I woke up this morning to the usual routine: a half-naked 3 year old greeting me bedside while doing his best Free Willy impression. I wiped the cold from my eye to stumble into his room and help him clean up his bathroom attempt. It was then I realized that this Sunday morning was different – Willy truly was freed, and football was back! And so in begins the Week 1 Dynasty Dashboard.
For the first time in a long time, we put our redraft hats on and rummaged through our rosters in determination of the best starting lineups. While this exercise is fun to have back, true dynasty nuts know that it’s even more exciting to get the opportunity to assess player performances from our recent rookie drafts, trades, and deep dynasty waiver wire pick-ups. On a weekly basis we’re going to fly around the weekend’s slate of games and take a look at team performances and player outlooks and what we should look at from a go-forward dynasty perspective.
As is the tradition of the NFL these days, we were treated with a great headline game on Thursday night, only it wasn’t as great in terms of a level playing field. The Green Bay Packers seemed to still be in a transition period between the preseason and regular season, but that was likely a bi-product of being the unfortunate team to face the soaring Seattle Seahawks. On the Packers’ side, we never want to overreact to week 1 (especially given the opponent), but we’d be remiss not to at least raise an eyebrow to Eddie Lacy. While the injury to the offensive line dodged a long term bullet, Lacy sustained his second concussion since entering the league, and James Starks looked more than respectable with his opportunity. Lacy is going to demand high contact play, and the only possible outcome is an increased opportunity to future injury. He’s still a top-tier dynasty running back, but you have to face reality. Meanwhile, Percy Harvin’s usage demanded respect from the larger community and it’s clear he’s a focal point of the offense – his value meter is pointing up.
Jordan Reed started the season by giving way to a hamstring injury and watching Niles Paul put sad faces on the faces of owners everywhere. Reed has now a thigh, knee, concussion, and hamstring issue building up his resume. Reed’s as good as anyone on the field, but it’s impossible to not wonder if he’s able to stay on the field. If you’re less risk adverse, now is obviously the time to buy, but I already sold him wherever I was able to get a first round pick in return. DeAndre Hopkins didn’t waste any time continuing his late 2013 momentum and seemed to benefit from the Garrett Graham injury the most. If you don’t own any Hopkins shares, your window is closing pretty quickly.
Jake Locker took advantage of an open window as the Kansas City Chiefs lost their best Linebacker and best defensive lineman to the tune of a 66.78% completion percentage with a couple of touchdowns. Justin Hunter, the off-season dynasty darling, wasn’t the recipient of the scores and Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker proved their worth in the offense. Walker is a nice under the radar option that can be had for a decent price if you’re in need, but I would still put offers out for Hunter starting now in hopes the current owner is a box-score chaser. When Donnie Avery is the leading receiver, I’m not holding a bad performance against Alex Smith, but his ceiling does look a little faint, at least until the team decides they want to stop throwing the ball to guys like Anthony Fasano. Last call for Travis Kelce offers – get to work.
Aaron Dobson would have liked to get to work but was a surprise healthy scratch. Julian Edelman performed admirably, but the upside of that offense’s receiving corps will continue to be limited until they can get someone like Dobson on the field and get Gronkowski healthy. That offensive line is hurting bad, and Shane Vereen is going to keep being the top option in this offense. The Dolphin’s still have a lot of work to do in the passing department, but it’s a good sign that they made a concerted effort to get Mike Wallace the ball. Knowshown Moreno looks to be the 1A option in the backfield even though Lamar Miller was listed as the top option. Nevertheless, Miller looked good in his opportunities, was involved in the pass game, and had another rushing score called back for holding. The Dolphins have a legit running game, and they’re going to continue to depend on it going forward.
No one outside of rebuilding teams is depending on Geno Smith, and he proved his willingness to take risks is a good thing and a curse at the same time. There’s only up from here for Geno and Co., and Eric Decker will have his day with End zone visits. Please, Chris Ivory, please stay healthy — you are a madman! You shouldn’t have been expecting a rushing output from the Raiders against the Jets, and David Carr did a decent job against an ailing Jets secondary. Rod Streater is still the cheapest WR3 you can find on the market, and he should easily be the “Brian Hartline” of fantasy football at likely an even cheaper price.
I need to go back and watch the second half of the Jaguars/ Eagles game to figure out what went differently from half to half, but I really want more shares in the Jaguars attack. Allen Hurns is here to stay. His emergence is going to slow the involvement and development of dynasty favorite Allen Robinson, but it appears to me that Hurns will simply replace soon-to-be free agent Cecil Shorts and likely move Marqise Lee inside for the long term. Those saying that the Eagles aren’t taking LeSean McCoy off the field to get Darren Sproles playing time saw something different. Sproles is an automatic flex start from here on out with RB2 upside every week. My main concern about the receivers in this offense still remains – the ball is going to be spread around.
Le’Veon Bell is greater than LaGarrette Blount – his carries are not going to be spread around. The Bell hate was becoming a little crazy to me; he’s a top dynasty option in this offense. Markus Wheaton owners have a nice roster option on their hands; he will stay involved. The Steelers still need to balance their red zone attack, so let’s see if Heath Miller or Justin Brown get more action next week. So much for the Johnny Manziel read option plays (we knew that wasn’t happening). Brian Hoyer will be the backup Quarterback in no time. The team doesn’t have the talent in the corps to get open by design, so Manziel will be needed to keep drives alive. It didn’t take long for Ben Tate to go down, huh? Both Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell were great as back-ups, so this backfield is a committee.
I’m beginning to wonder if Les Snead has bad juju. This team just can’t catch a break. I Can’t say whether or not I think Brian Quick is the top guy, or if that was a bi-product of the 3rd string Quarterback rolling with the guy he’s most comfortable with. This is another game I need to investigate more. Zac Stacy was still the lead guy, but Benny Cunningham will continue to see a third of the looks on a team that had to play under an undrafted free agent. If Hill stands to miss additional time, the Rams should be calling Terrelle Pryor at this point. Cordarrelle Patterson looked every bit the boss he is while taking a carry to the house, yet he grabbed 3 catches for 26 yards. Meanwhile, the undervalued veteran Greg Jennings was yet again a redraft 3 round cheaper Marquess Colston. This guy gets no respect.
Jay Cutler won’t get real football respect as he continues to throw the ball to the other team one too many times a game, although he was still just fine for fantasy owners. Hopefully Alshon Jeffery owners will get some good news from that hamstring injury. The Bills did a good job of managing EJ Manuel, and as such the pass catchers cannot be depended on for any consistent production until further notice. CJ Spiller owners are hoping this performance holds up (as well as his ankles).
You know you can’t run the ball when you ask Joe Flacco to throw the ball 62 times. Gary Kubiak may have a system, but the running back on this team needs to be able to get jiggy with it right now, and that’s not a strong suit of Bernard Pierce. The matchup didn’t bode well for Torrey Smith, but Smith owners can’t like what they saw today. You have to ride this out and hope the Ravens are able to get creative to get him involved. Tyler Eifert looked to be an integral part of the game plan early on before he went down with a dislocated elbow. This is terrible news for those awaiting the break-out season, and he could miss extended time. No better time to buy a dynasty asset than when they’re injured, and he’s a lot cheaper than the aforementioned Jordan Reed. The Bengals didn’t have success on the ground, but I anticipate more Jeremy Hill next week against the Falcons. It’s clear that Giovanni Bernard is the lead back in Cincinnati, but Hill will have his games and might be had at a discount right now.
I want to say it shouldn’t be long before Devonta Freeman supplants Jacquizz Rodgers, but this backfield behind Steven Jackson is still pretty muddy for now. This is a situation that deserves patience – or a Jackson hamstring injury. Devin Hester is going to be one of the hottest pick-ups of the week in a couple days; the Falcons have finally done what Lovie Smith’s disciples were never able to do. Both Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson were able to cash in this week, but Ingram is playing for pizza right now in a contract season and looks to be the 1A early down option. Brandin Cooks owners are rejoicing as he was involved early and often from all over the field. This guy is the real deal and is quickly becoming the 1B read for Drew Brees.
Derek Anderson was surprisingly serviceable while Cam rested his ankle while addressing the huddle in street clothes. The run game is what we thought it was, although it appears that Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert are ahead of Deangelo Williams on passing downs. His already limited upside is clearly even more limited. Kelvin Benjamin is off to the races. Those that bought early shares were correct in doing so. The Buccaneers couldn’t have gotten any unluckier with injuries to both Doug Martin and Logan Mankins. It was a rough day for this passing game, but expect things to get better against the Rams defense (which will be on the field often), and then the Falcons.
The 49ers surprised me with their performance against the Cowboy’s offense, and Tony Romo had one of those Romo days we all wish he could have back. Colin Kaepernick was very efficient and found Vernon Davis early. Is Davis playing at his mean at this level? Most expected this number to come crashing down, but it shouldn’t’ surprise us he went off against the Cowboys replacement level players. Michael Crabtree owners (including myself) have to be worried right now, but I’m hoping this had much to do with the injury coming into this week. I’ll be looking for this via Shortcuts, but he did seem off when he was running across the field off a slant route.
Any questions about whether or not Reggie Wayne would give way to Father Time were answered very quickly. The Colts only had the chance to run the ball 9 times with running backs. Trent Richardson didn’t look terrible, so there’s a plus I suppose. Ahmad Bradshaw, however, was the guy most involved in the passing game. Dwayne Allen needs to see more targets. He’s able to do plenty with them, but I don’t think that he’ll get them as much as he deserves just yet in this offense. Julius Thomas — you are a beast!
For the Monday night game, I’m looking to see what Eli can do in that offense coming off a putrid preseason and how big of a role Rueben Randle plays. I’m also looking at how the Lions break up that running game and how Golden Tate impacts the offense. Antonio Gates is managing through a hobbled hamstring, so this might be a safe play for Ladarius Green owners. I’m also curious as to the percentage of carries and targets to go in the direction of Donald Brown.
The NFL is back! And we’re just getting started.