Wednesday - Oct 28, 2020

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Preconceived Notions

While NFL teams play their games in multi-million dollar stadiums filled with tens of thousands of rabid fans, fantasy football is often played in a vacuum where owners have to make quick decisions week-to-week to guide their team to a league title. With all the hype building up to Week 1, many players fell short of preseason expectations and have fantasy owners scratching their head, while others came out of seemingly nowhere to post phenomenal numbers. Which players can be counted on and who is setting you up for a letdown? Here are my thoughts on Week 1 and what it means going forward.

  • Perhaps no player had vaulted from unknown to preseason darling like Zach Sudfeld did this summer. With Aaron Hernandez sporting an orange jumpsuit, Sudfeld was expected to step in and be an offensive weapon for Tom Brady after an impressive training camp. With Rob Gronkowski still working his way back to health, Sudfeld was in an ideal situation to prove himself and claim a more prominent role in the New England Patriots’ high-octane offense Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. Instead, Sudfeld barely saw the field and only managed to play in 19 of the team’s 94 offensive snaps and Brady only targeted him once. Brady relied on Julian Edelman, targeting him on nine attempts as the Sudfeld hype never materialized. Gronkowski should be back in a couple of weeks, but, with or without Gronkowski, Sudfeld does not appear to be a focus of the offense going forward.

  • During the preseason games, the Miami Dolphins insisted that Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas were in an open competition to earn the feature role as the Dolphins starting running back, but most acknowledged Miller was the more talented back and viewed the rhetoric merely as motivation to keep Miller hungry. After posting a pathetic three rushing yards on 10 carries, Miller has yet to do anything to pull away and differentiate himself from Thomas, who managed only 14 yards. The difference in talent alone is too much to make this a timeshare for very long. When he finally emerges, Miller will only be a low-end RB2 or flex play, but don’t overreact and give up on him yet.

  • I used to work with a guy named Robert Pettigrew. Every time I find myself discussing Brandon Pettigrew, I mistakenly refer to him as Robert. Robert Pettigrew was a fine co-worker, who played pretty good first base for our company softball team. He was a spray hitter who didn’t have a whole lot of power. What’s my point? I have no idea how good of a softball player Brandon Pettigrew is, but I can’t imagine Brandon has much more fantasy value than Robert this season. Reggie Bush and Joique Bell will get the majority of the dumpoff and intermediate route looks for the Lions this season, making Pettigrew (Brandon and Robert) droppable.

  • James Jones doubled his career-high in receiving touchdowns last season, hauling in 14 scores for the Green Bay Packers. When Jordy Nelson had a minor procedure done during training camp, many fantasy pundits immediately overvalued Jones. Savvy fantasy owners know that touchdowns can be tricky and expecting a repeat sets you up for disappointment. Jones will turn in respectable numbers this season, but he is clearly the third option behind Randall Cobb and Nelson and should be viewed only as a reserve barring an injury.

  • The New York Giants are reportedly working out Willis McGahee, Brandon Jacobs and Joe McKnight this week after the abysmal performance and two lost fumbles by David Wilson Sunday night. They would be better served to put a call in to Tiki Barber. Not to take over as running back, but to mentor their talented, young back through his fumbling issues. Barber was once in the same spot and remedied the situation to become a dependable back. With Andre Brown on the shelf for a while, Wilson will be given every opportunity to maintain his spot as the team’s primary back, but coach Tom Coughlin keeps players on short leashes. Da’Rel Scott and Michael Cox are clearly not the answer. The primary beneficiary here, should the running back questions linger, could be Rueben Randle as the Giants depend more on their passing attack.

  • You could almost hear the mouses (or is it mice?) clicking away on computers all over America Thursday night, as fantasy owners were making waiver wire claims for Julius Thomas by halftime of the Denver Broncos’ opening win over the Baltimore Ravens. I confess, I was one of them, but that’s because I ended up with Brandon Pettigrew as my tight end and was looking for an upside play to give me a reason to part ways with my former co-worker. Thomas has the frame and offense to make him a valuable fantasy contributor, but I suspect he will have weeks where he disappoints as well. Peyton Manning isn’t going to throw for seven touchdowns every week and there are simply too many other weapons to make this a normal occurrence for Thomas. Grab him off waivers, but keep your expectations in check.

  • Many fantasy owners used a late-round pick on Kendall Wright hoping for a breakout season. Wright has good potential, but I’m afraid the Tennessee Titans muddled receiving situation will render him undependable. Kenny Britt, Nate Washington and Wright will all do just enough to make each other irrelevant week to week. The Titans are a run-first offense, and, oh yeah, Jake Locker is just not that good. If you drafted Wright at least you have a guy you can cut this week to make a pickup and not feel too badly about it.

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