Tue Sep 14th 2021
2021 Week One Review
Football is back! What a joy to watch the NFL and cheer on our dynasty teams this weekend. Finally, the games count, and we have scratches in the win or loss column. I hope you had a successful week in your leagues.
I had a decent week, personally. My teams finished 7-3 this week. I'll take that any week. Like I say every week, win or lose, it's a joy to watch football all weekend and cheer on all of my teams.
After following all of the games this week, here are my thoughts on players and situations and what's changed in the dynasty landscape after week one.
Ten Observations From Week One
- Kyle Shanahan did it again this week. He surprised dynasty managers by deactivating Trey Sermon and playing Trent Sherfield ahead of Brandin Aiyuk, who had no injury designation. Raheem Mostert gets injured in the first quarter, and the 49ers give the ball to Elijah Mitchel and Jamycal Hasty for the rest of the game. The injury to Mostert was just unfortunate, but the last-minute demotion of Sermon and holding back on Aiyuk is infuriated. Both were startable players matching up against Detroit this week, but neither scored a point this week. Coaches don't care about our dynasty teams, but some seem to enjoy screwing with them. Shanahan is one of those coaches. He's infuriating. Instead of Mostert, Aiyuk, or Sermon, it was all Deebo Samuel who finished as the third-highest scoring receiver this week while sitting on the bench on dynasty rosters.
Jameis Is Back
- After a year as an understudy under Drew Brees, Winston was back on the field starting for the Saints. The quarterback who produced for fantasy teams based on volume in the Tampa Bay offense did so with absurd proficiency in his first start for the Saints. Winston only threw the ball 20 times, but five of those passes resulted in touchdowns. He only had 148 yards passing but ended the week as the 6th highest scoring quarterback. It's hard for me to believe a leopard can change its spots, but perhaps Winston has. I'll need a few more weeks to see if Sean Peyton just puts him in good situations to win or if Winston will revert back to his old self. What's most encouraging is that four of the five touchdowns were from inside the ten-yard line when I expected Peyton to go with more Taysom Hill packages. Winston is my most owned quarterback, so I am happy to see my long wait has a chance to pay off.
Hurts Put The Doubters To Bed
- Hurts moved the offense well and spread the ball around in a route over Atlanta, throwing touchdowns to Devonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, and Dallas Goedert. Nick Sirianni's first game as a head coach went perfectly. It's just one week against a pretty lousy defense, but it's enough to cause the buzz surrounding the Eagle's trade for Gardner Minshew to settle down. Hurts' athleticism opened up the running game, giving Miles Sanders a productive day with 74 yards rushing and four catches for 39 yards. Sanders had a goal-line carry vultured by Kenny Gainwell, or he would have had a great fantasy game. Goedert was started in most leagues and Sanders and Smith in some. After watching Sunday, I think Sanders and Smith move into the every-week-starter category, and Jalen Reagor will have a chance to enter that category soon if they keep this up.
Shane Waldron Let Russ Cook
- Russell Wilson has made a fantasy living by being one of the most efficient fantasy quarterbacks in the league. He was as efficient as ever again on Sunday, throwing four touchdown passes on only 23 attempts. Shane Waldron, Seattle's new offensive coordinator, kept the running game active too, giving his backs 22 carries, but they passed more than they ran the ball and picked up their tempo. Indianapolis is a formidable defense, but Seattle tore them up even in their home stadium. I don't believe Seattle will become a pass-heavy offense, but I think they will pass the ball more than last year and funnel close to 50% of the passes through Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf, both of whom could finish the season among the top 15 in wide receiver fantasy points.
Nyheim Hines Will Eat Into Jonathan Taylor's Workload
- Indianapolis was playing from behind most of the game, but that's not the only reason Hines played so much. Coach Riech plans to use both backs a lot, which will take away from the top-end production Taylor managers are hoping for this season. The good news is that both were involved in the passing game. They each have six catches in the game. Taylor has to stay involved in the passing game so as not to tip off defenses when he's on the field. I don't think Taylor will get pulled from the game on passing downs as much as I believe the Colts will split touches between the two way more than dynasty managers would like. It's just the first game, but Taylor had 42 snaps while Hines had 34. I bet this becomes the norm.
CMC's Return Is Good News For Carolina But Not Dynasty Teams
- Christian McCaffrey did what he always does. He racked up nearly 200 yards of offense on the ground and in the air. Every dynasty manager with CMC on their roster thrives on his game-winning ability back on their teams this season after he left a hole in their line-ups last year. I have McCaffrey in three leagues and won all three of those games this week. That said, Robby Anderson is rostered on five of my teams, and I'm already worried that he won't come close to his last year's production while CMC was injured. Anderson did score a long touchdown on Sunday, but it was his only catch of the game. That's what Anderson used to do with the Jets, but his fantasy production was based on volume since moving to Carolina. CMC simply demands too many targets in the passing game. He was Sam Darnold's top target in this game with nine. There are just not enough targets to go around on this team. If Anderson returns to becoming a boom or bust player for dynasty rosters, I'll look for a more reliable player to start for my teams most weeks.
Same Ole Brandin Cooks
- Cooks is a consistent fantasy wide receiver no matter what team he is on or who his quarterback is. He finished the day with 132 yards on five catches, including one where he leaped over defenders to bring down a 52-yard bomb from Tyrod Taylor. Cooks is one of the quickest wide receivers in the league and just gets open all the time. It was good to see him getting targets even during a positive game script while the Texans crushed the Jaguars early in the contest. Taylor threw the ball 33 times in the blowout. Jacksonville may end up being one of the worst defenses in the league. Even so, it was impressive how the Texan's offense sliced them up. Mark Ingram was the leading running back with 26 carries and a touchdown. I wrote a few weeks ago about how I see him as a viable option since he'll get the goal-line carries in Houston, and I was proven right this Sunday. I almost started Ingram in the last roster spot in a deep 14-team league. It's nice to know he's a viable option in the weeks to come in leagues like that.
James Robinson's Ceiling Is Capped
- Robinson will not repeat his rookie year production, even after Travis Etienne was lost for the season. Coach Meyer spread the ball around, and their offense looked anemic until they scored a few touchdowns in garbage time. For some stupid reason that only Meyer knows, he was out-touched in game one by Carlos Hyde. Apart from drafting Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars have done nothing this season to make me believe they're going to improve as a team, and Lawrence can't carry the team by himself in his rookie year. Getting destroyed by what most people deem to be the worst team and roster in the NFL on Sunday does not bode well for Jacksonville or their players on dynasty rosters, which is sad because I am so invested in Laviska Shenault. It's just week one, but so far, things look pretty bad in Jacksonville.
Travis Kelce Isn't Fair
- Kelce maybe 31 years old, but he's not slowing down at all. He will be a cheat code yet again this year, especially in tight-end premium leagues. He scored 30 points in one of my tight-end premium leagues, more than both of my quarterbacks did in that superflex league. He scored 29 points in my FFPC league, just four points less than Tom Brady on my roster. His six-catch two-touchdown afternoon on Sunday is what we've come to expect. I gave away two first-round picks in one league to get him and have not regretted it one bit. He's helped me finish in the money both years so far. I'm on the border of a rebuild in the other league where I have him. I think I would need more than two first-round picks to trade him in that league if I go the rebuild route. It's next to impossible to rebuild in that FFPC league with him on my roster because he keeps me in every game. I was the highest-scoring team in the league this week in that league, so I plan to keep riding him to victories even though my roster is not as strong at other positions.
Passing The Baton In LA
- It's only one game, but Sunday night Matt Stafford appeared to have a greater connection with Cooper Kupp than Robert Woods. I know that well because I lost a game late on Sunday night against a manager who carried the Stafford/Kupp stack to victory. Woods did score a late touchdown, but to that point was far less involved. Kupp had ten targets, 108 yards, and a touchdown, while Woods had only four targets, 27 yards, and that late touchdown. I don't want to make too much of one game, but it's something I will watch much more closely in the next few weeks. Because of their age difference, I currently have Kupp ranked two spots ahead of Woods in my dynasty rankings, but that gap could grow significantly if Stafford favors Kupp as much as he did in week one.
Week One Waiver Wire
As a reminder, I play in 27 to 30-man roster leagues (true dynasty leagues), so the players I list here are for deep leagues only. If you play in shallower leagues, there are certainly better players than these to pick up off the waiver wire.
That said, for those of you in true dynasty leagues, here is who I would be looking to pick up this week. I list them in the order that I would prioritize them.
- Jerry Jeudy's injury means more playing time for Tim Patrick, who made the most of his playtime last season while Courtland Sutton was injured. Surprisingly, Patrick was an active part of the offense on Sunday, even before Jeudy hurt his ankle. Now he'll have an even more prominent role for the next few months. Patrick finished the game second in snaps (46) behind Sutton (53). K.J. Hamler is stuck in his role in three-receiver sets and only had 24 snaps on Sunday. Patrick is far and away the best player to add to dynasty rosters this week.
- Pascal was also the clear starter opposite Michael Pittman. He was second in snaps (69) and first in targets (5) among the wide receivers and scored two touchdowns. I like Pascal a little less than Patrick just because the Colts' running backs were so involved in the passing game on Sunday. Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines had more targets than Pascal. Even so, he has the WR-2 role nailed down while TY Hilton is on the IR, and every WR-2 on a team should be rostered in dynasty leagues.
- I would have Hasty as a higher priority if not for the "Shanahanigans" described above. He's among the running backs that will receive touches for the 49ers while they await Mostert's return, but he'll be very unreliable. He'd need one more injury to earn a reliable role with the team, but it could be worth stashing on rosters in case that does happen.
- Osbourne was the WR-3 for Minnesota on Sunday. He was on the field for 67 plays compared to Adam Thielen's 78 and Justin Jefferson's 76. He played a lot and caught more passes (7) than Jefferson did (5). I have to admit that I did not even know who he was. He was a 5th round draft pick by the Vikings in 2020, so he's had time in the system and apparently won the WR-3 job. Irv Smith's injury created opportunities for someone else to contribute in the passing game, and we learned this week that it's Osbourne.
- On Sunday, Harris was on the receiving end of a deep touchdown pass by Jameis Winston, though he played in less than half of the team's offensive plays. Harris is a deep threat that is helpful for an NFL team but less helpful to dynasty teams since he won't provide a high number of targets. He's someone I'd look to add in deep leagues or on rosters with a free roster spot after moving one of this week's injured players to the IR.
Week One Trades
Trades are hard to grade in a vacuum since scoring systems are different in each league, and every team has a diverse roster construction. That's why I write about trades made in my leagues and give context for why the dynasty owners made the trades. I grade the trade, but in the context of what each team was attempting to accomplish with the trade.
That said, here are my thoughts on trades that were made in my leagues this week. I hope these trades give you an idea of how other active owners value these players and future picks.
Chris Evans <=====> Amon-Ra St. Brown
- Chris Evans got a lot of hype during the last week or two of the preseason, but he's certainly not worth Amon-Ra St. Brown, who is not only a starting receiver for the Lions but had the most snaps on Sunday. While Evans can prove effective as the passing-downs back in Cincinnati, I don't believe Evans will cut into Joe Mixon's playtime as Gio Bernard did, and I believe Samaje Perine is the true handcuff to Mixon. I've written a lot about St. Brown the last few weeks, so you already know I value him higher than most analysts. I wish I had received an offer like this.
Rashod Batman and a 2022 first-round pick <=====> Chris Godwin and a 2022 third-round pick
- In this league, the team that acquired Bateman and the first-round pick is aggressively rebuilding his team and compiling draft picks for the second year in a row. The team that picked up Godwin has a very competitive roster, but not one of the top 2-3 in the league. If I were managing his team, I think I would have held onto Bateman and kept the pick because as good as Godwin is, he won't put his team over the top. I could see a trade like this making sense near the end of the season, but too many injuries could derail a team to make this trade this early in the season.
Wayne Gallman <=====> Eno Benjamin
- I made this simple trade in a league where I looked to handcuff Mike Daivs on my roster. I first offered Josh Kelley, but he rejected it. He countered back for Nyheim Hines, which I promptly rejected. Then he came back for Eno Benjamin. That seemed like a good deal for my team. I want the security of locking up the Atlanta backfield this year.
Myles Gaskin <=====> Amon-Ra St. Brown and a 2022 second-round pick
- Gaskin's dynasty future is not as bright as St. Brown's, but he'll definitely score more points for a team this season. It's always painful to give up a starting running back, but the price seems about right to me on this trade. I think because Gaskin is not a no-brainer starter week to week, I'd instead take St. Brown and a future pick where I could draft another player like St. Brown, who was drafted in the second round of most rookie drafts this year.
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