Week 1 is in the books, and it was a glorious first chapter. After waiting 221 days for live football, we finally got it Thursday night when the Chiefs dismantled the Houston Texans with Sammy Watkins and their new favorite toy, Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Sunday was full of more fun, Mitchell Trubisky leading a comeback against the Detroit Lions, Josh Jacobs staking a claim for the RB1 with 3 TDs, but maybe the most impressive was the Holy Trinity of Quarterbacks. Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, and Gardner Minshew all put on efficiency demonstrations for the rest of the league.
In fantasy football we’re always reacting to the latest games, trends, roster transactions, and any sliver of news we can get in front of our eyes. Players in fantasy (both dynasty and redraft) are like companies in the stock market, constantly moving up and down with the emotions of the investors (fantasy managers), so each week I’m gonna bring you the latest in stock movements. Some players will be on this list multiple times during the season, others may never make it on. I’m trimming it down to nine players a week, which is certainly no easy task, so I’ll keep off some of the more obvious ones from time-to-time. If you have any complaints you can send them directly to me on Twitter, @NateNFL. But without further ado, the 2020 NFL season was a long time coming and now it’s time to react.
After a great rookie campaign that saw Jacobs average 14.7 FP over 13 games, the offseason was filled with questions about his opportunity in the passing game. After only 27 targets as a rookie, his ceiling seemed capped, but with six targets and four receptions in Week 1 to go along with 139 scrimmage yards and 3 TDs, Josh Jacobs has gone ahead and taken a step up into the top tier of NFL running backs. Not only did Jacobs see 80% of the rushing attempts, but he also saw the second-most targets on the team (21.4% Target Share). Jacobs boasts a great outlook to be an RB1 in 2020.
Rookie running backs are always a gamble. Some are able to reach fantasy-relevance right away, while others have to wait for their opportunities. Joshua Kelley stepped right into the Chargers offense and found a complementary role to Austin Ekeler. Kelley was given 12 carries on Sunday, with four of those being in the red zone. The Chargers wanted an inside runner to spell Ekeler, and Kelley has grabbed onto that role. From now on, he will likely continue to see goal-line usage as well as work on first and second down. His competition, Justin Jackson, left Week 1’s game early with a quad injury and is currently day-to-day.
Outside of Terry McLaurin, the Washington Football Team’s offense desperately needs some playmakers. There’s a lot of potential up and down the depth chart, but none have been battle-tested and proven. Logan Thomas stepped up on Sunday against the Eagles, when he led the team in targets (8) and scored the team’s only touchdown through the air. There is almost no competition for Thomas as fellow tight ends, Jeremy Sprinkle and Marcus Baugh, didn’t see a single target against Philadelphia.
A tale of two halves, Johnson struggled with a muffed punt to start the game and a couple of drops on the early drives. Despite his rough first half, the Steelers fed him the ball in the second half, and he finished with a team-leading ten targets. While he didn’t have any “splash plays” Monday night, Johnson showed chemistry with Big Ben. Answering one of the most pressing questions going into the season, since Big Ben missed nearly all of his rookie year. Johnson is a quick route runner and can make something happen after the catch. The volume looks to be there. Don’t be scared off by a rollercoaster game one.
Another player with a roller coaster of a week 1, Swift’s debut, will be tarnished by his devastating drop at the end of the game. Despite this, there was some positive to take away from his game against the Chicago Bears. He was on the field for nearly half of the team’s snaps and saw the most targets out of the backfield. This is certainly worth noting due to the fact he missed a large chunk of training camp. As Swift gets more familiar with the offense, I would expect his usage to continue to trend upwards.
Moore has climbed into the ranks of a top fantasy WR this offseason. However, many people were let down by his performance in Week 1. Not only did Moore only finish with four receptions for 54 yards, but Curtis Samuel and Robby Anderson saw eight targets each compared to Moore’s 9. But this doesn’t exactly mean he’s not the bonafide top target still. Last year Moore had a 22.3% target share in Carolina. He finished with a 26.5% target share on Sunday in his first game with Joe Brady at offensive coordinator. Brady certainly likes to spread the ball around, but Moore will see plenty of opportunities and has enough talent to produce for your fantasy team.
It’s hard to throw the ball deep down the field without a functioning offensive line. Despite this universal truth, the Philadelphia Eagles tried their best to get the ball deep to Desean Jackson and Jalen Reagor. Those two combined for three catches on 11 targets. Meanwhile, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, and Greg Ward did the best they could with the quick passes in the middle of the field. In the end, Wentz finished with a 270/2/2 line and was sacked eight times. That was good for 13 fantasy points and a QB26 finish. Went has the talent but needs a healthier and more efficient supporting cast. It’s hard to be a top fantasy quarterback without a functioning offensive line.
The Browns entire offense could probably go into this section. Not a single player stood out, and the team could only put up 6 points on the Baltimore Ravens. The team still has a long way to go until their production catches up with their talent, and the problem for your fantasy team is the team’s talent. There are too many mouths to feed for this offense.
Kevin Stefanski is not known for high-powered and large-volume offenses. He likes to stick the ball in the gut of the running back and go to work. Unfortunately for Nick Chubb, it turns out he’s not in line for the lion’s share of the carries. Kareem Hunt finished with 13 carries compared to Chubb’s 10. Add to that Hunt’s six targets compared to Chubb’s 1, and we might want to start worrying. This all comes after Hunt signed a 2-year extension with the Browns. Right now, it looks complicated in Cleveland, and there is a good chance that nobody comes out the winner.
The position of #3 target behind Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce is already a hard enough battle, but it looks farther away than ever for Mecole Hardman right now. Sammy Watkins had a great Week 1 explosion with a team-leading nine targets, seven receptions, 82 yards, and a touchdown. But not only is Watkins healthy and playing well but DeMarcus Robinson out-snapped Hardman on Thursday night, 33 to 20. Hardman played Thursday as the WR4 on the team and with Kelce and Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the mix for targets, the volume doesn’t look promising for Hardman’s 2020 season. There’s a chance this team looks different in 2021 (Watkins and Robinson will both be free agents), but we will have to temper our expectations for Hardman until he can find meaningful snaps in this offense.
There it is. The Week 1 Stock Report, cleverly nicknamed Nate’s Nine. Just remember that fantasy football is finicky game, it doesn’t matter if you rely on numbers in a spreadsheet or the playback of the All-22, there will always be surprises. See how reactionary your league mates are, just like in the stock market, investors are always struggling to balance emotion and wisdom. Maybe you can flip Josh Jacobs for Saquon Barkley. Maybe you can grab a cheap share of Carson Wentz for your QB-needy super flex team. Shoot your shot, you never know what might materialize.
If you want to know more about what I think on these players, or any others in the league, go ahead and shoot me a DM on Twitter @NateNFL. You can also find my work here, of course, on Dynasty Nerds in both the Devy, Rookie, and Dynasty sections. If you’re into listening to podcasts, I highly recommend the Dynasty Rewind (@DynastyRewind), a show that I co-host with some friends. The Dynasty Rewind has a weekly waiver wire live show on Tuesday nights, as well as a live podcast on Friday nights that releases Saturday morning.
So thanks for reading, and until next week I’ll leave you with a saying to help keep you ahead of the game, “Buy the rumor, Sell the news.”
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