September is over, fall is officially upon us, and it’s starting to actually feel like football season. After four games, Alex Smith is the #1 fantasy quarterback, Todd Gurley leads the league in rushing, and the “revamped” Patriots defense looks like one of the worst factions in the Belichick tenure. Just like we drew it up! As outlandish as these things sound, what we’re seeing after four weeks is real.
Here are my top 5 takeaways from the first month of the 2017 season.
1)The Patriots defense has major problems: Don’t get me wrong, I KNOW the Patriots coaching staff is going to figure out these issues they are having, but for now, it is an absolute no brainer to target this defense until further notice. New England has given up the most yards in the league (1,827) which is 242 more yards than the 31st ranked Colts. There are clearly chemistry/communication problems at the moment and until further notice, so until the tide turns, start all players of any skill position against the Patriots and sleep like a baby at night.
2) Injuries can happen to anyone: We’ve seen a large number of stars go down so far, so if it hasn’t happened to your roster yet, don’t think that it can’t. No one goes through a fantasy season completely unscathed. In week 4 alone, we lost Julio Jones, Dalvin Cook, Derek Carr, Rob Kelley, and Chris Carson to name a few. The best thing you can do is be proactive, and not reactive. Always keep the bottom of your bench moving with waiver wire pickups. Search for upside and handcuff your running backs ahead a time so when your star player goes down, you’re contingency plan is in place.
3) The Dolphins can’t be trusted for fantasy: Miami scored a combined 6 points against the Jets and the Saints the past two weeks. That stat is nothing short of embarrassing. Jay Cutler is averaging 200 yards per game, Jay Ajayi has a degenerative knee issue that is clearly hampering him, Devante Parker and Jarvis Landry have been inconsistent, and there are no signs of this turning positive right now. What we thought would be a potent offense for fantasy production, has been quite the opposite of that.
4) Former fantasy busts returned to stardom: Todd Gurley and DeAndre Hopkins were both first round picks last year and severely disappointed fantasy owners. Gurley looked slow and was a part of a sputtering Rams offense, but he is now a top-3 running back in the league thanks partly to Todd McVey’s west cost system getting him heavily involved in the passing game. Hopkins played with about 9 different quarterbacks who didn’t belong in the NFL the past couple of years, and finally has been able to be productive again with rookie sensation DeShaun Watson under center for the Texans. These two talented players back on top of their games and should be kept as a part of the cores of fantasy rosters.
5) Tight ends are too unpredictable: This position has been nearly impossible to sustain consistency for fantasy owners unless you are a proud owner of Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, and….Charles Clay? You know, the big 3, right? The position has evolved a lot over the past couple of years and teams are using two or three tight end sets at times, and that limits the target shares that these guys can get. I also think there are so many bad offensive lines this year, that tight ends are being asked to help out with blocking more. The top tight end scorers this week were: Travis Kelce, Tyler Kroft, A.J. Derby, O.J. Howard, James Hanna and Rhett Ellison. Yikes. Pay attention to matchups week to week, and do your best to stream the position if necessary and hope for the best.