Going Deep: Lessons From Last Year’s Week 1

Erik Smith looks back at last year's week one to find lessons to apply to the 2018 season.

(Photo by Kyle Emery/Icon Sportswire)

Every year after week one, fantasy players take their small sample size and extrapolate it out to the rest of the season. It makes total sense, we have new information that we assume is more accurate than last year’s information. Players that were good in week one will be good all season, and players that were bad in week one will be bad all season. With that in mind, I wanted to look back at last year’s week one to see what it could tell us about this year’s week one.


2017 Week 1: Tarik Cohen Emerges

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Last year in week one, Bears running back Tarik Cohen totaled 13 touches on his way to 66 yards rushing and 47 yards receiving. He scored a touchdown too, giving him a 25 point day in PPR leagues, fantasy’s RB2 for the week. As an exciting rookie, some owners no doubt overvalued him in trades and waiver bids. While he would go on to have five more double-digit PPR games the rest of the way to stay relevant, week one was by far his best fantasy game of the 2017 season. A 5’6″ 4th round rookie running back on a bad offense should have set off alarm bells for us last year. He is what he is, a talented role player that you can play at flex in good matchups.

2018’s Tarik Cohen: Phillip Lindsay

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Phillip Lindsay has a lot in common with Cohen, both are sub 5’8” rookie running back who had a nice first week in the NFL. Lindsay ended as the RB12 in week one with 18 PPR points and surprisingly received 15 carries in the Broncos win over the Seahawks. There are a lot of reasons to like Lindsay, and I may even be using a waiver on him in some of my leagues. But I would give it a second thought before cutting a proven fantasy scorer to make room for him. I’m willing to bet against an undrafted 5’7” 184 lb running back getting 15 carries a game most weeks. An optimistic projection for Lindsay would be Cohen, who finished RB30 in PPR last year. While that sounds valuable, keep in mind that Bilal Powell was RB29 last year. Lindsay had more rushes and fewer receptions than you would expect, it will be interesting to see how his touches are divided up going forward.


2017 Week 1: Austin Hooper, Playmaker

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Austin Hooper kicked off the 2017 season with two catches for 128 yards and a touchdown, undoubtedly causing some tight end-desperate fantasy teams to pick him up and start him in week two. He was likely played in some daily fantasy leagues as well as a cheap option. That was a mistake, as the next two games, he recorded 2 catches for 9 yards and 1 catch for 7 yards. Be careful counting on big plays from tight ends. Hooper is a good real-life player but has not become much of a fantasy relevant tight end. You should be looking for red zone volume when streaming tight ends.

2018’s Austin Hooper: Will Dissly

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Will Dissly came out of nowhere to post a 3 catch, 105-yard week one and added a touchdown for good measure. Most of his production came on a 66-yard catch that featured poor tackling. While the Seahawks are desperate at tight end, and he will cost nothing for you to acquire, be careful giving him a start in any type of format until we see more usage. A start is a valuable commodity on your fantasy team, and you should have more reasons than three opening week catches to plug Dissly into your lineup.


2017 Week 1: Alvin Kamara, Who?

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This is just a reminder that Alvin Kamara only scored 7.8 PPR points in week one last year, as his role on the team was still being sorted out. However, if you looked closely, Kamara still saw 6 targets and 7 rushes in the Saints explosive offense. You’re never really going to be able to predict the Kamara types, but just remember that you spent the whole offseason researching these players. If you found a player you liked as a late-round pick with upside, don’t drop him immediately if he isn’t a breakout star week one. Sometimes it takes time for a player’s role to develop, and for rookies to adjust to the speed of the game. Kamara needed Adrian Peterson to be released for his role to really grow. Don’t drop your upside players chasing week one’s fluky scorers.

2018’s Alvin Kamara: Sony Michel

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I’d be lying if I said I knew what to expect from Sony Michel. But he plays for one of the league’s most explosive offenses, was picked in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and is seeing his running back competition on the Patriots roster drop like flies. Jeremy Hill just tore his ACL, Mike Gillislee is now on the Saints, and Dion Lewis is long gone. That leaves Rex Burkhead (who has experienced his own injury troubles) and James White (a great pass catcher, but not an every-down back) as his only competition.

It might not work out for Michel, and he obviously needs to be healthy. But if he plays week two and doesn’t immediately impress, consider giving him another week at the end of your bench. The Patriots will find ways to use him, much like the Saints found ways to use Kamara. And both of their upsides are naturally higher due to being attached to elite fantasy offenses.


Remember to take week one in stride and don’t overreact to the small sample sizes. Last year Michael Thomas only scored 9.5 PPR points week one and Trevor Siemian was the QB4. Make sure you have reasons other than one big play to add someone to your roster. But most importantly, go with your own instincts and research when making these decisions. It’s your team, don’t bail on your favorite offseason sleepers after one subpar week.

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