Patience or Panic: Week 1

The opening weekend of an NFL season usually gives fantasy owners more questions than answers, and Week 1 of 2019 was no different.  We spend weeks preparing for our drafts, selecting the players we know will perform as expected, only to learn that everything we thought we knew was wrong. But all bad outings are not created equally. There are some players with whom fantasy owners should stay the course, ignore the bad week knowing that better days are ahead. And there are others that should have owners worried. Do you have patience or panic and move on from the player is the question and the answers are below.

In this new weekly column, we take a look at players from Week 1.

 


 

Patience

 

Miles Sanders (RB – PHI)

Week 1 line: 11 carries, 25 yards, 2 targets, 1 reception, 2 yards, 0 TDs

Just looking at the box score you would think that Miles Sanders struggled in the game, rookie growing pains. The reality is Sanders looked every bit as good as the training camp reports led us to believe. Philly rotated three backs in and out of the lineup but Sanders, who received the high-value opportunities, was within inches of having a huge day. Sanders led all backs in snaps and carries, playing in nearly 50% of the team’s snaps. What’s more important is that he was used heavily inside the red zone. He was tackled just outside the goal line twice and served as the goal line back with two touches inside the five. Late in the game, Sanders ripped off a 21-yard touchdown run that was called back due to a holding penalty. While Darren Sproles did receive plenty of work, Philly opened the season just like this last year before the veteran wore down.  Jordan Howard‘s time was limited and as the season wears on Sanders is too good to keep off the field.

Devin Singletary (RB – BUF)

Week 1 line: 4 carries, 70 yards | 6 targets, 5 receptions, 28 yards

In Week 1, Bills rookie running back, Devin Singletary looked ready for primetime. In the preseason the Bills cleared their roster to get him on the field yet he had just two first-half touches. However late in the game, as the Bills mounted a comeback, Singletary led the charge. Singletary looks explosive, with lateral agility and that make you miss that only the best have. Singletary was used in the slot, under center, in the gun and was effective in all roles.  He played 70% of the teams 69 plays, with veteran Frank Gore playing just a quarter of the time. He was also on the field for nearly all passing situations. The Bills leaned heavily on him in the second half, with carries of 20, 23, 12, 15, 8 and 12 yards. He was tripped up at the three heading into the endzone else his day may have been bigger. Singletary looks like he could be a fantasy star and should be held at all costs.

Christian Kirk (WR – ARI)

Week 1 line: 12 targets, 4 receptions, 32 yards | 1 carry, 12 yards

If you watched the Arizona Cardinals game you saw just how much the team struggled through three quarters. Rookie QB Kyler Murray started slowly, with plenty of off-target throws and trouble under pressure. However, the team played with pace and ran a base offense of four wide with a single back. As the game wore on Murray settled down and what this offense could look like this season started to take shape. Christian Kirk lined up primarily in the slot and served as the teams punt returner. Kirk flashed with the ball in his hands, bouncing off tackles and getting open in the middle of the field. Kirk had no problems beating coverage and received plenty of targets, just not catchable ones. Late in the fourth, Kirk caught a two-point conversion to tie the game and send it into overtime. Kirk may be on your wire after a slow week and is a value add. Be sure to snatch him up and stash him on your bench.

 

Panic

 

Mitchell Trubisky (QB – CHI)

Week 1 line: 11 carries, 25 yards, 2 targets, 1 reception, 2 yards, 0 TDs

I am worried about Mitchell Trubisky and worried for his owners. Trubisky finished as the 31st quarterback this week and has finished as a starting-caliber fantasy QB in just one game of his previous eight. Trubisky looked wildly inaccurate in Week 1, and while most fans came away seeing an improved Green Bay Packer defense, I saw him as a player that couldn’t hit open targets. The numbers bear this out. Trubisky attempted 378 air yards but only completed 130 of them, for a 34% conversion rate.  He cannot unlock the potential of his receivers with accuracy like that. Chicago draws Denver this week, then an underrated defense in Washington before hosting Minnesota. That is a pretty tough stretch and he won’t have much time to regroup and get back to basics.

Devonta Freeman (RB – ATL)

Week 1 line: 8 carries, 19 yards | 4 targets, 3 catches, 12 yards

Devonta Freeman missed nearly all of the 2018 season with foot and groin injuries. After three seasons of over 250 touches, Freeman finally wore down but was a full participant throughout camp. However several things worry me as it relates to Freeman. First is usage. Freeman is said to be fully healthy yet he split time down the middle with backup running back Ito Smith. He did receive several targets in passing situations late in the game but he was ineffective running the ball. Perhaps that wasn’t completely his fault and that is the second reason I am worried. The Falcons offensive line is going to have a problem opening running lanes all season long. The unit looks to be amongst the five worst in the league. Finally, the Falcons face Philadelphia this week who allowed just 28 yards rushing in Week 1 then face matchups against Indy, Tennessee, and Houston. That’s a monstrous opposing schedule. Put out feelers to see what value he may bring back.

Dante Pettis (WR – SF)

Week 1 line: 1 reception, 7 yards, 1 target

All of the pre-season chatter coming from San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan regarding Dante Pettis has been worrying but Week 1 we learned that it wasn’t all talk. Pettis struggled with a groin injury throughout camp yet we saw him playing significant snaps late in the fourth quarter of the dress rehearsal game. Those snaps are usually reserved for backups and players trying to make the roster, not players that are on fantasy breakout lists. Then on Sunday, we saw Pettis take just two snaps. Rookie Deebo Samuel led the wideouts in playing time. Shanahan explained that Pettis had a setback with his injury. When asked who is the starter opposite Marquise Goodwin the head coach said: “It’s not anyone’s right now”. When we hear coachspeak like this all you can do is look at the coaching decisions. Pettis had just four startable weeks last season and at this point expecting a breakout is a long shot. Until we see him on the field, he belongs on your bench.

 


Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire

Marc Salazar

Born and raised in Texas, and naturally a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan. I love everything about the strategy and complexity of NFL football, no other sport compares. I've been playing some form of fantasy football for 15+ years and I run dynasty leagues that include individual defensive players, contracts, free agency, and rookie drafts. I hope to introduce at least one of you to the joys of this format. I live in San Antonio, TX with my wonderful fiance and awesome daughter.

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