Fantasy trends emerge, for now, in Week 1
My old geometry teacher used to say that it’s impossible to draw a trend line through a single data point, which is wise counsel for those quick to extract meaningful conclusions from the first week of the 2013 NFL season.
Then again, Mr. Wilson (name changed to protect the nerdy) never played fantasy football. And I hated geometry.
Here are some observations from Week 1 that may or may not be early indicators of sustainable trends in Fantasyland:
- We may never witness a more dominating fantasy performance than Thursday night’s gem from Peyton Manning. At least not until next Sunday, when he faces off against the depleted secondary on his brother’s squad.
- San Francisco wins the award for Best Trade of a 6th Round Draft Pick with the offseason acquisition of Anquan Boldin. Colin Kaepernick actually looked like a more dangerous quarterback with Boldin (and Vernon Davis) than he did last season with Michael Crabtree.
- Danny Amendola limped off the field after aggravating his groin injury. Later, Tom Brady engineered another fourth-quarter comeback. Some things never change.
- I warned you last month that Lamar Miller’s next big fantasy day will be his first. Still waiting…
- David Wilson wishes his starting job was as secure as Miller’s.
- Jordan Cameron delivered on his sleeper status. Zach Sudfeld apparently is still sleeping.
- If Mr. Wilson was available, I’m sure he could calculate the percentage increase in Julius Thomas’ production from his first two seasons (1 reception, 5 yards) to his 2013 output (5 receptions, 110 yards, 2 TDs). I’m just going to call it 5,627% and declare that Thomas is worth a flier.
- Reggie Bush looks terrific in his new Lions uniform, but his owners are playing with fire if they aren’t hedging their bets with Joique Bell.
- I’m not overly concerned about slow starts by C.J. Spiller, Chris Johnson, Marshawn Lynch, Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant and T.Y. Hilton. They’ll surely overcome their opening-week jitters.
- I’m very worried, however, about Maurice Jones-Drew, Stevan Ridley, Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe, Greg Jennings and Cecil Shorts.
- On a related note, it’s official: Jacksonville is the worst professional football team on the planet. They could make Terrelle Pryor look like the next Manning this Sunday.
- It must be a very gloomy day in Pittsburgh, after their injury-riddled debacle against the Titans. I’ve been looking forward to the debut of promising rookie Le’Veon Bell (foot), but will anyone be left standing when he returns?
- Contrast the Steelers’ fate with that of the Cowboys, who watched Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and star cornerback Mo Claiborne all laying facedown on the turf Sunday night. Each returned to action, Dallas beat the Giants in their home-away-from-home and Jerry Jones is once again (prematurely) clearing space for another Lombardi Trophy.
- Roddy White apparently played Sunday with a dreaded high ankle sprain, and it showed. Those who drafted him were expecting more than a decoy. Given the tendency of such injuries to worsen without rest, it’s not too early to consider safer options. White could miss some time in the weeks ahead.
- Did the Jets really beat the Bucs? I’m still incredulous.
- Eddie Lacy just might be the workhorse Green Bay has been looking for since Ryan Grant’s heyday. His arrow is pointing up big-time.
- Who knew it would take Sam Bradford to release Jared Cook’s inner beast?
FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS
To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.
Catch ‘em while you can
Da’Rel Scott, RB, Giants. There’s no telling what forms of torture Tom Coughlin is inflicting on David Wilson right now, but no back in the league has a more tenuous hold on his starting job. Scott took over after Wilson’s second fumble Sunday night and was effective as both a rusher and receiver. He’s worth a provisional pickup, unless the Giants bring in a veteran. (My Magic 8 Ball says Willis McGahee.)
Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins. Mike Wallace picked up where he left off after a lousy preseason, but at least his presence took the pressure off his counterpart. There’s little doubt that Ryan Tannehill trusts Hartline. He’s worth a pickup as a bye-week substitute and the occasional start against subpar competition.
Julius Thomas, TE, Broncos. One-week wonder? Very possibly, given that prior to the season opener, Thomas’s NFL resume was virtually blank. Then again, when Peyton Manning takes a shine to you, very good things can happen.
Don’t be fooled
Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots. It’s tempting to jump at Edelman after his career-best performance, but his results were skewed by the absence of Rob Gronkowski and the inexperience of his fellow receivers. If he was that good, we’d have seen it more often over the last four years; and there wouldn’t have been talk of cutting him this preseason. Grab Edelman if you’re desperate; but don’t expect him to be a significant part of the Patriots’ game plan going forward.
Jerome Simpson, WR, Vikings. If you’ve played this game for any amount of time, you know better than to believe in Simpson, one of the most unreliable wideouts in the game. Sunday’s outing was his first in Minnesota with more than 100 receiving yards. And he’s still looking for his first TD.