Avoid the post-Week 1 panic by monitoring these fantasy football situations

One of the annual rituals during a fantasy football season is the inevitable post-Week 1 panic.

A player thought to be on the cusp of a good season has a dud opener; suddenly he is on the bench, or the trading block, or even the waiver wire. Some unheralded player has a breakout to start the season, yet he is primed to burn fantasy managers who immediately slot him into their lineups the next week when he crashes back to Earth.

To avoid this unnecessary alarm, understand there are questions for which answers will begin to be revealed in Week 1, but the full answers often are still some time away. Here are some situations to monitor so you can start considering adjusting expectations, but do refrain from immediate rash action.

Mike Davis workload

We have loved Davis all draft season because of his value and the fact we expect little competition in the backfield. But what if Cordarelle Patterson or Keith Smith get an ample dose of the workload? Don’t panic. Davis’ skill and talent will win out here, and we would be surprised if Week 1 isn’t among his lowest percentage of carries over the course of the season. So a healthier portion of workload going elsewhere this week would not be as huge surprise.

Myles Gaskin with the Dolphins in 2020.
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Myles Gaskin workload

This situation is a bit more volatile. Yes, Gaskin claimed the feature role by the end of last season, but the journey there required injuries to other backs and for Gaskin to perform above expectations. He will need to maintain that performance, and also fend off potential Malcolm Brown goal-line work. Don’t be surprised if Brown does get that work. Also, don’t panic, because Gaskin will still have value as a Flex option and likely is just a Brown injury away from a similar role that he had to finish last season.

Kyle Pitts usage

Rookie tight ends don’t normally fare well for fantasy purposes, but Pitts is supposedly of a different breed. Nevertheless, don’t be surprised if he isn’t the immediate No. 2 receiving option behind Calvin Ridley. To start the season, expect Russell Gage to see a higher share of targets. How productive Pitts is with the targets he does receive in the first few weeks will foretell how much additional work he gets as the season progresses.

Saquon Barkley looks on in a 2020 game against the Bears.
Saquon Barkley looks on in a 2020 game against the Bears.
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Saquon Barkley’s health

We’re encouraged by the news that has been reported on Barkley’s return from an ACL injury, but we still haven’t seen him in true action yet. He won’t get a full workload in Week 1, maybe not even in Week 2. See how agile he is on what work he does get, and if there is significant advancement on that front over the first few games. As long as he looks a little better each week, the volume will eventually follow.

Texans backfield

We don’t have high hopes for anyone on the Texas offense for fantasy purposes, but considering how late/cheap David Johnson and Phillip Lindsay are in drafts, they have become worth such a petty investment. If D.J. looks like the same scrub he has been over the past few seasons, we would consider dropping him. If that happens, we don’t consider it a panic move, since he essentially is just a dart throw anyway. Lindsay? We’re hanging onto him regardless. Future game scripts play in Lindsay’s favor (Houston likely will be trailing much of the time, creating more passing situations, situations in which we expect to see a lot of Lindsay) and our lack of long-term confidence in Johnson make us higher on Lindsay’s future upside.

Joe Burrow and Bengals offense

We want to see how comfortable Burrow looks in the pocket. Who gets the most targets. How Joe Mixon fares behind atrocious blocking. This could lead to a decision to drop Burrow, just because there likely are other QB options in most leagues, but we’ll hang onto others, even if we put them on the bench.

Rams backfield

Darrell Henderson or Sony Michel? Michel or Henderson? Or neither? First, we wouldn’t start either one this week. But we are interested in how the carries are split here. Problem is, Michel is so new to the team, it might be hard to forecast what the future holds. If Henderson gets the bulk of the work, we really learn nothing. But … but … but, if Michel gets significant touches or quality carries (goal-line or short-yardage that could foretell goal-line work), then we get a clue as to where the Rams might be headed. But it’s hard to envision a scenario in which cutting one or the other is an appropriate response to Week 1.

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