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Welcome to Week 2 of the 2020 Footballguys Roundtable. Our intrepid and oddball panel of fantasy pundits discuss and debate Sigmund Bloom's waiver wire recommendations after the NFL's opening week, complicated backfields, where our community is over- and underreacting, and lineup management advice for September.
- Sigmund Bloom's Upgrades, Downgrades, and Waivers
- Backfield Conundrums
- Over and Under Reactions
- Lineup Management Advice for September
Sigumund Bloom's Upgrades, Downgrades, and Waivers
Matt Waldman: Bloom's weekly staple at Footballguys provides readers his perspective of players whose values are rising, falling, and what you should bid on free agents.
- QB Gardner Minshew (5%-10%)
- RB Nyheim Hines (25%-50%)
- RB Malcolm Brown (20%-40%)
- RB James Robinson (20%-40%)
- RB Chase Edmonds (12%-25%)
- RB Jerick McKinnon (10%-20%)
- RB Joshua Kelley (7%-15%)
- RB Adrian Peterson (5%-10%)
- WR Parris Campbell (20%-40%)
- WR Jamison Crowder (20%-40%)
- WR Robby Anderson (15%-30%)
- WR Laviska Shenault (12%-25%)
- TE O.J. Howard (5%-10%)
- TE Logan Thomas (3%-5%)
Here's what I want you to do. Check out Bloom's list above or in the article and give me one player where you think Bloom is appropriately bullish on and one where you think he's either too enthusiastic or not enthusiastic enough.
For instance, I don't see Greg Olsen in Bloom's article and I think that's an oversight because his red-zone skills are a perfect fit with Russell Wilson's best throws.
Daniel Simpkins: Bloom is appropriately discounting Baker Mayfield. I covered the Browns in our Footballguys Training Camp Reports. In addition to struggling in practices, the changes that the coaching staff were working to implement to his footwork and mechanics were troubling red flags that suggested he would struggle. I would not at all be surprised to see Case Keenum in the lineup if Mayfield’s problems continue.
I feel Bloom is too bullish on James Robinson. Yes, Robinson unexpectedly shouldered the majority of the load in Jacksonville and looked reasonably competent doing it, but I have doubts that it will be sustainable against better teams. I don’t expect the Jaguars to lead in many games this year and be able to play bully ball on the ground. I also don’t think receiving work is Robinson’s strength. He was a fumbler in college and I look for that to show up at some point in the pros. These are just a couple of the things that make me think a 20%-40% bid is too aggressive, especially at this early juncture of the season.
Mark Schofield: I would whole-heartedly agree with what Daniel said here: Bloom is appropriately discounting Baker Mayfield. I covered the Browns in our Footballguys Training Camp Reports. In addition to struggling in practices, the changes that the coaching staff were working to implement to his footwork and mechanics were troubling red flags that suggested he would struggle.
I would not at all be surprised to see Case Keenum in the lineup if Mayfield’s problems continue. We are approaching bust territory with Mayfield. This should be the ideal offense for him (lots of play-action, lots of boot-action) and he is making mistakes that date back to his time at Oklahoma. This jumped out at me, too:
That...THAT...is concerning. Mayfield may turn it around, but yeah, don't let him drag your roster down.
I'm also higher on Gardner Minshew than Bloom is. Minshew was dialed in on Sunday, and what continues to stand out about his is the mind/feet connection. If you watch the touchdown throw to Laviska Shenault Jr, you can see how Minshew ties his feet to his decision-making.
He resets himself as he brings his eyes to the middle of the field, keeping himself in position to throw. Jay Gruden dialed up some creative designs for him and as such, I'm buying Minshew.
Waldman: Mark and Daniel, I will be slipping you $50 later for saying nice things about my No.2 quarterback in our Footballguys Super-Flex Staff League.
Jordan McNamara: I think Bloom is undervaluing DAndre Swift. Swift led the backfield in snaps in Week 1 and is carving out a role as the receiving back. In a Matthew Stafford-led offense, that is a highly valuable role. I'm optimistic his 44-percent snap share in week one is closer to his floor than his ceiling. While Adrian Peterson was good in the opener, Swift appears ahead of Kerryon Johnson in the priority, which gives Swift high upside in the event Peterson misses time during the season.
I'm lower on James Robinson than Bloom. Robinson projects as the primary running game role, but on a bad team, I'm not sure the game script, or the scoring opportunities will be enough to be more than a low-end RB2 in season.
Dan Hindery: Sigmund has been banging the drum for Nyheim Hines all offseason. While he lists him at the top of his waiver wire options, I think he might actually be underselling him at 25%-50% of the budget. In PPR leagues, this is a major opportunity to add someone who projects as a strong RB2 over at least the medium term.
I would be even more aggressive with my bids than half of my budget, especially if needy at running back. The Marlon Mack injury might be the biggest fantasy story of the first week given what his absence should mean for Jonathan Taylor and Hines. The Colts running backs combined for 17 catches last week. Clearly, the backs are going to be heavily involved in the passing game.
With an elite offensive line, Indianapolis should also rack up plenty of yardage on the ground. Hines played 13 snaps more than Taylor in Week 1. While those numbers should eventually flip flop, this should remain at least somewhat of a committee and Hines will maintain the extremely valuable third-down role.
Unlike Bloom, I would not be looking to pick up O.J. Howard unless it is a league with extremely deep benches. He had a solid stat line in Week 1 and drew six targets but that could end up being his season-high.
Howard played just 53% of the snaps and benefited from Mike Evans seeing just four targets and Gronkowski (who played 17 more snaps than Howard) seeing just three. When Evans is fully recovered from his hamstring injury and Gronkowski has his legs back under him after a full year away from the game, I expect Howard to fade to the background in this passing game.
Chad Parsons: I think Jamison Crowder is appropriate in the land of wide receiver waiver wire. He is the Jets wide receiver to own (not super high praise) and his usage floor and ceiling is requisite to be a fantasy starter most weeks. If needing receiver, Crowder is one of the better options when projecting out the next few weeks and into the bye week gauntlet.
As a fantasy GM who gravitates towards running backs when possible off the waiver wire, I do not think Chase Edmonds or Joshua Kelley are high enough in the aggressiveness factor. Both are clear backups with strong upside if one thing happens (their starter is out). Kelley looked fantastic in Week 1 and Justin Jackson (an inferior player in my view) is out for now. Edmonds was already the locked in primary backup in Arizona so he is more of a status quo projection from pre-Week 1.
Waldman: Couldn't agree more, Chad.
Maurile Tremblay: I'm more bullish on Minshew's fantasy prospects than Bloom is. I don't want to overreact to just one week, but my preseason opinion of Minshew had an awful lot of uncertainty built into it, so it takes less new information to significantly update my view of him than it otherwise would.
Heading into the season, I doubted that Minshew would be terribly efficient, but I thought there was a chance that he'd compile decent fantasy points on volume, typically playing from behind and racking up garbage time stats against prevent defenses.
In the opener, the opposite happened. His team won the game—no garbage time was available—but Minshew racked up fantasy points the old-fashioned way: with tremendous efficiency. If the Jaguars do end up increasing the passing volume by quite a bit and Minshew can remain solidly above-average in efficiency (granted, a 95 percent completion rate is obviously not sustainable), he could be a solid fantasy QB1. He's worth a shot at a greater price than Bloom has listed.
The injury to Marlon Mack bumps Nyheim Hines' projections going forward, but I'm not convinced that the bump is drastic. Heading into the season, Hines' fantasy prospects were capped because of the crowded backfield, as the Colts planned to use Mack, Hines, and Jonathan Taylor.
With Mack out, I expect Taylor to get the majority of the work, and Jordan Wilkins may be in the mix as well. So, I see Hines' role as marginally expanded, but still too limited to be much of a fantasy contributor. I'd rather bid on James Robinson, Malcolm Brown, Benny Snell, Joshua Kelley, or Adrian Peterson.
Sean Settle: It may come from being burned in the past, but Bloom is a bit too enthusiastic about Robby Anderson. An estimated 15%-30% bid on Anderson that is the epitome of boom or bust over his career is very high. He had a huge Week 1 with 6 catches for 115 yards and a touchdown, but 75 of those yards came on a single reception and the rest of his day was less than spectacular.
He had 10 games last season with less than 40 yards receiving. I truly believe his talent falls somewhere between those sub-40-yard games and his big game in week 1, but he has not been consistent enough to burn 30% of my free agent budget right now.
On the flip side, I am much higher on Gardner Minshew than Bloom. He is leading an offense that is going to be playing from behind a lot this season and they traded away their top rushing option. Minshew has shown the ability to extend the play and make magic happen in the fourth quarter. I currently have him as a backup quarterback on several rosters this year and would use him as a plug and play depending on the matchup as well as in case of injury.
Minshew is sporting the best mustache in the game and should be on a roster in most formats right now.
Waldman: You had me at the pocket play, Sean, but the mustache for good measure? Good call.
Adam Harstad: As a philosophical point, I find Bloom to be insufficiently bullish on everyone. Or perhaps insufficiently bearish on everyone? I suppose it depends on your perspective.
If you look through your league's history, you'll probably find that the overwhelming majority of FAAB dollars are spent on players who make absolutely no impact whatsoever. Big-budget acquisitions, small-budget acquisitions, makes no difference. Most of the true impact acquisitions are guys who were acquired for free a couple weeks before they broke out, not guys who were acquired for a substantial percentage of your budget after they broke out. (There are always exceptions, but I think you'll find that those exceptions tend to be dramatically rarer than our faulty memory would suggest.)
As a result, I tend to think best practice is to just throw a substantial percentage of your budget at the first promising player who catches your eye (well north of 50%, more like 80% or even 100% if you can make moves for free later and you really want a guy), and then for the rest of the season proactively roster players with the potential to break out soon.
(One exception to this is Superflex leagues, where any quarterback with a pulse and a starting job is virtually guaranteed to outscore anyone else you could possibly start in that Superflex spot, so it makes sense to reserve some budget to acquire backup quarterbacks who become suddenly elevated to the starting role.)
Waldman: Choose two backfield situations from below and share your thoughts:
- Cleveland: Nick Chubb led Kareem Hunt 21-11 in snaps at halftime of the Ravens game. Then, Hunt earned most of the garbage-time opportunities with the game quickly out of hand by the middle of the third quarter. Is the snap ratio from the first half, second half, or a 50-50 scenario more likely? Advise fantasy players what to do if they have one of these backs or have an opportunity to acquire one of them.
- L.A. Rams: Cam Akers started the game but it was Malcolm Brown who earned the red-zone touches, short-yardage looks, and caught most of the targets from the backfield. Darrell Henderson was an after-thought. What's the best strategy regarding Akers and Brown?
- Pittsburgh: James Conner sprained his ankle early in the game and Benny Snell gained over 100 yards in Conner's place. What do you advise with Conner and Snell?
- L.A. Chargers: Austin Ekeler had a solid game, but rookie Joshua Kelley showed glimpses that he could be the complete package as a runner between the tackles. Coach Lynn told the media after the draft that the team selected Kelley to eventually earn the Melvin Gordon Role in this offense. If Kelley continues playing as well as he did during his debut, that role could come sooner than expected and cut into Ekeler's upside. What do you advise with Ekeler and Kelley?
- Baltimore: J.K. Dobbins was good enough to force his way into the rotation despite Mark Ingram having the ability of a fantasy RB1 in 12-team formats. Dobbins did little to diminish enthusiasm about his short-term and long-term future. What do you advise with Ingram and Dobbins?
Keith Overton: Benny Snell looked much improved from 2019. He showed more decisiveness, more confidence, and a lot more quickness on his carries. That said, there are a couple of caveats on Snell's remarkable look. The Giants had game-planned for a relative bruiser in James Conner, so Snell provided an unexpected every-down change of pace.
The impact of that strategic twist was magnified by the absence of All Pro left guard David DeCastro. Holes had to be sought out and burst through quickly rather than appearing at their expected time, place, and width. The sample size is admittedly small, but Snell deserves raised eyebrows if not quite opened eyes at this point..
Waldman: A rare but much-appreciated appearance from our resident Chief Technologist and Steeler fan.
Settle: There are many of us currently sweating the situation with Ekeler and Kelley. Ekeler was a top-end draft pick with PPR upside to make him a top-five running back this season. Kelley’s success in Week 1 and coach Lynn saying the lack of targets for Ekeler was due to scheme screams time to panic.
However, we have to remember that Tyrod Taylor is taking over a team that has gone through a lot of changes in the offseason and there are still kinks to work out. When Taylor was in Buffalo, he had LeSean McCoy and the pair averaged over 50 receptions per season.
I view Ekeler as a buy-low candidate if other team managers are panicking right now. This is a situation that will work itself out over the course of the season. Ekeler has proven he is the guy this season and it will take a lot more from Kelley to change that right now.
Hindery: I would not panic and sell too low on Nick Chubb but if I could get a return of say 80 percent of what I just paid for him in a draft (likely a Top-15 overall pick), I would look to sell. It is hard to find much positive in Week 1 for Chubb. Kareem Hunt has suited up for the Browns nine times and put up more fantasy points than Chubb in seven of those outings. Hunt out-snapped Chubb down the stretch of the 2019 season and did so again to start off 2020. In those nine games, Chubb is averaging just under 1.4 receptions per game. With Hunt around, Chubb has become both touchdown and game-script dependent.
If Chubb needs positive game scripts for any chance of producing RB1 fantasy numbers, that is scary because this Browns team looks shaky. I was in Baltimore with friends who are Browns fans last year (Week 4) to watch Chubb run wild as the Browns beat Baltimore 40-25 to take over first place in the AFC North while putting up 530 yards of offense.
That feels like way more than a year ago. Since then, Cleveland has gone 4-9. The team is currently riding a four-game streak of double-digit losses. If the Browns do not bounce back in a big way Thursday night against the Bengals, it could be another long season for Cleveland fans.
Schofield: I really think that halftime split of 21-11 in Chubb's favor is where Kevin Stefanski wants to be as an offense. Provided the Browns can get into some favorable game scripts, Chubb is going to be seeing the bulk of work. They'll be relying on the outside/wide zone game - a strength of Chubb's - and the play-action that stems off of that. I would get yourself some shares of Chubb if you haven't already.
As for their AFC North rivals, I was all in on Mark Ingram this off-season. I thought the Dobbins hype was a bit out of control, especially when you factor in the shortened training camp and lack of preseason games. I thought that John Harbaugh and Greg Roman would, as a result, rely on the veteran.
Shocker, I'm an idiot.
Maybe it's panic on my part, but I'm trying to pry Dobbins away from other team managers if I can.
Hindery: In making the case against Mark Ingram this offseason, I pointed to his shaky hold on the starting running back job and how touchdown-dependent he was going to be in this Ravens offense due to how the running backs are used.
The Ravens targeted their running backs just 51 times last season (3.2 per game), despite the youth and inexperience of their other pass catchers. Those other pass catchers are growing up and demanding even larger roles.
We saw in Week 1 how the lack of pass-game usage limits the fantasy upside of the backs. I would have a really hard time trusting Ingram or J.K. Dobbins in my starting fantasy lineup right now.
Longer-term, Dobbins is too good for Ingram to be anything other than a committee back. With Dobbins, there is at least a chance he emerges into more of a true lead back role later in the season and I am holding on to him tightly and hoping. Dobbins is nine years younger and looks more explosive. He is the one I expect to have real fantasy relevancy by the time we reach the all-important Weeks 14-16, not Ingram.
McNamara: Pittsburgh is a to be determined situation. James Conner's injury is the pivot point. If Conner misses time with an injury, Benny Snell is likely a RB2 play at worst, especially as a touchdown favorite at home in Week 2. If Conner is healthy, I think he gets the first shot at his job, but I'm not as confident as I was a week ago in his 2020 projection.
Baltimore is also a clear situation. The early involvement of Dobbins, particularly in the red zone, is a cap on Ingram's weekly projection. I think Dobbins makes Ingram very risky in a lineup, without the touchdown upside Ingram offered last year.
At present, I'm not confident in Dobbins as more than a dart throw because he did his damage of two touchdowns with only seven carries. That is good efficiency, but outside of an Ingram injury or multiple week sample of his role, I'm not putting Dobbins in my lineup.
Simpkins: Nick Chubb is the better back. Look, Kareem Hunt is an above-average back in his own right, but it’s like comparing Eddie George in his prime to Chris Johnson in his prime. Chris Johnson was a good player. Eddie George was a Hall of Famer and on a different tier of skill. Perhaps I’m being doggedly stubborn and assuming rational coaching and talent evaluation in Cleveland where there is none.
I would be lying by saying Kareem Hunt’s re-signing doesn’t bother me a little bit in that respect. However, I believe firmly that talent will almost always win out in the end. I do believe Cleveland will have better days running wide zone, even if it means they have to put Baker Mayfield on the bench and let Case Keenum operate the offense.
Keenum is a pretty good game manager, one that can work for a team if they don’t ask him to carry the offense. If I were a general manager that didn’t draft Chubb, I would be advising you to buy Nick Chubb on the cheap. Kareem Hunt is probably retaining or increasing his value after this past week, so he’s not as much of a trade target for me.
I have shares of Conner in every dynasty league I’m in. I must admit, I’m getting a little fed up with banking 1-3 points a game every time I start him because he’s knocked out early with an injury.
I’m going to be a little more patient with him than most in both dynasty and redraft formats, but I reluctantly admit he may be on thin ice with the coaching staff. This is not because of lack of skill, but because of lack of durability.
If that’s the case, Snell, whom the coaching staff seems to adore, has improved enough this offseason that the Steelers could turn to him as the primary ball carrier. Monday night’s action was the best I’ve seen Snell run as a pro. I can’t call him Benny Snail anymore, at least.
Parsons: Bar none, I am one of the biggest Malcolm Brown fans out there, dating back to his time in college. This is not hyperbole but Brown's Week 1 performance was the best I can recall of Brown.
However, Cam Akers is the future and had a sturdy (for a rookie) Week 1 snap share. The transition is coming, it is only a matter of what week and swift is the change. I would say over the next 3-4 weeks it becomes Akers' job. Brown is a flex-type starting option in the meantime, but the Akers' usage could rise any particular game. I would be selling Malcolm Brown for a future Round 2 pick in dynasty circles this week or shifting to a buy low option in redraft.
Austin Ekeler's ONE target in Week 1 is one of the more surprising usage stats of the week. Compare that to the running back targets in Indianapolis with Philip Rivers and I do not see this working out well for Ekeler.
While one target is a low projection, I see his targets declining significantly from last year's breakout season. It was painful to see Ekeler used primarily inside as a traditional running back and not in space and as a receiver. Combined with the quarterback change, Ekeler will have a tough road (in addition to Joshua Kelley's addition) even approaching last year's production.
In Week 1, both backs looked quite good, and I don't see either one of them being relegated to a clear backup role. They'll both get plenty of work. It will be a committee with an emphasis that may vary from week to week according to the hot-hand principle.
This removes Chubb from fantasy RB1 territory, in my view, both backs will have fantasy value as more than just RB3-flex types.
I'm also significantly revising my view of the Chargers' backfield. I used this space last week to argue for Austin Ekeler as a solid fantasy RB1 based on his versatility and durability. I don't want to overreact to his unexpected dip in targets in Week 1 (he was targeted only once). If it had happened with Philip Rivers at quarterback, it would be inconsequential because we could be confident that it was a single-week aberration, and that Ekeler would resume collecting significant targets going forward.
With Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, however, that's much less certain. And while Ekeler still got plenty of volume as a runner, he was frankly outperformed by rookie Joshua Kelley in that capacity. People with Ekeler on their fantasy teams should rationally fear that Kelley will eat into Ekeler's carries, and that a reduction in carries may not be made up for by targets in the passing game. Kelley showed promise on limited touches, and is likely in line for a bigger role as the season progresses.
Over- and Underreactions
Waldman: Share a player or offensive situation where you believe the fantasy community is overreacting to a good or bad week and a player or situation where you believe the community isn't reacting with enough urgency---good or bad.
Parsons: I would be reacting strongly to Baltimore's backfield and Mark Ingram's lagging usage and snap rate. J.K. Dobbins debuted with burst and a solid role in Week 1 despite the posted depth chart of being the team's RB4 on paper. Ingram had limitations as a receiver last year and Baltimore had zero running back receptions in Week 1. Ingram is a flex for lineup purposes, for now, but there is a doomsday scenario where Ingram is the handcuff-injury away option there and could even hit redraft waiver wires this season.
Settle: The majority of the fantasy community seems to disagree with me, but I believe they are still overreacting to the success Clyde Edwards-Helaire had in Week 1. He was routinely taken within the first 10 picks of fantasy drafts this season, and he debuted with a very nice 25 carry, 138-yard, and a touchdown performance.
There are a few red flags that pop up. He did not have a single target in this high-powered offense, played roughly 67 percent of the snaps, and was facing a Texans defense that ranked 25th against the run last season. It is easy to see the rushing line and justify the high pick, but reserve judgment until he faces a better run defense and if he gets involved in the passing attack like originally expected.
Schofield: I think there are two offenses that people need to be thinking about, one that I think will right the ship and another where I remain terrified. First is Tampa Bay. Tom Brady and company came back to earth on Sunday, and that has renewed the chatter that Brady is cooked. I would not endorse such a position.
If you look at the mistakes that offense made, many of them were actually mistakes from the players around the quarterback. Two of them stick out, both where an experienced player made the wrong read. One was Mike Evans, who failed to run the skinny post against a Cover 2 look, and when Brady threw the post route while Evans sat down on a curl, the pass was intercepted. Then Rob Gronkowski, of all people, made the same mistake and Brady threw the ball where Gronkowski was not.
They'll figure it out.
Then there are the Eagles. Look, I'm a huge Carson Wentz fan, have been for a while. But one of the things I love about Wentz, which is his willingness to fight late into the play, is what led in large part to his eight sacks on Sunday. The Eagles cannot protect him right now, partly due to Wentz himself. He isn't changing, and as much as I'd love to see him light things up, this is who he is.
Waldman: A skillful, lovable crash-test dummy?
Schofield: Oh man, your mentions.
Waldman: I say it out of admiration and existing concern since his Senior year.
McNamara: I think the market is under-reacting to Josh Jacobs. As a 21-year old first round rookie running back, Jacobs posted a top-24 season. This is a platinum standard for running backs. His three-touchdown, Week 1 performance led to an RB1 finish, but the most intriguing aspect of his game was 4 receptions on six targets for 46 yards. If Jacobs receives this target volume, RB1 is in his range of outcomes.
Waldman: Amen. Any overreactions?
McNamara: I'm not sure there is a specific player the market is overreacting to, but I think overreacting to injuries this early in the season is a mistake. Injuries happen. Be patient and don't make hasty decisions, because it is unlikely a single injury that has occurred to date will swing your record by more than a win or loss.
Hindery: It seems like the majority view from the fantasy community is to view Cam Newton’s Week 1 rushing performance (15 carries for 75 yards and 2 touchdowns) as fluky. Some are mostly ignoring it because it happened against Miami. When the dust settles, I expect this Miami defense will end up having been a very solid unit and there is more signal than noise when it comes to Newton’s Week 1 performance.
Bill Belichick saw firsthand what John Harbaugh was doing offensively with a mobile quarterback (Lamar Jackson rushed 16 times for 61 yards and 2 touchdowns in a blowout win over the Patriots) and I believe he has been enamored with the prospects of doing some of those same things himself. In Newton, he found his guy. We are going to see Newton get 10+ carries nearly every week while racking up huge numbers on the ground, making him a fantasy QB1 in 2020.
On a related note, I think Sean Payton has been watching from afar with some of these same thoughts and that he is legitimately excited about going into 2021 with Taysom Hill as his starting quarterback. For you dynasty Superflex guys, I continue to urge you to stash Hill and be patient.
Simpkins: The fantasy community is screaming that Aaron Rodgers is back, but I’m not so sure. I saw times in the Vikings game when Matt LaFleur's play-calling was inhibiting Rodgers. The game really broke open because the Vikings are dangerously thin in their secondary. Just for perspective, they were having rookie Cameron Dantzler play the majority of their cornerback snaps. Rodgers does have a relatively soft schedule ahead, so I’m not sure this narrative will be quashed anytime soon.
I don’t think that general managers have caught up to the fact that Adrian Peterson is the lead man in the three-headed committee in Detroit and just how effective Peterson was in that role against the Bears. Peterson really only has spot-starter value because of the split right this moment. Should Kerryon Johnson get banged up or DAndre Swift lose work because of not being quite ready to shoulder the load, Peterson could be a cheap waiver pickup now that ends up being a massive value for your team later.
Tremblay: This is a hard question. People have a natural tendency to overreact to Week 1 as a general matter. It's a single game. Saquon Barkley had a terrible outing, and I think most experienced fantasy owners know not to overreact in that case. But when it comes to less obvious studs, it's sometimes difficult to maintain a season-long perspective with only a single week's results staring at you.
I think people might be overreacting to the Buccaneers' offensive performance in Week 1. The team is loaded with talent, and Tom Brady is smart enough to figure out how to use it.
It's my view that Brady has probably been overrated for most of his career in New England, but just because I don't think he's in the conversation for best QB of all time doesn't mean that I think he's bad. He has a huge upgrade in surrounding talent this season, an offensive-minded head coach willing to take chances, and the experience to recognize and capitalize on whatever mismatches are presented to him. He has plenty of strong fantasy performances ahead of him.
Meanwhile, I agree with Daniel that people may be underreacting to Adrian Peterson's performance. Peterson can't keep going forever, and older running backs sometimes drop off the cliff quite suddenly. But Peterson's Week 1 performance was not simply strong for an older RB—it was strong, full stop. He ran with his typical power and determination, and he still has the speed to make good things happen in the open field. He's a better runner than Kerryon Johnson even when Johnson is healthy, and I don't see D'Andre Swift displacing Peterson as the lead back this season either.
Waldman: I'm with you guys on Peterson. In this week's Gut Check, I picked Peterson as the best option among Snell and Brown and shared some tape to explain why.
Lineup Management Advice for September
Matt Waldman: Do you take more or fewer risks with unproven players during this phase of the fantasy season? Share your approach to this first month when making lineup decisions.
Schofield: Generally I'm willing to be more aggressive with unproven players at this point, which might be the residual impact of covering the draft as much as I do in my other work. But this year is a bit different. I'm still wary of unproven players given the truncated training camp schedules, (see the previous Dobbins/Ingram discussion) so I'm more hesitant.
Now, I might not be alone in that, so it could be a time to take some risks and try to swim against the current. After all, as I said above...I'm an idiot.
Waldman: You're one of my favorite idiots in this space (from one idiot to another).
McNamara: While following the news is important, don't overreact because preseason rankings are still better indicators of future production than the first couple weeks of the NFL season. Also, when in doubt, break ties in favor of running backs in your flex position.
Settle: This is where I like to take the most amount of risk. It did not pay off this year and I started the season 0-7 across all of my leagues. With that said, I learned a lot about the situation some players are in, can better predict their roles going forward, and got the first grade on my draft strategy.
You can overcome a loss early in the season, but you cannot pick up a guy you don’t roll the dice on early. Cam Newton was a huge gamble in Week 1 and anyone who wanted to see what they had with him was rewarded.
Now is the time to test your roster, play with matchups rather than just your star players, and be ready to run backups out there in the case of injuries. James Robinson is a great example of a gamble you can take this week to see what you have. The Jaguars are going to be tough to predict but they take on a Titans team that did not look unbeatable in Week 1 and Robinson has assumed the No.1 role in this offense. This may be the only opportunity to take a chance as he will not be around long if he succeeds this week.
Parsons: Once I exhaust the easy lineup decisions (which is most of your lineup in most formats-leagues), the 1-2-3 remaining I typically gravitate towards the highest upside 'what if' scenarios. Jonathan Taylor was a good example in Week 1.
Even with Marlon Mack healthy, Taylor was started in 65%-70% of myfantasyleague.com leagues. The reasoning was sound.
The Colts were solid favorites and the Colts were likely to have a committee approach where Taylor could see significant time in the second half of the game. Now, the Colts lost the game and Marlon Mack got hurt in-game, but the approach for the upside play was a solid one for an RB2 or flex lineup decision shooting for the 'what if' upside outcome.
Hindery: It depends. There are situations with younger or less proven players that are harder to predict. The range of realistic outcomes is wider when we are doing more guesswork.
That can be a good thing if you look at your weekly matchup and feel you are an underdog. In these cases, being aggressive about getting your highest-upside players into your starting lineup makes sense. If instead you look at your matchup and feel like you have the better team, then it is wise to steer toward safer options.
This is the type of decision-making process you should be especially focused on with your players who have later kickoffs. If things are not looking great as the 1PM Sunday games are winding down, you should consider making some more aggressive lineup decisions than you would if you were in command of your matchup after a strong start to the day.
Tremblay: I definitely take more risks earlier in the season, but not on purpose. It's just that fewer players have proven themselves by this point, so refusing to take risks on unproven players would leave me rather hamstring.
At running back, for example, people may not have felt comfortable starting players on new teams (David Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, Jordan Howard), or guys who weren't expected to start when training camp began (Antonio Gibson, Boston Scott, James Robinson, Malcom Brown), or whose roles were suddenly uncertain (Ronald Jones II, Leonard Fournette), and so on. Some of those guys worked out and some didn't. However, if you refuse to roll the dice as a general rule, the uncertainty you avoid is overwhelmed by the upside you miss out on.
I start whoever I think will get me the most fantasy points, completely cognizant of the fact that in Week 1, in many cases, it can be little more than a pure guess. My advice is to embrace the uncertainty. Go ahead and guess. That's part of the fun.
Simpkins: I tend to be more aggressive overall when playing redraft and more patient and conservative when playing dynasty. I think of redraft as a sprint and dynasty as a marathon. Overreacting in a marathon can cause you to lose because you panic and spend resources on the front end that need to be saved for later in the race. On the other hand, if you underreact and don’t push yourself early in a sprint, you will lose.
In redraft, general managers need to adapt to the new realities of changing situations quickly or they will be left behind. I’m quicker to trade a big-name player for a lesser-known commodity if I see something that is concerning. In dynasty formats, patience with your players and roster is much more important to maintain long-term success.
Players like Kenyan Drake, Cedric Benson, and even early-career Marshawn Lynch required patience to harvest the full value of their careers. If you’ve played dynasty formats for any length of time, you will have several of those moments when you realize that you got impatient and gave up too early on a player. Give players time to develop, grow, and perhaps even change teams before giving up on them!