Hate or Wait?
Stewart, A. Abdullah, F. Gore, C. Hogan, K. Britt, D. Murray, M. Bryant, R. Burkhead & Decker
In this article I hope to help fantasy players decide what to do with some of the more vexing, difficult, early-season decisions that we all have when we realize our draft wasn’t as perfect as we thought, and some of those late round steals were late round for a reason. The players discussed will generally be low performers, or guys who are putting up numbers in ways that I don’t see as sustainable
Jonathan Stewart CAR HATE
Stewart had a respectable bottom line in Week 1 with 18 carries for 65 yards and 2 catches for another 17 and a TD. You might be wondering what he’s doing on this list. In short, it’s Christian McCaffery. In the Panthers’ first game McCaffery was very, very involved. He got 13 carries and caught more passes than any other player on the team (5). Stewart has always had to deal with goal line competition from Cam, but the problem that is posed by McCaffery is much more formidable. He’s in the touch squeeze from hell.
The thing is, he was pretty cheap. People targeting and starting Stewart in Week 1 are probably just looking for a couple of early weeks while they wait for volatility in other backfields to create richer opportunity. And if that’s the case, he’ll probably deliver in that way. But , if you’ve got other options, if Stewart is a depth piece, this may be the best chance you’ll get to turn him into something with a longer shelf life.
Ameer Abdullah WAIT
If you’re like me the primary concern in drafting Ameer wasn’t the injury risk. He was a very durable player in college and football, especially for running-backs, is just a rough game. The big worry was the work load. Ameer has to compete with Theo Riddick, one of the league’s best pass catching backs for third down and hurry up work. He also has to compete with the likes of Dwayne Washington and Zach Zenner for short yardage work. But in Week 1 the workload was there. Abdullah received 15 rushing attempts to D Washington’s 6, and was in the mix for goal line work. He also received 3 passes, which trailed Riddick’s 6. Sure, it would be better if that was tilted the other way. But my take-away is that Abdullah is going to be involved in every phase of the Lions’ game.
It’s also fair to say that the Lions’ may not be a great rushing team to play for. Abdullah was only able to accumulate about 2 yards per carry on those 15 attempts, and if that continues to be the case the Lions’ are likely to find a more efficient way to move the ball, like through the air. For now though, I’m just happy to see that Abdullah hasn’t been reduced to the between the 20’s early down, not so great for fantasy role.
Frank Gore HATE
I feel like I’m picking on old Frank here, because until Andrew Luck returns there’s going to be plenty of hate to go around for the Colts’ offense. But Gore has another problem. A problem named Marlon. In the Colts’ first game Mack got as many carries as the veteran and had the team’s only rushing TD. Watching Mack come onto the field after a Gore carry reminds me of 2015 Chris Ivory and Billal Powell. Ivory obviously had some unique ability to move in traffic, but out in space Powell just looked a lot faster. He made Ivory look like he was stuck in cement, and it’s the about same with Gore and Mack. Combine that with the fact that the Colts’ are going to be down a lot at least until their QB is back on the field, and are already short their starting Center.
Similar to J-Stew, Gore was a cheap add. Unlike J-Stew, even Gore’s early season prospects are looking bad without a functioning offense. If you’re looking to move Gore it’ll probably take moving bigger pieces as camouflage and being willing to sacrifice production now for a chance at production later. Owners can hold and see what this offense turns into if and when Luck returns but I’d be lying if I said I thought it looked good.
Chris Hogan WAIT
Few things are more confusing that Hogan’s week 1 usage against the Chiefs. More rushes that catches was not something that anyone would’ve predicted. I just can’t really believe that the player that led the team in snaps last year has now taken a backseat to Danny Amendola. The rapport veteran Amendola has built, however, appeared to be pretty valuable in Week 1. At the same time Belichick is known to make big changes to his offense week to week to suit the game plan. And, Reid is known to be a pretty tough guy to compete against especially when he gets more than a week to prepare.
Although Hogan has no draft capital that would incentivize this coaching staff to put him in a position to succeed, he does have some pretty impressive workout numbers (99th percentile SPARQ-X) and a +20.7 Production Premium as per playerprofiler.com. Few roles in this offense are above the week-to-week scheming of Belicheck. I’d wait and see what Hogan’s role looks like for another week at least.
Kenny Britt HATE
I can’t really tell you how much this hurts me, because there are few players that are on more of my teams than Britt. But, after week 1 this is not looking good. The Browns’ offense is just not likely to be good enough to support more than 1 receiver. Cleveland’s first game of the season would have us believe that Coleman will be that one. He’s not a high priced asset, which makes the pill a little easier to swallow, but being willing to swallow it and move on to something more promising could end up being what sets your team apart in the long run. If Tarik Cohen, Marlon Mack, or anyone else I’ve mentioned in this article that’s causing trouble for their team mates is available I’d cut bait.
DeMarco Murray WAIT
With an up and coming talent at QB like Mariota, you can’t blame the Titans’ for wanting to put some weapons around him. At the same time, that’s not really helping fantasy team managers who are depending on Murray sleep any easier at night. So in week 1 when Mariota threw the ball 41 times it might look like the nightmare has become reality. But in fact, Mariota also threw the ball 41 times in week 1 last year and then only broke that 40 attempt barrier one more time on the season. The game script played a major role in the number of carries DeMarco go in this game as his Titans trailed the Raiders.
Another thing that makes me not hate DeMarco’s chances is that he still had twice as many carries as Henry, and caught a couple of passes to boot. When the Titans find themselves in a more favorable situation I think they will also once again find themselves leaning on Mr. DeMarco.
Eric Decker HATE
It may be a rough season if success depends on predicting which one of the Tennessee pass-catchers are going to be ultra efficient with their targets and or haul in a TD. Like I said in regards to DeMarco Murray, I don’t think the 41 attempts Mariota made in this game signal a credible shift in offensive scheme. And unlike DeMarco, this really should’ve been the game script for Decker. Instead he caught fewer passes than Delanie Walker, Corey Davis, and Rishard Matthews. I don’t expect Mariota to continue to throw the ball 41 times a game, and even if he did he would have to give Decker a much larger slice of that pie for him to rise to relevance. What I really do expect is for the pie to shrink considerably, and for Decker to basically become as touchdown dependent as a Tight End.
The HATE for Decker here basically just translates to letting him sit until he starts to put something together. But, if we’re talking about a short bench league and the grass looks pretty green on the waiver wire I’d take the chance. To be clear something like Tarik Cohen or better for me to consider moving on Decker.
Martavis Bryant WAIT
2 catches for 14 yards wasn’t the reason why anybody took a shot on Bryant. The good news is that he was targeted 6 times and played on 83% of snaps. The guy has been away from football, or at least from being allowed to participate in team activities for a very long time. If he’s going to continue to get to play 83% of snaps it’s only a matter of time before he breaks one. I can’t really speak to the X’s and O’s of how the Brown’s attempted to scheme against this offense, but I can tell you that what they did didn’t slow Antonio down much. I’d be surprised if we see very many teams willing to let Brown beat them if they can help it. I don’t really think the Browns could, and that’s the the reality of playing for the Steelers. You’re competing for looks with Antonio Brown. On the bright side Martavis doesn’t need a lot of touches to do what he does. He just needs a little patience from everyone else.
Rex Burkhead WAIT
While I am aware of the game Mike Gillislee had in Week 1, I still don’t hate Burkhead’s chances this year. A lot has been said about the “Blount” role, but not enough has been said about the perfect storm of circumstances that led to Blount’s 2016 campaign. Just to be clear, we started the season with a 4 game Brady suspension and an injured Dion Lewis. The Patriots didn’t have much choice but to lean on Blount and if anything their off-season moves have shown that they’d rather not ever be short on RB depth again. Beyond the over selling of the Blount role, Burkhead is in a unique situation where if anything should happen to James White or Mike Gillislee, he’s the most likely heir to either role. He’s definitely worth stash.
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