One Big Thing – AFC – Week 5

Updated: October 15th 2020

Every week we learn a little bit more about how a team sees each player as a part of their offense allowing fantasy footballers to react (positively or negatively) to those actions. Each week I will look to capture the “One Big Thing” that should have an impact on each team going forward and how you, the savvy fantasy player, can use that to your advantage.

AFC EAST

NY Jets

I guess we have to talk about the elephant in the room, or should we say not in the room, as the Jets shopped and then quickly released former All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell this week. The Jets have been bad with or without Bell in the lineup and with his contract, it was unlikely that any team would offer much in the way of trade value. Still, releasing him a third of the way through a season suggests that he and the coaching staff were not getting along and decided that removing him from the team was best for what they are trying to do. A timeshare between Frank Gore and rookie Lamical Perine is most likely the go-to for Adam Gase this week. Former Detroit Lion Ty Johnson also will be mixed in after being claimed off waivers early this month. None are fantasy relevant at this point.

 Miami

All I had to do was bash on Preston Williams to ignite a fire in him. After suggesting that many were disappointed with how he has started this season he earned his first 100 yards receiving game of the season and put up over 20PPR points. Ryan Fitzpatrick also had another FitzMagic-type performance with 350 yards passing and three (3) touchdowns. The 49ers are not the team they were last year but any time a team puts up 43 points credit should be given to the offense. The Dolphins schedule plays out favorably through to December with two matchups against the lowly Jets and Broncos, as well as the Rams, Cardinals and Chargers three weeks in between. If the team can keep its mojo going and they are in the playoff hunt, there may not be a need to turn to Tua this season.

 Buffalo

That was quite the wake-up call for the Bills in a game that they probably thought they would be able to take advantage of a team that had barely practised over the last two weeks and was missing several contributing players. From a fantasy standpoint, Stefon Diggs had his usual strong performance with 10 catches and over 100 yards but the rest of the team struggled to keep up with the Titans offense. Josh Allen also had a down night (by his standards) with his first game under 300 yards passing and throwing two (2) interceptions. Other than the Chiefs and Patriots, the schedule is rather favorable in terms of opponent’s pass defenses so just forget last week’s game and hopefully, Allen and Co. continue their strong offensive performances.

AFC NORTH

 Cleveland

So the Browns are for real? Last week I wanted to see them win a game with more than just running the ball 35 times a game and to see if Baker Mayfield can make some plays. They still ran the ball 30 times but Mayfield made enough plays to convince me that this should be at least a wildcard team in 2020. Against an opponent that many thought might be one of the best defenses in the league, Mayfield passed for almost 250 yards and two (2) touchdowns. This week’s matchup against the Steelers will be more focused on the line’s play but it may come down to Baker having to duel with Ben Roethlisberger for AFC North supremacy.

Baltimore

Another easy victory for the Ravens who had no struggle beating the Bengals. It was disappointing that Lamar Jackson once again failed to throw for over 200 yards and only had three (3) rushing yards. The upcoming schedule features some of the best teams in the AFC (Pittsburgh twice, New England, Tennessee, Indianapolis) which likely forces the Ravens to have to play their best football. Hopefully, this can shake the offense out of the fantasy funk they have had since week 3.

 Cincinnati

This was Joe Burrow’s first “Welcome to the NFL, rookie” game as neither he nor the entire Bengals offense could get anything done against the Ravens’ defense. A.J. Green once again re-injured his hamstring and it remains to be seen how long his role will continue on this team. With Tyler Boyd becoming the focal point of the targets and rookie Tee Higgins showing improvements each week, Green may be a trade deadline acquisition for a team in need of receiver help. This of course assumes that he can be healthy and show some production to boost his value to another team. It seems unlikely he will be with the Bengals in 2021.

 Pittsburgh

Hey MapleTron, we see you! After having only nine (9) targets and 151 yards through the first three (3) games Chase Claypool exploded against the Eagles for seven (7) catches on eleven (11) targets for over 110 yards and three (3) touchdowns. He also started the day with a jet sweep, rushing for a fourth touchdown, the first Steeler to do so in half a century. Dionte Johnson leaving early in this game likely had something to do with the amount of targets Claypool earned but a week after Juju Smith-Schuster was one of the most resigned players across RSO, some owners may already be having buyers remorse.

AFC SOUTH

 Houston

The Texans played inspired football for their new head coach and earned their first victory of the season. The passing offense also seemed more open with three (3) receivers having six (6) or more targets and DeShaun Watson throwing for over 350 yards and three (3) touchdowns. His two (2) interceptions are still a sore spot that one would hope an elite quarterback would avoid but if risking a few passes to get his receivers more opportunities to make plays is needed, I think both fantasy and Texans fans would take it. The schedule does not get much easier with games against Tennessee and Green Bay next but hopefully, the success they had after changing coaches can build as the season goes along.

 Jacksonville

This offense needs D.J. Chark in the lineup if they are going to have any success. Much like two weeks ago, the Jaguars were unable to consistently move the ball downfield and relied on secondary options like Laviska Shenault and Keelan Cole to try and claw their way back against the Texans. James Robinson has also been trending the wrong way since his big primetime performance in week 3. With Devine Ozigbo set to return soon from the injured reserve, this may become more of a timeshare backfield than some would have thought three weeks ago. It may not matter if the offense cannot muster more success though.

 Indianapolis

Is it midnight already for Philip Rivers? He seemed to turn back into a pumpkin against the Browns last week throwing two (2) interceptions, one that was so telegraphed the cornerback easily took it back for six,  and no touchdowns. The defense is playing at a high level and will help win them games against inept offenses like the Bears and Jets but the offense (especially Philip Rivers) need to figure it out if they are going to have any chance at making the playoffs. Only Jonathan Taylor is worth starting in fantasy right now.

 Tennessee

At one point I was watching this game and the stat came across the screen that Derrick Henry had something like 12 carries for 15 yards total and I thought, “Man, the Bills defense is shutting down Henry tonight”. Then he stiff-armed Josh Norman so hard it made everyone forget Earl Thomas and before you knew it he had 19PPR points and the Titans had scored 42 points. This offense is one of the most underrated in real life and fantasy. It has been great to see Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith finally put it together and with a healthy A.J. Brown now back, this team should be one of the final four contenders for the AFC Championship.

AFC WEST

 Kansas City

The so-so play of the Chiefs finally cost them a win last week as the defense kept letting the Raiders go up and down the field on them, both with quick scores and long sustaining drives. After a big week 1 that made everyone gush taking him at 1.01 in rookie drafts, Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been very pedestrian in the last two performances. With rumors of Le’Veon Bell potentially signing with the Chiefs his arrival would make Chiefs fans rejoice, but the CEH drafters miserable. We will have to see what happens. Maybe this is a buy-low window.

 Las Vegas

Derek Carr finally got his first-round receiver, Henry Ruggs, back and he immediately made a splash play with his speed on a 72-yard touchdown. Nelson Agholor also scored his third touchdown of the season on his own deep throw touchdown. Jon Gruden clearly wants to do three things: run the ball with Josh Jacobs (20+ carries in 3 of their first 5 games), work the sticks with Darren Waller (leads all tight ends with 47 targets and 34 receptions), and take deep shots (at least one completion of 34 or more yards in 4 of 5 games). If the Raiders can do all three successfully, they will keep the AFC West race competitive down the stretch.

LA Chargers

The Chargers lost in yet another heartbreaking way that only can be described as “That’s so Chargers”. You cannot, however, pin it on rookie quarterback Justin Herbert who if not for Chase Claypool’s performance would have been the AFC rookie of the week. The rookie has gone toe-to-toe with two of the best quarterbacks in the past two weeks and has thrown seven (7) touchdowns to only one (1) interception and over 260 passing yards in both. Fantasy owners that drafted Herbert in the late first or early second round of Superflex drafts are thrilled at the prospect of having a potential top 10 quarterback coming up. If the talent around Herbert can stay healthy there could be some great duels between him and Mahomes for the AFC West crown heading into the next decade.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

One Big Thing – AFC – Week 4

Updated: October 10th 2020

Every week we learn a little bit more about how a team sees each player as a part of their offense allowing fantasy footballers to react (positively or negatively) to those actions. Each week I will look to capture the “One Big Thing” that should have an impact on each team going forward and how you, the savvy fantasy player, can use that to your advantage.

AFC EAST

 NY Jets

It was good to have Jamison Crowder back as it made watching this offense at least have some purpose for fantasy. We will have to wait and see if Le’Veon Bell can make his return in week 5 and present some balance to the Jets’ offensive game plan. Fantasy owners are also hopeful that Denzel Mims can return to do something before we consider this a lost season for him. The Jets looks completely flat right now and thus outside of Crowder and maybe Bell, there will not be much reason to roster Jets players in 2020.

 Miami

Preston Williams has been quite the letdown for fantasy owners who may have invested heavily in him this offseason. Williams has failed to have more than two receptions in a game thus far and is averaging just 6 points per game. Surprisingly Isaiah Ford has seen more targets than Williams over the first month of the season too which is not a good sign for his productivity. The Dolphins are not a high powered offense so it will be difficult for more than one player to be relevant at a time. Williams’ owners can only hope that with a potential change at quarterback on the horizon that it can rejuvenate the offense’s effectiveness.

 Buffalo

Fantasy owners survived a scare when Josh Allen looked like he may have injured his arm right before halftime but he looked fine in the second half and has had no limitation heading into the next week. With Zach Moss missing his second game Devin Singletary was able to have another bell-cow performance totalling 89 percent of the running back snaps. These two were in a near 50-50 split during the first two (2) weeks of the season so it will be interesting to see if they go right back to that or if Moss will be more eased into the lineup. This may be a selling window for Singletary if you are one of the few teams that have made it through running back injuries this season.

 New England

Let us start by saying that New England got hosed having to play last week’s game with the short notice that their starting quarterback was going to be unavailable and then having to travel the same day as the game. Regardless of that, the offense was awful without Cam Newton and it warrants asking how bad this team would have been if they did not sign him and stuck with either Jared Stitham or Brian Hoyer.  Some of their unpreparedness may have been from having no reps or notice about playing until the eleventh hour but it still did not inspire a lot of confidence. The Patriots game against the Broncos has also been moved back due to other players now testing positive making their week 5 game a similar circus as week 4. We will see what the team has put together for whichever quarterback is starting… if the game even happens.

AFC NORTH

 Baltimore

The Ravens looked better, albeit not their usual spectacular selves, against an inferior Washington team. Lamar Jackson scored his first rushing touchdown of the season but once again failed to throw over 200 yards. He has now been held to under 205 yards passing in three (3) out of four (4) games thus far and while his rushing totals, much like Kyler Murray’s, is enough to keep him afloat he has not presented the same cheat codes he had a season ago. The backfield is also a mess for fantasy as the Ravens have split carries between all three (3) of their running backs evenly across all four (4) games. This will make it nearly impossible to guess who will have a big week presenting a risky all or nothing fantasy outlook.

 Cleveland

Remember when the sky was falling after week 1 because the Browns were embarrassed by the Ravens? For three straight games since the team has averaged 226 rushing yards and only have one (1) turnover during their three (3) convincing victories. It is unfortunate that Nick Chubb was injured and will miss a significant amount of the regular season though. Luckily, the team already had Kareem Hunt lying in wait so he should now receive the bulk of the carries along with D’Erest Johnson, who almost put up 100 yards once Chubb left the game. Two upcoming games against the fourth and first ranked run defenses in the NFL will be a strong test for whether the Browns can win in multiple ways. If they can, this team may have a shot at making a playoff run.

 Cincinnati

Joe Burrow earned his first victory as a starting NFL quarterback and pushed his consecutive games throwing 300 passing yards to three (3). He is currently on pace to set the rookie record for pass attempts, pass completions, and passing yards which shows the skills that he has as well as the confidence his coaches already have in him to be the focal point of this team. Joe Mixon also came out of the weeds for a three (3) touchdown performance to make all his fantasy owners rejoice. The Bengals play in one of the toughest divisions in football so it will be difficult for them to expand their win total much greater than last year’s but on the field, this team already looks more impressive than those last-place finishers a year ago.

AFC SOUTH

 Houston

Will Fuller is the embodiment of Brian Fantana’s famous quote, “60 percent of the time, it works every time”. When he is healthy he is a solid WR2 every time but the problem is he had only played in 65 percent of games over the first four years of his career. This year he has once again score 15+PPR points in three (3) of four (4) games but everyone only remembers his week 2 game where he came up lame with no targets or catches due to an apparent hamstring injury. Even with Bill O’Brien let go there should not be much change in the offense’s game plan so expect Fuller to continue to be the most targeted receiver for DeShaun Watson.

 Jacksonville

What a difference one week and the return of one non-quarterback player can have on an offense. The Jaguars looked awful last Thursday against a not-so-great Miami team but with D.J. Chark returning to the lineup the offense was able to put up 25 points and Gardner Minshew threw for over 350 yards. Both of Minshew’s touchdowns also went to Chark which shows that he not only helps the offense move down the field better but also helps with their scoring efficiency in the red zone. “A rising tide lifts all boats” I guess.

 Indianapolis

The Colts’ defense has been superb over the first four (4) games to the point that it might be hurting the fantasy value of the players on the other side of the ball. Jonathan Taylor has been as advertised coming out of Wisconsin averaging 14PPR points per game but he has been the lone reliable fantasy player from the Colts offense. The biggest disappointment has to be T.Y. Hilton who in the Colts first four (4) games has only gone over 9PPR points once and is currently WR73. For a player in RSO leagues who is likely sitting in the $10-$15MM range, he is an anchor to your roster unless he starts to turn things around. Maybe with tougher opponents on the horizon that will force Philip Rivers to pass more. One can hope.

AFC WEST

 Denver

Jerry Jeudy had a nice coming out party on the national stage last Thursday with a wonderful catch over the defender for a touchdown that likely increased his stock value. Next to him, Tim Patrick also had a strong performance with his first career 100-yards receiving game. Unfortunately for the Broncos, they will not be able to play the Jets multiple times this year so their chances of scoring 37 points in one game may be the high watermark in an otherwise lost year for the team. The is a chance with the extra day that Drew Lock will return which might give the team a fighting chance against what looks like another great Patriots defense. Otherwise, fantasy players can probably leave most Broncos on the bench this week.

 LA Chargers

You have to tip your hat to the kid, Justin Herbert, who was not afraid to go toe-to-toe with the G.O.A.T. by throwing bomb after bomb touchdown to keep his team in the game. Unfortunately for him, he lost his starting running back Austin Ekeler for what seems like an extensive part of the season so even more of the offense may be pushed onto Herbert early. The Buccaneers have one of the better run defenses in the NFL but for Herbert to lead the team in rushing yards with 14 shows that the team was not able to get much once Ekeler went out. Anthony Lynn will have to figure out a way to maintain a better balance with rookie runner Joshua Kelley and veteran Justin Jackson if he hopes to keep his young quarterback upright.

 Las Vegas

After two strong appearances in the first two games of the season, the Raiders have fallen back to .500 following two losses against what is probably two of the better AFC defenses. Much to the annoyance of Eagles fans Nelson Agholor scored the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter and also had another long touchdown earlier in the game called back via penalty. Maybe he just needed a fresh start. Both he and Hunter Renfrew have had surprisingly good starts to the season with both Raider rookie receivers missing some time with injuries. It will be difficult for this team to keep up with Kansas City in the division but they should be in that next tier down of teams that will challenge for the three wildcard spots at season’s end.

 Kansas City

That was the second of the Chiefs’ four games where they did not look great on offense until they needed to turn on the jets in the final quarter. Good teams can “flick the switch” when needed but it gives fantasy owners a small heart attack until they see the final scores. It would have been interesting to see this game with Cam Newton playing on the other side as it appeared that the Chiefs offense was looking to just avoid bad plays knowing that they had a huge advantage rather than taking their usual shots and quick scoring drives. Other than the upcoming Bills game in two weeks, the Chiefs should be able to put up points against five (5) or their next six (6) opponents in spades. We will have to see when this team’s first loss looks like a possibility.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

One Big Thing – AFC – Week 3

Updated: October 1st 2020

Every week we learn a little bit more about how a team sees each player as a part of their offense allowing fantasy footballers to react (positively or negatively) to those actions. Each week I will look to capture the “One Big Thing” that should have an impact on each team going forward and how you, the savvy fantasy player, can use that to your advantage.

AFC EAST

  Miami

Remember when folks were debating whether Jordan Howard or Matt Breida was going to be the more relevant running back to have in Miami? Neither has seen any relevancy outside of Howard’s weekly 1-yard touchdown appearance and instead looks like this is Myles Gaskin’s backfield. He has already reached last year’s production in just the first three (3) games and along with James Robinson in Jacksonville, seems to be this year’s waiver wire hero.

 New England

Rex Burkhead decided to have one of his playoff performances in the regular season and it caught most off guard in fantasy last week. While it is likely that this was a perfect storm of missing James White and opportunities around the goal line maybe in this new run-first offense his skillset is more versatile than that of White or Sony Michel. As I hinted in the Street FA Report this week he may be more involved in the offense than most think and while it may have a bigger impact on real football than it will fantasy it is good to see him getting involved the most he has been since coming from Cincinnati four seasons ago.

NY Jets

This team is bad. It certainly does not help when the starting running back and two starting receivers are missing games due to injury but their 0-3 start seems like it was always an inevitability. Braxton Berrios has been a nice story the last two weeks but hopefully, Jamison Crowder and Le’Veon Bell return soon to make this team worth watching at least for fantasy implications.

Buffalo

Gabriel Davis had a nice showing with John Brown going down with an injury. The fourth-round rookie from UCF scored his first touchdown in week two and then had over 80 receiving yards against the Rams last week. The Bills throttled down for much of the second half with a seemingly comfortable lead only to have to quickly pick things back up on their final drive to avoid an Atlanta-level collapse. If Brown was to miss any additional time, Davis may have another opportunity to see some targets and build a rapport with Josh Allen.

AFC NORTH

Pittsburgh

This offense is just the Hydra of Greek mythology; when one player goes down another takes his place. The succession line of receivers all the way back to Mike Wallace has shown that if the Steelers draft a receiver we need to be on notice. Dionte Johnson exited last week with a concussion and in his absence, both James Washington and Chase Claypool stepped right in and saw eleven (11) targets. It begs the question if they can develop/have such an eye for talent do they need to extend a player like Juju Smith-Schuster or could they focus resources elsewhere and continue to develop the other receivers in his place?

Cincinnati

It was another strong showing for Joe Burrow and was a small coming-out party for second-rounder Tee Higgins who caught his first two career touchdowns. A reason why this game seemed to be much better for fantasy than maybe it should have was that it went the full five quarters but it all counts the same. The Bengals have played the most 3WR (79%) and 5WR (5%) sets thus far so it is likely that Higgins will continue to see the field as the season moves along. Especially if John Ross continues to be inactive and Auden Tate is pushed down the depth chart, Higgins could be one injury away from a starting role.

Cleveland

The Browns executed the same game plans as week 2 against the Bengals and for the second straight week, it worked. It helped that Washington kept turning the ball over but a win is a win. As long as the Browns keep playing inferior opponents they should be able to run the ball at will with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. We will see whether they get to play the “good” Dallas Cowboys this week or the “bad” Dallas Cowboys. That may decide whether the Browns have a chance at winning this game or not.

Baltimore

Everything about Baltimore’s week 3 matchup with Kansas City was disappointing. Lamar Jackson was not able to elevate his game to Patrick Mahomes’ level of excellence and his receivers let him down with several dropped balls on key downs. Luckily for them, they have a cupcake matchup against a Washington team that was just bullied by Cleveland last week. Only a catastrophic performance this week would cause any concern in those starting Jackson or Mark Andrews moving forward.

AFC SOUTH

Jacksonville

Similar analysis here for James Robinson as with Myles Gaskins in Miami’s blurb. He looks like he will be the Waiver King for 2020 as he currently ranks as the RB6 in PPR. His usage appears to be matchup proof too as the Jaguars were trailing for the entire game and he continued to be involved in the passing game. He has filled the role vacated by Leonard Fournette well and should be a week-to-week RB2.

Indianapolis

Two weeks in a row and Mo Alie-Cox continue to surprise fantasy players with his production. Last week with Jack Doyle out of the lineup it made sense but this week Doyle returned and went without even a single target. Meanwhile, Alie-Cox has now scored 30PPR points in the last two games and is currently a top 10 TE. He is a rosterable tight end now and is one more solid performance away from being a weekly starter.

Texans

Three games and three losses thus far for Bill O’Brien and his new-look Texans. It has been a tough start to the season playing the Chiefs, Ravens, and Steelers but this team has been a perennial playoff team for the last half-decade with DeShaun Watson so it is still surprising to see them winless. I have said it in past weeks but they miss DeAndre Hopkins’ consistent and splash plays to help keep the offense moving. They just cannot seem to get out of first gear right now. Hopefully, they can turn things around against Minnesota and Jacksonville the next two weeks.

Tennessee

Derrick Henry had a nice bounce-back game after being held to under 10 PPR points in week 2 by scoring 27 points against Minnesota last week. There was maybe some talk that Tennessee drafted Darrynton Evans to spell Henry more but Henry has out-touched the rest of the Titans backfield 87:9 through three games and he does not appear to be slowing down.

AFC WEST

Las Vegas

Not sure how much Darren Waller was hampered with his lower-body injury last week and whether that may have limited his preparation for New England but Bill Belichick was able to shut him, and the entire Raider offense down. A week after they shocked the Saints by going up and down the field in the second half this offense could not sustain drives until New England was in full control of the game. At least Hunter Renfrew had a bit of a coming-out party so maybe he can build momentum into the next game with both Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs trending towards not playing this week.

LA Chargers

Someone should have waited to tell Justin Herbert that he was starting again this week as it seemed to help him stay loose against Kansas City two weeks ago. Against a more inferior Carolina team, Herbert showed a little more of what we would expect from a rookie quarterback making his second career start. Not that it was a bad performance, he had a chance at the end to win it, but he just did not have the “it” factor. Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler fantasy owners are not complaining though as in his two starts he seems to have rejuvenated their values to be where most had them ranked coming into the season. Hopefully, Herbert keeps an eye on the quarterbacks he is facing the next two weeks (Brady and Brees) and takes away a couple of tricks from them to help him improve.

Denver

When Tim Patrick is your leading point scorer in a week it probably was not a good week for the offense. The Broncos looked overmatched against a strong Buccaneers defense that dominated them all afternoon. Not sure they would have fared much better if they had a healthy lineup but it would have at least been more interesting of a game to watch. The way this season is going John Elway should not rush to bring Drew Lock back to risk re-injuring his shoulder. For Lock though, he may want to come back as soon as possible to avoid being replaced by one of the incoming rookie quarterbacks that could be available with Denver’s currently top 5 draft pick.

Kansas City

The Chiefs for all intents and purpose gave Patrick Mahomes a blank check to keep him as their starting quarterback. In RSO leagues so should you. He effortlessly reminded everyone that he is capable of putting up 40 fantasy points each week and has not even hit his prime yet. Tyreek may lose his speed and Kelce may only have two or three years of peak play left but Mahomes will continue to elevate all the talent around him. Unless you are playing in a 1QB league and you get a haul of players and picks in return when his resign button becomes active after week 4 just hit accept. Whatever resign value he has on his expiring rookie contract is undervalued.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

One Big Thing – AFC – Week 2

Updated: September 23rd 2020

Every week we learn a little bit more about how a team sees each player as a part of their offense allowing fantasy footballers to react (positively or negatively) to those actions. Each week I will look to capture the “One Big Thing” that should have an impact on each team going forward and how you, the savvy fantasy player, can use that to your advantage.

AFC East

Buffalo

The switch seems to have flipped on this offense’s philosophy as Josh Allen has looked superb over his first two games. Hopefully, this was not just the product of playing two mediocre teams (Jets and Dolphins) but rather Allen’s growth from a one-read and go quarterback to a proper franchise passer. It is probably no coincidence the addition of Stefon Diggs has had a positive impact on his ability to pass with greater efficiency as well. This may be the difference between the Bills being a playoff hopeful, and a playoff contender in 2020.

 Miami

Through two games Ryan Fitzpatrick has not had the usual “Fitz-magic” swagger that elevates the talent around him to be fantasy relevant. This team, and more specifically this offense, needs a spark if they are going to show improvements for second-year head coach Brian Flores. A competitive Thursday night game against the Jaguars might help boost this team’s confidence. If not we may be on the verge of a Tua sighting with the mini-bye after.

 New England

As Randy Quaid put it in the movie Independence Day, “Hello boys, I’m Back”! Cam Newton has looked even better than where he was projecting back in 2018 before injuries led him to miss most of the last two seasons. He is averaging over a 71 percent completion rate showing how much he has worked on his fundamentals as a passer all while returning to his past “Superman” form in terms of running capabilities. He may have been stopped on the goal line at the end of the game last week but we can all assume that Josh McDaniels was thrilled with all his other jumbo formation success. The Patriots do scheme changes better than anyone week to week so we should expect more creative play-calling to give teams headaches when presented with similar formations moving forward.

  NY Jets

This team looks dreadful and if it was not for the history of not firing coaches mid-season my money would be on Adam Gase for the first head coach to go. The Jets have failed to put any playmakers around Sam Darnold which likely puts his own career with the Jets in limbo at this point. There has been a recent trend of drafting a second, first-round quarterback even with the first still on his rookie deal and the Jets may be in line to do the same in 2021. Not that this is a knock on Darnold but when a generational talent like Trevor Lawrence is available it will be hard to pass up if he makes it to them. In any case, Darnold will need to show a lot more over the next two seasons if the Jets are even going to consider picking up his fifth-year option. There are just too many holes to fill on this roster to have franchise-level money committed to an average-below average starter.

AFC North

Cincinnati

I will quickly say that although Joe Burrow has started his career 0-2 he already looks the part of the franchise quarterback. If you can acquire him on his cheap rookie contract do it now. Having said that the thing that stood out was that A.J. Green, despite the announcers saying that he thinks he has four (4) more years of elite play in him, appears as if he is already spent. His role in this younger offense reminds me of what Rob Gronkowski’s was in his final season in New England where he was on the field for what seemed like a great portion of the game but his only contributions came during big moments. This is great for real football but in terms of fantasy, Green is now at best a rotational flex player based on matchups. The window to sell was a long time ago but if you can find another owner who will buy on name brand alone it would be worth seeing what he is worth.

 Cleveland

Maybe the Ravens are just that good. Or maybe Cincinnati is just terrible on defense still. Either way, the Browns had a much-needed tune-up game that allowed both their running backs to rush for over 200 combined yards and score a combined 50 fantasy points on Thursday night. It remains to be seen how the game script will affect the usage of both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt but when they can, this offense moves through these two. Baker Mayfield did just enough to sustain drives and make key throws when needed but as mentioned Cincinnati is not the standard of defensive excellence that we should be judging quarterbacks on. We should get a better read on this team by week 3 as they face a tough Washington front seven.

Pittsburgh

This was another game where the Pittsburgh defense looked really strong but it was a surprisingly close game despite the Broncos’ injury misfortunes on their offense.  When the opponent loses its starting quarterback and primary wide receiver you should be able to take advantage of his backup’s lack of preparation and timing with his other receivers. The offense is strong enough that several wide receivers look like they should be WR2 most weeks, however, it will be difficult week-to-week to pin down who will be the best. Week 1, Juju Smith-Schuster looked to be heading back to the elite tier of receivers but then Dionte Johnson stole the spotlight in week 2, commanding thirteen (13) targets. We know Pittsburgh has been able to support multiple high-end wide receivers in fantasy seasons’ past so there should be no concerns owning either.

Baltimore

It is not too often that Lamar Jackson is held to under 19 fantasy points in a week but I guess that is the blissful experience that even his lackluster games are still better than your average quarterback. The offense didn’t need him to be a superstar as the defense and running game controlled the Texans wire to wire. Jackson should bounce back to top-5 QB in week 3 as an early “game of the year” candidate against the Kansas City Chiefs will likely require him to go toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes if they want to win.

AFC South

Tennessee

We finally got the post-hype breakout from Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis that we were expecting last year. The two combined for three (3) touchdowns against the Jaguars in week 2 and are the focus for Ryan Tannehill with A.J. Brown sidelined. In RSO leagues both Smith and Davis are likely to be heavy re-sign candidates when the feature opens up after week 4. Either may be a great building block if you do not already have another candidate for resigning or could also fetch a good return on the trade market, depending on their re-sign value.

 Jacksonville

The ‘Stache did not get the win in week 2 but he went toe-to-toe with the AFC runner-ups which shows that he has the talent to keep his team going. The big surprise has to be the use of Keelan Cole (check out our Street FA Report this week) and how he is being used as one of the primary passing options thus far. He leads the team in targets, receptions, and touchdowns over the first two weeks. For a team that most thought were tanking for Trevor, they have looked anything but bottom rung the first two weeks of the season. Seven (7) or eight (8) wins is not out of reach for this team.

Indianapolis

It only took one game of Marlon Mack’s absence for Jonathan Taylor to take full control of the Colts’ backfield. Taylor played on 49 of Indy’s 73 offensive snaps and had 28 touches compared to the other running backs’ combined ten (10) touches. It would have been interesting to see how the snaps were split with Mack still available but much like the Chargers and their rookie’s performance I do not see how they hold Taylor back from being their bell-cow running back.

Houston

The Texans have had a brutal schedule to start the season against three of the best teams in the AFC. This has likely exposed more of the flaws that this team has which puts real pressure on the team to turn things around quickly if they want to save their season. The offense just does not have that big-play capability any more that DeAndre Hopkins offered and it has forced the team into having to spread the ball around to less talented players. Especially when the team’s best receiver, Will Fuller, can not stay on the field consistently enough to be available for DeShaun Watson it will be difficult for this team to make another playoff run.

AFC West

Denver

Last week I talked about how exciting this offense could be with all this young talent showing promise in week 1. With the injuries to Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and Drew Lock though it does not look like it will come to fruition this season. The bright spot is that Noah Fant looks like he will be a great receiving tight end and is a steal in RSO leagues where most have him on a second-round rookie contract through the next two seasons. He did not seem to have much of a production drop off once Jeff Driskel took over at quarterback either so he should continue to see high volumes of targets while Lock is out for a few weeks.

 Kansas City

Patrick Mahomes had to pull out a big comeback win against rookie Justin Herbert in his first career start (more on him in the next blurb). The offense looked pretty sluggish through the first three quarters but luckily they have the quick score ability to come back from almost any deficit. Clyde Edwards-Helaire also came back down to earth with only 38 yards rushing; luckily he caught six (6) passes to bolster his PPR weekly score. This does remind us that some weeks there just will not be enough opportunities to go around and other than Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, there may be down weeks for KC’s other weapons.

 LA Chargers

Justin Herbert was thrust into starting week 2’s games moments before kickoff and he surprisingly was going toe-to-toe with one of the best quarterbacks in the league for most of the game. He provided a much-needed spark to an offense that looked average at best against a Bengals team that was just torched in week 2. Some discussions suggest Head Coach Anthony Lynn will return to Tyrod Taylor once he becomes healthy again which does not make a lot of sense. The only reason you do not allow a rookie quarterback to start is that you believe that he is not ready or he lacks the confidence to handle the ups and downs that come with learning to be a rookie quarterback in the NFL. Herbert showed he is ready and willing to learn quickly from mistakes. I just do not see how benching him for Taylor if he looks good in his second start this week benefits the team either in the short or long term.

 Las Vegas

The Raiders looked like they might be blown out early but methodically scored 24 unanswered points once the game settled down in the second and third quarters to have maybe what some considered a sure Saints victory. Derek Carr looked surgical as he found just about every open receiver with ease. Of those receivers, it looks like this is going to be the Darren Waller show in Las Vegas as he now has the second-most receptions (18) of any receiver and is the clear #1 target for Carr moving forward. His re-sign contract value will be an interesting one to monitor since most leagues do not have big tight end contracts to pull the algorithm’s value up to what he should cost at auction next season. A lucky break for any team that currently has him on their roster.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

One Big Thing – AFC – Week 1

Updated: September 17th 2020

Every week we learn a little bit more about how a team sees each player as a part of their offense allowing fantasy footballers to react (positively or negatively) to those actions. Each week I will look to capture the “One Big Thing” that should have an impact on each team going forward and how you, the savvy fantasy player, can use that to your advantage.

AFC EAST

 NY Jets

The Jets looked terrible from start to finish in week 1 against the Bills. If not for a blown coverage on Jamison Crowder for a 69 yard TD there would not be much worth rostering on this team in fantasy. The news of Le’Veon Bell now being out for at least a couple of weeks makes the team even less fantasy relevant. I imagine ownership is already talking about what the rest of this season means for both Head Coach Adam Gase and third-year quarterback Sam Darnold’s future with the Jets after 2020.

Buffalo

Josh Allen had himself quite a strong day in fantasy with over 300 yards in the air and another 57 on the ground, along with three (3) total scores. The team is clearly more well-rounded with a talent like Stefon Diggs available to take pressure off of the two returning receivers, John Brown and Cole Beasley. We will have to wait and see how this offense fairs against a stronger opponent that could have taken advantage of Allen’s two (2) lost fumbles and wildly overthrown red zone pass before putting more stock into their viability. For one week though, the team looked excellent and provided a lot of optimism as being a more pass-friendly offense.

 Miami

A lot of hype around the receiving core for Miami with DeVante Parker and Preston Williams but week 1 was a dud. Parker left the game early with a leg injury and Williams only caught two (2) receptions on seven (7) targets. This was against one of the top defenses in 2019 but still if Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t find his magic in game two after throwing three (3) interceptions on Sunday we could see the rookie, Tua Tagovailoa earlier than expected this season.

 New England

It expected to be quite the philosophical change going from the immobile Tom Brady to the linebacker playing quarterback Cam Newton but no one really knew how health Newton was heading into the season. Newton had fifteen (15) carries signalling that he is fully back and ready to pick up where he left off before getting injured in 2018. Seattle will be a much tougher matchup for him and Josh McDaniels to game plan for but if he can be as strong a runner as he was in his New England debut he will be back to an every week QB1 again.

 

AFC NORTH

 Cleveland

It is almost poetic that the only thing that did not seem to change in 2020 is the Cleveland Browns and our expectations for their success. After being a hot-ticket to be a Super Bowl contender the team fell on its face and didn’t even make the playoffs. It was being labeled as inexperience with one another and with a full season now under their belt and another strong piece added to their offense at the tight end position the team was going to challenge the Ravens for the division. Sunday showed that these teams are not even in the same stratosphere of expectation and ironically it all comes down to the quarterback that was picked 1st and the one that was picked 32nd. Baker Mayfield just has not looked as good as he showed at the end of the his rookie season and a player only gets so many Head Coach and General Manager do-overs until it becomes apparent that the it’s not the supporting cast holding him back, it’s the other way around.

 Baltimore

At least for the first game the adage of “teams will figure out Lamar Jackson with a full offseason to prepare” is busted. The Ravens picked up where they left off in 2019, even adding a newer, younger model of running back in J.K. Dobbins who had two (2) touchdowns in his debut game. Marquise Brown seems to have taken a solid step forward in his sophomore year and Mark Andrews is a locked-in top 3 fantasy tight end. There should be no concern starting any of these four in fantasy and Lamar Jackson continues to improve his passing ability, bolstering his long term value to rival that of only Patrick Mahomes.

 Cincinnati

Joe Burrow had an up and down debut for the Bengals but he gave them a chance to win it late, and should have if not for a missed field goal with time expiring. He still had some rookie mistakes, the pass where he shovelled it directly into the lineman’s hand comes to mind, but he showed his athletic ability on the QB draw touchdown and spread the ball around well enough to show you why he was the first overall pick. A.J. Green also looked good despite some health concerns coming into the game and would have had a better stat line if not for an OPI touchdown called back at the end. If Burrow can continue to develop, along with the return of a healthy A.J. Green this Bengals offense will feature a number of fantasy flex options as the season moves along.

 Pittsburgh

Man, the difference between having a HoF quarterback versus the two JAGs the Steelers were stuck with last year makes this offense night and day for fantasy. Juju Smith-Schuster showed in his first game back with Ben Roethlisberger that anyone who didn’t pick-up his fifth-option made a big mistake and anyone who bought low on him in the offseason is grinning ear-to-ear. He is already looking like a shoe-in for fantasy comeback player of the year. If Roethlisberger can stay healthy (big if) this may be the only other team to challenge the Ravens and Chiefs for the AFC crown in January.

 

AFC SOUTH

 Houston

For how mediocre the Texans ended up looking once the game was over they surprisingly looked strong on their opening drives in the first quarter capped off with a David Johnson touchdown. Whether the Chiefs are going to be just that dominant against everyone this year remains to be seen but how the Texans looked the other three quarters must be scaring DeShaun Watson owners for the upcoming season. Other than David Johnson looking like a revitalized 2016 version of himself and Will Fuller catching passes after the game was already out of hand, the Texans had absolutely no threat for the defense to have to focus on. It is clear that Bill O’Brien did not want his whole offense to run through one player, and instead wants to focus on spreading the ball around to keep his options open. At least for one game that seems to have backfired on him.

 Indianapolis

The heartbreaking losses seem to follow Philip Rivers wherever he goes. Another late game interception gave the Jaguars the opportunity to score a late touchdown and to compound the misery the team found out Monday that Marlon Mack will be out the rest of the season with an Achilles injury. In his absence the Colts look like they will use a lot of Nyhiem Hines to complement Jonathan Taylor out of backfield in what might be a win-win scenario for both running backs and Hines especially could be a waiver wire steal for some fantasy team moving forward. Those who held on to Parris Campbell through his lost rookie season might finally see their investment pay off this season as he co-lead the team in targets with nine (9) and seemed to have a connection early with Philip Rivers. The Colts expect to be in tight games like this all season long so Campbell may be another breakout second-year receiver to watch.

 Jacksonville

He may not have put up a stellar stat line but running back James Robinson recorded 100 percent of the carries for Jacksonville in week 1. This is a huge boost to his value going forward as the fantasy community didn’t know what to do with this team after they unexpectantly cut Leonard Fournette right before the start of the season. It remains to be seen how many scoring opportunities the Jags will have in 2020 but until we see otherwise James Robinson should be considered an RB3.

Tennessee

The fantasy community may be panicking over what they saw from A.J. Brown in the Monday night closer but for those who didn’t stay up to watch the whole game you should go back and watch it all. He may have had a quiet first half but he was on the field the most of any wide receiver and the team was clearly trying to get him involved in the second half. The emergence of Corey Davis can hopefully be more than just a one-game fling as the Titans could use another receiver to help out Brown and Ryan Tannehill. When Brown goes off for 7-110-2 against the Jaguars in week 2 it will be like nothing ever happened.

AFC WEST

Kansas City

This team looks like they should be able to run it back to the Super Bowl, or at least a strong AFC Championship matchup with Baltimore, after how they thoroughly dominated on Thursday night. The one piece of the offense that people may have been “meh” about the last couple years, the running game, may actually be the new best thing about this team. In the past it was always worrying that the offense likely could not slow down when ahead and were prone to having to keep passing the ball. Now with Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the Chiefs can get up big and stay up on most of the league.

Las Vegas

The talk all offseason was how improved the passing game should be for the Raiders with new talent being added at the receiver position. Everyone seemed to forget Josh Jacobs could also take a leap forward in the passing game too as he finished second on the team in targets with six (6). His three (3) rushing touchdowns also showed how underrated this team’s offensive line is. If not for the craze still surrounding Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jacobs might have been the biggest running back news this weekend. He is shaping up to be a league winner if the Raiders keep feeding him the ball the way they did in week 1.

LA Chargers

It wasn’t a pretty win but unlike their former quarterback’s debut game, Tyrod Taylor was consistent enough and most importantly turnover free in his debut as the Chargers starter. The Chargers have been a top offensive and defensive team over recent years but they always seemed to be plagued by bad decisions at critical moments in games that would leave them on the short end of games. While Taylor might not bring as much fantasy output as Rivers does, Chargers fans will be happier with wins than big stats.

Denver

Drew Lock looked a lot like Daniel Jones in that he showed flashes of what could be a great franchise quarterback but still had some of the expected young QB flaws that hopefully can be worked sooner rather than later. I want to see what this offense will look like when Courtland Sutton and K.J. Hamler are healthy because with Lock’s development and the full complement of receivers this team has at their disposal, this could be the next fantasy offense we want all parts of. Noah Fant especially looked like everything that the fantasy community wanted Evan Engram to become. He might be the closest thing we have to the New Orleans Saints version of Jimmy Graham in that he is a tight end that is too fast for linebackers to move with and too big for safeties to cover. He could join the big three at the top of the tight end draft board by season’s end.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews