Week 1 Underperformers: Fluke or Truth?
Author: Jair Oglivie
Youtube: Fantasy Football Advice
Welcome to a new WEEKLY members-only column on FFA! After each weekend slate of games I will take a few big name fantasy players who may not have performed up to expectations and answer the question: Was this just a fluke, one time flop? Or is this something you should be concerned about in the weeks to come? A ton of wild things happened in week 1 and it made for some very entertaining games and nail-biting fantasy finishes (I won my matchup 147.2-144, I was sweating for sure). 9 carries for DJ? 7 for 13 yards for Alex Collins?! And what the heck happened to Matthew Stafford in Detroit?!?! Let’s dive in.
David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Line: 9 carries, 37 yards, 1 touchdown. 5 catches, 30 yards. 17.7 points (PPR)
Well, not the start owners were looking for from their star first round draft pick in the desert. The stat line however, as it often can be, was deceiving and the context here is very important. This was a game that Arizona lost to Washington and the class was clearly on the Washington sideline. The Redskins simply have a better team. It was clear and resulted in the Redskins being in control the entire game. Arizona found themselves down a couple of touchdowns before they had any chance to get a rhythm going which hurts the “game flow” of a running back because in most cases, when a team is down they resort to the passing game a lot heavier than they would otherwise. There is cause for concern because Arizona is a team that is not expected to be very good and is tied for the 8th hardest schedule in the NFL based on their opponent’s 2017 winning percentage. However there is much more cause for optimism then there is for concern, in my opinion:
First, Johnson is the best player on this football team. Point, blank, period. No matter what, he is going to get his touches, and he is going to make plays. My gosh, the man scored 17.7 ppr points in a “down game.” That’s insane.
Second, he is a target monster. On Sunday, Johnson received NINE targets in the passing game. The only cardinal with more? Larry Fitzgerald, future hall of famer, and the only other proven receiver on this offense. Remember, DJ said himself that his personal goal was 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving. I’m not one to doubt him. Of his 9 targets, 4 of them were in the red zone!!
Something that should also be considered that I don’t think many people are talking about: Sam Bradford. The veteran wisely targeted his two best players the most times. However, there’s always that thought in the back of your mind Sammy Sleeves is take one clean hit and be out for the season again. Enter: Josh Rosen. It’s tough for rookie QBs in the NFL. When they have to start, normally they establish rapport with one or two security blankets. I’m a Cowboys fan. When Dak was a rookie and forced to start, he relied on Jason Witten and Ezekiel Elliot. For Rosen, who else would you go to than Fitz and DJ? Outside of those two, Arizona has a few young, unproven receivers. It would be much easier to rely on your stars.
No one panic, DJ will be fine and should be in your lineups every single week.
Fluke or Truth: Fluke
Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Line: 7 carries, 13 yards, 1 touchdown. 1 catch, 6 yards. 1 fumble lost. 6.9 points (PPR)
Not a nice stat line for Collins on the first day of a new season. Collins probably lost some owners their matchups scoring only 6.9 points when owned most commonly as an RB2. It was disappointing to see but it is important look at all the details here. The Ravens absolutely demolished the Bills on Sunday afternoon. Seriously, Buffalo looked like a JV team out there. It isn’t surprising that after the Ravens jumped ahead, his chance for touches significantly.
Coming into the season, Collins concerned me from a fantasy perspective. He impressed last season causing him to rise up draft boards, deservingly. However, there was always just a feeling in my gut that he wouldn’t repeat. If I’m right remains to be determined throughout this season but I do know he was mostly absent during the preseason, and received very little work in the blowout against Buffalo. This can be seen a couple ways: 1. He is fresh and should be ready for the quick turnaround thursday night matchup against rival Cincinnati. 2. He is no longer seen as the workhorse back in Baltimore.
I’m inclined to go with option 1. Collins is the clear back to own in baltimore, the talent level isn’t close with backups Buck Allen and Kenneth Dixon. He and the Ravens as a team are sitting in the catbird seat for Thursday Night Football this week. The game against Buffalo got out of hand quickly which resulted in many starters being pulled early. This is a clear advantage over Cincinnati who had to come from behind to defeat Luck and the Colts on the road in a game that was competitive until the final seconds. Look for Baltimore to win and for Collins to receive the lion’s share of carries. This is a perfect opportunity for him to bounce back from a fantasy day that can only be classified as sub par, even with an impressive 8 yard TD run to open the field day for the Ravens.
Alex Collins will return to being a capable RB2. Keep him in starting lineups.
Fluke or Truth: Fluke
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
Line: 27/46 passing, 286 yards, 1 TD, 4 Interceptions. 8 points (PPR)
This one was ugly. In a game started with Rookie Jets QB Sam Darnold throwing a pick six on his very first NFL play, it looked like it would be a long night for gang green on the road. It turned out to be quite the opposite for New York as they cruised to a 48-17 victory on the heels of a shocking 31 point third quarter. Before this game started, no one, including myself, gave the Jets much of a chance. So, Matthew, what happened?
First off, that Jets defense looks like the real deal. Apparently, part of the reason it was so bad was because Stafford was telegraphing the plays they were about to run, allowing the Jets to take full advantage. Either way, things could not have started in a worse way for Stafford and new head coach Matt Patricia.
Looking ahead, the next 4 weeks include road trips to San Francisco and Dallas, and home games against New England and Green Bay. Ouch. After getting annihilated in arguably the easiest game, on paper, out of their first 5, it’s hard to have faith in Stafford bouncing back to prominence as a top fantasy QB. I suggest finding a better option on waivers or making a deal with an uninformed leaguemate.
In general, it’s important not to overreact to Week 1 in the NFL, but this was a truly dismal performance for Stafford that warrants benching on your fantasy teams until he proves he is good enough to start again. If I’m a Stafford owner today, I’m very worried. Find other options if possible.
Fluke or Truth: Truth
Thanks for reading! The next edition of this series will be back next week. Until then, be smart, don’t panic, and hit that waiver wire.
See ya next week!
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*All statistics taken from ESPN Fantasy