While it sounds like a cop-out, we’re still in information gathering mode. We’re counterpunching the 2017 NFL season, especially after a generally horrendous Week 1 in offensive productivity (defensive fantasy scoring, of course, another matter entirely).
So most of the Week 2 Top 10 things fantasy players should watch for will be questions we are seeking to answer as quickly as possible as we assess our teams.
1. Let’s start in Tennessee with Eric Decker, who had eight targets. But the bad news was they went for just 10 yards. His 60 snaps were eight more than Rishard Matthews and 18 more than Corey Davis. Decker is coming off a serious hip injury and at age 30 there are questions whether he can come back. Decker also suffered an ankle injury in training camp. I am confident that either Decker or Matthews will finish as a high-end WR2 with the other being a low-end one. I just don’t know which is which.
2. The other major issue for the Titans investors is the rushing splits between DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. Last week it was 67 percent of RB carries for Murray. In 2016, it was 72 percent. So this pace would be a hit for Murray similar to what was priced into his ADP.
3. The injury to Danny Woodhead (shocker) makes Javorius (Buck) Allen the primary receiver at running back for a team expected to deploy them often in the passing game. Running backs had five of the Ravens’ 17 targets in Week 1. Allen had five games of five-plus catches in 2015, so he is a solid PPR play for as long as Woodhead is out (expected to be eight weeks).
4. Cam Newton is all over the place in fantasy, either an MVP candidate (2015) or a quarterback who cannot even finish in the top 12 (2014 and 2016). Is Newton even a better bet than Tyrod Taylor, who is freely available in many leagues (just 50 percent owned)? In 2016, Taylor finished seventh in scoring and Newton 13th.
5. Chris Hogan is being dropped in many leagues but gets an ideal matchup in New Orleans. Were his Week 1 struggles (along with the entire New England offense) strictly a function of eight-man coverages? How will New England adjust if the offense continues to face pass rushers who, instead of rushing, crash into slot receivers within the five-yard area?
6. Can Kareem Hunt follow up his great game by simply exceeding projections? He’s clocked in at Yahoo this week in a tough matchup against a solid Eagles defense as RB6 (14.4 projected points). If so then Hunt, who we loved in the summer, is a legitimate top five-caliber fantasy pick and likely league winner.
7. The Chiefs and Vikings suddenly seem to have the best skill talent around. Each have added impact running backs. Does this necessarily elevate Alex Smith and Sam Bradford into the QB7 to QB12 range — meaning plausible weekly starters? Bradford was fantastic on Monday night but remember his Minnesota debut last year: 22-31 for 286 yards and two TDs in an upset win against the Packers. He tallied two TD passes just twice in his next 12 games and was soon dropped in all but the deepest formats.
8. Martavis Bryant has long odds to come back from a year-long suspension. No one ever has. Of course, the sample is small. But maybe you can’t miss all that time and just pick up where you left off. That actually seems pretty reasonable, doesn’t it? And if you are 95 percent of what you were in the NFL, that doesn’t mean that you get 95 percent of your former production. It means you are just another guy or even out of the league.
9. The Dolphins play after being forced into a bye in Week 1 due to Hurricane Irma. Will the transition to deep-ball throwing Jay Cutler actually turn DeVante Parker into a top-12 WR as many are half expecting? Parker’s ADP soared late in the draft season. Or is the secret weapon last year’s league leader in converting deep passes into TDs: Kenny Stills? I think Stills, only 25, is the free pickup this week before kickoff who could pop and be a hot free agent come Tuesday. Stills is just a year older than Parker, believe it or not.
10. Russell Wilson has a lot of handicaps in Seattle to overcome with the rotten offensive line and a defense that’s not likely to ever require more than 20 points from the offense in order to win. Wilson is the No. 6 QB in points per game since 2014 but that’s due largely to 1,700 rushing yards. But here are the attempts for Wilson, who’ll be 29 in November, by year: 118, 103, 72. At that rate of decline he’ll run 25-30 times this year. Let’s even double that (he had two rushes in Week 1) and it’s still hard to move Wilson above the streamable range. My Podcast partner and fellow Yahoo scribe Scott Pianowski is still banging the Breakfast Table for Wilson.