As you do your research leading into each week of the fantasy football season, players values are constantly changing. “Rise & Decline” is a series that examines the players who have done the most to benefit themselves or hurt themselves leading into this particular week.
Week 1 is always the most revealing as we discover what players’ true roles are on their teams. Using that information along with anticipated adjustments between Weeks 1 and 2, here’s who could be on the rise and the decline.
Lamar Miller — RB, Houston Texans
Miller was a consensus top-5 RB heading into the season, but since we’d never seen him carry the load before, consider Week 1 validation. His high ranking is legit, and it’s all because of Miller’s whopping 32 touches against the Bears. Better games are ahead for Miller to improve upon his 117 total yards given the workload, and obviously he’ll start to find the end zone as well. 32 touches practically makes him matchup proof.
C.J. Anderson — RB, Denver Broncos
Anderson wasn’t even close to living up to the expectations last season, mostly due to inconsistent involvement in the offense. With only two 100+ yard games, Anderson let other backs fight their way into the mix, but that doesn’t look to be the case this season. Anderson pounded the rock 20 times for 92 yards and a touchdown against a strong Panthers’ D, and even added four grabs for 47 more yards and another trip to the end zone. With no serious threats behind him, this could be the year we’ve been waiting for for C.J.
Matt Forte — RB, New York Jets
Welp, it didn’t take long to squash the rumors of a Forte and Bilal Powell timeshare. Powell only got six touches in Week 1 (although he managed 48 yards) in comparison to 27 touches for Forte. Frankly, the distribution was shocking. Forte looked fresh too, gaining 96 yards on 22 carries while hauling in 5-of-7 targets for another 59 yards. This was a beyond encouraging debut for Forte with his new team, but things became even more convincing on Thursday night when Forte gained 100 yards on 30 carries and pounded the ball into the end zone three times. He’s a clear cut bell cow RB for the Jets.
Jordan Matthews — WR, Philadelphia Eagles
I don’t think any of us expected Carson Wentz to debut in the fashion he did, but lighting up the Browns in Week 1 doesn’t mean he’s destined for stardom. We’ll see how he develops, but it’s pretty safe to say Matthews is already the rookie’s prime target. In Week 1 the duo hooked up seven times for 114 yards and a touchdown, but they even left some meat on the bone by only connecting on half of their 14 targets. Look for Wentz to continue trying what’s been working for him.
Kelvin Benjamin — WR, Carolina Panthers
Benjamin is more than a year removed from his ACL injury, but despite his success as a rookie, the perception was that Devin Funchess and Greg Olsen would be almost as big a part of the passing game. Forget all that. Benjamin soaked up 12 targets, snagging six for 91 yards and a touchdown against one of the best defenses in the league. Benjamin may be ready to pickup right where he left off after all. That means a monster season is potentially in the works.
Coby Fleener — TE, New Orleans Saints
The Jimmy Graham role in New Orleans is officially gone. The Saints were all about the three receiver sets against the Raiders, and Drew Brees was spreading the love to Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead and Michael Thomas. To make matters worse, even though Fleener did manage four targets, he and Brees were not on the same page — connecting on just one catch for six yards.
Todd Gurley — RB, Los Angeles Rams
It’s too early to discount an elite RB just because they had a bad game. AP had just 31 yards in Week 1 but let’s wait and see what the Vikings can do. However, I don’t feel like I need to wait on the Rams’ offense … it’s that bad. Gurley is an insane talent, but when your team is getting shutout 28-0 by the 49ers with what looked like a high school style offense, it’s not a good sign for any player involved. Gurley’s 18 touches translated to just 42 yards in that game. There’s a lot to be concerned about, even if it’s just one game.
DeAndre Hopkins — WR, Houston Texans
Hopkins had a solid season debut — five catches (eight targets) for 54 yards and a score. What was concerning for Hopkins was the rookie lined up opposite him — Will Fuller also had five catches, but for 107 yards and a touchdown on ELEVEN targets. This will likely start to shift back to Hopkins being the primary receiver, but Fuller is not just a flash in the pan. Both of these guys should be major factors in Houston’s offense.
Kirk Cousins — QB, Washington Redskins
The Steelers don’t have one of their classic steel curtain defenses, in fact they finished 30th against the pass last season. After a breakout year, Cousins didn’t look worth his franchise tag on MNF. Despite completing 30-of-43 attempts for 329 yards, Cousins didn’t throw a touchdown and had a pair of bad interceptions. Not that it matters in fantasy land, but a lot of those yards also came in garbage time, which isn’t good for his value going forward.
Devonta Freeman — RB, Atlanta Falcons
It’s a nightmare for Freeman owners in season-long fantasy. As DK players it’s time to simply adjust to the fact that Freeman and Tevin Coleman are going to split touches, and it’s not looking pretty (for Freeman) after one week. Here’s the total breakdown from Week 1 — Coleman: 13 touches for 117 yards, Freeman: 15 touches for 40 yards. Things are obviously trending in Coleman’s favor at the moment.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.