Hey there #Footclan, and welcome to the new weekly series, “What To Watch For“. Each week we take a look at the schedule and the matchups and point out some interesting things that we all should pay attention to. These can be something simple, or those ongoing burning questions we have in the back of our minds. Let’s take get started with Week 1.
Check out what Andy, Mike, and Jason have to say on this week’s matchups.
Will Odell Play?
The star wide receiver sat out of practice again on Thursday making it a second straight day in a row. ODB has been dealing with the ankle injury he suffered in the Week 2 preseason game against the Cleveland Browns. According to NFL’s Ian Rappaport, Beckham has been trying experimental laser treatments to help speed up the healing process but those don’t seem to be helping. Rappaport also said on the NFL Network that he has a long shot to play, but if he does he will not be at 100%. Should he sit expect targets and opportunities to rise for Brandon Marshall and 2nd-year receiver Sterling Shepard. Even if he does make the playing field, expect Odell to be used more as a decoy kind of like what Atlanta did with Julio Jones when he was dealing with some lingering foot injuries.
Is Beast Mode Back?
In a surprising fashion, Marshawn Lynch came out of his retirement to play for his hometown team in the Oakland Raiders, adding to the great weapons already established in Oakland with the threat of Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, and Michael Crabtree. But will we see the Beast Mode of old in his time playing for Seattle? When he did play in 2015 which was also riddled with injuries, Lynch only was able to produce 3.8 YPC before calling it a career shortly after. But we can’t deny the production he has had there overall in his career going for 6,347 yards and 57 touchdowns on 1,457 carries (4.4 ypc) during his six seasons as a Seahawk. He does go against a tough run defense in Week 1 when they play the Tennessee Titans who last year ranked 2nd against overall according to Pro Football Focus. We might have to temper expectations or at least wait another week or so to see this question truly answered.
The Rise of the Rookie Running Backs
On Thursday evening, the fantasy football world was introduced to a star in the making as rookie RB Kareem Hunt from Toledo went full metal mayhem and delivered a stat line for the ages against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Hunt had 17 rushing attempts for 148 yards rushing, 5 receptions for 98 yards receiving, 1 rushing TD and 2 receiving touchdowns! Astounding! If this is any look into what we can expect out of this year’s running rookies, then we are in for a thrill ride. See the full details of Hunt’s game in our Thursday Night Film review of Chiefs-Patriots.
Dalvin Cook, who looks to have a similar scenario that Kareem had last night, will take on most the workload for Minnesota and is a dual-threat both in the air and on the ground. We also will see the “swiss army knife” known as Christian McCaffrey and his talents on display this Sunday in the Panthers home opener. Leonard Fournette, the highest drafted running back taken, will make his debut for the Jaguars when they take on the Houston Texans. His ankle looks to be healed up and we should see what Fournette is truly capable of and if he was worth the high draft pick in the first round. We can’t forget to take a look at both Joe Mixon, who might usurper Jeremy Hill possibly in the next few weeks and look to take over the Bengals backfield, as well as Alvin Kamara, who looks to have carved out a niche in the New Orleans Saints’ offense and could be very fantasy relevant in PPR formats. All of these guys’ time to shine starts in Week 1!
A WR Extravaganza Might Take Place in Cleveland
With the Pittsburgh Steelers coming to Cleveland to play their division rivals, we may just see the spectacle of both Antonio Brown and the “Martian” Martavis Bryant make the top 25 list of WRs in Week 1. In what could be Ben Roethlisberger‘s last season as the starting QB for the Steelers, he’s going to look to punish Cleveland’s 20th ranking passing defense according to ESPN. A lot can be said about the greatness of Antonio Brown and how he deserves the title of best WR in fantasy football, but there was a regression compared to the prolific scoring he has been able to put up since the 2013 season. A lot of this was due to Pittsburgh not really having a true WR2 option all last season, causing pass coverage to target on AB more specifically.
Even as the only true passing threat other than the help of the well-versed and talented Le’Veon Bell, Brown was able to still pull in 106 catches for 1284 yards and 12 touchdowns. Needless to say, AB benefits most when Bryant is on the field lining up on the opposite side of him. Bryant himself demands respect from defenses as he is a big-bodied WR that can go up and pull down passes as well as a burst of some remarkable speed. In his previous season he played before being suspended this past year, Bryant went off for 50 receptions for 765 yards and 6 touchdowns. This looks to be the scariest WR tandem in the league, and with the Browns as Game 1, there could be some big numbers for the Steelers offense this weekend.
Jets vs Bills: Is anyone really watching this game?!?
With what seems to be a “tanking” strategy for both of these teams and a play to capture next year’s first pick in the NFL draft, the New York Jets collide in a Week 1 matchup in Buffalo. What seems to be the consensus for most when asked about both these teams, is that this game is really just not appealing at all and seems to be really barfy. For the LeSean McCoy owner, or those taking a risk on Jordan Matthews, or even maybe those rolling out Bilal Powell in PPR leagues, you may have to stomach some of this experience. Most everyone else will be trying to avoid this game altogether. What does this mean for the NFL itself? Will they look at the ratings if viewership is low and then have to come up with some way to prevent the “tanking” gameplan from happening in future seasons? You see this strategy more common in the NBA with basketball, but this has been the first signs we’ve seen from teams in the NFL trying to purposely not be a great team with a goal of winning the Super Bowl in mind. Makes for some interesting conversation, right?