The first week of the fantasy season is a cruel, opportunistic temptress. She lures you in with the promises of bragging rights, league trophies, cash prizes, and all-around glory. But for many of us, the first week of the fantasy season is a period of grief, pain, and panic.
So, after Week 1, are you a Bell owner? A Fournette owner? Maybe you spent high draft capital on your tight end and had to suffer Kelce, Ertz, Graham, Engram, Burton, Olsen, Walker, etc.
Then perhaps Fantasy Panic Attack can help. As a seasoned veteran over-thinker, I’ve gone through this process more times than I would ever wish on anyone. So, I know a thing or two about overreacting. However, I’ve also learned to curb my negativity. So for the next few paragraphs, I’ll be using a little invention I call the Fantasy Panic Meter:
This little baby will help me break down each situation with a little of my graphical flair. Thanks, community college graphic design classes.
Without further adieu, let’s jump in!
Ertz, Kelce, Graham, Engram, Burton, and Njoku All Under 5 Fantasy Points
Every single year, fantasy analysts preach and preach about the volatility and depth of the tight end position. Week 1 of 2018 was their “Ha-ha-I-Told-You-So” moment. Out of the Top 10 drafted fantasy TEs, only 3 of them (Gronk, Reed, and Rudolph) found the endzone. The rest were wading through a desolate wasteland.
But fear not TE investors, there is hope on the horizon. Especially at the top of the chain. Kelce may have only gained 6 yards, but he had 6 targets. Things are more than likely going to open up for him as Mahomes inevitably spreads the ball around in order to gain yardage. Ertz was targeted 10 times and committed a couple bad drops. If this was a practice squad signee I might be worried, but Ertz is too talented not to keep getting fed the ball.
Graham’s bad day is easily chalked up to a huge stall in the offense while Khalil Mack showed off the value the Bears got in signing him. He also lost Aaron Rodgers for a big chunk of the game. Graham is a red zone beast and he’ll have much better days.
The same goes for the rest of the guys listed in this section. They all can have their bad days easily excused due to some legitimate reason or another, and each should bounce back. The rest of the tight ends that struggled this week? Well, I’ll get to them later….
Panic-Dote: Khalil Mack visiting his financial advisor. It’s alllll good.
Kyle Rudolph Hauls in One Reception
Yeah, he got in the endzone, but Rudolph’s two targets were a worrying sight. In the preseason, Rudolph was targeted just once despite being out on the field plenty. With a new quarterback in town, it’s easy to see how this could be a product of poor chemistry.
But, it’s also worth noting that Rudolph has always been pretty TD-dependant. In 2017 his targets were less than Jack Doyle’s, Jason Witten’s, and almost every TE1 on the board. But he’s a big, able-handed receiving weapon in the redzone.
This is the ride that you take with Rudolph. But owners are going to want to see a few more targets for #82 before they can breathe a sigh of relief.
Panic-Dote: Patriots fans when the Seahawks had the ball on the 1-yard line with 30 seconds left in Super Bowl XLI. Scary, but it’s probably all gonna work out….
Greg Olsen and Delanie Walker Injured
Oh sure, one is out for the year and one (supposedly) isn’t. But both of these injuries should elicit the exact same response from owners.
You see, I was the furthest thing from a Greg Olsen believer as there could’ve been heading into this season. I have zero shares of him across 6 leagues and 20 best ball drafts. The reason is I can’t buy into an aging TE coming off a lost season who posted just one big game in 2017 because the opposing defense just didn’t gameplan for him. Not to mention, the injury is to his surgically-repaired foot. He’s gone long-term in my opinion, and even if he does return, I don’t believe it will be a return to fantasy relevance.
Walker’s injury has been initially diagnosed as a season-long injury. That’s bad enough. But where his injury is truly scary is in the lack of decent replacements. Backup Jonnu Smith is on a few sleeper lists, but his chances of actually returning value have been potentially hampered by the additional injury to Marcus Mariota.
Either way, with these injured, aging TE owners could be in for a tough grind at the TE position over the next few weeks.
Panic Dote: Eric Berry having to spend a night in a stable to confront his crippling fear of horses.
Le’Veon Bell Threatens Long-Term Holdout; Conner Excels in his Absence
If you drafted Le’Veon Bell and you don’t have James Conner, your fantasy season just got a whole lot harder.
In redraft leagues, if you invested early in a high-end RB like Bell, it’s unlikely you loaded yourself up with RB talent in the 2nd-5th rounds. So you’re going to have to go to the waiver wire to find value. In PPR leagues, there are some options. Bilal Powell, Phillip Lindsay, and even Jalen Richard carry some intriguing value moving forward. But none of the three will even sniff the territory that Le’Veon Bell would’ve been in.
As for Bell, with each passing day, it seems like he’s digging in for the long haul. He has not been treated fairly by the Steelers, who have insisted on offering him zero security in the form of one-year deals. So Bell could very well drag this thing out as long as possible, which would mean holding out until Week 10 so he can qualify for a year of service in the NFL and would open him up to Free Agency.
If you were able to snag James Conner, congratulations. I doubt he sees a 100% snap share among the Steelers’ RBs moving forward, but he does have RB1 appeal. However, if you drafted Bell, and don’t own Conner, I would not expect this situation to disappear anytime soon.
Panic-Dote: Martavis Bryant opening his phone and seeing 11 missed calls from ‘NFL Compl. Dept.’
Amari Cooper Total 18 Yards on 1 Catch, 1 Carry
It was a popular belief that after a full offseason to work back from nagging injury and a full camp to develop some rapport with Derek Carr, that Amari Cooper would be a bounce-back candidate in 2018.
His first foray this year, however, was deeply concerning.
Cooper was largely drafted on the WR1/WR2 borderline in drafts this year, which means his owners likely took over guys like Smith-Schuster, Fitzgerald, Landry, and Thielen. That’s a scary prospect after this week.
Cooper will undoubtedly have better days, and he has demonstrated the talent to be a WR1 in the right situation. But as Jon Gruden said Tuesday, it would be “easier said than done” to get Cooper more involved.
With Derek Carr looking like a backup QB, and with the multitude of options for Carr to pass to, and the odd usage of Cooper in the slot running gadget plays like his 9-yard gain on a jet sweep… Cooper owners should be fairly concerned.
Panic-Dote: Jon Gruden watching Khalil Mack on Sunday Night Football
Derrick Henry Severely Outperformed by Dion Lewis
Analysts and owners alike were pretty divided on who would be the lead dog out of the Titans backfield. At first, it looked like Henry was going to be the guy, as he got 8 touches before Lewis got even one. But with Henry being ineffective, the Titans turned to Lewis, who proceeded to gain 110 total yards and a TD.
Immediately, the fallout and instant analyses told us that he was shaping up for another RB3/FLEX type season. But I am not sold on that being the case.
First of all, he actually would’ve had a great fantasy day had his 62-yard TD run not been reversed on a questionable holding call. Secondly, this game was marred by weather delays in the early going, and it was difficult for Henry and the Titans offense to get anything going. Henry had received all the carries at the beginning of the game. But by the time the game finally was allowed to play out, Dion Lewis was on the field as the Titans were able to build momentum. Lastly, Dion Lewis has a long history of injuries and could go down again at any point this season. The prospect of having Derrick Henry carry this offense by himself makes him a worthwhile player to have on your roster.
All of that aside, Henry is a talented back, and I think that going into a full-blown panic at this point in time is a little premature.
Panic-Dote: Brett Favre’s 2007 shoulder injury. Scary, but there’s hope on the horizon.
That just about wraps up my rundown of the Fantasy Panic Attack. Your team might be in trouble after week one. But this is a long season. Every year there’s a high-end starter that jumps out of the waiver wire and into fantasy glory. If you keep on top of fantasy news and do your research, there’s plenty of time to right your ship.
Take it easy, fantasy fans!