10

Both Joe Mixon and Jordan Howard were utilized like RB1s in Week 1.

Volume is king in fantasy football and this year is no different. The most valuable running backs every year are ones that handle the majority of their team’s carries and running back targets. Mixon has joined the RB1 volume tier after handling 91.7% of the team’s touches in Week 1. When you get that kind of volume you become matchup proof even against a stout Ravens defense. We knew Howard would get more carries than teammate Tarik Cohen this season, but we did not know he would run more routes and get more targets than Cohen. If Howard continues to get those looks he will put up big numbers in 2018.

9

Wide Receivers can dominate running routes from the slot.

In Week 1 we saw big games from many wide receivers. Two of them were Michael Thomas for the Saints and Emmanuel Sanders for the Broncos. Both saw major shifts in where they lined up on the field. Thomas ran 41% of his Week 1 snaps from the slot and 51% of Sanders’ routes came from the slot. All of last year Thomas was only used in the slot 20% of the time and Sanders’ slot percentages was 27%. We see benefits when receivers get from shifted from the outside because they usually get matched up on the opposing defense’s lesser cornerbacks. Very few stud corners will follow WRs into the slot creating mismatches for the offense. Slot playing time is a big plus for guys like Sanders and Thomas and keep an eye out on other WRs around the league.

8

The Patriots are running out of running backs to play in Week 2.

Jeremy Hill tore his ACL in Week 1. Sony Michel is still battling a knee injury to return to the field. On Wednesday Rex Burkhead was added to the injury report with a concussion. It will be difficult for Burkhead to clear the concussion protocol by the Patriots’ Week 2 game leaving them with James White and Kenjon Barner as their running backs. White is quickly becoming a top play this week if Burkhead misses the game. Against a tough Jacksonville defense, the Patriots will be forced to throw the ball out of the backfield which plays to White’s strength. White will also now get more carries because the Patriots simply don’t have anyone else to play.

7

If Jordan Reed is active and healthy you play him no matter what the matchup is.

It’s hard to remember because it has been a couple years now, but Reed is a dominant tight end and matchup proof. We saw this past week Reed put up four catches for 48 yards and a touchdown on limited snaps against a tough Cardinals defense. Vernon Davis actually played more snaps than him, but Reed doubled the number of routes Davis ran. Alex Smith consistently produces fantasy tight ends and Reed seems like he will be no different. It seems like the Redskins are still easing him back in, but if his playing time increases we could see another top three fantasy season from Reed. Again if Reed is healthy and active you start him.

6

The Titans will be looking to pass the ball to their lead running back Dion Lewis against a tough Texans run defense.

Lewis was utilized more than Derrick Henry in every facet of the game in Week 1. Lewis played 49 snaps compared to Henry’s 20, 16 carries to Henry’s 10, and eight targets to Henry’s one. This happened in a game that was set up for Henry against a weak Miami run defense. The Titans know Lewis is the better all-around back and now face a Texans run defense that Patriots beat through passing to their running backs and tight end. The Titans just lost Delanie Walker to a season-ending injury which will force even more easy passes to the running backs whether Marcus Mariota or Blaine Gabbert is playing quarterback.

5

Eric Ebron may have caught the touchdown, but Jack Doyle is the tight end that best fits the Colts offense.

Ebron got the highlight touchdown and Doyle gave up the fumble which led to the Bengals defense scoring the game-sealing touchdown. However, prior to that Doyle played double the snaps than Ebron and ran more than double the pass routes. Neither tight end was asked to stay in and block. The Colts offense is designed for quick short throws for Luck to protect his shoulder and hide their bad offensive line. That offense lends itself to Doyle’s game. Doyle had 10 targets compared to Ebron’s five. While Ebron may put up the flashy plays throughout the season Doyle will be more reliable for your fantasy team.

4

Do not forget Ben Roethlisber’s Home/Road splits over the past three years.

Big Ben did not look great in the season opener against a Browns team that has been a great matchup for quarterbacks in the past. We have long known road Roethlisberger is different than home Roethlisberger, but if you forgot let me remind you. Over the past three years, he has averaged more than a touchdown and a half, more than 60 yards, and 11 more fantasy points at home than on the road. He averages 28 fantasy points per game at home which would put him at 448 points on the year if we calculated his 16 game pace. The leading quarterback from 2017 (Russell Wilson) only had 347 fantasy points. Start Big Ben with confidence this week at home versus the Chiefs who were just shredded by Phillip Rivers.

3

Brandin Cooks is not going to be like Sammy Watkins in the Rams offense.

Last year it seemed the Rams really only utilized Watkins in the red zone and many questioned the Rams trading for Cooks to replace that this offseason. Well, McVay seems intent on using Cooks much differently than Watkins. Watkins was never the focal point of the passing offense. In Week 1 Cooks saw eight targets including two deep shots that led to pass interference calls. I believe McVay is going to find ways to get the ball in Cooks’ hands even if it means having Goff take deep shots to draw penalties. Cooks will come down with them from time to time and the fact that he is giving him a chance is all you need for fantasy relevance. The touchdowns may be hard to come by with red zone threat Cooper Kupp and Todd Gurley, but Cooks is due for some big weeks in this offense.

2

Dalvin Cook is healthy and there is no timeshare in Minnesota.

One of the biggest knocks on Cook coming into this year was that the Vikings would likely have him split carries with Latavius Murray. In Week 1 Cook played 57 snaps to Murray’s 14. Cook is the team’s bell cow running back, and they seem to have no hesitations with giving him that type of workload. What is also notable is that he had six receptions on seven targets. While he is not likely to continue to get that amount of targets weekly with the other receiving weapons on the team, it is still very positive. Don’t let his low 2.5 yards-per-carry in Week 1 worry you too much. If he gets a large enough workload efficiency won’t matter as much.

1

The Falcons gave up the most receptions to running backs in 2017 and play Christian McCaffrey and the Panthers in Week 2

Opposing offenses targeted the running back in the passing game more than any other team in 2017. The running back leader in targets from 2017 was Christian McCaffrey. The Falcons also just lost their best coverage linebacker Deion Jones and safety Keanu Neal to season-ending injuries. I would be surprised if McCaffrey doesn’t catch at least five passes in this game especially with the injury to tight end Greg Olsen. McCaffrey will finish as an RB1 this week and could have a huge day in PPR leagues.

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