Brandon Funston

The Funston Fives

print article archives RSS

Fournette's Fabulous Debut

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


Each week during the NFL season, I will offer up a variety of top-five lists because, well, who doesn’t love a top five list?  With that universal love of lists in mind, I go out on a limb this week with my top 5 impressions from Week 1, both positive and negative.


5 Positive Impressions from Week 1

 

Leonard Fournette, Jac, RB – There’s no questioning Fournette’s talent, but it was fair to be concerned about his situation, landing in a Jacksonville backfield that has finished in the bottom six in running back fantasy points in each of the past five seasons. And opening on the road against a formidable Houston defense was also cause for concern. Apparently, there was no need to worry. Not only was Fournette rock solid on his 26 carries (100 yards), flashing his impressive blend of power and speed, but he also showed well in the passing game, and his offensive line actually created some daylight to work with. If this emerging, insanely talented, Jags’ defense can continue to keep its team in the game, Fournette could wind up leading the league in carries, and finishing among the top six running backs in the process.

Tarik Cohen, Chi, RB – The diminutive Cohen has drawn comparisons to Darren Sproles, and the North Carolina A&T rookie looked like a prime-aged version of Sproles in his debut against Atlanta in Week 1 – watch his late-second quarter change-of-direction 46-yard run and you might even think he looks a bit like vintage Barry Sanders. I can tell Jordan Howard owners that there is no need to freak out about Cohen’s dazzling NFL debut, but the fact of the matter is that Cohen is almost assuredly going to curb Howard’s workload more than those Howard owners likely thought when they drafted him. Cohen should see a regular dozen-ish touches a week, half likely to come through the air. Danny Woodhead and David Johnson owners will rightfully be all over this guy on the waiver wire.

Editor's Note: Looking for a weekly edge in your fantasy leagues? Get the Rotoworld Season Pass for projections, early-week rankings, WR & RB reports, exclusive columns and chats with our experts and much more for just $19.99.

 

A bunch more rookies – If you’re judging by just the first week of the season, you might proclaim this the greatest fantasy rookie class ever. As stellar as the Fournette and Cohen performances were, they were far from the only standout efforts by first-timers. In fact, the rookie class delivered a top-12 performance at each of the skill positions – QB DeShone Kizer (#7), RBs Fournette (#3), Cohen (#4), Kareem Hunt (#1), Dalvin Cook (#12), WRs Kenney Golladay (#3), Cooper Kupp (#9) and TE Evan Engram (#12). Although his fantasy impact was minor, I wouldn’t want to leave out Seattle’s undrafted rookie RB Chris Carson, who led a crowded backfield in snaps at Green Bay, and was much more productive than Eddie Lacy or C.J. Prosise. He may not be far from officially laying claim to the lead role in Seattle’s backfield.

Carson Wentz, Phi, QB – The thing that always jumps out at me most about Wentz is his ability to find improvisational success when the play breaks down, and we saw that perfectly illustrated on Wentz’s 58-yard first quarter TD toss to Nelson Agholor (who, surprisingly, also turned my head) that looked a bit like a Eli Manning-to-David Tyree Super Bowl re-enactment (save for the part where Tyree pins the ball against his helmet). Wentz is still far from a finished product, but he has the weapons and the pass-heavy offense to post a true breakout line this season, even as he’s still learning the nuances of the position.

Sam Bradford, Min, QB – Bradford had a cherry matchup against New Orleans on Monday night, but give the former No. 1 overall pick credit (along with Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and rookie RB Dalvin Cook) for taking full advantage. Bradford led all Week 1 signal callers in QB Rating when under pressure, he completed all five of his attempts of 20-plus yards and he was decisive in his delivery, ranking sixth-quickest in average time to throw (2.36 seconds). Bradford also had his pinpoint accuracy on display, completing 27-of-32 passes. Bradford only has five remaining games on the schedule against defenses that ranked above average in limiting opposing QB fantasy points last season – CHI (twice), PIT, CIN and BAL.

Editor's Note: Get our 2017 NFL Draft Guide + Season Pass for FREE with your first deposit on FanDuel and dominate your leagues! Claim now.

 

5 Negative Impressions from Week 1

 

Eli Manning, NYG, QB – Maybe it’s not totally fair to judge this offense without Odell Beckham in it, but Manning (220 passing yards, 5.8 YPA), and the Giants offense couldn’t have looked much more anemic in the opener at Dallas. Manning’s presumed go-to guy on Sunday night, Brandon Marshall, was AWOL until the very last seconds of the game, when he finally hauled in his first pass in a Giants uniform. Otherwise, B-Marsh looked miles apart from Manning, both literally and figuratively, as Marshall was split out wide most of the night and Manning mostly ignored him. Peyton’s brother struggled down the stretch last season, averaging less than 200 passing yards over the second half of the year. This was not the performance to inspire thoughts of the elderly Manning turning things around in ’17.

Todd Gurley, LAR, RB – Gurley found the end zone and did have some success in the passing game, but 11 of his 19 carries went for two yards or less versus an Indy defense that allowed 4.8 YPC to running backs in ’16, and 46 points to the Rams on Sunday. After just 40 rushing yards and a 2.1 YPC vs. the Colts, one has to wonder what kind of upside does Gurley have when the schedule takes a turn for the worse? And, other than a nice matchup in a couple weeks against San Francisco and a run-in with New Orleans in late November, there’s not a whole lot on Gurley’s slate to get excited about. His owners are going to need him to continue to add healthy yards in the passing game because he looks he’s going to struggle to reach 1,000 rushing yards again.

Eddie Lacy, Sea, RB  – Lacy’s return to Lambeau Field resulted in five carries for three yards. Seattle’s offensive line was atrocious, so this is not all on Lacy. And, admittedly, five carries is not much to go on to make an indictment of a player, but the fact that rookie Chris Carson popped in his limited (albeit team-high) amount of backfield work in this contest has to be concerning to both Lacy and his fantasy owners. The former Packers’ ground-pounder was the most-owned Seattle back in Week 1, but for my money, give me Carson, Thomas Rawls and even C.J. Prosise ahead of Lacy going forward.

Ameer Abdullah, Det, RB – You can’t really blame Abdullah for his atrocious 15-carry, 30-yard rush line as a strong Arizona front line had him bottled up at every turn, and this Detroit offensive line has run blocking issues – the Lions accrued the most negative runs in the league last season, and Abdullah went backwards on three of his carries on Sunday (minus-8 yards combined). The Lions have had just one 1,000-yard rusher since ’04, and the early returns point towards another fail in that department in ’17.

Hunter Henry, LAC, TE – Henry’s ’17 debut on Monday night amounted to squat for fantasy purposes. Playing on just 39 percent of the Chargers’ snaps at Denver, 16 fewer snaps in total than Antonio Gates, Henry failed to see a single target from QB Philip Rivers. Of course, Denver is brutal place to hunt for receiving production, but Henry did manage six catches for 83 yards and a TD when he visited Mile High territory as a rookie. Unfortunately, this time around Henry was forced into a blocking role most of the night, which might not be a rare occurrence while Keenan Allen is healthy – there is no shortage of mouths to feed in this offense.




continue story »
12
Brandon Funston has been dispensing solid gold fantasy advice (with some fool's gold mixed in from time to time) for the past 20 years, formerly with ESPN, and Yahoo. You can send him questions/comments on Twitter @brandonfunston.



Highest Searched Players over the last 7 days



Video Center

  •  
    Waivers: Perine a must-add

    Waivers: Perine a must-add
  •  
    Dose: Wilson breaks loose

    Dose: Wilson breaks loose
  •  
    Dose: Allen explodes vs. Bills

    Dose: Allen explodes vs. Bills
  •  
    Dose: Brown lights up Titans

    Dose: Brown lights up Titans
  •  
    Silva: Week 11 Matchups

    Silva: Week 11 Matchups
  •  
    Dose: Bills to Start Peterman

    Dose: Bills to Start Peterman
  •  
    Matchups: Burkhead vs. Raiders

    Matchups: Burkhead vs. Raiders
  •  
    Waivers: Davis

    Waivers: Davis' Time to Shine