Who would've thought one week ago that Ezekiel Elliott would be playing the entire season; all 16 games…and David Johnson (11-23-0, 6-68-0/9) would be missing several weeks or the whole season? Things change so fast in the NFL/fantasy. Week 1 is a reminder of why not to get overwrought about your running backs coming out of normal redrafts. Every week or two there's a fresh batch of meat to consider. The Arizona RB job just opened up it looks like, and everyone will be scrambling to waivers this week to get a piece of it.
I know many of you here reading this have been with me for years, and you have David Johnson on your teams via redraft, keeper, and especially in dynasty. It was December 2014, 6 months before the draft, when I first told the world David Johnson was a top 2–3 RB for the NFL Draft and was far superior to Melvin Gordon…who was the 'it' back that draft season. It's been a great ride with DJ, but now a not-so-fun moment – a wrist injury that may keep him out of action for the whole season.
First things first…many of us had a David Johnson-Spencer Ware backfield all locked in for 2017. Whether it's DJ, Ware, Cam Meredith…it's not fun taking on these injuries. You may want to throw your hands up and complain about being cursed. Honestly, I'm oddly looking forward to this. I'd rather not have to deal with it, but…OK…it’s here. I can’t avoid it. How genius is it going to be to wiggle myself out of this certain peril? Pretty genius, because I'm taking you with me. I will not go on without you…I will pick your bullet-ridden body up off the battlefield, hoist you over my shoulder and carry you to safety among the surrounding gunfire. Don’t you go dying on me…live, dammit, live!!!!!
I'll get right to the DJ plan as the first note on the players section. First, a quick hit on the game itself…
I haven't re-watched every game back yet, but aside from whatever that was the Indianapolis Colts did – the Arizona Cardinals were by far the worst football team on a field on Sunday. Well, I forgot about Seattle. Then there was Cincinnati. You know what…let's just say Arizona was really bad. As I've been preaching for over a year – this team is swirling down the drain. An overrated head coach is literally killing the entire Cardinals organization. Bruce Arians keeps gravitating towards flawed humans/players to make them reclamation projects…and it's not working. His Def Comedy Jam routine has about worn out its course. The GM and Team President worship the ground Arians walks on…so they'll do anything he wants. Arians is literally killing this franchise. If anyone actually watched the Amazon documentary in 2016, you saw it firsthand…or just read my analysis of said doc.
This game was a total mess by Arizona. Consider the Cards got up 10–0, seven of those points on a gift interception/pick-six in the red zone by Matthew Stafford...up 10–0 and ended up losing 35–23. Take away the gift pick-six and the junk TD at the end of the game – and this was really a 35–9 ass kicking of Arizona by the Lions.
What a pathetic performance by Arizona. David Johnson had nowhere to run. Patrick Peterson played as if he'd forgotten how to cover wide receivers…and for some reason, Peterson was moving around covering different people instead of constantly on Golden Tate (10-107-0/12). Arizona is remarkably bad. The funny part is – they have the easiest schedule in the world the next couple of weeks, except Week 3 at Dallas. Next week they face the Colts – the only team who may be worse than them. Actually, I could see the Colts winning that game.
And not to take away from the Lions – they did not get rattled when they got down 10–0. They handled their business against a terrible team like they should. I don't know how good the Lions are yet because this was more about how pathetic the Cardinals were/are.
Fantasy player notes...
-- OK, so you lost David Johnson. The #1 player in all of fantasy. It stings.
Here's where I earn my money.
How is it you came about David Johnson? Who pushed him as not just 'good' or a 'sleeper I liked'…I wasn’t pulling typical fantasy analyst's parlor tricks of proclaiming everyone a sleeper who had a good 40-time at the Combine. I said Johnson might be the best – the best RB in the draft class. I rated him at top 3 dynasty rookie asset -- the guy to base your 2015 dynasty rookie draft around getting. The guy we had #1 overall last year when people were not going that far…and putting him on 'bust' lists. ESPN was still proclaiming Chris Johnson would start last preseason.
Why do I say all this? Just to pat myself on the back?
Who was the world leader in seeing Tyreek Hill before it really became a thing…and even ahead of everyone coming into this year? Current #1 fantasy WR, Tyreek Hill…that is. How about Tyrell Williams two years before anyone in fantasy acknowledge he existed? How about Jordan Howard last year?
You don’t think I can deliver now? You don't think even I could overcome all these injuries.
I know that you do believe…those that have been with us for a while.
Know that I will deliver…people just now joining because you heard/saw some wacko getting crazy about Tyreek Hill this summer on a podcast or in an article.
I'm going to get myself out of this jam…and you too. There are lots of ways we'll do it, some maybe not until Week 3. As far as this week goes, Plan-A is simple…get Tarik Cohen over Kerwynn Williams.
Read the already published CHI-ATL recap for more info, and our Cohen scouting report at College Football Metrics.com, but the short of it – Tarik Cohen might be getting ready to be Tyreek Hill-ish at RB. Conversely, I wouldn’t trust Arizona/Bruce Arians here.
Kerwynn Williams is talented and could be an RB1 as a fill-in. If DJ is out for 2-3-4-5 weeks…I like Kerwynn as a temp patch. If DJ is going out for the year or most of…Arians is going to push his other guys, I have a feeling. Chris Johnson (if signed) will get touches. Andre Ellington is going back into the backfield. Arians can't help himself on those guys. Arizona also claimed D.J. Foster to add to the mix.
I like Kerwynn Williams's talent and effort. I fear he's going to get crowded and work on a crappy team with no real tie to him.
Tarik Cohen, on the other hand, is going to change the Bears offense completely…another guy that is going to change the position the way the NFL knows it.
If you can only get Kerwynn off waivers, if Cohen is gone…do it and keep your fingers crossed. If Cohen is already taken – go out and look to make trades for him. I don’t think others will love Cohen as much as us. It's a bad week to try to make a fair/cheaper deal, but it is what it is. If we were redrafting today, Cohen would be a 4th-5th-6th round or so draft pick in PPR. He's still a guy behind Jordan Howard…and might be a head fake (to the masses)…plus Kerwynn Williams is out there and Javorius Allen will also take some steam from the waiver luster of Cohen. Cohen would be like a sexier Bilal Powell in redrafts right now (to them). Don’t overpay, but be prepared to be fair or a touch more.
I got you into the mess.
I'll get you out.
Remember, you don’t have to solve this DJ problem in the next 24 hours or week. It may take two weeks before the right cards reveal themselves. Don’t sell your soul yet…it’s only Week 1.
-- I loved Golden Tate as an undervalued WR in PPR this year, but I hated this matchup with Patrick Peterson. Obviously, apparently, I had nothing to fear. I didn't recognize this Patrick Peterson. Actually, Peterson wasn't on him much at all…Tate was abusing Tyrann Mathieu, the most overrated safety in the NFL.
Tate is going to have a big year of receptions this year. A decent year with yards, and probably his typical low-level amount of TDs…but lots of PPR/catches.
The Lions' TDs appear to be headed towards Kenny Golladay. It only makes sense because of his size… Especially in comparison to all the little small, scatback type WRs the Lions have. Golladay will be the opposite of Golden Tate – not a ton of catches, a decent amount of yards, but may snag 8–10 TDs this year.
-- Ameer Abdullah (15-30-0, 3-11-0/4) had another gem of a performance…a two full yards per carry. I don't know what anyone expects here. The guy has terrible hands, so he can't be counted on to catch passes consistently. He's not a power runner or a workhorse…we know this because Dwayne Washington (6-22-0) and Theo Riddick (6-27-1/7) took plenty of red zone work when the time approached. Abdullah is working between the 20s and just isn't that good.
It does look like the Lions trust Dwayne Washington to be more of their power back around the goal line. Washington just fell short of a score in this game. Washington may get 4–5+ TDs this season…maybe more once Abdullah gets hurt, per usual.
-- IDP Haason Reddick (8 tackles, 1.5 TFLs) ended up having a pretty decent fantasy debut. I still don't see the 'it' factor as an ILB yet, but you can see the 'it' in his athleticism. He moves well, but the instincts aren’t there yet to go with. We also have to consider that Deone Bucannon will be returning soon in theory.
-- It was a great game for Matthew Stafford, on paper. I'm not taking everything away from him, but again – this Arizona Cardinals team is awful and plays like The Walking Dead, so some of Stafford's gem can be blamed on the Cardinals secondary…including the most overrated safety, the most overpaid player this side of Sam Bradford…Tyrann Mathieu.
-- Talking underrated… One of our undervalued for 2017 guys, Theo Riddick, had his typical RB1 level performance in PPR coming back off his wrist injury issue from 2017. He's not sexy but he's a pretty consistent PPR performer.
-- Rookie IDP Jarrad Davis (9 tackles) was in the middle of the action a lot and had a nice fantasy debut. He's the clear starter this entire year unless he gets hurt. I don't see any 'wow', but I know he's getting all opportunity.