And just like, the fantasy season is underway. Hopefully you got an early lead out of the gate thanks to Thursday Night Football and now you just need to tread water. But as we all know, this is a marathon not a sprint. We may not get what we wish for in Week 1 but we’re keeping an eye on the long term forecast. Even if the player isn’t over successful statistically, we want to be sure that they looked the part and that opportunities will be available down the line. An example would be if someone like Allen Robinson was targeted twice in the red zone but didn’t record a touchdown thanks to a couple of great defensive plays. While Week 1 may have been a waste we can take the positive down the road with us. Conversely, we’re looking to see if some guys look a little too overwhelmed to live up to our lofty expectations. As we often do here at RnF, we’ll quote the 1986 Optimus Prime, “One shall stand, one shall fall.”
Set To Rise
James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Let’s roll back the clock a little bit. After charging up the old Flux Capacitor, we see that the Steelers’ coaching staff and player personnel were not this upset with Le’Veon Bell in season’s past. Whether it’s been suspensions, hold outs and skipped preseasons, or the always unpredictable injuries, the Steelers have not been this frustrated with Bell missing time before. Maybe it’s the fact that they believe they are so close to a Super Bowl that they are simply discouraged by one of their main contributors lack of caring. Maybe it’s the fact that players and coaches alike seem like Bell thinks he’s above the team. It’s times like like this that Bill Belichick would say “See ya later Alligator” and ship the malcontent off for a second round pick. It’s interesting to see the always friendly Mike Tomlin getting obviously fed up with these antics. On top of that, the big boys up front are getting agitated as the offensive line is beginning to spout off. So this all begs the question of how much more are the Steelers willing to tolerate? They obviously don’t want to over-extend themselves long-term with the running back and he would fetch a king’s ransom in a trade. What would happen if Conner went nuts in Bell’s absence and the offense didn’t skip a beat? If Conner takes 20 carries for over 100 yards with a few explosive plays mixed in, Bell’s immediate and long term value in Pittsburgh could very much be in jeopardy.
Michael Crabtree, WR, Baltimore Ravens
It’s always important to check people’s resumes before investing too heavily in them. With Crabtreee, we see that somewhere around 7-8 touchdowns should be expected. Looking deeper, we check Joe Flacco‘s resume and see that he has a knack for squeezing the last bit of juice out of veteran wide receivers. Steve Smith Sr. and Mike Wallace were after thoughts until Flacco reignited them. One would like to think that history will repeat itself with Crabtree in Baltimore. Adding to the immediate payoff for Crabtree is that tight end Hayden Hurst looks to miss some time so #15 will be the red zone favorite. Facing off against division rival Cleveland, things don’t look to get much better for Crabtree. So that means if Crabtree doesn’t put up here, we’ve got some problems on our hands. Let’s look for both the target share and red zone looks as real the numbers to pay attention to. If Crabtree finishes with close to double-digit targets and a touchdown, you will have just stolen a low end WR1 at a WR3 ADP.
Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Are you one of the owners out there who is completely sold on Luck’s ability to both return to his previous form while also playing the entire season? If you are, it must be so nice to be so optimistic. We, however, will sit on the other side of the room with the realists. Let’s say that Luck’s health is now a non-issue. OK. Good. Now, let’s look at the other contributing factors for his success. Will the running game help set up the play action? Is the team loaded with offensive weapons? What grade is the offensive line deserving of? Answers: No. No. C+ at best. The running back position is not only full of unknowns but also guys who are already battling injuries. Outside of T.Y. Hilton, there is no commodity worth mentioning from the receiving corp. Lastly, the Indianapolis Colts offensive line is average in a best case scenario and may be missing their best player in LT Anthony Castonza.
Now that we’ve mentioned all these negatives, let’s flip the script and simply state that Luck could come out red hot and bury all of our concerns. The running game contributes, the offensive line holds up, Ryan Grant and Eric Ebron light it up, and Luck’s shoulder remains intact. If all of these things play out this way against the Bengals then you’d be hard pressed to not have him ranked inside the Top 5 quarterbacking options until our Doom’s Day scenario develops.
Marquise Goodwin, WR, San Francisco 49ers
It’s been a while since we’ve seen someone garner this much love for someone who has never reached a major receiving mile stone. Goodwin’s most receptions in a single season are 56, he’s never broken 1,000 yards, and the most touchdowns he’s nailed down is 3. With all these negatives in mind, we completely agree with all the love that has been floated Goodwin’s way. He may be a bit undersized 5’9 180lbs, but he’s developed a monster connection with Jimmy Garoppolo and could very well blast his preseason ADP right out of the water. What we do need, however, is to see Goodwin perform against even the most stout opposition in order to be able to trust him in on a weekly basis. If Goodwin were able to come out against the Vikings and hang at least a WR2 stat line, he could push himself into the “must start” category. If Goodwin hangs a big nothing, he could fall into a matchup based WR3 play at best. We think that Goodwin will do enough here to earn weekly WR2 must start potential. He could build his value up in the consistency department starting in the opener.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans
All we need to jump back onto the Watson band wagon is one, lone, monster game against the Patriots. Watson was an artist at the quarterback position when healthy. He has a connection with all of his wide receivers with a little something special for DeAndre Hopkins. New England lost defensive contributors and then replaced them with players whose former teams were happy to see them leave. There is a lot to love about Watson in Week 1. He may be the closest thing to a 300 yard passing “lock” as possible. As long as he hits a line around 80% of what our imagination is forecasting, he’ll see himself creeping up the weekly rankings board. Again, looking outside the numbers is an important thing to do so early in the season. Is he too locked on to Hopkins? Is he showing a designed run play before the snap? Is he too tentative to run? The numbers are important to pay attention to but so is how he conducts himself. As long as Watson looks like he did last year here in Week 1, he’ll be on the rise.