Ridiculous Overreactions: Week 1

Updated: September 14th 2016

A great first week of the NFL season is now behind us. Many people will try to take what we learned in the first game and apply it to the season as a whole.  You will see many predictions based on this one week resulting in predictably bad conclusions.  With that said, I will make my own bad overreactions below based on what we saw in week one because it is fun and gives the readers something to mock!

2016 Fantasy Cheat Codes

New Orleans provided the ultimate streaming target for offensive players in 2015 with a historically bad defense and a strong offense resulting in a multitude of high scoring contests. 2016 appears to have changed nothing.   The Saints’ defense finished dead last for week 1 in rushing yards allowed (167) and yards per attempt (6.4) while also giving up 319 yards through the air.

Look for a rebuilding Cleveland Browns team to challenge the Saints for defensive futility this season. The Browns released or traded a large chunk of starters from a defense that was near the bottom of the league against both the pass and run.  The comical Browns’ defense did not disappoint in week 1 against Philadelphia.  Quarterback Carson Wentz produced like an efficient, All-Pro veteran instead of the rookie who played just one preseason game due to broken ribs.  The only question will be if the Cleveland offense can produce enough to keep them in games this season.  (Note:  Robert Griffen III was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.  The Cleveland offense should be much better in 2016 with Josh McCown at the helm.)

2016 Outlook: Feel confident about starting any reasonable matchup based offensive players in fantasy leagues this season against either team.  They are extraordinarily bad defenses without much talent and recipes for success to your fantasy future.

Devastating Loss for Chargers

No team had a worse week 1 than the San Diego Chargers. The “Bolts” raced to a 24-3 lead against Kansas City using a finely honed passing attack and surprisingly strong rushing game.  The game and season took a dramatic turn for the worse when top receiver Keenan Allen was lost with a season-ending ACL tear.  The Chargers offense never looked the same afterward and the Chiefs came back with a huge come-from-behind win.

2016 Outlook: I believed San Diego was a darkhorse candidate for the playoffs this season but those odds take a significant hit with the Allen injury.  Rivers is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league but fantasy expectations should be reduced for the season.  He will still be a strong option in positive matchups but should be viewed as a streaming play instead of locked in QB1.  Melvin Gordon takes a hit with less scoring opportunities.  Danny Woodhead’s value likely solidifies with an increased expectation in targets which was demonstrated in week one.  Travis Benjamin and/or Tyrell Williams could also see increased fantasy value as deep sleepers.

Dallas Rookies

The expectations were probably too high going in for both Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott based on the preseason and Dallas’ offensive line. The pass protection lived up to expectations as Prescott had all day to throw.  Dallas used a justifiably conservative approach with the rookie quarterback resulting in 26 of 45 passes attempted to the combination of Cole Beasley and Jason Witten with Dez Bryant receiving only 5 targets.

The Cowboys vaunted offensive line failed miserably in the rushing phase however as they were dominated by the new look Giants defensive line. Elliott looked hesitant throughout and found few rushing lanes managing only 51 yards on 20 attempts.

2016 Outlook: Prescott is usable at this point in time in only superflex and two QB leagues.  You will not want to stream him in one QB leagues, even in good matchups.  It appears Jason Witten will be a high floor option in PPR leagues though.  Dez Bryant takes the biggest hit of any offensive player on Dallas.  His target load does not look like it will support a top wide receiver option he was projected to be with Tony Romo at quarterback.  Elliott managed a top-ten finish in touches so he will still be useful as a borderline RB1/2.  He likely sees improvement in the Dallas offensive line play throughout the season plus better play from the Cowboys passing attack with Prescott progress and eventual return of Romo.

Running Back Struggles

Todd Gurley and Adrian Peterson, both top-5 running backs heading into the season, struggled mightily in week one. Each ended with less than 50 yards rushing despite each back given at least 17 touches.  The passing attacks of Minnesota and St. Louis gave very little help to the running game, even facing loaded fronts for much of the game.

T.J. Yeldon also took over lead running back duties for the Jacksonville offense after Chris Ivory unexpectedly went to the hospital for undisclosed reasons. Yeldon managed a miniscule 39 yards on 21 attempts against a bad rushing defense from 2015 in a golden opportunity to take over the lead back role. The Jacksonville offensive line had all kinds of issues with Yeldon hit in the backfield on far too many occasions.

2016 Outlook: Gurley and Peterson are too talented to be completely shut down but you can expect weekly inconsistency throughout the season.   They are still RB1s for the remainder of the year due to workload and skill.  Both backs will continue to receive large amounts of carries throughout the season and are threats for big chunk plays, but neither do much in the passing game to help steady production.  The passing attacks for each team, particularly in St. Louis, simply are not strong enough to loosen rush defenses.

Yeldon on the other hand was already set to split carries with Ivory and Sunday’s performance likely insures a large load for Ivory. The second year pro does not have the power to get tough yards with a below average offensive line.  Yeldon is more of a low-level flex play for the season with Ivory and moves to a borderline RB2/flex if Ivory misses more time.

Bio: Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

More Analysis by Bernard Faller