Week 1 Fantasy Football Busts: Derrick Henry will likely have trouble finding room to run against Cleveland, and Evan Engram isn’t set up for fantasy success in Week 1 like one might think.
In the Weekly Fantasy Unit, there are crimes committed that would shock and appall you: Negative points, underwhelming superstars and outright busts. These are the findings of one man on a mission to expose the NFL’s biggest perpetrators before they strike again.
These are … the Fantasy Files.
Welcome back everyone to the second season of FANTASY FILES! It’s been a grueling, at times, torturously long off-season to get to this point but we’ve finally arrived at Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season.
The draft has come and gone, the rosters have been trimmed down to fifty-three, and the entire country is crackling with anticipation. However, hidden within those rosters lies a sinister essence, a malevolent force with one goal in mind; to ruin your fantasy lineup. I’m speaking of course, about busts.
As we learned last year busts can come from anywhere, at any time, in any game and in many different ways. Phantom injuries, running back committees, awful offensive coordinators and more can wreck your day on Sundays.
That’s where we at the W.F.U. come in. There are plenty of unknowns heading into Week 1, and we’re here to shine the light on the ones you’ll want to avoid. Let’s get started.
Week 1 Fantasy Football Busts
QUARTERBACK: Kirk Cousins (Minnesota Vikings)
If I’m able to be completely honest with you guys, I’m not a Kirk Cousins hater. I don’t believe he’s as good as the contract he received with the Vikings, but I also don’t think he’s as awful as he’s often made out to be.
Minnesota is an impressive football team on both sides of the ball, and they have one of the best WR tandems in the league in Stefon Diggs/Adam Thielen. The issue with Cousins Week 1 is that he may not have one of his top pass catchers at full strength. Diggs is currently questionable for Sunday with a hamstring injury that popped up in practice. That’s the kind of injury that should frighten fantasy owners at any time, but to have it happen before the season even starts just feels too ominous for my liking.
Minnesota is also playing against a full revitalized Falcons secondary that is seeing key players like Keanu Neal/Ricardo Allen/Desmond Trufant all return. Atlanta’s defense is going to be severely underrated heading into this game, and it will be to Cousins detriment. Look for him to struggle through the air in this one, and for Minnesota to lean on the running game to move the ball.
RUNNING BACK: Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans)
Ah yes, an old friend has returned once again. I’m stuck between believing Derrick Henry actually likes being here, or that he’s a ghost that just likes haunting me for ripping on him so much. I’ll accept either reason he wants to give, but I won’t accept him being looked at as a locked and loaded RB2 in Week 1 against Cleveland.
The Browns allowed the 7th fewest rushing yards per game last season (97 YPG), and that was before they added Olivier Vernon to the other side of their defensive line. The Browns know what the rest of the NFL knows. They know that the Titans are a one-dimensional offense that wants to play power run football. They will plan for this, they will anticipate Henry getting carries up the middle, and they will stuff him.
I understand the people that want to believe in Henry as a player, he’s HUGE, but at a certain point fantasy owners need to stop falling for the mirage that is his season long production.
Henry scored twelve touchdowns last year, but he didn’t score his first until Week 7. He had over 80 carries before he ever found the endzone, and he scored all twelve of his TD’s in just seven games in the second half of the year. Don’t fall into this trap again, fade him and find someone else to work with to start the season.
WIDE RECEIVER: Robby Anderson (New York Jets)
Injury in the preseason? Check
Physical divisional game in Week 1? Check
Bad match-up with a great cornerback? Check
Robby Anderson may be the default top receiving option for the “new and improved” New York Jets, but he’s coming out of the starting blocks stumbling.
The Bills defense posted an impressive TD/INT ratio of 14/18 in 2018, and Tre’davious White is likely chomping at the bit to get his hands on Anderson against after their match-up last season. Robby won that match-up with (4 Catches/76 Yds/TD), but he was also 100% healthy in that game.
I also find it hard to believe new coach Adam Gase won’t work Le’Veon Bell into the game early and often in both the rushing and passing games. Bell is fresh and ready to show that he’s still the best running back in the league.
I anticipate both teams looking to work their offenses through the running game (Josh Allen/Le’Veon Bell/Frank Gore/Devin Singletary), and I don’t see a ton of points being scored. This should be a smash-mouth AFC East fight in Metlife, and I don’t think Robby Andersons in any shape for that action right now.
TIGHT END: Evan Engram (New York Giants)
This one is going to ruffle a few feathers out there, but I believe it’s true. Evan Engram is (rightfully) looked at as one of the Top 5 tight ends in fantasy football going into the 2019 season. With Golden Tate serving a four game suspension, and Sterling Shepard returning from a broken thumb, Engram looks like the Giants’ top pass catching option to start the year.
This would be great news if he was playing any other team than the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1. Dallas’ defense matches up perfectly with the kind of seam route schemes the Giants will likely deploy with Engram, and they have three linebackers (Sean Lee/Leighton Vander-Esch/Jaylon Smith) who can shadow him over the middle.
I anticipate Dallas utilizing coverage with one of their star LB’s and a safety over the middle (possibly Byron Jones) to neutralize Engram for most of this one. In PPR formats he may still have a high enough floor to play comfortably, but in standard formats I’d be looking to see if someone like Mark Andrews was somehow still available on the waiver wire for this week.
DEFENSE: Jacksonville D/ST
You did it! You drafted one of the best defenses in the league in your draft. Now get ready to sit them in Week 1.
Jacksonville’s defense is undoubtedly one of the deepest and most intimidating units in the NFL today, but they’re running into the reigning league MVP in Week 1 and it’s not going to be an easy out. While it is true that Jacksonville was able to stifle Mahomes in their match-up last year (Mahomes threw 2 INTs/0 Tds), they still lost to Kansas City handily by a final score of 30-14.
The Chiefs represent one of the very best offenses the league has to offer, and they’re a multi-faceted threat that can beat you on the ground and through the air (sometimes with the same player). Even with all of their name value (Ramsey/Jack/Bouye/Campbell) I find it hard to start JAX with certainty in Week 1.
I think Andy Reid will have learned from their last contest and Mahomes will come after them with a more seasoned mindset. I understand most of you won’t actually sit them in Week 1 because of the draft price you paid to obtain them, but I ask that you at least set your expectations lower than sky high.
PRIMARY SUSPECT: Devin Singletary (Buffalo Bills)
You guessed it, we’re heading back to Metlife Stadium for the first primary suspect of the year!
Devin Singletary is one of the most interesting rookies to come out of this past year’s NFL Draft. With the release of LeSean McCoy in Buffalo, it would appear that the exciting rookie has a clear path to the starting job soon, but Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon have something to say about that.
While neither option would be described as sexy, Gore and Yeldon represent proven ability (and in Gores case; success) in the league, and they each cover the rushing (Gore) and receiving (Yeldon) bases for this Bills offense. Singletary’s draft stock has steadily risen since the release of McCoy, but I just don’t buy the breakout for him happening in the first week of the season.
Look at what happened with David Montgomery in Chicago on Thursday night. He was hyped to the moon, and practically promised the keys to the Bears backfield in the media, and ended up trailing Tarik Cohen and MIKE DAVIS in touches. Montgomery is the first tragic RBBC (Running Back by Committee) victim of the season, and Singletary projects to be the second.
Don’t fall for the trap, play this out patiently, and put Singletary into your lineup once he’s visibly taken the #1 RB slot in Buffalo. That time will come, but it won’t be this week.