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From Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Football Week 1 Reactions

You know it’s football season when Raheem Mostert is injured and one lucky bastard gets to snag his replacement via top priority on waivers.  I lost by two points this week.  That means I am a.) 0-1 and b.) not high enough on the waivers to get Elijah Mitchell.  *sigh*.  But alas, there is plenty to be excited about after this first week of action, and plenty to be worried about.  I encourage, no, I implore you to not overreact to one game.  No, it is not time to trade Saquon or Zeke away.  Yes, it is important to keep an eye on them.  Those are two very different things.  Anyways, here are my biggest takeaways from one week of fantasy football action.

Damien Harris Is A Workhorse RB

It was always going to be the case that James White would see the vast majority of the receiving work in New England.  But what fantasy managers were interested in is how much rushing work Damien Harris would get.  With Mac Jones at QB, it seems to be quite a lot.  It makes sense to run the ball behind a strong offensive line to settle in your rookie QB.  Bill Belichik seems keen on utilizing this approach.  He played only 53.3% of snaps, but enjoyed 23 carries (3rd most of the week) and 100 yards on the ground (5th most of the week).  Given the strength of the Patriots defense, it will be a rare occasion when game script doesn’t go Harris’s way.  Due to the volume and expected efficiency behind the O-line, Harris is an RB2 in fantasy moving forward.

The Cowboys Offense Is A Gold Mine

Do you know the two WRs who lead the league in targets right now?  It’s Amari Cooper and Ceedee Lamb.  Oh yeah, they play for the same damn team!  Zeke owners be warned, this offense wants to THROW.  They know the defense isn’t going to give them a safety net, and given the talent surrounding Dak Prescott, there’s no reason not to run a pass-heavy offense.  I think Lamb and Cooper are both plug-and-play starters, and it will be a common occurrence to see them both have strong games (as we did this week).  Look at the numbers this team put up against one of the best defensive units in the league.  Now imagine what they can do against a more favorable matchup.  Sheesh, I feel bad for the poor soul who has to play the fantasy team that stacked Dak and Cooper.

No, That Doesn’t Mean You Should Panic On Zeke

Dak threw 58 passes this week and Zeke ran the ball only 11 times.  What the F–K?!  I don’t see that happening again.  Think about it, if Dak threw 49 passes (still a ton) and Zeke ran the ball 20 times, nobody would be worried.  This offense is going to run a lot of plays.  They are insanely efficient.  They didn’t have Zack Martin last week but will moving forward.  All the reasons we drafted Zeke are still valid, all that’s happened is we’ve confirmed the hypothesis that the Cowboys O is really, really good.  Now that Michael Gallup is out, there will be even more targets for the remaining players (including Zeke).  Do.  Not.  Panic. 

Darren Waller is TE1 Moving Forward

That’s right, I fucking said it.  Come after me all you “Kelce in the 1st round” people.  I want to hear your hate.  I want to hear your cries of “But he doesn’t have Pat Mahomes throwing him the ball!”  No, he doesn’t.  But what he does have is a QB and coach who want to feed him the ball like he’s the human example of gluttony (one of the seven deadly sins).  He got 19 targets in week 1, which led ALL PLAYERS IN THE NFL.  Kelce got seven.  Seven?  Are you serious?  You still think this guy is TE1?  Yeah, he scored two touchdowns and put together a great week.  But seven targets?  In a game the Chiefs were losing for the majority of the time?  For reference, that’s a 19.4% target share compared to 33.9% for Waller.  Waller is just as talented and in line for a much larger workload.  Bookmark this article so you can look back at it at the end of the fantasy season and admit I was right.

Workhorse RBs Exist In Committee Systems

I am as much a proponent of snap share analysis as anyone.  But it’s not always the best metric of how much of a workhorse a starting RB is.  Let me provide an example.  This is how the Colts backfield shaped up in week 1:

  • Jonathan Taylor: 42 snaps (55.3%), 17 carries (65.4%), 7 targets (18.4%), 58.5% opportunity share
  • Nyheim Hines: 34 snaps (44.7%), 9 carries (34.6%), 8 targets (21.1%), 41.5% opportunity share
  • Nobody else got a single snap or touch

Now, looking at these stats, you may be concerned as a Jonathan Taylor owner.  But that’s the wrong way to think about it.  The list of backs who are on the field for a vast majority of the snaps is very slim.  Ezekiel Elliott got an 84.3% snap share in week 1, but had only 13 opportunities (carries + targets) compared to Taylor’s 24.  Now, if I only told you that Taylor had 24 opportunities in week 1 and didn’t mention Hines what would you say?  You would say “Great!  He has a bell-cow level workload!” 

My point is this; guys like Nyheim Hines exist to take pressure off the starter.  They come in for certain situations and to give the RB1 some rest.  Hines getting touches does not diminish the touches for Taylor.  If Taylor had a 100% snap share, he would have had 41 opportunities (which is insane).  Touches are what matter, not snaps.  If Taylor is on the field, he’s probably getting the ball.  If Hines is on the field, he might get the ball, he might not.  Workhorse RBs exist in systems that look like committees at face value, and Taylor is one of them.  So are David Montgomery, Miles Sanders, and Antonio Gibson, despite what the snap share numbers say.

My Love/Hate Article Was A Flop

Whatever.  It’s fine.  I made some good calls, and I made some bad ones (Damn you Matt Ryan!  I should have known better!).  But will I write another love/hate fantasy article for week 2 and have the utmost confidence in it?  Of course.  But I will always, always admit when I’m wrong.  And in week 1, I was wrong quite a bit.  Welcome to Crow Worthy during football season gentlemen, this is the name of the game.