Best of the Best in the North

September 13, 2018

US Bank Stadium By: Courtney Perry www.mprnews.org

Week one is in the books! There were some great games, close calls, a tie, and a surprising blowout. We’re looking at you New York Jets! In a weekly series, along with fellow writers, we are going to give you the divisions best fantasy lineup as well as some honorable mentions, and a couple players to watch. The players to watch is wide open, like to monitor to pick up off of waivers, a player that’s trade value might be through the roof because of a stellar week, or a player that may be taking up a valuable spot on your roster. Lets take a look at the best from the AFC and NFC North. 

AFC QB - Joe Flacco - 236YDS/3TD/0INT/3RYD - 27.74pts 

In a week were AFC north QBs didn’t perform to the normal level, Flacco shined. What this game showed us is if the QB playing the Buffalo Bills is available on waivers, they are a safe start. Flacco shared the wealth amongst all of his newest toys in Brown, Crabtree, and Snead all catching TD passes, as well as spreading the ball around his 3 TE. This week Flacco has a Thursday night game against the Bengals who just gave up 319 yards to a returning Andrew Luck and the Colts. Flacco isn’t a bad start, but Thursday night games are frequently disappointing when it comes to fantasy, so proceed with caution. 

 

AFC RB - James Conner - 31ATT/135YDS/4.35YPC/2TD/5REC/57YDS/FUM - 34.2PTS 

Going into Sundays action I expected Conner to get a huge workload for 2 reasons. First was to prove a point to Leveon Bell that if he continues to hold out they have a capable replacement in Conner. Second was the weather. In a game where 3-5" of rain was predicted, the Steelers would be leaning heavily on the run game. Conners teamates on the O-Line wanted to prove to Bell that Connor is a capable back. They did that and more Sunday. I am conflicted on Conner. He has a matchup against the Chiefs in week 2, who just gave up 123RYD to the Chargers. But my issue is at some point Bell will return. Conners value will never be higher, and if I get offered kings ransom for him, I would strongly consider it.

 

AFC RB - Joe Mixon - 17ATT/95YDS/5.59YPC/1TD/5REC/54YD - 25.9PTS 

Joe Mixon finally did what fantasy owners were expecting last season. While the 5.59YPC will be hard to maintain, it is an amazing start to the season. Matched up against a poor Colts defense, Mixon and the Bengals had the offense game fantasy owners had hoped for. In the coming weeks Mixon faces a tough defense in the Ravens Thursday night, followed by a matchup against the Panthers who just shut down Zeke, and the Falcons in Atlanta. Don’t expect Mixon to keep up the pace, but us fantasy owners can hope! 

 

AFC WR - Antonio Brown - 9REC/93YDS/TD - 24.3PTS 

No surprise here. Arguably the best WR in the league will more than likely be a mainstay on the AFC North roster every week. Something to pay attention to this week is his catch rate. AB was targeted 16 times, hauling in 9 of them for a 56% catch rate. Look for him to improve on that rate. In the coming weeks the Steelers play the Chiefs, Bucs, and Ravens who don’t have an elite level corner. Something to keep an eye on is Big Ben’s health. The guy takes some hits, and if he goes down it will hurt AB’s value, like in years past. 

 

AFC WR - A.J. Green - 6REC/92YDS/TD/FUM - 19.2PTS 

A.J. took advantage of a weak Colts secondary and had himself a game. He had a catch rate of 75% and was obviously Dalton’s go to guy. Having a RB like Mixon who will draw some attention from opposing teams defense will only help green. If Eifert is able to stay healthy, and John Ross can live up to the hype, look for the Bengals to be a dynamic offense in the league. With matchups against the Ravens, Panthers, and Falcons coming up green will face some tougher competition. However, the Red Rocket Andy Dalton and A.J. have built a reputation together and don’t look for that to change anytime soon. 

 

AFC TE - Jesse James - 3REC/60YDS/0TD - 9PT 

What an off week for TE. When your best TE in the division only scores 9 points, without a TD, it’s a disappointment. I see Jesse James here to be a temporary place holder, until Vance McDonald comes back week 2. With an offense that includes Conner, AB, JuJu, Ball (?), and an up and comer in James Washington I don’t look to to James as a huge threat. 

 

AFC Flex - Jarvis Landry - 7REC/106YDS/0TD - 17.6PTS The huge numbers here were the targets. Landry was the recipient of 15 of Tyrod Taylor’s 40 targets were aimed at Landry. Will be a high volume weapon in Cleveland, just like his usage in Miami. Gordon will be the big play threat but Landry remains as the sure thing. 

 

AFC Defense - Baltimore Ravens 

Playing the Bills in week 1, the Ravens dominated the game. 2INT, 6 sacks and allowed only 3 points. Baltimore had a solid defense last season, nut this just proves they look to be the best in the division. Either that, or you just pick up every defense against the Bills this season. 

 

AFC Honorable Mentions 

 

Carlos Hyde - 62YDS/1TD/1REC/3YD - 13.5PTS 

Hyde is the go to guy in the backfield tallying 22 Carries. While a 2.82YPC isn’t great the volume can be there. 

 

JJuJu Smith-Schuster - 5REC/119YDS/0TD - 16.9PTS 

No surprise here. JuJu goes over 100YDS. He is riding a hot 2017 season, proving to be a weapon in the Steelers offense. With AB drawing most attention JuJu is the primary beneficiary. 

 

Baltimore Tight Ends - 9REC/104YDS/0TD 

Between Nick Boyle, Mark Andrews, and Maxx Williams they had a great game. I look for most of this to go to Hayden Hurst when he comes back from injury. 

 

Josh Gordon - 1REC/17YDS/1TD - 8.70PTS 

Not the volume you would like to see from Gordon in his first game back, with only 3 targets. With his lone catch a TD, Gordon made the most of his opportunity. With Gordon being on a “snap count” he was still on the field for 69 of 89 plays, so look for his volume to increase. 

 

AFC Players to Watch 

 

Tyrod Taylor - 15-40/197Yds/77RYD/2 Total TD – 27.58PTS 

Holy completion percentage. Blame the weather if you want but that is horrible. Where Tyrod gets you the most value is his legs. Leading the team in rushing and a 9.6YPC Taylor will get you some fantasy points but that completion percentage needs to improve. 

 

Baltimore Backup RB 

Kenneth Dixon and Buck Allen had 17 carries for 61yds and 2TD as well as 5REC for 15yds. Dixon went down late. If Dixon is down for an extended period of time, look for Allen to be a possible flex option going forward. 

NFC QB - Aaron Rodgers - 286YDS/3TD/0INT/15RYD - 30.94pts 

Aaron. Frikin. Rodgers. Who gets taken off on a cart in the second quarter, returns in the second half to lead their team back from being down 20-0? Aaron Rodgers, that’s who. The guy played a half of football on one leg and led his team to a 24-23 victory. Rodgers distributed the ball to 3 of his WR for TD’s including Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, and Geronimo Allison. One area of improvement I expect to see over the next few weeks is the utilization of Jimmy Graham. You NEVER bench Aaron Rodgers, but keep an eye on the injury report against a tough week 2 opponent in the Minnesota Vikings, who just had a great defensive game against the 49ers. 

 

NFC RB - Jordan Howard - 15ATT/82YDS/5.47YPC/0TD/5REC/25YDS - 15.7PTS 

The points here for Howard are more than 10 points below Joe Mixon, but Howard had himself a game. 5.47YPC is a great start to the season, and with only 15 carries, I expect Howard to get more over the next few weeks. With Matchups like Seattle, Arizona, and Tampa Bay coming up, the opportunity is there for the Bears to build a lead and run out the game. The thing that excited me the most with Howard this week was his use in the passing game, catching all 5 of his Targets. In a PPR league, Howard has the chance to be a stud this season.  

 

NFC RB - Dalvin Cook - 16ATT/40YDS/2.5YPC/0TD/6REC/55YDS - 15.5PTS 

Cook didn’t have the most efficient game on the ground, with a pedestrian 2.5YPC. In his first regular season action since tearing his ACL, Cook made his presence felt in the passing game, catching 6 of his 7 targets from new QB Kirk Cousins. Cook was outgained on the ground in week one by Latavius Murray, who tallied 42YDS on 11 carries. Cook is the first option in Minnesota, but make sure to keep an eye on the work between the two RB’s going forward. With matchups against the Packers and Bills, look for Cook to have a solid couple of weeks before meeting the Rams in week 4. 

 

NFC WR - Randall Cobb - 9REC/142YDS/TD - 29.2PTS 

Jordy Who? Davante Who? Cobb still proved to be a favorite target of Aaron Rodgers. Catching an amazing 90% of the balls thrown his way, Cobb was the primary beneficiary of the Rodgers return in the second half. Granted more than half of his yards came on a 75yd TD pass from Rodgers in the fourth, Cobb was still a first look for Rodgers, leading the team in targets. With the Vikings next on the schedule don’t look for Cobb to have a  game like he did last week, as the Vikings proved the have one of the best secondaries in the league, picking off Jimmy G three times week one. 

 

NFC WR - Davante Adams - 5REC/88YDS/TD- 19.8PTS 

Adams joins his teammate Cobb here on the top NFC WR this week, and honestly its no surprise. When you have the best QB in the league on fire after returning from injury, you know there is going to be a lot of valuable players. Adams tied for second on the team in targets with 8. Despite the emergence of Cobb in week one, I still look for Adams to be the best WR on the Packers come end of season. Same schedule listed as Cobb above, facing the Vikings week 2, so again proceed with caution. 

 

NFC TE - Kyle Rudolph - 1REC/11YDS/TD - 8.1PT 

Again, the NFC North didn’t have great production from the TE, like the AFC North. What Rudolph hold the edge over is catching a TD pass From Cousins. With only 2 targets, Rudolph wasn’t a huge factor in the game. In the coming weeks Rudolph has matchups against the Packers, Bills (Juicy), and Rams who just gave up 9REC and 180YDS to the Raiders Jared Cook. The NFC North will more than likely be represented by Rudolph or Jimmy Graham this year, so right now is Rudolph - 1 Graham – 0. 

 

NFC Flex - Golden Tate - 7REC/79YDS/1TD - 20.9PTS The gamescript played out for Tate to have a big game, falling behind early. Stafford wasn’t able to make the connection often enough. Tate was able to find the endzone in the loss to the Jets. Look for a bounce back game for Stafford next week. 

 

NFC Defense – Minnesota Vikings 

Against the 49ers week 1, The Vikings posted a stat line of 3INT, 3 Sacks, a Fumble recovery, and a TD. Next week won’t be as simple as they face the Packers who had a tough test against Khalil Mack and the Bears Week one. I still see the Vikings as a good option going forward, as they look to be the top D in the league this season. 

 

NFC Honorable Mentions 

 

Kirk Cousins - 244YDS/2TD/0INT/26RYD - 24.36PTS 

Cousins goes from being one of the best QB’s in the NFC East, to second, and sometime even third fiddle to Rodgers and Stafford if he can pull it together. Cousins had a great game in his Minnesota debut, and look for him to excel next week. 

 

Kenny Golladay – 7REC/114YDS/0TD - 18.4PTS 

Golladay came to play Monday night. Hauling in 7 of his 12 targets for 114 yards, Golladay was a standout for the Lions. Keep an eye on him going forward. 

 

Adam Thielen - 6REC/102YDS/0TD - 16.2PTS 

Thielen looked to be Cousins go to guy, receiving 33% of Cousins 36 pass attempts. He had a 50% catch rate but no TD’s. Look for Thielen to be Cousins security blanket. 

 

Allen Robinson - 4REC/61YDS/0TD - 10.1PTS 

I easily could have gone Stefon Diggs here but I chose to shed some light on Allen Robinson. Robinson was targeted on 7 of Mitch Trubiskys passes. In a game that looked like it was wrapped up at half time, the Bears let their foot off the gas, and let the Packers come back and take the game. Look for Robinson to have a good game against the Seahakws, who just gave up 324 yards through the air in week 1.

 

NFC Players to Watch 

 

Geronimo Allison - 5REC/69YDS/TD 

A starter on an Aaron Rodgers led team holds value. Allison found the endzone on a 39yd pass from Rodgers in the 4th quarter. He was tied for second on the team in targets, and with Adams and Cobb drawing the better corners, look for Allison to capitalize.  

 

Trey Burton and Jimmy Graham 

Like I had stated earlier it was an incredibly disappointing week for TE. Look for both players to have a bounce back week. Rodgers will look to get the ball out early and often against the Vikings pass rush. Burton should have a good game against the Seahawks with coverage LB K.J Wright missing another week. Seattle has struggled against the TE in the past and I look for him to have a big game. 

 

 

 

That’s it for the AFC and NFC North Recap. Will the players remain the same next week? Can Conners Cinderella story continue? Will we see better games from the TE next week? Only one way to find out. Let me know what you think on twitter @Kendiesel312! 

 

Ken Davidson    

Dynasty + Redraft Specialist   

@kendiesel312 

 

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