Wed Sep 4 9:34am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Winston setup for big Week 1
I think I say something similar every season but it really rings true for me. There is no better time for a fantasy owner than Week 1 of the season. We all have hope for winning that championship. All our hard work is now going to be put to the test, showing that our draft decisions were shrewd and on the mark. It is a great time, filled with hope and happiness for the start of another football and fantasy football season. Here is to hoping you have a great Week 1!
Before I get to my random thoughts for the week, I wanted to give you a quick rundown of our content plan for this year at RealTime Fantasy Sports. We will have more original content than ever this year. I will be providing four columns a week: Studs and Duds, Waivering, Lineup Prep and Injury Status. I also will post a weekly mailbag, weekly rankings and a podcast. We will have two additional writers, Mike Barner and Charlie Wiegert, providing content. Barner is going to do a weekly DFS column, and Wiegert will provide his fantasy thoughts for the week, talking about waiver-wire pickups, games to target and other fantasy info. We are thrilled to have so much original content for you this season and hope you have a great fantasy season.
Now for my random thoughts. . . . .
First off, if I’m a Damien Williams owner, I’m worried about the team signing LeSean McCoy. I don’t think McCoy has much left in the tank but I also don’t think the Chiefs sign him if they don’t have some concerns about Williams as their starter. I think Williams is going to have to start fast to erase any doubts Andy Reid might have using him as their starter. If Williams has any hiccups the first few weeks, I would be worried about McCoy really cutting into his playing time going forward. This is not a good situation for fantasy teams.
The other late move before the start of the season was the Texans acquiring Carlos Hyde. Hyde is another player I’m not super high on based on his last few seasons, but he is the clear best lead back for the Texans right now. He should get the chance to start once he learns the offense. Duke Johnson still has more fantasy value in my view because he is going to serve as the third-down back. I like his reception potential in this offense. Hyde might be worth the occasional flex play but I don’t see him producing big - even in a starting role.
Here are a few things I’m excited about for Week 1. First off, I’m anxious to see Kyler Murray in action. I know he had some struggles during the preseason but that was the preseason. This is for real now, having a chance to run the entire offense and getting his full compliment of weapons. I think Murray can be a fantasy star.
I’m interested to see how the Colts offense operates with Jacoby Brissett the full-time starter now. I know he has started in the past but this is different. He is the official man now and gets to run the show. So how big of a dropoff will the offense see with Brissett starting? We won’t get the complete picture after just a week but a tough road game against a good defense will be a good test for Brissett.
I am also excited about the prospects of the Bucs offense. Will Jameis Winston finally take that big step forward and be a superstar? This offense has a chance to be special if Winston plays more consistent football and gets all his talent involved. I have invested a lot in Bucs during fantasy drafts, so I’m hoping things start off well for the Bucs in Week 1.
I know the team is a train wreck but I’m kind of interested to see the Dolphins offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick has posted some big numbers, so don’t discount this unit to still help fantasy teams even if they don’t win games. There needs to be some receivers that will step up to catch passes - like an Albert Wilson. And Kenyan Drake might not be starting, but he is another Dolphin I’m keeping an eye on. He is a dual threat that was 14th overall in fantasy running back scoring last year. He could end up being a steal for all the fantasy teams that took him in the mid to late round of drafts.
Lastly, I’m interested to see how Cam Newton looks. We have seen little from him throwing the ball all camp and preseason, so it will be good to see him throw the ball in a game. How strong will his arm be after another surgery this offseason? Newton has a favorable fantasy schedule and a lot of weapons to work with, so if he is healthy and on his game, Newton can be an elite fantasy quarterback once again.
As always, don't forget to check out our weekly rankings: Week 1 Rankings.
News and Notes: The Cowboys signed running back Ezekiel Elliott to a six-year contract extension Wednesday. He will report to practice and is expected to play this week. . . . .The Rams signed quarterback Jared Goff to a four-year contract extension Tuesday. . . . . .The 49ers' unofficial depth chart lists running back Matt Breida as the team's No. 1 back over Tevin Coleman.This guys are likely to split work but this is something to take note. Breida is playing his way into a big role this season.
Jameis Winston, QB, Bucs. Winston had an erratic season last year, losing out on playing time to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. Winston is the man this year, though, and has the confidence of new head coach Bruce Arians. He also is playing in a pass-first offense that has produced big numbers for past fantasy quarterbacks. Winston plays the 49ers to open the year, a team that struggles defensively. San Francisco allowed the seventh most fantasy points to quarterbacks last year and didn’t do much to shore up the secondary during the offseason.
Will Fuller, WR, Texans. Fuller had 100-yard games three of the seven games he played last year. He also scored four touchdowns in those seven games. Needless to say, he made plays when on the field. The issue for Fuller has been staying healthy. He is ready to go this year, though, and should be a big factor in this pass-first offense. Fuller has a matchup to start his season off well, playing the Saints. New Orleans allowed the most fantasy points to receivers last year and were just 25th against the pass in the preseason.
Kerryon Johnson, RB, Lions. Johnson is healthy and ready to go for the ’19 season. He showed flashes of great things last year but didn’t make it through the year healthy, impacting his numbers. Another positive for him this year is Theo Riddick gone. This could open the door for even more chances for him offensively, getting utilized in the passing game more. Johnson has a good matchup to start his season off well, playing the Cardinals. Arizona was a mess defensively in the preseason, allowing the most rushing yards of any team. And this is a team that allowed the second most fantasy points to running backs last year.
Tevin Coleman, RB, 49ers. Coleman might not start but he is going to play a lot in this offense. He is very familiar with this system and has excelled in past years. This is a positive for Coleman to get back his mojo after struggling some last season. Coleman plays a bad Bucs defense to start his season. Tampa allowed the third most fantasy points to running backs last year. Coleman scored touchdowns in both games he played Tampa last season.
Adam Thielen, WR, Vikings. Thielen was arguably the best fantasy receiver in football the first half of last season. He was pretty mediocre the second half of the year, though, causing his fantasy stock to drop. We aren't quite as down on him as others. Even though his numbers were down late last year, he was still getting his catches. He had five or more receptions five of his last seven games. He can still be a huge fantasy factor, especially in this offense. Thielen plays the Falcons in Week 1, a team that allowed the fifth most fantasy points to defenses. This game is setup to be a shootout with a lot of fantasy points to be had on both sides.
Derek Carr, QB, Raiders. Carr is looking much better this year, having Antonio Brown to work with as his No. 1 receiver and some other additions on the offensive side of the ball. He is going to have some big games this year. But for this week, we might avoid Carr. He has a tough matchup to start his season, playing the Broncos. Carr had one touchdown in two games against the Broncos last season. Denver allowed the ninth fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks last year and were fifth against the pass during the preseason.
Kalen Ballage, RB, Dolphins. Ballage has emerged as the starter for the Dolphins this year but that doesn’t mean he will be a great weekly fantasy play. He had some struggles during the preseason and just lost his starting left tackle to a trade. This doesn’t bode well for Ballage going forward. Plus, Kenyan Drake is lurking over him to steal carries. Bale starts his season against the Ravens, a team that was first against the rush during the preseason and allowed the second fewest fantasy points to running backs last year.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Chiefs. Watkins is always capable of the big game in this explosive offense, but he is more of a matchup play at this point. He was not targeted double-digit times in any game last season. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill are the top options in this offense on a weekly basis. Watkins will produce some big games but you can’t trust him as a weekly play, especially this week against the Jaguars. Jacksonville allowed the third fewest fantasy points to receivers last year and was ninth overall against the pass during the preseason.
Aaron Jones, RB, Packers. Jones gets a chance to start from day one this year in a new offense with a new coach calling plays. This bodes well for Jones to finally have that breakout season. Jones could disappear some weeks in an offense that could be pass heavy, though. And he isn’t matchup proof just yet. Green Bay plays a very good Bears defense this week. Chicago allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs last season.
Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants. Shepard is the No. 1 receiver for the Giants now with Odell Beckham gone. This should mean a lot of weekly targets for him. The issue is he has a shaky quarterback throwing him passes and could be double teamed many weeks with few other options in the passing game for the Giants. Shepard is still setup for his best season to date but he could have some hiccups along the way. He has a tough game to open his season, getting the Cowboys. In two games against Dallas last year, Shepard had seven receptions for 91 yards. If you have better options, go with them.
Josh Allen, QB, Bills. Allen had 21 or more points four of his last five games to end last year. He finished on a high note and hopes to carry that over to this year. He has a great matchup to start his year, facing the Jets. He scored 24.4 points against the Jets last year in Week 14. New York was dead last against the pass during the preseason and allowed the sixth most fantasy points to quarterbacks last season. Allen is a sneaky play in Week 1.
Duke Johnson, RB, Texans. Johnson might not be starting for the Texans with Carlos Hyde now on board, but he still figures to be on the field plenty. He is the pass-catching back for a team that is going to throw a lot. Johnson is going to be a productive fantasy player, producing consistent fantasy numbers because of his reception totals. Johnson could get a workout in the passing game this week, playing the Saints. This is setup to be a high-scoring game. Both teams have high-powered offenses and some question marks on the defensive side of the ball. Johnson is a good flex play in this one.
Malik Turner, WR, Seahawks. Turner has a chance to open this season as the starter opposite Tyler Lockett because of an injuries to rookie D.K. Metcalf and David Moore. Turner is no sure thing by any means but getting a chance to start in a good offense against a below average defense (Bengals) makes Turner someone to put on your radar. He is a good route runner with pretty good speed for the position. He is capable of the big play with the ball in his hands.
Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers. Henry might be a forgotten man because he missed all of last season because of a torn ACL, suffered before the season. But don’t forget about him. He is the top tight end on a team that uses the tight end often. Antonio Gates produced some huge numbers in this offense. Henry is capable of matchup the production of Gates from past seasons. He is a legit No. 1 tight end. Henry has a chance to start off the season fast, playing the Colts. Indy really struggled to stop the tight end last year, allowing the second most fantasy points to tight ends.
Justice Hill, RB, Ravens. Hill might not be starting but he is going to play a weekly role in this offense. The Ravens are going to run, run and run the ball some more. This means there will be plenty of weekly carries to go around, including Hill. Baltimore has a great matchup for their rushing offense this week, playing the Dolphins. Miami just traded off half their team and are going to be in rebuild mode all season. The Dolphins allowed the seventh most fantasy points to running backs last year.
High/Low Scoring Games
Each week we will take a look at some of the high and low scoring games for the coming week. In high scoring affairs, get your marginal players on those teams in your lineup to take advantage of the possible points barrage. And in the low scoring games, keep those marginal players on the bench and make sure to have your defenses involved in those contests.
High Scoring Games: Falcons/Vikings, Rams/Panthers, 49ers/Bucs, Steelers/Patriots, Texans/Saints.
Low Scoring Games: Ravens/Dolphins.
Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman played well during the Week 2 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Hardman has quickly moved up on the depth chart after Tyreek Hill (shoulder) went down last week. Hardman caught four of his six targets for 61 yards and a touchdown. Demarcus Robinson had a huge game, catching two touchdowns and going for over 170 yards. Hardman still played well and should be reliable again versus the Baltimore Ravens in Week 3. The Ravens Defense just gave up 349 passing yards in Week 2, so the Chiefs shouldn't have any issues.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday. Gallup played well on Sunday, leading the team with eight targets, but he missed the end of fourth quarter with a knee issue. It's unclear how serious the team expects the injury to be, but more information will be available on Monday once Gallup undergoes testing. He's been a key piece of the Cowboys offense through the first two weeks of the season.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Demarcus Robinson had himself a fantastic game against the Oakland Raiders in Week 2. Robinson caught all six of his targets for 172 yards and two touchdowns. He looked unstoppable against the shaky Raiders secondary, but who knows if that will happen again. Robinson, Mecole Hardman, and De'Anthony Thomas will all be in the mix at No. 2 with Tyreek Hill (shoulder) sidelined. Robinson will be a hot pickup in most leagues this week, but he should be viewed as a WR3 for Week 3 against the Baltimore Ravens.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce started off a little slow in Week 1, but turned it around quickly in Week 2 against the Oakland Raiders. Kelce caught seven of his nine targets for 107 yards and one touchdown in the victory over the Raiders. Sammy Watkins was the only player targeted more (13), but wasn't able to do much with his chances. Kelce will be a TE1 against the Baltimore Ravens Defense in Week 3. The Ravens were torched in the passing game during their Week 2 matchup.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Corey Clement (shoulder) left the Week 2 game on Sunday night against the Falcons with a shoulder injury and is questionable to return. Clement is Philly's main kick returner, and he was injured early in the third quarter on a kickoff in which he fumbled to give the ball right back to Atlanta. The 24-year-old has yet to be used on offense in 2019 and is buried on the running back depth chart behind rookie Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard and Darren Sproles. Clement should be on the waiver wire in all leagues. Sanders could return kicks the rest of the night if Clement doesn't return.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis struggled to get going once again in the team's 19-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Davis was able to haul in three of his five targets, but only turned them into 38 yards. It appears that new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith is very content with riding the running game and spreading the ball around in the passing game, which is bad news for Davis owners. Davis, who remained relevant a season ago solely due to his elite volume, appears to be an afterthought this season for fantasy. In deep leagues, he may be worth a hold for one more week, but don't hesitate to drop him for a more promising player in shallow leagues.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Adam Humphries has not gotten off to the start many expected with his new team in 2019. Humphries caught both of his targets for negative one yards in the team's 19-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 2. After the game, quarterback Marcus Mariota mentioned Humphries as someone they needed to get more involved in the offense going forward. Despite these comments, Humphries should be left on waivers in all formats after this week.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins jumped into the No. 1 receiver spot for the team in Week 2, but unfortunately disappointed fantasy owners. Watkins was targeted 13 times, but only caught six passes for 49 yards and was unable to find the end zone. He had a huge three touchdown game in Week 1, but couldn't get anything going against the Oakland Raiders. He should rebound nicely against the Baltimore Ravens Defense in Week 3 that allowed 349 passing yards in Week 2.
Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker caught four of six targets for 32 yards in the team's 19-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Despite a lackluster fantasy performance, Walker once again led the team in targets. While his upside may be limited by the pace of the Titans offense, Walker should continue to be the primary target of quarterback Marcus Mariota going forward, which will be enough to keep him in TE1 territory.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry had another strong game in Week 2, rushing 15 times for 81 yards and a touchdown and adding two catches for 12 yards. Surprisingly, the Titans seemed to use Henry less as the game went on despite his success on the ground. Henry's usage and touchdown upside will continue to keep him in the high-end RB2 range this season. Henry will get a matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars on a short week this Thursday, and his success against them has been well noted over his career.
Tennessee Titans running back Dion Lewis does not seem to have much of a role on the team's 2019 offense thus far. Lewis rushed three times for nine yards and caught his lone target in their 19-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Despite trailing in the fourth quarter, Lewis was still not utilized much by new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. It appears that he is nothing more than the backup to Derrick Henry at this point, making him a drop candidate in all redraft formats.
Chicago Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro went 3-for-3 on his field-goal attempts, including hitting a 53-yard strike with a second left in the game to beat the Broncos 16-14. Much has been made in the offseason about the Bears kicking problems, but on this day the kicker saved the game for them. Pineiro also connected from 40 yards in the first quarter and then nailed a 52-yarder in the second quarter. Pineiro has connected on all of his kicks thus far this season and this game-winning kick certainly should be a confidence booster. The Bears radio announcer Jeff Joniak already has nicknamed the young kicker Eddie "Dinero" Pineiro. Eddie "Money" will try and keep it rolling with a favorable matchup against the Redskins at home in Week 3.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (calf) and DeSean Jackson (groin) were both injured on Sunday night in Week 2 against the Falcons and are questionable to return. Tight end Dallas Goedert (calf) also left and is questionable to return. It has predictably affected quarterback Carson Wentz's performance, as he's just 4-for-9 for 37 yards and two interceptions with some of his favorite weapons dinged up. Neither Jeffery nor D-Jax were targeted before they left the game. If they can't return, Nelson Agholor, rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Mack Hollins will need to step up. Zach Ertz will also be heavily targeted by Wentz.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams (knee) was unable to get anything going on the ground against the Oakland Raiders in Week 2. He rushed nine times for eight yards and added three receptions for 48 yards through the air. Both Williams and LeSean McCoy struggled to get anything going in the ground game. Williams left during the fourth quarter due to a knee issue. It's unclear if he's going to miss time or not, so fantasy owners will have to wait and see. Williams will be a RB2 against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 3, assuming he's able to suit up.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 19 of 28 attempts for just 154 yards and one touchdown in the team's 19-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Mariota did add five rushes for 32 yards on the ground, but he appeared to be more timid in the passing game than we saw a week ago in Cleveland. The Titans are content to just grind the clock and play defense when the score permits, rendering Mariota nothing more than a low-end QB2 in fantasy. The Titans and Mariota will have to rebound from this poor performance quickly during the short week before they travel to Jacksonville for Thursday Night Football.
The Chicago Bears Defense put forth an excellent effort but barely survived as the offense rallied with :31 left to beat the Broncos 16-14. The defense held the Broncos offense in check most of the game but things got interesting the second half. The Bears offense struggled to sustain drives and the high altitude began to effect the vaunted defense as the Broncos rallied from a 13-3 deficit to take the lead on a two-point conversion with less than a minute to play. The team picked up only two sacks in the game, one by Khalil Mack. But the unit recorded their first takeaway of the season when cornerback Kyle Fuller picked off Joe Flacco in the red zone to stifle a possible scoring drive. The Bears defense is legit and will have a juicy matchup against a rebuilding Redskins offense in Week 3.
Chicago Bears tight end Trey Burton caught only two passes for five yards in the Bears gritty, come-from-behind win over the Broncos 16-14. Burton has missed most of training camp plus the first game of the season recovering from sports hernia surgery and a groin injury. Burton did not fill up the box score, but his presence in the running game was felt. The threat of Burton on the field also opened up some easier throws for quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Health will be key moving forward but Burton should be able to produce more than five yards in upcoming games.
The Washington Redskins Defense didn't have an answer for the Cowboys on Sunday. They did pick off Dak Prescott once, but they only got to him for one sack and allowed him to complete 86.7% of his passes. Prescott launched three touchdowns, and Ezekiel Elliott rumbled for 111 yards on 23 rushing attempts with a touchdown of his own. The end result was a 31-point showing from Dallas that proved to be too much for Washington's offense to keep up with. Up next for this unit is a Bears team that actually appears to be a favorable matchup. Mitch Trubisky has not looked good in Chicago's first two games, and if Washington is able to neutralize the Bears' rushing attack, there is the potential for some success in Week 3.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller once again was not heavily featured in the Bears offensive game plan as the team came from behind to beat the Broncos 16-14. Miller made only one catch, a quick pass, that went for only two yards as his snaps were limited for the second straight game. Miller has been struggling with an ankle injury suffered in training camp and clearly is not up to speed in coach Matt Nagy's eyes. Miller caught seven touchdowns in his rookie season and was widely expected to take a step forward this season. But that progress has completely stalled and fantasy owners may need to move on from Miller until his snap-count rises.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (hand) will be examined by a hand specialist in Los Angeles on Sunday night after leaving the Week 2 game early in the first quarter against the Rams. Brees' right thumb collided with defensive tackle Aaron Donald's hand, and the future Hall of Fame quarterback couldn't even grip a football on the sideline, which is an obvious concern. It's unclear if Brees will travel with the team to practice all week at the University of Washington before their Week 3 game against the Seahawks in Seattle. He finished 3-for-5 for 38 yards and an interception and ruined a lot of fantasy owners' weeks with his injury. If he can't play next week, backup Teddy Bridgewater would get the start but would only be worth starting in two-QB leagues. Brees' injury is a huge concern for the fantasy value of all of New Orleans' skill players on offense. Stay tuned for updates on his injury when they come.