Week 1 of fantasy football, much like the 50 Shades of Gray movie, was the bad kind of weird. Even given the high tolerance for shenanigans that fantasy football players have, this week was particularly uncomfortable to watch (again, much like 50 Shades of Gray, #NotMyChristian). I won this week because my tight end and defense combined for 42 points, and my opponent’s star quarterback scored five. A league-mate of mine forgot to take Mike Evans out, but he won regardless, because Matt Bryant scored 18 points. This week was, in short, a nightmare, like one of the many I had after watching 50 Shades (in case you couldn’t tell, I wasn’t a fan).
All that being said, I’d like to welcome readers to a new column early every week in which I assess each weekend’s weirdness and try to gauge which of the highlights or lowlights (that’s a word, right?) are for real or minor bumps on the road. This might have only been the first week, but trends are already beginning to emerge, so let’s dive on in.
How ‘Bout Them Highlights
–Carlos Hyde had a monster game, one that certainly didn’t seem like a fluke. Trent Dilfer—or Chris Berman, I don’t know or care which one it was—called him a bell cow, and I am inclined to agree. I’m not just saying that because I love the term “bell cow,” and I’m not just saying it because the last time Reggie Bush had fantasy relevance was in 2009 when he was dating a Kardashian (again, don’t know or care which one). I’m saying it because Hyde moved like a feature back. He rushed for 6.4 yards per carry; he followed his blockers; he moved with a rare blend of physicality and agility; and, he busted out a spin-move so precise, it looked like something out of a Madden game (don’t know or care which one). In short, the kid’s got moves, and he’s got the potential to be a high-end RB1 from here on in.
–DeAndre Hopkins picked up on last year’s tradition of making the best of a bad situation: despite the Battle of Brady’s Backups at QB, Hopkins was the second-highest scoring receiver for Week 1. He’s miles better than every other Houston pass catcher, so he’ll be getting the bulk of the targets from whatever JV quarterback is under center. That fact alone makes him a solid WR2. Couple it with the fact that he’s got the talent to haul in most of those under-thrown passes, and you’ve got someone who has WR1 upside this season.
–For the first time since 2000, four tight ends scored more than 20 fantasy points. Of those four, two were by Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce, who simply lived up to expectations. The other two, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and Tyler Eifert, were such deep sleepers coming into the offseason that only Rip van Winkle took note. Though either would be a good waiver wire pickup by anyone who doesn’t have Gronk, Graham, or Kelce, I think that Eifert is a safer bet going forward. Marvin Lewis claims to have “big plans” for Eifert, and I think that means he’ll be a strong goal line option going forward. Sure, at 6’-5,” Sefarian-Jenkins is taller, and he could be a popular dump off option for Jameis Winston this season, but Mike Evans will be back soon. Also, say what you will about the Bengals, but they’re better at getting touchdowns than the Bucs. I’m all in on Eifert.
How Bout Them Lowlights
–Peyton Manning was the most frightening disappointment from Week 1. Sure, everyone has an off-game now and again, but Manning’s failure points to a bigger trend. His last six regular-season games have been his worst six fantasy weeks since his rookie year. Moreover, he has looked… old. Now, at the beginning of last year, everyone and their mother thought Brady was on his way out, and he responded by dominating the second half of 2014 (not to mention the massively inflated cajones he put on display this past Thursday). Manning, however, is just a bit older than Brady was, and Gary Kubiak is no Bill Belichick. Now might be a good time to trade Manning and pick up Carson Palmer (or Marcus Mariota?) off of waivers, if you think this is the beginning of the end for one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
–Jeremy Hill had an impressive fantasy debut, but I’m alarmed nonetheless. He only managed about 3.2 YPC, and he lost touches to Giovani Bernard, who looked a lot like the version of Gio who beat Hill to the starting job just last year. Football is a fickle sport, especially at running back, so the future is murky for Hill.
–Dion Lewis is going to be a popular waiver wire pickup this week, but I can not stress enough what a bad decision that is. The Patriots go through running backs like that one Kardashian goes through boyfriends (hey, look a callback joke!). Shane Vereen? Jonas Gray? Steven Motherf***ing Ridley? In another system, any one of them would have posted decent fantasy numbers, but Bill Belichick hates all of our fantasy teams.
So that’s all for now. For anyone who lost this past week, all hope is not lost. Use this column and others like it to make some moves, and I’m confident that everything will work out. For more fantasy advice, make sure to look out for big things from HBT later this week. Lastly, after a fantasy week as weird as this past one has been, I’ll reiterate my same refrain–
How ‘Bout That Fantasy.