Fluke or Truth: Week 1 Overperformers
Author: Matt Gifford
Welcome to Fluke or Truth! As the first week of the NFL season comes to a close, it is important to look back at the massive fantasy performances this week and answer the question: are they repeatable? Let’s take a look at some of the players with an outstanding Week 1 outing and determine whether it is a week to week expectation or a one-time fluke.
Lamar Jackson (BAL): 17/20, 324 yards, 5 TDs, 3 car, 6 yards - 33.56 points
If there is one player that everyone is talking about after the conclusion of Week 1, it is Baltimore’s sophomore quarterback, Lamar Jackson. Throughout Sunday’s contest versus the Miami Dolphins, the Ravens offense showed no signs of slowing up with Jackson leading the charge. Although Lamar Jackson has been consistently criticized for his passing ability and accuracy, he pulled out all the stops and showed command of the ball on short, mid and deep range throws. Additionally, he found what will likely become his two favorite targets throughout the season in rookie wide receiver, Marquise Brown and second-year tight end, Mark Andrews which amounted to eleven of Jackson’s seventeen completions. Both offensive pieces will remain the main factors in Jackson’s fantasy production. But, it is important to consider that Baltimore was facing the Miami Dolphins, the last place team in the NFL power rankings. Although he may not throw for 5 TDs again this season, expect more high-caliber performances from Jackson and this offense. Even if his production is limited through the air in the coming weeks, Jackson proved his rushing ability throughout last season which we'll surely see more of.
Case Keenum (WAS): 30/44, 390 yards, 3 TDs - 27.2 points
This performance was a surprise to say the least. The Washington Redskins came into Sunday as the clear underdog against Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles but shocked many in the first half. Case Keenum led the Redskins to score the first 17 points of the game with little effect from the Eagles defense. Although the 2nd half would show the Redskins team we expected to see this season. Case Keenum’s production and the offenses’ as a whole was severely diminished throughout the 2nd half of play as Keenum threw for 123 yards and one touchdown and the average yards per play dropped from 8.4 to 4.8. Don't overthink this one. The Redskins took advantage of an extremely rusty Eagles team which quickly turned into their normal self. The 2nd half performance is a benchmark for Keenum's future fantasy production.
Austin Ekeler (LAC): 12 car, 58 yards, 6 rec, 96 yards, 3 TDs - 36.4 points
One of the biggest stories this off-season has been the holdout of the Chargers star running back, Melvin Gordon. Lucky for Ekeler, no movement to get Gordon signed puts him in the starting role weekly. Although this isn't the first time we've seen him in this position, as Ekeler has succeed in the past when filling in for an injured Gordon during certain weeks of 2018. Ekeler gained 108 yards after the catch during Sunday's battle with Indianapolis and showed his explosive ability to turn short passes into long plays. The real outlier in this performance is the three touchdowns of which one was the game-winning score in overtime. Expect similar yardage numbers but look for Jackson to take away some of the goaline carries going forward. This is surely a repeatable performance which deserves a truth label, just be aware that his touchdown average will likely fall closer to one per game in the future.
Dalvin Cook (MIN): 21 car, 111 yards, 2 rec, 9 yards, 2 TDs - 25.0 points
Although Dalvin Cook's performance this week came as a shock to some, there should be no surprise in the abilities and stat-line of the third-year running back. Now sitting over one year removed from his 2017 ACL tear and beyond the hamstring concerns of 2018, Cook is ready to pickup where he left off on what looked like a possible Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Cook led the Minnesota backfield trio with 21 of the total 32 carries on Sunday versus the Falcons. Through this, Minnesota has confirmed themselves as the run-first offense head coach, Mike Zimmer, was looking to establish with a league-high 77.6% of offensive plays being runs. This is of huge benefit for Cook and even if the offense is looking to pass, Cook is continuing to develop his pass-catching abilities. Cook should without a doubt be a must start every week between his elusiveness, explosiveness and sheer volume he’s looking to possess this season.
John Ross (CIN): 7 rec, 158 yards, 2 TDs - 31.3 points
Despite a disappointly close loss to the Seattle Seahawks, John Ross cemented himself as the third highest scoring wide receiver of Week 1 with his speed and playmaking skills. In addition to this performance, he is likely available on waivers in most fantasy leagues with under five percent total ownership. But is this likely stat-line for Ross weekly? The first consideration in this discussion is the health and status of A.J. Green. After tearing ligaments in his ankle during the early parts of training camp, Green timetable has been difficult to nail down. Although being unlikely that he plays in the next couple weeks, when Green takes the field again Ross’s role will take a massive hit especially with Tyler Boyd as the solidified number two. The other consideration is defense. After going back and reviewing the film, most of Ross’s success can be attributed to poor coverage and bad tackling. On both touchdown passes, which account for 88 of his total yards, multiple Seahawks defenders were in the area and Ross shouldn’t have had the opportunity at those balls. Don’t get me wrong, Ross may be a smart waiver wire pickup but don’t expect 100+ yards and a touchdown or two weekly.
D.J. Chark (JAX): 4 rec, 146 yards, 1 TD - 22.6 points
The Chiefs-Jaguars game proved very eventful with the season-ending injury to Nick Foles and the introduction of Gardner Minshew. D.J. Chark definitely made his mark on this game and established himself as a deep receiving threat. Although he made some big plays, there are multiple red flags surrounding his future production. The first of these is his volume of targets. Chark finished the game with only four targets which on a great day can result in the point total we witnessed, but on an average day may only result in a few receptions with limited yardage. Another strike against him is the usage of Dede Westbrook. Westbrook had five receptions on six targets but will likely take on a larger role in this offense in the coming weeks. Finally, Gardner Minshew is still very unproven. Minshew had a good showing on Sunday but there is still a lot to learn about how this offense will move forward without Nick Foles. Chark has definitely made a step up in this offense and begun to peak my interest but his production to decline in Week 2.
**All point values are in Half PPR scoring format
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