Fantasy: End of the 1st Quarter

by Rob Grimwood – @FFBritBaller

It’s crazy to think we are through a quarter of the fantasy season already, but after four games in the books for every team (except the COVID casualty game between Tennessee and Pittsburgh), we most certainly are.

I thought I’d take us on a journey of recent history and revisit the pros and cons that have developed throughout the season thus far, but also to dive into the immediate future and what we can be doing as fantasy managers to improve or keep consistency in our teams.


Surprise Packages

Winners:

James Robinson – Running Back, Jacksonville Jaguars

Put your hand up if you drafted James Robinson as you could foresee him taking the starting job in Jacksonville during the off-season. For those with their hands still up, you’re liars! As an UDFA out of a small school (Illinois State), Robinson was intended to be a practice squad player until the stars aligned for him. But unlike so many others in that position, Robinson’s stars aligned much quicker that anyone could have expected.

The situation he’s come to find himself in is even more extraordinary when you think that there was no pre-season games for him to showcase his talents, and he was seemingly behind former first round draft pick Leonard Fournette mere days before the season kicked off.

But with an unsettled Fournette traded to Tampa, and natural successor Ryquell Armstead on the COVID reserve list, Robinson had an opportunity to showcase his talents in Week 1. He took that chance and literally ran with it.

After four weeks, Robinson finds himself the RB6 in 0.5ppr scoring formats thanks to 446 all-purpose yards with 3 TDs and is now cemented firmly atop the depth chart for the Jags.

He might not be on the greatest team but through the first quarter, having faced a top 5 rush defense (Colts) in Week 1 and tough match-ups against solid Titans and Bengals front 7s thereafter, he’s proved that he’s not just a flash in the pan and he’s here to stay. Hats off to those of you that picked him up after Week 1.


Aaron Jones – Running Back, Green Bay Packers

Not a total surprise, but certainly one of the most disrespected players in fantasy drafts this year has made us all regret not selecting him within the top tier. After being fed in 2019 and answering all of the fantasy critics, he’s doing the exact same thing this year.

His final ADP for 0.5ppr leagues was 2.10 (RB12). However, after the first four weeks, he’s sitting comfortably as the RB2 overall, having spent the first three weeks as the #1.


Jonnu Smith – Tight End, Tennessee Titans

With no Delanie Walker taking targets over the middle and a distinct lack of pass catchers in Tennessee, Jonnu Smith had a big chance coming into the season to have a fruitful fantasy presence week to week.

Not everyone seemingly had this view however as Smith was the TE20 off fantasy boards in the draft and going in the late rounds or even undrafted in some leagues.

Thirteen receptions for 181 yards and 3 TDs puts Smith as the TE4 on the season, despite playing one game less than all other TE1s so far.


Losers:

Kenyan Drake – Running Back, Arizona Cardinals

I tried to tell you. Drake came into the season with 53 scrimmage yards per game average over his career. That’s lower than the likes of Duke Johnson and Matt Breida, so why did the majority of you draft him mid-2nd round as the RB10?

Well, unfortunately for those that did draft him, he’s stunk as predicted. He’s currently the RB33 in half-point leagues behind the likes of Adrian Peterson, Ronald Jones, Darrell Henderson and Mike Davis. Even Rex Burkhead is above him thanks to that one supercharged week.

This might have been deemed acceptable if the match-ups hadn’t been so kind for Drake and the Cardinals, but considering they’ve faced Detroit and Carolina over the last two weeks (who have allowed the 3rd and 5th most fantasy points respectively to running backs this year), it doesn’t bode well for Drake to bounce back and salvage the season either.


TY Hilton – Wide Receiver, Indianapolis Colts

Can I say I told you so again? Look, as a mediocre fantasy analyst, I’m allowed to be over-excessive when one of my off-season articles rings true!

It’s just not clicking for Hilton this season. Could be down to age, could be down to a lack of connection with new QB Pip Rivers or could have been down to being overtaken on the depth chart in the first couple of weeks.

The worrying part of this is that Parris Campbell has been missing since Week 2 and Michael Pittman out since Week 3, but yet we still didn’t see anything of note in Week 4.

There could be a resurgence from the veteran as the clear WR1 now, but as things currently stand with him as the WR77 on the season, averaging just 4.4 0.5ppr points per game, managers that drafted him in the 5th round as the WR26 are certainly disappointed and likely on the verge of dropping him.


Zach Ertz – Tight End, Philadelphia Eagles

Picture the scene; Philly have basically no wide receivers due to them all being injured. Not only this, but fellow target hog and future replacement Dallas Goedert is also injured.

Wow… this means Ertz is going to get EVERYTHING!

Errr, nope. Logically, Ertz should be what he was drafted to be: a top 5 TE. Realistically, however, Ertz is currently the TE18 0.5ppr scoring formats behind the likes of Jordan Akins, Hayden Hurst and Mo Alie-Cox. And right ahead of sicknote Jordan Reed. Sorry Ertz owners.


Trade Time

Whether you’re 0-4 and needing a complete roster rehaul or whether you’re 3-1 hunting down a playoff berth, it’s always worth trying to improve your squad via trades. Dave Moore brings you a weekly dose of trade for targets for week to week leagues, but I’m going to delve a little deeper with one eye on the fantasy play-offs already.

Trade For:

Jonathan Taylor – Running Back, Indianapolis Colts

The rookie who has all the potential in the world. He’s gaining trust and acclimating well in that Indy offence. It won’t be long until Reich starts getting him 20+ touches every week. Taylor’s value is probably the lowest it’ll be this season as he’s coming off two average weeks, so you should target him now. Especially as the first two weeks of fantasy playoffs he will face the Raiders and Texans who are currently ranked 1st and 2nd worst against fantasy RBs.

Marquise Brown – Wide Receiver, Baltimore Ravens

But Marquise Brown has been awful so far, I hear you say. Well, yes, you’re not wrong, but hear me out. Lamar Jackson hasn’t got cooking yet. He’s just simmering, a couple of good games, a couple of quiet ones. It’s going to get better for Brown as the WR1 in Baltimore and now his value is as low as it’ll ever be this season. Look at this for a fantasy finish in the playoffs: the Browns (Week 14), the Jaguars (Week 15) and the Giants (Week 16). Hollywood Brown will win fantasy leagues this year, mark my words.

Travis Kelce – Tight End, Kansas City Chiefs

This one is a bit of a harder task, for obvious reasons. But there will be scenarios out there where the Kelce owner drafted a Miles Sanders/Michael Thomas/Kenyan Drake and could be struggling so might be looking for depth pieces. If you can get Kelce, he’ll definitely be worth it. The Saints are the match-up in Week 15 and are currently 31st vs TEs, and Week 16 brings the Falcons to Arrowhead, who are 32nd vs TEs. Kelce is going nuclear to finish the season.


Trade Away:

Devin Singletary – Running Back, Buffalo Bills

Singletary has looked fine so far this season. He’s not setting any records anytime soon and his two best performances this season have came while Zack Moss was out injured. That’s half the reason to sell now if you can, but the rest of season schedule is the main reason. Between Weeks 9 and 16, the Bills will face the Seahawks, Chargers, 49ers, Steelers, Broncos and Pats. They are ranked 1st, 6th, 2nd, 4th, 3rd and 8th respectively in giving up points to the position. Gulp.

Will Fuller – Wide Receiver, Houston Texans

Firstly, can you really trust Fuller’s glass-filled body to last a whole season? Secondly, the run-in isn’t great either. The Bears are currently second best against receivers and they come in Week 14, the Colts away in Week 15 could be sticky and the Texans finish the fantasy year off against an improving Bengals team. Fullers currently sitting as the WR20 in 0.5ppr leagues and fresh off a 100+ yard game and a second successive week of finding the pay dirt. His value might have peaked.

Darren Waller – Tight End, Las Vegas Raiders

I can understand if you don’t want to sell Waller. I don’t recommend selling him yet, this is more like a deadline week trade. Nothing against Waller and his talent, but if you’re match-up based heading into the fantasy champs, Indy Week 15 (1st against TEs), a tough Chargers defense in Week 16 and finishing the fantasy season against the Dolphins, who, to date are second against TEs, giving up just 2.5 fantasy points per game. Again, don’t trade Waller just yet. We can revisit this on the halfway review in November right before your trade deadlines.


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