Free Agency and Injury week 1 2019
Week 1 is nearly in the books and it was a doozy. A handful of injuries happened and some players put up the most memorable Week 1 performance in recent history. Here's what you need to know.
Darren Waller Caps Off Week 1 in Style
Waller has bounced around teams and dealt with suspension up to this point in his career. He was a longshot to make a fantasy impact after signing with the Raiders but the buzz around him only escalated throughout the summer.
Waller posted a 7-70 line and was a featured member of the Raiders passing game. He played receiver in college making him more of an athlete than almost any tight end in the league. He's a mismatch no matter who defenses use to cover him. Waller is the best tight end waiver add of the week and may end up as one of the best pickups of the season.
Tyreek Hill Injury and Sammy Watkins Explosion
Tyreek Hill left his game versus the Jaguars with a shoulder injury and did not return. Reports say that he has avoided serious injury but Hill will miss a few weeks. Sammy Watkins was already having himself a day before Hill left but the speedsters departure helped Watkins keep up the blistering pace.
Watkins ended the day with an insane 9-198-3 line. He will never repeat this for the rest of his NFL career but he will be the Chiefs No. 1 receiver until Hill returns. A player commanding roughly 20% of the targets in a Patrick Mahomes led offense is at worst a fringe top-12 receiver.
Mecole Hardman gets a serious bump in targets as well. Hardman was originally brought into Kansas City to replace Hill in the event Hill was suspended. He runs a 4.33 (Hill runs a 4.34) and is a similarly raw route-runner. Hardman isn't the locked-in play every week but he is an appealing tournament option and fringe starter on fantasy rosters.
Todd Gurley: Committee Back
Rumors swirled all offseason surrounding Todd Gurly's usage due to knee issues. The Rams scaled back his volume tremendously, giving him just 14 carries and a catch. Malcolm Brown was given 11 carries including two that he converted to scores on the goal line.
Gurley can survive no low volume because of how prolific his offense is. It's Brown's goal-line usage that is extremely concerning. Gurley is still a must-start but he is clearly not the Gurley of old.
Brown is a viable play now but he'll likely have to find the end zone to be worth a spot on fantasy rosters. There are worse bets than a Rams running back scoring though.
Nick Foles Goes Down
In his debut with Jacksonville Foles went down with a clavicle injury on his non-throwing arm. He'll be out indefinitely leaving Gardner Minshew as the presumed starter. Minshew put on an impressive performance for a rookie entering in the middle of a game. He completed 88% of his passes for 275 yards and two scores.
Losing a starting passer typically spells doom for that team's receiving options but Minshew's first reps in the NFL provide some optimism. He was also a prolific passer in his final year in college.
7.8 adjusted yards per attempt
D.J. led the team in receiving yards but Chris Conley and Dede Westbrook were both targeted more. This is likely going to be a tough receiving core to project week-to-week but Westbrook is the best talent and was getting targeted in Week 1. He's the safest bet for now.
John Brown Breaks Out
No receiver in the league fits Josh Allen's skillset more than John Brown. Last season, John Brown led the NFL in air yards after five weeks. Through eight, before Lamar Jackson became the starter, he was in the top three.
Josh Allen led the NFL in depth of target last year at 11.2. These two are a match made in heaven. Brown's line of 7-123-1 wasn't an outlier. He'll be inconsistent because of the nature of his targets but expect Brown to win DFS tournaments again before the season is over.
Everyone on Baltimore is Relevant?
Lamar Jackson and the Ravens annihilated the Miami Dolphins to the tune of 59 points. The biggest surprises of the game were Marqise Brown and, more quietly, Gus Edwards. Brown turned five targets into 147 yards and two scores. Edwards carried the ball 17 times.
Most of Edwards' carries came when the game was well out of hand. This could be the most carries Edwards sees for a long time. Mark Ingram is still the running back to own.
Brown's talent is undeniable but his volume is still concerning. Jackson only passed the ball 20 times before resting in the final quarter. Mark Andrews accounted for eight of those targets. Brown was only targeted five times. He's an interesting play with a high upside on each week but his floor is still basement-low.
Terry McLaurin Makes a Name for Himself
Jay Gruden spoke up Terry McLaurin numerous times during the offseason and it appears as though he may know what he's talking about. McLaurin went for 125 yards and score on seven targets. Trey Quinn was targeted six times and Paul Richardson was targeted seven times as well.
Quinn operates out of the slot and his routes should be shallow and don't provide great upside for fantasy. Paul Richardson has been in the NFL for six years and peaked at 700 yards. We know who he is at this point in his career.
Austin Ekeler is the Man
Ekeler won't be available on any waiver wires but Justin Jackson might be in a few days. Ekeler carried the ball twice as many times as Jackson and caught six passes to Jackson's one. On top of the volume, Ekeler was electric. He scored three times including an incredible catch and run where he broke multiple tackles.
Justin Jackson can be left on the bench for now and is reasonable to cut for premium waiver wire adds.
Joe Mixon Suffers and Ankle Injury
Joe Mixon left the Bengals/Seahawks game with an ankle injury and did not return. Giovani Bernard took over as the team's lead-back but the Bengals had given up on running the ball at that point. He got seven carries and caught two passes.
If Mixon misses time and Cincinnati doesn't throw 50 times Bernard becomes a weekly flex play. However, the Bengals have rarely given Bernard a large workload and now appear to be a more pass-heavy offense. He has a solid floor because of his receiving capabilities but his touch upside is capped.
Daniel Jones Shooting Star
After the game was decided but the game clock hadn't hit zero yet, the Giants trotted out Daniel Jones for some reps. He started off by throwing three competitions on three passes and then fumbled the ball away. Eli Manning should be the starter next week but even if Jones does get the nod he's not worth playing.
It was the passing game that showed out in Dallas this week. Amari Cooper went for over 100 yards but it was Michael Gallup that stole the show. Gallup caught seven balls for 158 yards.
Gallup flashed as a rookie going for 507 yards on a run-first offense. Dak Prescott also missed him on a number of deep passes that could have boosted his rookie numbers. It appears as though the two are playing in perfect harmony now.
Cooper is still the No. 1 in Dallas but Gallup is worth considering for that final flex spot in fantasy leagues.
Jameis Winston Meltdown
In typically Jameis Wintson fashion, Tampa's gunslinger went out and got torched in what should have been a great matchup. Instead, Winston threw three interceptions, two of which were taken to the house by San Francisco. Bruce Arians was supposed to come into Tampa Bay and hone Winston's best assets while limiting his mistakes. It looks like even the great Bruce Arians can't fix everything.
Derrius Guice Injured Again
The second-year back can’t seem to catch a break. He tore his ACL before last season and didn’t play a snap. Now his other knee is injured. This is the knee that he injured in college at LSU.
Best case scenario is that Guice returns healthy in a few weeks. For now, Adrian Peterson should get most of the tackles between the carries. Peterson averaged 17 touches per game last year as a full time starter. His 251 carries were top-five in the league.
Chris Thompson should also get a small boost in touches. Thompson is an electric playmaker who is able to house-call any touch. Even a slight increase in carries could push him towards weekly fantasy relevancy.
Matt Breida Season is On
Matt Breida was a favorite sleeper of many analysts and Tevin Coleman is now expected to miss at least a few weeks with an ankle injury. Last year, Breida averaged 5.3 yards per carry on 153 carries and hauled in 27 receptions. He’s slightly undersized but has a three-down skillset. He’s the highest priority free agent add in season-long leagues and is likely a free square in DFS this week.
Raheem Mostert may take on Breida’s role as a high-volume backup. He’s a journeyman who played on four teams before finding a permanent home in San Francisco. Mostert isn’t a viable pickup until we see what his role is without Coleman. He is a player worth monitoring though.