Week 1 Player Performances - Fact, Fiction, and Faith

Every Week 1, crowns are handed out and kings are made. By seasons end, some of those crowns turn into dunce hats, while others are studded in diamonds.

Looking at context and dissecting information can help to decipher a performance that is a harbinger of things to come as well as identify a flash in the pan.

On that note, here are the player performances that represent fact, fiction or require some faith.

FACT - Two players who played well Week 1 and will continue to do so:

John Brown

In fantasy football, it is important to acknowledge biases and to make sure to bake them into your predictions and decisions. With that in mind, here goes:

Hello, my name is Stuart and I am a John Brown addict.

From his days with the Cardinals, Brown has always struck me as more than just a speedy deep threat. His footwork and route running is that of a legitimate number one receiver, and I am convinced that had the Ravens not switched to a run first quarterback (which they absolutely should have) Brown would be universally acknowledged as a top 25 receiver. He was on pace for 1,000 yards with Joe Flacco. I’ll let that sink in.

Now, Brown moves to a team that matches his skill set. Last season, Brown lead the league in aDOT with Flacco; Josh Allen lead the league for quarterbacks in this same stat. Josh Allen throws it deep, John Brown catches deep balls.

But this is more than just deep balls. Brown is the unquestioned number 1 on a team that is treating him as more than a downfield burner. His NFL NextGen passing chart shows a mixture of routes that back up the argument that he is dynamic and multifaceted. He drew more than a quarter of Josh Allen’s attempts, showed legitimate chemistry with Allen, and scored the go ahead touchdown in the Bills comeback.

Sometimes talents just needs to find the right situation, and on a team that has a playmaker at QB and supplemental pieces everywhere else at WR, Brown is primed for the break out all of us in the John Brown anonymous meetings saw coming.

Dak Prescott

We here at OEF (and by we I mean me) have been high on Prescott since July. This site didn’t exist then, but our (my) best ball teams are 40% Prescott owners, so we already put our money where our mouth was going to be.

Some may see this and think that a rusty Zeke and a weak Giant’s secondary are all that is happening here, but that is not the story. The story is a historically solid and consistent quarterback is taking a leap fueled by time to gel with his stand out WR, an emerging second year WR, a veteran 3rd WR, and a stable of weapons at the TE position. Throw in a young and innovative play caller (Kellen Moore) and this is Dak’s year, Sunday just being the start.

Yes, Zeke will chew into his loads. Yes, he will face better defenses. But neither of those should temper our expectations. Dak is good and his team is good. That’s something we feast upon in Fantasy Football.

FICTION - Two players who played well Week 1, but won’t sustain the success

John Ross

This is a sad take, but one that has to be said.

John Ross balled out on Sunday, and lord knows he may do it again. But moving forward, the Bengals will not be able to support him in the way he needs to be supported to put up weeks like that.

If you close your eyes and imagine Cinci’s week 5 game against the Cardinal’s porous defense, Ross could be fourth or even fifth on the pecking order by that point if AJ Green comes back healthy, Tyler Boyd eats up his usual targets, and Mixon/Bernard are running and catching like they typically do.

Also, although, again, John Ross played exceptionally well this week, he also benefited from a bad Seattle secondary the played even worse. His 55 yard TD was really a mistimed jump by the safety, and at least two of his other seven catches appeared to be the result of poor coverage or miscommunications.

It’s always nice to see a player who has struggled to meet the hype play like this, but circumstance and situation also have to be factored in. Ross may have another game like this at some point, but he is not in the position to have a season like this.

Derrick Henry

To be clear, Henry is the type of player who will certainly have his weeks. Do not forget about him in Daily Fantasy or ignore him in Season Long.

The point of putting him here is to remind you that he is a boom or bust player on a team that cannot sustain offensive success. The Titans offense didn’t look great when you take out all of the second chances the Browns penalties afforded them. This is not an explosive offense, it is a mediocre offense tied to a middling quarterback and a shaky infrastructure.

Also remember that the Titans are rarely in a game script as favorable as the one they were in this week, and that Henry is game script dependent. Last season he ran for 1,059, but had about 600 of those yards in a four week stretch; in games where the Titans were behind, he disappeared. Although he had a 75 yard TD reception this week, he only had two targets. He is not all of a sudden the passing down back.

Henry will almost undoubtedly end the year with 1,000 yards rushing and a handful of TDs, but the trick is finding the weeks where these stats will be generated and fading the weeks where he will be a non-factor.

Don’t forget about Henry, just remember all the 18 carries for 55 yard games when you think of his week 1 performance.

FAITH - Two players who played badly Week 1, but will turn it around moving forward

Sony Michel

Legitimately the only player who did no pop off completely against the Steelers was Michel. This can be hard to swallow in a game where the Patriots were in control from the start, but taking a closer look there is more hope for optimism than it may first appear.

To start with, Michel was the clear #1 back. He lead the team with fifteen carries, which was more than James White and Rex Burkhead combined (12). Any concerns that Michel has lost his hold on the backfield would be misrepresented.

The efficiency of those touches is also something we can unpack. Burkhead was, to the naked eye, the one who made the most of his touches; James White was explosive in the passing game; Sony Michel had 15 carries for 14 yards.

Looking at the tape, though, the Steelers clearly had a game plan that the Patriots were not going to run on them. It was a valiant attempt to make the Patriots play left-handed by taking away the foundation of their Super Bowl run last year, and without Gronk on the line, the Patriots were slightly more transparent in their run vs. pass splits.

The good news moving forward, though, is that the Steelers proved that this approach will not work. Tom Brady dissected them at every turn and the Steelers looked like they were unable to cover anybody in the secondary when stacking the box, and unable to stop the run when they weren’t.

Moving forward, New England has a soft schedule (MIA, NYJ, BUF, WAS, NYG, NYJ) which favors Michel, and the appearance of one mercurial wide receiver should make it impossible for defenses to overload against Michel.

Buy low, score high.

Tyler Lockett

Two targets is a fantasy wet blanket for a receiver who was touted as the number one in the offense coming in, but who was treated like an undrafted rookie.

That being said, Lockett still did Lockett things and managed to turn one of those targets into a long touchdown that propelled Seattle to a one point win over the Bengals. And perhaps the end of that sentence is why I am not hitting the panic button, and would in fact double down on Lockett moving forward.

Seattle’s secondary looked terrible, allowing John Ross to waltz all over the field, and Cincinnati could only muster 20 points. Add in some horrendous weather, the Seahawks managed under 200 yards of total offense.

In watching the game, though, this felt more fluky than indicative.

Moving forward, Seattle plays some monster offenses and will have to keep pace. The fact of the matter is that even if Lockett was the number 2 in the offense, he is still incredibly valuable. More than likely, though, Cincinnati and the weather took him out of the game and made him less important.

From here on out, if Seattle wants to win, they will have to score. Lockett scores touchdowns and keeps the chains moving. If you have any faith in the Seahawks, their generational QB, or their successful team building, then you have faith in Tyler Lockett. Just like me.

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