Fantasy Football Stock Watch: Week 1
Justin Vreeland surveys the fantasy football world and examines whose stock is rising and whose is falling after Week 1.
The NFL season has finally kicked off! Week 1 is in the books and there was plenty of action to break down, both good and bad; not only within this article, but many others that we offer, such as the Hot Takes, Waiver Wire Report, Weekly Target Stats, the Red Zone Report, and many more! For those of you who are multi-sport fantasy players, you already know what to expect in this article, as I have written a weekly Fantasy Baseball Stock Watch piece all season long for the MLB. For those of you who are the Football only types, welcome! Feel free to shoot me feedback or anything else in the live chats or on Twitter @JustinVreeland. While we don’t want to overreact to just one week action of action, it’s still important to take note of what we have seen. Without further ado, let’s dive in!
Lamar Jackson, QB BAL – Yes it was the Dolphins, so while I think you can take his stat line with a grain of salt (though it was fantastic, as he went 17-20 for 324 yards and five touchdowns), if you caught any of the game you understand why his stock his up. He looked great and was consistently dropping in dimes on all route trees. Just look at these two beautiful throws:
He had a perfect passer rating (158.3) and only carried the rock three times. Last season in his seven starts, he never had higher than a 101.3 passer rating and ran the ball at least 11 times in all seven starts (averaged 17 rush attempts). We know Jackson can run the ball very well, so we didn’t need to see that, but if he truly is an improved passer, he will easily be an elite fantasy option this year. He only had six passing touchdowns all of last season! He should be in line for a big week in Week 2 too, as the Ravens will take on the Cardinals, who just gave up 385 passing yards to Stafford this week.
Evan Engram, TE NYG – Engram had a big rookie year in the games that OBJ was out with injury, hauling in 45 receptions for 522 yards and five touchdowns across the final 10 games. For that reason, myself and many others were expecting a breakout third year for Engram, with OBJ officially out of the picture and in Cleveland, well Engram did not disappoint in Week 1, as he hauled in 11 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown on 14 targets! While he is very unlikely to see 14 targets on a consistent basis (obviously), this is exactly what we want to see… big time volume! He was the only Giant with more than eight targets and also the only player with more than six receptions. Shepard (and Tate when he returns) are still going to be factors in the Giants offense, but there is no doubting that Engram is going to be a focal point of it. He will be a top-four player at his position this year, book it!
John Ross, WR CIN – Ross was someone I was high on coming into the year and he did not let me down in Week 1. He hauled in seven passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns, but perhaps most importantly is the fact that he racked up 12 targets. Those 12 targets were good for the seventh most in the entire league (through Sunday’s games). He played 63 snaps, which is obviously fantastic, especially since it was actually two more snaps than Boyd played. The Bengals were matched up with a solid defense in the Seahawks and only managed to score 20 points, which makes Ross’ big-time performance that much more impressive. He has a juicy matchup on tap with the 49ers in Week 2 and he should be able to keep the good times rolling. Health has always been the biggest issue for Ross though, so that is certainly something to keep in mind if he is on your roster.
T.J. Hockenson, TE DET – Hockenson had a huge Week 1, hauling in six of nine targets for 131 yards and a touchdown. That’s a very impressive NFL debut, especially at a position that usually really struggles to produce in fantasy in year 1. In fact, the 131 yards were an NFL record for a TE making his NFL debut. He was listed behind James as the starting tight end going into the week, but with James getting just one target I think it’s safe to say that Hock is the guy going forward. The nine targets are what I love most about this performance, though the stat line was obviously great too. He is a three-down tight end that is strong as a blocker and with performances like this in the passing attack; he could be in for a strong rookie campaign that sees him on the field constantly. He was the eighth overall pick in the NFL draft and the Lions have to be feeling pretty good about that selection right now. He was a late-round flier in fantasy drafts this season and while it’s just one game, those late fliers are looking great right now.
Jamison Crowder, WR NYJ – Crowder is one guy I am feeling pretty wrong about after Week 1. I did not like him coming into the year and thought he would be third in line behind Anderson and Enunwa, but wow what a first week of action he had. He racked up 17 (!) targets and hauled in 14 of them for 99 yards. He led the entire NFL in targets and it wasn’t even close (Engram was second with 14). Meanwhile, Anderson and Enunwa only combined for 10 targets. From what I saw of the game, Darnold looked horrendous on any intermediate-to-deep pass attempt he made, which probably is a factor into why he kept feeding Crowder underneath for small gains; hence why Crowder still didn’t cross 100 yards receiving, despite the 14 receptions (that’s pretty tough to do). I still think he has limited upside, but he is certainly worth paying attention to and he may just be a viable PPR asset.
Kerryon Johnson, RB DET – KJ had a very lousy Week 1, rushing 16 times for 49 yards, hauling in two passes for 13 yards, and failing to find the end zone. He had a cake matchup and should have been able to produce far better than this. Poor performances happen though, so that isn’t my biggest concern with him. What really bothers me with this outing was that the Lions gave Anderson 11 carries and that McKissic had just many targets as Johnson did. We have seen this with the Lions before, way back in 2018 (sarcasm) when Johnson lost out on goal line (and short-yardage) carries to Blount and lost out passing work to Riddick. I really hope we aren’t heading down this road again with KJ because he is the most talented back on their team and should be a strong fantasy asset. I am not ready to hit the panic button, but seeing the usage distribution for Week 1 is enough to raise some red flags for me.
Dante Pettis, WR SF – I hated Pettis coming into the year and did my best to tell everyone a part of FANation to avoid him at his ADP in fantasy drafts. When the 49ers released their depth chart, Pettis was listed at the top and everyone on Twitter was ready to take their victory laps and say “I told you so.” Well, those people should have at least waited for Week 1 to happen, because Pettis only played TWO snaps in the 49ers 31-17 win over the Bucs. He caught his lone target for a seven-yard gain. Kittle, James Jr, Coleman, Samuel, Bourne, and Goodwin all played more snaps and had more targets than Pettis. Shanahan says that Pettis wasn’t fully healthy, but I think that’s a load of crap, considering the guy returned to practice on Monday was a FULL practice participant on Thursday and Friday. Pettis isn’t someone to cut yet, but he’s certainly not someone you want in your starting lineups for Week 2.
Todd Gurley, RB LAR – Gurley carried the rock 14 times for 97 yards and hauled in his lone target for a four-yard gain. Yes, 15 touches for 101 yards is very good, so why is he in the Stock Down section? Well, there are actually multiple reasons for that. The Rams can tell us Gurley is fully healthy all they want, but he clearly isn’t. He only had THREE more carries than Brown, in what was a close game throughout. He also didn’t get the goal-line work; Brown got those carries and plunged into the end zone for a pair of scores. Lastly, he only had the one target. Do you know how many times last year that Gurley had one or fewer targets? ZERO times. I like Gurley and I hate to say it, but he is not right and the Rams know it. He may never be right again, unfortunately. Gurley owners should look to sell him while they can. Other owners will see the strong yard per touch totals and may be willing to take him, but this game was very concerning to me.
Peyton Barber, RB TB – Barber drew the start for the Bucs, but was severely outplayed and outworked by Ronald Jones. Barber finished with eight carries for 33 yards (4.1 YPC) and hauled in two of his four targets for 12 yards. Meanwhile, Jones carried the ball 13 times for 75 yards (5.8 YPC) and hauled in his lone target for 18 yards. Barber is nothing special and he finished last year averaging just 3.7 yards per carry on 234 rush attempts. Jones was a second-round pick in last year’s draft and the Bucs want him to be the guy, so it would not be surprising if Barber has already lost the role of lead back. He is still worth holding onto, but he is not someone that you want to have in your starting lineup.
Stocks to Watch
D.J. Chark, WR JAX – Chark was a 2nd round pick in the 2018 draft, but he turned in a horrendous rookie campaign last year, hauling in just 14 of his 32 targets (43.8-percent) for 174 yards. Well, in Week 1 of this season he nearly topped that yardage total in one game, hauling in 4-of-4 targets for 146 yards and a touchdown. The stat line is great, but the four targets are not great and it will make it hard for him to continue to produce if that number doesn’t increase. He finished third in targets among wide receivers on the team and tied for fifth on the team among all positions. He is worth adding if he is on the wire, but he shouldn’t be inserted into a starting lineup yet.