Ryan McDowell (@): As always, we saw many surprising performances in the season opener, both good and bad, according to our preseason expectations. Perhaps the biggest shock came at the quarterback position where veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was the runaway QB1 for the week, accounting for five total touchdowns. Tyrod Taylor and Joe Flacco were also surprise QB1 finishers in Week One.
On the other hand, some of the top drafted signal callers posted dud games and finished outside of the top 20 fantasy scorers in Week One, including Texans QB Deshaun Watson (QB21), 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo (QB22), Steelers Ben Roethlisberger (QB23), Falcons QB Matt Ryan (QB24) and Lions QB Matthew Stafford. Of these five stars, which are you most worried about as a fantasy producer for the remainder of the season?
Jesse Pantuosco (@): You just had to bring up Fitzpatrick again, didn’t you? I had SO much exposure to the Saints’ defense last week. Live and learn I guess. I usually lean glass half empty, but I’m actually not overly concerned about any of the quarterbacks you mentioned. Matt Ryan and Jimmy Garoppolo were objectively terrible last week, but both were going against top-tier defenses on the road. I’m also cutting Deshaun Watson some slack because he was playing without Will Fuller and the Patriots are virtually unbeatable on their home turf. Let’s also not forget that this was Watson’s first meaningful game in over 10 months following last year’s ACL tear. Give him a game or two to shake off the cobwebs and he’ll be good to go. Ben Roethlisberger has grown increasingly turnover-prone in his old age, but let’s see him play in normal weather conditions (aka, not a torrential downpour) before we start jumping to any bold conclusions. There’s no defense for Matthew Stafford’s meltdown against the Jets, but knowing the weapons he has in Detroit, I’m guessing this was an outlier.
Gun to my head, I guess the one I’m most worried about is Ryan. That might surprise people given his MVP pedigree, but to me, he hasn’t been the same quarterback since Kyle Shanahan left for San Francisco. Whether it’s Steve Sarkisian’s shoddy play-calling or some kind of mental block Ryan has, the Falcons just haven’t been getting it done inside the red zone. Matty Ice has gone his last nine games (playoffs included) throwing for one or fewer touchdowns. For a player as talented as Ryan, that’s unacceptable.
Raymond Summerlin (@): Like Jesse, I am not really that worried about any of them. If I have to pick one, though, I would go with Watson simply because we already expected him to regress from his insane showing in 2017. Coming off a serious knee injury, it would not be that surprising if he fell even further than we expected, especially playing behind the worst offensive line in the league. On the bright side, he did rush for 40 yards against New England, and that trump card should help mitigate the fantasy points he loses through the air.
Pat Daugherty (@): I'm the most concerned about Watson. As we've discussed at length, both his touchdowns and interceptions are going to regress to the mean, and he's playing behind a just unconscionable offensive line. He was pressured an absurd amount in Week 1. Throw in the fact that dynamic No. 2 receiver Will Fuller is already having trouble staying on the field, and you have sort of a worst-case scenario developing. It's quite possible a player of Watson's play-making prowess overcomes all this, but questionable roster-building and coaching has the degree of difficulty are way higher than it should be.
John Daigle (@): Agree with Ray. Watson is the clear outlier of this group given his irreproducible 9.3% touchdown rate from last year. Having said that, I wouldn’t look too much into his (dreadful) start versus New England. Will Fuller averaged an absurd 21.4 yards per catch in the four games he played with Deshaun and yet here we are discussing his performance against the Pats as if Fuller suited up. I’ll say this: in those 3 - 4 games Fuller somehow manages to stay healthy for, Watson will again look like gold.
In the meantime, I’ll go with Roethlisberger. And I say that knowing full well he’s about to light up an Eric Berry-less Chiefs defense that’s choosing to start Steven Nelson, Orlando Scandrick, a couple postmen, and me. If he walks away with anything less than 300 yards and three scores Sunday, it’s a travesty. But you’ll get why I made this choice whenever the Steelers travel to Tampa the following week and Ben reverts back to his 260-1-1 road self.