Let’s be honest. It is weekends like this one that make you turn even more to daily fantasy football. The single biggest story coming out of this weekend was – by far – the injuries. Injuries, injuries and more injuries. To key keys, mid-range guys, value plays – you name it. How many well-laid plans were laid to waste on a single Sunday? It’s the kind of weekend that makes you hate the hours you put into prepping for your 9-hour auction draft, or the stress you felt when you realized you were picking 9th in your twelve-teamer.
But you will have plenty of time to internalize the destruction before you hit the waiver wire, and when you go to build your DraftKings rosters next week you can just forget them and move on. This much is obvious, actually, but unlike seasonal leagues where injuries pretty much exclusively destroy value, they go both ways in daily fantasy football. Yes, sometimes they destroy value and remove options (not all backups are actually good! a valuable lesson for this week), but sometimes they create value and make you consider someone based on their low cost when you never would have considered the starter.
But for now, let’s consider a few of this week’s performances from across the league and try to look away from the wreckage. Because injuries aside, every year, the Monday after week two, we have to re-remind ourselves that pretty much any amount of reaction to the week one results is an overreaction.
Aaron Rodgers: From 23-33 for 189 yards a TD and a pick to 25-42 for 346 yards and three touchdowns. And just like that, he’s priced up there with Peyton and Brees and Luck once again. So if you had the foresight to capitalize, this was the week to use him. Now, you can still argue small sample size and say that he didn’t just go from playing Seattle on the road to playing someone else, he went from playing Seattle on the road to playing one of the worst secondaries in the NFL. And then you can tell me all about how Phil Rivers just lit up that same Seattle defense, so obviously he’s better than Rodgers, etcetcetcetc… no. You can overreact after Week 2 as well, you know. So maybe we need to look at a little regression for the Seahawks as well. They’re not going 16-0, you say? 15-1 then! No?
Let’s take a little trip in the way back machine, all the way into those murky days of… 2012. You know, when the Seahawks went 8-0 at home and 3-5 on the road, Aaron Rodgers was the MVP and Rivers was terrible. Let’s see how 2014 plays out before we take away any more than these three rules:
A. you bench players travelling to Seattle
B. you can trust Rivers playing in San Diego
C. you can trust Rodgers, except in the event of Rule A
The Cowboys: If you drafted Tony Romo, you were thinking about dropping him. If you drafted DeMarco, you were a little panicked, and wondering if you should consider a trade. If you drafted Dez, you talked like you were confident, but doubts snuck in, for sure. After week one, like I said, it’s impossible to just react – it’s all about the overreact. But against a solid Tennessee defense, all three of these studs stood out in exactly the way you wanted them to when you drafted them. 29 carries for 167 yards a TD? 14 targets for Dez? Yes, please.
This is exactly the kind of performance we expected when these guys both went by the middle of the second round in your drafts, and, well, here they are – and it was only week 2. You didn’t have to wait long.
Sammy Watkins: From a training camp that featured one-handed catches like this one and comparisons to Julio Jones to a preseason that was riddled with injuries to a week one that suggested there might be a learning curve, all of a sudden we see 11 targets, eight catches, 117 yards and a touchdown. This guy is a stud. And the Bills – the BILLS – are 2-0. Jim Kelly was on hand, the owner decided the team wasn’t moving to Canada, and their #1 draft pick stole the show… it was a good day to be a Bills fan.
Whether it was also a good day to be a daily fantasy owner depends on how much that performance will allow you to trust him going forward, and, of course, whether or not you’re right. If you wait for him to prove it – really prove it – the value will be gone. So do you trust what you saw? Because for every Watkins, there is a Kelvin Benjamin or a Brandin Cooks taking what might look like a step backwards. And while one week doesn’t count more than any other, you need to use something to break the tie between week one performers and week two performers, and you have to love someone moving in the right direction. No matter how you slice it, though, now we have some evidence that any one of these young receivers can bust out and perform for you on any given Sunday. But more high-upside, unpredictable receivers doesn’t make your life any easier – it just gives you more tough decisions to make! So now it’s just about which one of these guys can demonstrate some consistency, make you feel comfortable drafting them every single time the match-up looks juicy – because that’s when the prices will start to climb. And until they do it, you have the chance to be brilliant every week – just pick the right one, that’s all.
Week two – the upside to more football and bigger sample sizes. Good luck in week three.