BY MITCHELL WESTALL
This is the first installment of the Fourth Estate’s weekly fantasy football updates. All statistics and point totals based off of the NFL.com standard scoring system.
Things We Learned:
- Perhaps we shouldn’t draft rookies in the top ten. Ezekiel Elliott’s game was saved by his eight-yard touchdown run in the third quarter on Sunday against the New York Giants. Elliott finished with 11.2 points, which is not a total loss for a running back. However, you might expect more out of someone who was probably drafted in the middle of the first round in your league. He also has the benefit of playing behind one of the best offensive lines in football. Next week he should have no issue scoring points against the Washington Redskins’ porous run defense (see: Williams, DeAngelo).
- Andrew Luck doesn’t suck. The Indianapolis Colts quarterback led the fantasy world in scoring with 35.5 points against the Detroit Lions on Sunday. One of the biggest questions coming in to this season was whether or not Luck would return to his 2014 form before injuries decimated his 2015 campaign. It’s only been one game, yes, but 35.5 points is hard to ignore.
- Carolina Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin must be in your lineup on a weekly basis. His 15.1 points may not seem to be totally impressive, but he showed that he is the man in Carolina. He has the reigning MVP throwing him the football, and his size makes him a match-up nightmare for opposing defensive backs. By the end of this season, Benjamin may be worthy of a top twenty pick in leagues next season.
- Running backs drafted in the first round not named David Johnson. Rather than discuss Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott and Adrian Peterson individually, it’s best to combine them into one. Gurley scored 4.2, Elliott was okay with 11.2 and Peterson scored 3.1 points. Their 18.5 total points is less than six other running backs who scored individually. However, this is only week one. Adrian Peterson is still the best running back in the league and should bounce back. Elliott faces off against Washington next week and that should bode well for any running back with two legs. Next week, Gurley has a rough matchup against the Seattle Seahawks, but he’s still a must-start in all leagues. However, according to Bleacher Report, Gurley sports a pedestrian 3.8 yards per carry. Still, he was the top ranked running back coming in to this season for a reason, so don’t give up just yet.
- Dez Bryant (wide receiver, Dallas Cowboys, 0.8 points). Following the inevitable injury to Tony Romo, Dez Bryant’s draft stock hardly fell on paper. However, the demise of his quarterback made a lot of owners shy away from him. Somehow, Dez only managed to reel in one of his five targets for eight yards. Granted, he did have a touchdown called back, but bobbled balls don’t count on the field or in the world of fantasy. It seems as though Dez once again #didntcatchit. If you drafted Bryant, you’re going to have a hard time putting him on your bench, so it might be a good idea to trade him since he might be dead weight until Romo returns.
- Gary Barnidge (wide receiver, Cleveland Browns, 0 points). This one is intriguing. Barnidge was only targeted twice, but failed to come down with either of them. However, this was with Robert Griffin III throwing him the ball. Griffin is now on injured reserve, and Josh McCown is once again the starter in Cleveland. Josh McCown was the quarterback that heavily favored Barnidge when he held the reigns last season. If you’re a Barnidge owner, stay strong. If you need a tight end, then he is a solid buy-low in all leagues from owners who are freaking out.
- Willie Snead (wide receiver, New Orleans Saints, 23.20 points). Snead was surprisingly only the second best receiver in that offense on Sunday. Snead recorded 173 yards and a touchdown against Oakland to turn in the fourth best game among receivers this week. His counterpart Brandin Cooks scored 27.4 points but had less yards on the same number of targets as Snead (nine). If he’s a free agent in your league, try to add him if you have a high waiver priority.
- J. Anderson (running back, Denver Broncos, 25.90 points). This is the kind of performance he was supposed to turn in last season when he was worth a late first round or early second round pick in drafts. He had himself a solid day on the ground, amassing 92 yards and a touchdown, adding to the 47 yards and midair touchdown on Thursday versus Carolina’s top-5 defense to put the cherry (or a few cherries) on top of his game. This was the second best performance by a running back this week, behind only DeAngelo Williams on Monday night. The defending Super Bowl champions seem to have shifted their offense from a Peyton Manning led aerial assault to a ground-and-pound offense behind Anderson. This performance does not appear to be a fluke. He’s a must start.
- Jameis Winston (quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 25.54 points). Winston had himself an incredibly solid day. His 281 yards and four touchdowns was good enough for the fifth best performance by a quarterback this week. Only time will tell if this is going to become the norm for Tampa Bay’s quarterback of the future, but if you are a quarterback needy team, he might be worth an add if he is available.
- Keenan Allen (wide receiver, San Diego Chargers). Allen was placed on injured reserve with a torn ACL. He will miss the rest of the year. This comes after he was out for eight weeks last season with a lacerated kidney. It’s been a tough couple of years for Allen, but since the injury happened early in the season, so he will have more time to recover.
- Jamaal Charles (running back, Kansas City Chiefs). Charles did not play last week as he continues to bounce back from the knee injury that ended his 2015 season. This week, his status is still in question, but it appears that even if he suits up, Spencer Ware will be the starter in order to not push Charles back too quickly. It will also be hard to take the ball out of Spencer Ware’s hands after the game he had last week against San Diego.
- Rob Gronkowski (tight end, New England Patriots). Gronk did not play last week with a hamstring injury, and as of September 13, his status has not been updated.
- Chris Ivory (running back, Jacksonville Jaguars). Ivory was released from the hospital with an undisclosed issue and his status for this weekend remains in question. He had been sidelined with a calf issue, but it seems he was sent to the hospital for an unrelated medical condition.
I am always looking for feedback on ways I can improve this weekly publication. If you have any suggestions or comments, then I can be reached by email at email@example.com or on twitter at @mwestall71. Thank you for reading and I hope I can help you win some games. Unless, of course, you’re playing against me. Then you need to lose.