Fantasy football intel for all 32 NFL teams ahead of Week 2
- Fantasy football, NFL analyst for ESPN.com
- Member of Pro Football Writers of America
- Founding director of Pro Football Focus Fantasy
- 2013 FSTA award winner for most accurate preseason rankings
The Fantasy 32 analyzes the NFL from a fantasy perspective, with at least one mention of each of the league’s 32 teams. Though efficiency will be discussed plenty, the column will lean heavily on usage data, as volume is king (by far) in fantasy football. Use these tidbits to make the best waiver-wire, trade and lineup decisions for the upcoming week and beyond. Be sure to check back each week of the season for a new version of the Fantasy 32.
Note that data from Monday Night Football might not immediately be reflected in charts.
Throughout the below team-by-team rundowns, I’ll be referencing “OFP” and “OTD.” OFP stands for opportunity-adjusted fantasy points. Imagine a league in which players are created equal. OFP is a statistic that weighs every pass/carry/target and converts the data into one number that indicates a player’s opportunity to score fantasy points, or his “expected” fantasy point total. For example, if a player has an OFP of 14.5, it means that a league average player who saw the same workload in the same location on the field would have scored 14.5 fantasy points. FORP is the difference between a player’s actual fantasy point total and his OFP. OTD works the same way, except instead of fantasy points, it’s touchdowns. Volume is king in fantasy football, so this is not information you want to overlook.
That said, here is the post-Week 1 OFP leaderboard:
*Complete OTD and OFP positional leaderboards will be posted at ESPN+ this week
Next, here are the players who exceeded their OFP by the largest margin this past week and are thus candidates to see a dip in fantasy production moving forward, assuming they see a similar workload:
These players fell short of their OFP by the largest margin last week, and thus you shouldn’t be too quick to overreact to their performances when making lineup, trade or waiver decisions:
Kenyan Drake was the clear feature back in Arizona during the second half of the 2019 season, and that trend continued Sunday. Drake played 52 of a possible 76 snaps and handled 16 carries to Chase Edmonds’ six. Drake was targeted only twice (Edmonds had five on 28 snaps), though note that he ran 18 routes to Edmonds’ 14. Drake averaged 19.8 routes and 4.4 targets per game during his eight games with the team last season, so we should expect his target number to increase going forward. Drake is a weekly RB1 play and Edmonds his insurance.
The Falcons’ backfield snaps were as followed in the season opener: Todd Gurley II (34), Brian Hill (21), Ito Smith (19). Despite the committee attack, Gurley dominated the touches with 14 of the team’s 18 carries and five of the 10 targets by RBs. Smith led the unit in pass routes (16), with Gurley and Hill each running 14. The concern for Gurley is that his 44% snap share and 25% route share are the lowest he’s seen since his rookie season in 2015. Gurley is unlikely to reach 16 touches most weeks if his snaps don’t increase, and it’s possible they won’t after he totaled one yard on his five targets. Consider Gurley a low-upside RB2.
J.K. Dobbins paced Baltimore running backs with 23 snaps played in his NFL debut. Mark Ingram II played 20 and Gus Edwards 15. None of the backs were targeted with passes or had much success on the ground, though a pair of short touchdowns for Dobbins bailed out his fantasy day. We don’t want to overreact to Dobbins’ high fantasy point total due to the unsustainable TD rate (0.9 OTD), but we also can’t ignore that he led the backfield in touches (granted it was only seven) and handled both of the team’s carries inside the 5. This is a committee attack, and Dobbins is a big part of it, but he’s going to be very reliant on touchdowns and splash plays, considering volume, especially as a receiver, won’t be there. At least for now, he’s only a flex play in deep leagues.
Devin Singletary played 47 snaps and Zack Moss 35 during Sunday’s season opener. It was a committee attack, as expected, with Singletary handling nine carries and seven targets and Moss registering nine carries and four targets. Neither back separated himself (Singletary had 53 yards, Moss had 27 and a TD), so we should expect similar usage in Week 2. Singletary is the better flex play against Miami.
In what was Matt Rhule’s first game running an NFL offense, the Panthers rolled with three-plus WRs on 80% of their offensive snaps. DJ Moore paced the way with 56 snaps and was trailed by Robby Anderson (53), Curtis Samuel (48), Brandon Zylstra (eight), Seth Roberts (five) and Pharoh Cooper (three). Anderson caught a long touchdown, but Moore had more targets (nine to eight) and a higher OFP (18 to 15). Based on the heavy WR usage (as expected), Moore should remain locked into lineups, Anderson is a flex option, and Samuel should be on benches in most formats.
David Montgomery was expected to be limited in his season debut, but the second-year back still managed to a play a sizable role, playing 29 snaps while handling 13 carries and three targets. Montgomery racked up a solid 74 yards in the game and will be a candidate for more snaps once fully healthy. He’ll steal work from Tarik Cohen, who managed seven carries and a pair of targets on 30 snaps with Chicago in comeback mode most of the game. Both are flex options against the Giants in Week 2 and beyond, with Montgomery the preferred play.
Cincinnati spent an early second-round draft pick on Tee Higgins back in April, but the rookie was limited to zero targets on 15 snaps in his NFL debut. John Ross III (53 snaps, five targets), Tyler Boyd (50, five) and A.J. Green (43, nine) were the Bengals’ clear top receivers, with Mike Thomas, Auden Tate and Alex Erickson combining for 30 snaps. Joe Burrow’s heavy usage of Green is a good sign for his potential WR1 prospects moving forward. Boyd’s numbers will be better when he’s not being covered by superstar slot CB Chris Harris Jr., so don’t panic on his weak fantasy day. Ross might eventually lose work to Higgins, but for now the speedster is worth a bench spot in 12-team leagues, considering his team-high snaps share.
Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt each played 33 snaps (49%) in the Browns’ loss to Baltimore. Hunt was utilized more often, producing 81 yards on 13 carries and six targets. Chubb added 66 yards on 10 carries and one target in what was a very poor game script for the guy likely to generally be the team’s primary ball carrier. Interestingly, Chubb actually ran more routes than Hunt (16 to 15), which should add some optimism for his future PPR value. Chubb is still the preferred fantasy option for now, but both are mid-to-back-end RB2 plays.
File this under “#AsExpected,” but the Cowboys rolled with three-plus wide receivers when passing at one of the league’s highest rates (88%) in Week 1. Michael Gallup (66 snaps, five targets), Amari Cooper (65, 14) and rookie CeeDee Lamb (57, six) were all nearly full-time players. Cooper won’t see anything close to 14 targets most weeks and, especially after Blake Jarwin’s injury, those targets will be distributed to Gallup and Lamb. Cooper remains a fringe WR1 and Gallup a WR3 in all formats, with Lamb a flex option in deeper leagues.
Jerry Jeudy impressed in his NFL debut, easily leading Denver in targets (eight) while playing 44 of a possible 59 snaps, trailing Tim Patrick (50) and DaeSean Hamilton (47) but well ahead of Tyrie Cleveland (five) and Diontae Spencer (six). Jeudy, of course, benefited from Courtland Sutton sitting out with an injury, but there’s little doubt the first-round pick will continue to play a substantial role. Jeudy should be in your flex only if Sutton remains out in Week 2, but keep the high-ceiling rookie on your bench.
D’Andre Swift paced the Lions’ backfield with 30 snaps played during his NFL debut on Sunday. He worked just ahead of Adrian Peterson (23) and Kerryon Johnson (19) in what was clearly a committee attack. Peterson was the most effective of the three, producing 114 yards on 17 touches. Johnson struggled to 14 yards on seven carries and wasn’t targeted. Swift put up 15 yards on five targets and eight yards and a TD on three carries. Peterson isn’t going away, but Swift ran more pass routes (19) than the other two backs combined (14) and his role only figures to increase as the season progresses. The passing down work keeps Swift in the PPR discussion in 12-team leagues, but neither he nor Peterson are particularly inspiring starts at the moment. Johnson is no more than insurance and can be dropped if you need the spot.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers drafted RB AJ Dillon in the second round of April’s draft, but the rookie was a non-factor in his NFL debut, playing only five snaps. Aaron Jones remained the main man with 40 snaps (53%) and Jamaal Williams was next up with 31. Tyler Ervin (14 snaps) was also involved. Jones handled 16 carries and six targets, which helps secure him as a weekly RB1. Williams managed 11 touches and is no more than a bench option. Dillon did impress with runs of six and eight yards, but he’s no more than Jones insurance at this point.
Jordan Akins was on the field for 81% of the Texans’ offensive snaps in the season opener. That matched David Johnson for most among the team’s running backs, wide receivers and tight ends. Akins was targeted only twice but caught both for 39 yards and one touchdown. Akins’ role was actually on the rise late last season, as he played a career-high 82% of the snaps in Week 17 and was targeted at least seven times twice during his final four games. Akins will need a more consistent target share to enter the TE1 mix, but he’s a strong add in two-TE and dynasty leauges.
Marlon Mack tore his Achilles on his 11th snap in Week 1, which ends his 2020 season. In his place, Nyheim Hines played 37 snaps (54%) and second-round rookie Jonathan Taylor played 23. Neither back separated much on the ground (Hines 7-28-1 rushing line, Taylor 9-22-0), but both were heavily involved as receivers (Hines 8-45-1 on eight targets, Taylor 6-67-0 on six targets). Hines ran 27 routes, compared to 12 for Taylor and six for Mack. Both Hines and Taylor obviously get a big value boost, though Taylor will be your top fantasy option. The rookie figures to easily pace the team in carries, and his hefty receiving role is something we never saw from Mack (his career high in targets was six back in 2017). Hines will benefit from the presence of Rivers and his propensity for dumping off the ball. This has a bit of a Gordon/Ekeler feel to it, especially because both figure to be viable starters in PPR formats. Consider Taylor a strong RB2 with upside for more moving forward, with Hines a flex option. Jordan Wilkins isn’t the worst deep-league add in the event that Taylor stumbles.
Rookie James Robinson was the clear feature back for the Jaguars on Sunday, which is pretty incredible when you consider he went undrafted back in April and dealt with a pandemic-shortened offseason. Robinson played 31 snaps (66%), racking up 62 yards on 16 carries and 28 yards on one target. Chris Thompson had zero carries and a pair of targets on 12 snaps. Surprisingly, Robinson (seven) ran only two fewer routes than passing-down specialist Thompson (nine). Robinson’s role as lead back appears secure, so he should be considered a flex option. Thompson’s disappointing passing-down role makes him no more than a bench option in 12-team PPR leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs
Clyde Edwards-Helaire was on the field for 45 (67%) of the Chiefs’ offensive snaps in his NFL debut. That’s compared to 22 for Darrel Williams and zero for Darwin Thompson. Edwards-Helaire racked up a massive 25 carries and, though he was targeted only twice, he ran a route on 20 of the team’s 33 pass plays. The rookie impressed with 138 rushing yards and one touchdown, though he could’ve done more damage if not for his failure to find the end zone on any of his six (!!!) carries inside the opponent’s 5-yard line. Edwards-Helaire is the clear feature back in Kansas City’s elite offense and his passing-down work is only going to increase. He’s locked in as a weekly RB1.
Las Vegas Raiders
Bryan Edwards played 46 snaps in his NFL debut, which was most among the team’s wide receivers. Henry Ruggs III (41) was just behind, with Hunter Renfrow (28), Nelson Agholor (11) and Zay Jones (eight) also involved. Despite the heavy snap count, Edwards was targeted only once, whereas Ruggs paced the team’s WR room with five targets. The other three receivers combined for three targets, with Darren Waller (eight) and Josh Jacobs (six) dominating the passing-down work. No Raiders’ wide receivers should be in lineups, but Ruggs and, to a lesser extent, Edwards are worthy of bench spots.
Los Angeles Chargers
Austin Ekeler had a fairly quiet Week 1 — and we have good news and bad news. The good news is Ekeler set career-high marks in snaps (49) and carries (19), which helped him to 84 rushing yards. The bad news is Ekeler, who caught 92 passes for 993 yards and 8 TDs in 2019, was targeted only once (none prior to the fourth quarter). Ekeler’s 20 pass routes easily led the team’s running backs, with Joshua Kelley carrying the ball on 12 of 17 snaps, but not seeing a target on three routes. Justin Jackson had two carries on 10 snaps and wasn’t targeted on six routes before exiting with an injury. Tyrod Taylor has targeted a running back on 20.2% of his career throws, which is right around league average, so we shouldn’t panic too much here. Ekeler isn’t going to match his receiving numbers from the Rivers era, but the heavy snap, carry and route numbers suggest better days are ahead. Consider him a strong RB2 option against the Chiefs, with Kelley a bench option.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams spent a Day 2 pick on a running back during each of the past two drafts but decided to roll with 2015 undrafted free agent Malcolm Brown as their lead back in Week 1. Brown impressed with 18 carries for 79 yards and 2 TDs (all career highs) and four targets, three catches for 31 yards on four targets. Brown played 43 snaps (18 routes), compared to 24 snaps (eight) for rookie Cam Akers and five snaps (one route) for second-year back Darrell Henderson Jr. Akers actually got the start but struggled to 43 yards on 15 touches. It’s possible the Rams will roll with the “hot hand,” so we don’t want to go overboard on Brown, but he’s obviously a must-add after the strong usage and production. Consider him a flex play against the Eagles. Akers should be on benches for now, and Henderson isn’t a must-hold.
Who is Miami’s lead back, Jordan Howard or Matt Breida? It turns out the answer is neither. Unheralded seventh-round pick Myles Gaskin played 35 (or 60%) of the team’s snaps on Sunday, compared to nine for Howard and 14 for Breida. Gaskin impressed with 40 yards on nine carries and 26 yards on four targets. Howard (8-7-1 rushing line) and Breida (5-22-0) didn’t do much on the ground, and neither was targeted. Patrick Laird, meanwhile, was targeted on two of his four snaps. It’s hard to imagine Howard and Breida will be so little involved moving forward, but this has the look of a pretty clear-cut committee. Gaskin is a must-add on waivers in the event he keeps control of the backfield, though he should be viewed as no more than a flex in 12-team leagues in Week 2.
Justin Jefferson was expected to be third in line at wide receiver in his NFL debut, but it didn’t take the first-round pick long to join Adam Thielen (47 snaps) in two-wide sets. Jefferson was targeted on three of his 33 snaps, with Bisi Johnson (30 snaps) and Tajae Sharpe (seven) also involved. It wasn’t a good fantasy day for Jefferson (his three targets led to a total of 10 air yards and a 2-26-0 receiving line), but his usage will only increase as the season progresses, especially with Minnesota so shaky at wideout. Keep him on your bench.
New England Patriots
The Patriots’ leader in snaps among its wide receivers in Week 1 was, as I’m sure you guessed, Damiere Byrd. The former Cardinals reserve played 56 (89%) snaps, which was ahead of N’Keal Harry (49), Julian Edelman (37), Jakobi Meyers (eight) and Matt Slater (one). Incredibly, Byrd was not targeted in the game, with Edelman (seven) and Harry (six) combining to handle all of the team’s WR targets. New England’s Cam Newton-led offense appears to now be low volume and run heavy, which is bad news for the wideouts. Edelman’s target share keeps him in the WR3 mix, with Harry’s first-round pedigree and usage enough to keep him off the waiver wire. Byrd should be considered only in deep leagues.
New Orleans Saints
Michael Thomas is the obvious No. 1 wide receiver in New Orleans, but it was expected newcomer Emmanuel Sanders would be second in line. Instead, the veteran receiver was limited to 31 snaps (21 routes) in his Saints debut, compared to 53 (29) for Thomas and 43 (23) for third-year Tre’Quan Smith. Bennie Fowler and Deonte Harris, meanwhile, combined for 13 snaps. Smith’s generous snap share led to only one target (Sanders was targeted five times), but the Saints’ offense was all but shut down by Tampa Bay, managing only 198 passing yards (53 to wide receivers) and 82 rushing yards on the day. Despite the dud, Thomas remains the top wide receiver in fantasy, with Sanders worth a bench spot. Consider Smith in deep and dynasty leagues.
New York Giants
Golden Tate was sidelined on Monday Night Football, which helped second-year WR Darius Slayton to a 6-102-2 receiving line on a team-high nine targets. Slayton surprisingly led all Giants’ wide receivers in snaps (55 of a possible 64), working ahead of Sterling Shepard (49), C.J. Board (20) and Damion Ratley (16). Slayton’s two-score game was the fourth of his young career (15 games) and obviously unsustainable, but the heavy usage suggests he very well could emerge as the Giants’ No. 1 wide receiver. Even if Tate returns, Slayton will be a flex option against Chicago in Week 2. Shepard (6-47-0 receiving line) is best left on benches.
New York Jets
Le’Veon Bell was expected to play a reduced role this season, but the veteran back was playing 100% of the snaps prior to leaving Sunday’s game with an injury. Frank Gore didn’t play as much as expected, handling 13 snaps, compared to 12 for Josh Adams. Once Bell returns, he’ll be right back in the mix as a weekly RB2. If he’s out, the situation becomes murky. We know Gore has a very limited ceiling and Adams is unlikely to see enough touches for flex consideration. The name to consider on waivers is La’Mical Perine. The fourth-round rookie was out with an ankle injury in Week 1 but wasn’t placed on IR, which suggests he’ll be back soon. It’s not a sure thing, but he at least has the highest upside behind Bell.
The Eagles went wide receiver by committee in Week 1. Rookie Jalen Reagor led the room with 40 snaps (59%), with DeSean Jackson (37), Greg Ward (29), J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (27) and John Hightower (26) all plenty involved. None from the group cleared 55 yards (Reagor got all 55 on one of his four targets), and Jackson struggled to 46 yards on seven targets. Eagles’ tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert each cleared 80% of the snaps and scored both of the team’s touchdowns. Add Wentz taking eight sacks behind the Eagles’ injury-annihilated offensive line, and there wasn’t much left for the wideouts. None should be in Week 2 lineups, though Jackson and Reagor are worth keeping rostered.
James Conner suffered an ankle injury on Monday Night Football, which limited the Steelers’ lead back to 15 touches. Conner was struggling prior to the injury, having produced nine yards on six carries and eight yards on four targets. It was a different story for replacement Benny Snell Jr., who impressed with 19 carries for 113 yards on 29 snaps. Both Snell and Jaylen Samuels (20 snaps) saw exactly one target. Conner isn’t expected to miss much (if any) time, but it’s very possible Snell has earned his way to a larger role. The young back a) just began his second NFL season b) impressed and earned the No. 2 gig during the offseason and c) outperformed Conner on Monday. Snell should be on all rosters in the event that he’s called on to start.
San Francisco 49ers
Raheem Mostert landed a pay bump during the offseason, which perhaps cemented him as the team’s clear lead back. Mostert showed well on a generous 37 snaps in Week 1, producing 56 yards on 15 carries and four catches for 95 yards and 2 TDs on five targets. Mostert ran 15 routes, compared to 12 on 27 snaps for Jerick McKinnon and two on six snaps for Tevin Coleman. McKinnon looked sharp in his 49ers debut with 44 yards and a score of his own on six touches. Mostert’s big role and production lock him into the RB2 mix against the Jets in Week 2. McKinnon should be on benches but needs more work to justify a flex spot. Coleman is worth an end-of-bench spot only in deep leagues because of the 49ers’ RB-friendly scheme.
The Seattle backfield snaps were as follows during Sunday’s season opener: Chris Carson (28), Carlos Hyde (18), Travis Homer (12). Carson had a big fantasy day, thanks to a pair of touchdown catches, but his usage raises concerns about his future production. Carson was limited to six carries and was targeted on six of 16 routes. Hyde led the team with seven carries but wasn’t targeted on nine routes. Homer handled three carries and was targeted on two of his seven routes. Carson will need more touches to push for RB1 numbers, but he’s nonetheless a fine RB2 option against New England this week. Hyde is insurance, and Homer should be rostered only in dynasty leagues.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ronald Jones II easily led the Buccaneers’ backfield with 31 snaps played (48% share) in Week 1. He was well ahead of LeSean McCoy (24) and Leonard Fournette (eight). Jones racked up 17 carries and was targeted on three of his 10 routes. McCoy ran 15 routes and was targeted once but didn’t carry the ball. Fournette was busy on his snaps with five carries and one target. Jones performed fine (82 yards), but McCoy’s passing-down role and Fournette’s inevitable increase in workload are troubling. Jones is in the RB2 discussion this week in a great matchup against a Carolina defense that was just shredded by Josh Jacobs, but he figures to fade to flex territory, if not benches, in the coming weeks. McCoy doesn’t need to be rostered, but Fournette should be on all benches.
Jonnu Smith was on the field for 58 of a possible 78 snaps on Monday Night Football. He was the clear featured tight end, with MyCole Pruitt and Anthony Firkser (30 each) used in situational roles. Smith was limited to 36 yards but handled a healthy seven targets and found the end zone. The heavy usage is a good sign for Smith’s future value and secures him as a solid TE2 option with back-end TE1 upside. Scoop him up if he’s on waivers.
Washington Football Team
As expected, Washington rolled with a running back by committee in Week 1. The only surprise was the distribution of snaps. J.D. McKissic paced the way with 31 snaps (44%), with Peyton Barber (29) and Antonio Gibson (18) next in line. Gibson was easily most effective, with 36 yards on nine carries and eight yards on a pair of targets. Barber scored twice but wasn’t targeted and struggled to 29 yards on 17 carries. McKissic converted three carries and five targets into a net loss of one yard (you read that correctly). Gibson’s role is only going to increase, but until that happens, he can’t be in fantasy lineups. Barber’s big-time usage make him a fine add in non-PPR leagues, but his painfully low ceiling and McKissic’s underwhelming efficiency mean neither is likely to emerge as a consistent starting option.
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