Best of the Best in the South
Well, Week One was just all kinds of fun, wasn’t it? While us Lions fans are still treating our burns, Jets fans sure have a lot to celebrate. So do Buccaneers fans. Their team, quarterbacked by Ryan Fitzpatrick, was condemned to sure defeat at the hands of the Saints. We all know what happened. That’s why they call him ‘Fitzmagic’.
In this weekly series, a group of us writers at Dynasty ER will be highlighting each division’s top fantasy performers, honorable mentions, and players to take a look at for any number of reasons; as a waiver, someone that could become a valuable waiver pickup, trade candidate, etc. This week, I tackle the AFC and NFC South divisions. Let’s get into it.
QB Andrew Luck, IND - Week 1 stats: 39/53 passing, 319 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT; one carry for 7 yards. The Colts’ star QB returned after what seemed like an eternity away from the game. He put up rock-solid numbers and he will get better as he knocks some more of the rust off.
RB1 Dion Lewis, TEN - 16 carries, 75 yards and a TD; 5 receptions, 35 yards. The prized running back acquisition from New England outshined Derrick Henry out of Tennessee’s backfield. He’s just a playmaker. And the coaches will find ways to get the ball in his hands. I may have undervalued Lewis leading up to draft week. He has high-flex/RB2 value.
RB2 Lamar Miller, HOU - 20 carries, 98 yards; 1 reception, 11 yards. If my RB2 gets me this, I’m fairly content. Miller has a tough matchup versus Tennessee’s defense this week but I’m still starting him as at least a flex. He’s clearly the top back in Houston.
WR1 TY Hilton, IND - 5 receptions, 46 yards and a TD. It was a bit of an off-week for AFC South receivers, Hilton being the best of the bunch. He’s Andrew Luck’s favorite target and is a borderline WR1 in my opinion.
WR2 Bruce Ellington, HOU - 4 receptions, 37 yards and a TD. The #3 receiver in Houston scored the team’s only touchdown through the air. He doesn’t register to me as a flex option but I had to give the man his due for outperforming DeAndre Hopkins.
TE Eric Ebron, IND - 4 receptions, 51 yards and a TD. A former Lion and now the ‘other’ tight end in Indy, Ebron had a solid performance against the Bengals, reeling in a touchdown. Both Colts TEs received a decent amount of work. Ebron has spot-starter/TE2 value for now. Keep an eye on matchups.
Flex TJ Yeldon, JAX - 14 carries, 51 yards; 3 receptions, 18 yards and a TD. With Leonard Fournette dealing with a hammy, Yeldon got a lot of work this past week. He scored a TD but only averaged 3.6 YPC. I see it being unlikely Yeldon continues to get 14 carries a game, he maybe has flex value while Fournette is a little hobbled.
D/ST Tennessee Titans - Despite allowing 27 points in a losing effort, this unit scored 11 points in standard formats this past week with one sack, two interceptions, and a kick return touchdown. Said that, the touchdown really saved their performance and those are unreliable at best. I’m sitting them against the Texans this week.
Delanie Walker, TE, TEN - 4 receptions, 52 yards. This will be the only time Walker will get to be included on this list since his season is over due to injury. Before the unfortunate news, however, it was business as usual for one of the best tight ends in the game. Wishing him a speedy recovery.
Jack Doyle, TE, IND - 7 receptions, 60 yards. If my tight end is getting me 13 points in PPR formats, I’m a happy camper. Six points in standard is very ‘meh’ but hey, it’s six points. I’m fairly comfortable starting Doyle each week. He’s one of Luck’s best targets.
Corey Davis, WR, TEN - 6 receptions, 62 yards. After dealing with injuries that derailed his rookie season, I was excited to see Davis out there making plays. To me, he’s a flex, for now. If Tennessee’s offense starts to click though, look out.
Alfred Blue, RB, HOU - 5 carries, 36 yards and a TD. Good day for the backup runner in Houston, punching one into the endzone. I’m not looking toward Blue as even a flex option going forward, however. If Miller gets hurt, that changes.
Players To Watch
Jonnu Smith, TE, TEN - 1 reception, 12 yards. Walker out, Smith in. A lot of targets were made available with the loss of Walker for the rest of the year. Smith, a former third-round draft selection, steps into the starting role and could be the beneficiary of a large number of those targets.
Ryan Grant, WR, IND - 8 receptions, 59 yards. Grant, an offsesason addition, is a player to keep an eye on. As Andrew Luck’s WR2, he could have a solid year ahead of him.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, TB - Week 1 stats: 21/28 passing, 417 yards, 4 TDs; 12 carries for 36 yards and a TD.
This is the closest thing to evidence I have as proof that I actually called Fitzpatrick’s big game. He didn’t throw 3 TDs to Evans, I’ll give you that. But it was just so… NFL. That predictability in unpredictability. Fitzpatrick is the best backup in the game and has been known to be occasionally brilliant, usually at unsuspected times. Sunday's game qualified. Can lightning strike twice? He faces the Eagles’ D this weekend, which is fresh off a dominant performance over Matt Ryan and the Falcons to kick off the season. I’m not starting him if I have other options but, who knows, maybe he’ll surprise us again.
RB1 Alvin Kamara, NO - 8 carries, 29 yards and 2 TDs; 9 receptions, 112 yards and a TD. It was a rough week for NFC South runners on the ground, but Kamara still picked up where he left off last year and kicked off Week 1 with a huge statistical performance.
RB2 Tevin Coleman, ATL - 9 carries, 19 yards and a TD; 1 reception, 26 yards. As I said, it was a rough week for NFC South runners. Coleman continues to be a solid flex option.
WR1 Michael Thomas, NO - 16 receptions, 180 yards and a TD. Thomas started off 2018 right with a huge performance, especially in PPR formats. I have a feeling it will be a big year for him.
WR2 DeSean Jackson, TB - 5 receptions, 146 yards and 2 TDs. I really wasn’t expecting this. I predicted Fitzpatrick having a big game but didn’t even consider Jackson would be a factor. I work in mysterious ways sometimes. But really, was Jackson even on anyone’s fantasy radar this year? I’m still not completely sold that this wasn’t just a one-off thing.
TE OJ Howard, TB - 2 receptions, 54 yards. I said it was a rough week for NFC South RBs… It was also a tough one for the division’s tight ends, Howard putting up the best performance of the position group this week. Cameron Brate, the ‘other’ tight end, didn’t have a single catch. Howard might end up being the top TE option sooner than later.
Flex Mike Evans, TB - 7 receptions, 147 yards and a TD. Hopefully you Evans owners out there weren’t turned off from starting him this past week because Ryan Fitzpatrick was his quarterback...
D/ST Carolina Panthers - The Panthers pass rush gets them the nod this week as they harassed Dak Prescott all game long, sacking him six times. Really, the whole defense was solid, allowing only 8 points and 232 total yards. The Falcons, whose offense struggled in their opening game, are their opponent this weekend.
Drew Brees, QB, NO - 37/45 passing, 439 yards, 3 TDs. You know it was a hell of a game when stats like that not only were on the losing side, but also only win you a spot as an honorable mention.
Julio Jones, WR, ATL - 10 receptions, 169 yards; 1 carry, 11 yards. Vintage Julio. He racks up yards like no other but can’t seem to find the endzone. At least he showed up to play against the Eagles. Can’t say the same for pretty much the rest of Atlanta’s offense.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, CAR - 10 carries, 50 yards; 6 receptions, 45 yards; one lost fumble. Gave the RB2 nod to Coleman over McCaffrey because the former didn’t cough up a fumble. It should be a huge year for Run-CMC though. Start him confidently.
Peyton Barber, RB, TB - 19 carries, 69 yards. He was the South’s leading rusher this week! As long as he’s the lead back in Tampa, he’s a solid flex option.
Players To Watch
Chris Godwin, WR, TB - One of my favorite receivers from 2017’s draft class, Godwin had a decent game to start the year with 3 receptions, 41 yards and a TD. I’m not running to the waiver wire to get him just yet with Evans and Jackson performing like they did but, he’s one to keep an eye on.
Ian Thomas, TE, CAR - This might apply more toward dynasty leagues than redraft ones.Star tight end Greg Olsen left Sunday's game with a foot injury and it's looking like he will miss quite a bit of time. Suddenly Thomas, a rookie, finds himself in a starting role. The coaches seem confident in Thomas' abilities and Cam Newton likes throwing to his tight ends.