I’m starting this weekly column to take a rational look back at the week that was in fantasy football.
What I’m planning on doing is not giving you sleepers or irrational predictions, but rather taking a look at who did not live up to expectations.
But I’m not just going to tell you who had bad games; that’s easy. This isn’t a place to tell you that a unproven rookie had a bad day or that a potential sleeper spent the week sleeping rather than breaking out.
Instead, I’m going to look at who did not have good fantasy days when they perhaps should have, and try to decipher whether or not it’s a sign of things to come.
NOTE: It’s been one week. Just one game for each team in the books. Way too early to know anything for certain, but it’s worth taking a look at, since each week matters in fantasy.
Fantasy Flop #4: Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
Nicks, in my opinion, is the clear No. 1 receiver on the New York Giants. Fantasy-wise though, that won’t always be the case. Victor Cruz, much like Jordy Nelson in Green Bay, is a fantastic No. 2 wideout who can also put up No. 1 wideout stats.
Hakeem finished Week 1 with 4 catches for 38 yards, while Cruz finished with 6 catches for 58 yards. What is concerning for Nicks owners is the 11 targets from Eli Manning that Cruz finished with, compared to just 6 targets for Nicks.
One big fact to remember is that Morris Claiborne and the new(er) Dallas secondary did look much improved, but more was expected out of a player who is a No. 1 wideout in nearly every league.
Fantasy Flop #3: Wes Welker, New England Patriots
There were some unsurprising developments from New England’s season opener against Tennessee. For example, Tom Brady had a good day, finding Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez for touchdowns.
Other things were surprising, however, including Stevan Ridley carrying the ball 21 times for 162 yards. In fact, the Patriots ran the ball more times than they threw it.
When Brady did throw the ball, it was predominantly to his tight ends or his new toy, Brandon Lloyd. In the past, Wes Welker had been a sort of extension of the running game, catching bubble screens and short slants. I realize it’s been one week, but it appears they like what they have with Ridley and might be using him more and more.
Welker is still incredibly useful and an excellent player, but if the Titans game (3 catches, 14 yards) is a sign of things to come, it could spell the end of Welker as an elite fantasy wideout.
Fantasy Flop #2: Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons
Depending on your league, there is a good chance Turner is not your No. 1 back. But if you were one of the few who thought the aging Turner was going to be the same back he’s been in the past, there’s also a good chance he could be your only decent back.
Either way, you’d be looking for more than 32 yards on 11 carries.
It’s well known that Turner has been a workhorse in years past, but I don’t think it’s age (30) that’s catching up to him. I think the Falcons are making a shift to more of an aerial attack, which makes perfect sense.
I think Matt Ryan will make a jump this year, based on the fact that he’s got the best wideout combo in the league (Roddy White, Julio Jones) plus a tight end that can still play at a high level (Tony Gonzalez). It didn’t help that Ryan poached a rushing touchdown, and Jacquizz Rodgers (7 carries, 2 receptions) cuts into Turner’s value as well.
If you expected 2009 numbers out of The Burner, it might be time to temper those expectations.
Fantasy Flop #1: Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
Four yards on 11 carries looks like a typo, but that’s what Johnson owners were left with after the first-round back’s game against New England. The Titans as a whole had just 16 carries total, compared to 43 passes, which is very disconcerting.
Johnson was supposedly ready to bounce back from a less-than-stellar year in 2011, but four yards is not a good place to start, especially against a defense that is not generally regarded as one of the league’s best.
CJ could still rush for 2K, but he has 1,996 yards left to go in now just 15 games. Tennessee’s season opener was very concerning for those counting on the talented back.