News & Analysis

Top fantasy takeaways from Week 1's action

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 11: Quarterback Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles calls a play from the line against the Cleveland Browns during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on September 11, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Week 1 is nearly in the books, and there were a lot of interesting developments to come out of the action so far. In some cases, our suspicions were confirmed. In others, the NFL threw a curve ball at us and showed something we didn’t expect. Before we move forward into next week, it’s important to take stock of the landscape. Each Monday, I’ll point out some interesting stats from the weekend’s games and tell you why they matter. Here’s what sticks out from Week 1:

1. Drew Brees and Andrew Luck were very good, but Jameis Winston was better.

The Saints signal-caller had a massive Week 1 performance against the Raiders, completing 37-of-42 for 423 yards and four scores through the air. Luck also tossed four scores to go along with 385 yards and chipped in 21 yards on the ground. They finished No. 1 and 2 in fantasy scoring for the week. However, on a per-dropback basis, no quarterback was more efficient than Winston in Week 1. He posted a massive 0.79 fantasy points per dropback. To put that into context, Cam Newton was the only quarterback to top 0.70 points per dropback last season. Winston appears to be poised for a breakout season.

2. The Lions remain a dink-and-dunk offense.

Detroit completely revamped their offense at the midpoint of the season last year. Under OC Jim Bob Cooter, they shifted to shorter passes with the aim of allowing receivers to run after the catch. That trend continued on Sunday, with Matthew Stafford posting the shortest depth of throw with a target depth of 5.5 yards on Sunday. In total, 65.6 percent of Stafford’s 341 passing yards came after the catch.

3. Keenan Allen was extremely efficient before the injury.

Football can be a very cruel game. That was especially true in the case of Allen, who went down with what appears to be a torn ACL just 27 snaps into the Chargers’ opener. Up to that point, he had caught 6-of-7 passes for 63 yards. On a fantasy-points-per-opportunity basis, only Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks outscored Allen Sunday. His injury is a rough blow to the Chargers and to fantasy owners. With Allen out, Dontrelle Inman and Tyrell Williams figure to have larger roles in the San Diego offense. More on this situation in Tuesday’s waiver-wire column.

4. Jeremy Langford remains lackluster.

Sure, the Bears’ running back was a borderline RB1 in PPR formats this week, but he failed to impress yet again as a runner. Last season, Langford was one of the least elusive runners in the league, and that trend continued in Week 1. Langford failed to force a single missed tackle, and was among the lowest at the running back position with just 1.65 yards after contact per attempt. It’s wise to not overvalue Langford’s Week 1 performance.

5. Don’t overlook Brandon LaFell.

We saw some massive receiving days out of Brandon Cooks, Willie Snead and A.J. Green, but it was actually Green’s teammate, LaFell, who led the position in yards per target (22.8). The veteran saw only four targets, but he caught all of them for 91 yards and posted the deepest average target depth among the Bengals wideouts at 12.0. Rookie Tyler Boyd managed just two catches on three targets for 24 yards. A lot of fantasy hype surrounded the former Pittsburgh Panther receiver, but it’s looking like LaFell is trending toward the No. 2 receiving option in Cincinnati.

6. Two rookie wide receivers top double-digit targets.

This year’s rookie crop at the wide receiver position doesn’t quite match talent level of the 2014 class, but there are some intriguing players in the bunch. Among them are Texans WR Will Fuller and Titans WR Tajae Sharpe. Both players saw 11 targets in their respective Week 1 openers. While the two young receivers saw the same volume, these are two very different players. Fuller is a blazing fast field-stretcher who racked up 107 yards on five catches and saw an average depth of target of 22.4 yards downfield. Sharpe is more of a possession receiver who had 76 yards on seven catches. Despite their opposite profiles, both players are squarely on the fantasy radar.

7. Tevin Coleman out-targeted Devonta Freeman.

Entering the season, we fully expected Coleman to eat into Freeman’s workload as a runner, but not his receiving targets. Well, it looks like that may have been a little off, as Coleman saw six targets to just four for Freeman in the Falcons’ opener. Coleman also nearly quintupled Freeman’s yards total 95 to 20. Week 1 is always a little crazy, and it’s not time for Freeman owners to push the panic button just yet. However, we’ll need to keep a close eye on the touch breakdown in the Falcons’ backfield next week.

8. It was a rough week at tight end.

Jack Doyle led all tight ends in scoring this weekend with 16 fantasy points. Jack Doyle. No, that does not mean you should run out and pick him up. Dwayne Allen is still the tight end to own in Indianapolis. However, you also shouldn’t do something crazy like drop Antonio Gates, Coby Fleener, Martellus Bennett or Gary Barnidge. These players didn’t put up the fantasy points you expected in Week 1, but better weeks are ahead.

9. Tyrod Taylor was the slowest to throw.

To be precise, it took Taylor an average of 3.46 seconds to throw in Week 1. The leader at the position was Ryan Fitzpatrick at 2.11 seconds. This was an area where Taylor also struggled last season, with a position-longest 3.23 average seconds to throw. Heading into Monday night’s games, Taylor is sitting last among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring with just six fantasy points.

10. Carson Wentz is trending up.

The rookie got off to a good start against an uninspiring Browns defense, posting 278 yards and two scores on the day, which was good enough to tie for ninth among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring. Wentz completed just 59.5 percent of his passes, but his receivers dropped four passes. Adjusting for drops, Wentz actually completed 81.3 percent of his aimed throws. That’s a solid start for the rookie. He should now be considered a viable option in 2QB leagues.

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