Simpson; after all, he had a miserable game at Soldier Field a year ago, if you remember. This one doesn’t pass the sniff test at all.
Week 2 Survivor Draft
I felt good about my team heading into Monday Night Football. Then DeSean Jackson got a few too many fantasy points and cost me the game. All in all, it was a nice week for Eric and me, but alas, close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and nuclear war. It was a good showing for Team Miglio, and my “take them before they get injured” strategy panned out, given Danny Amendola is already going to miss a game.
Licking my wounds, I decided to take advantage of two guys whose fantasy value will likely die in subsequent weeks. Julian Edelman and Zach Sudfeld should have big roles this week—yes, even though Sudfeld put up a big fat goose egg last week—with Amendola likely out and Shane Vereen on short-term IR. Unless the Patriots plan on running the ball 40 times, Sudfeld has to get some run in the passing game.
I also expect bounce-back weeks from Cam Newton—as noted above—and James Jones, who has a nice matchup against the Washington secondary. Here’s to hoping Team Miglio has a bounce-back week, too.
This is the second weekly draft we’ve conducted, and strategy is becoming more focused. For instance, I had second and third picks, and instead of taking Rodgers and McCoy, I should have taken Rodgers and Edelman. I thought I could wait on him. Great call by Alex, who recognized (a) the favorable matchup against the Jets and (b) considering the format of this league, the fact that Edelman might not be a starting-caliber fantasy wideout more than a handful of times this season. Nice steal there.
I knew I had to get Rodgers, but I am now questioning my McCoy pick slightly. He clearly was the star of the Eagles’ Week 1 victory, and I am now thinking the Chargers will do everything they can to sell out and stop him. He’s the clear engine of the offense. I picked him for that reason, and for the fact that a heavy workload could wear him down over time. We shall see which approach proves most fruitful.