In this Week 2 edition of 10 Thoughts, we cover buying Kyle Pitts low, CeeDee Lamb’s incoming trip into the fantasy stratosphere, how Matthew Stafford is unlocking the Rams offense, and much more.
1) Kyle Pitts is the ultimate post-Week 1 buy-low.
Depending on who you asked prior to Week 1, it seemed like Pitts was either considered the most overhyped, overdrafted tight end in fantasy football history, or a prodigious talent set to smash records right away. Pitts went 4/31/0 in his debut, so the doubters would seem to be correct, but that’s hardly the case. While Pitts’ stat line was mediocre at best, his usage was extremely encouraging, as he posted a 24 percent target share (8 targets) that is absolutely elite for the tight end position. Additionally, he posted a superb 70 percent snap rate while running 19 of his 31 routes in the slot. The rookie phenom is getting volume, he’s lining up in advantageous positions, and his role will grow larger as the season goes on. Pitts is being used like the mismatch weapon he is, and it’s only a matter of time before he starts to assert himself as a bonafide top-five fantasy tight end. If there’s any way for you to buy low on Pitts, now is the time.
2) So much for the Ja’Marr Chase panic.
A few weeks ago I wrote about how I was never going to stop drafting Chase due to all of the ridiculous panic about training camp and preseason drops. My reasoning was simple — Chase was one of the best WR prospects of all time, he checked every box, and he would be playing in a voluminous passing attack. Turns out that I was right, but I don’t want to take too much credit, because I genuinely felt like it was a no-brainer. Chase easily led the team in snap share (89.9%), target share (27%), aDOT (16.3), and air yards share (50%) in his first NFL game — so essentially he’s already proven that he can be an alpha wide receiver one week into his NFL career. The guy who outproduced the best rookie NFL wideout of all time (Justin Jefferson) when they were teammates at LSU can play even though he dropped some passes in training camp, who would’ve thought. Chase should be valued as a low-end WR2 with upside for more.
3) James Robinson is a sell-high, a sell-low, and a sell period.
There were plenty of warning signals out there (Urban Meyer drafting Travis Etienne No. 25 overall, Meyer signing and deploying Carlos Hyde often in the preseason, and Meyer signing Duke Johnson to the practice squad) but it was still hard to watch how poor Robinson’s utilization was on Sunday. Robinson was out-touched 11 to eight by Carlos Hyde of all backs, even in an affair where the team was airing it out in garbage time while playing from behind. If Robinson’s usage is this suspect now, it could get even worse wait when Meyer inevitably adds Duke Johnson to the 53-man roster. There’s a chance that this was just a massive fluke, but based on all of the factors I mentioned, I think that’s pretty unlikely. If anyone in your league still thinks fondly of Robinson, take whatever you can get for him. Running backs on bad teams with suspect usage are not the running backs you want to own.
4) CeeDee Lamb might be a top-five WR1 while Michael Gallup is out.
Of course, you never want to see any player get injured, but sometimes injuries can open up massive opportunities for players to break out. In this case, CeeDee Lamb is set to benefit from Michael Gallup’s multi-week absence in a big way. Lamb was targeted on a massive 32.0% of routes run in the Thursday opener. He also led the team with an 11.7 aDOT. The crazy thing is that he only played 73.5% of snaps (Amari Cooper played 89.2% of snaps for reference) and dropped two passes, but he was still targeted 15 times and scored 23.4 PPR points. If Lamb continues to be targeted on 30+% of routes whole jumping up into the 85-90 percent snaps range… he will go absolutely nuclear over the next few weeks.
5) Chris Godwin is the clear alpha in Tampa Bay’s passing game, not Antonio Brown.
Antonio Brown got all of the positive headlines because he made splash plays, but he only played on 64.6% of snaps and had a 16 percent target share. On the other hand, Chris Godwin’s usage was about as good as usage can be for a wide receiver. Godwin in Week 1: 98.5% snaps, 31 percent target share, 9.3 aDOT. Those numbers are exactly what you want to see from a WR1, and he also moved around the field while running routes from a variety of different spots, which is another WR1 indicator. Oh, and did I mention that Godwin had FOUR red zone targets to every other Tampa Bay receiver’s zero? I’m not saying Brown looked bad, he looked great, but he’ll be volatile in the deep threat role (20.3 aDOT in Week 1), and he’s not the all-around alpha that Godwin is. Godwin’s usage was amongst the very best in the NFL in Week 1, and I would be willing to pay a premium in trades to snag him wherever I can.
6) Matthew Stafford is unlocking the Rams offense, and Cooper Kupp is in for a monster season.
We knew that Matthew Stafford was an upgrade from Jared Goff, but this is a totally different, and much-improved offense. Stafford already added splash play potential to the offense in Week 1, throwing 38.5% of passes 10+ yards. Compare that to last season when Jared Goff threw just 24.7% of such passes, and you have a recipe for improved wide receiver numbers. Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Van Jefferson all saw major aDOT increases in Week 1 compared to their marks last season, and Kupp (38% target share) in particular looks like he could be dominant this season while factoring in deeper down the field for the first time in his career. The bottom line is that the offense is now unlocked, and every Rams skill position player stands to benefit.
7) Don’t let an outlier game sway your player valuation too much.
I’m talking about the Green Bay vs New Orleans Saints affair that was never really a game. There were outlier performances (good and bad) strewn throughout. Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, and Davante Adams are not going to disappoint all year. Juwan Johnson isn’t going to catch two touchdowns every week on three targets while playing on only 20 percent of snaps. Marquez Callaway isn’t guaranteed to be a bust because he only caught one pass for 14 yards. Jameis Winston likely won’t win MVP this season despite the fact that he only needed 20 attempts to throw five touchdowns. Adam Trautman probably isn’t going to rack up 30 percent of the team’s targets going forward. You get the point — don’t read too far into the usage or fantasy stats from this game. This was such a lopsided affair that I would only factor things in from this game if they reappear in Week 2.
8) D.J. Chark’s usage in Week 1 was beautiful, and he could be in for a big season.
D.J. Chark’s 3/86/1 Week 1 line is nice on its own, even if you would like to see more receptions in PPR formats. But what if I told you that Chark had a team-leading 12 targets (25% share) and a team-leading 16.3 aDOT. Chark is a 6-foot-3 210 lbs specimen who also somehow runs a 4.34, and he’s being relentlessly targeted down the field. While there may be some volatility involved, a high target share can offset that, and Chark looks like a player ready to blow up and smash his ADP.
9) Kenny Gainwell and Damien Williams are the type of running backs I want on my bench.
Each of these backs has a passing game role already, and each of them possesses good athleticism while being pretty good at football. Additionally, each of these backs would be thrust into an RB2 role if the back ahead of them on the depth chart were to miss time. You get security and upside with each player, and at fantasy’s thinnest and most volatile position, it’s hard to ask for more, especially considering that each player could still be on your waiver wire. Even if these players are rostered, I would try to trade a WR3/4 for them, that running back depth is just so valuable.
10) DeVonta Smith might already be an alpha receiver.
DeVonta Smith looked very good on tape in the preseason and in Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons, but the numbers tell an even better story. Smith’s 25 percent target share, 8.6 aDOT, six receptions, and 71 receiving yards all easily paced the team in Week 1’s win. Jalen Reagor was the only receiver even close, but he only posted a 19 percent target share, and his minuscule 1.2 aDOT pales in comparison to Smith’s, so Smith has much more upside. Smith looks likely to pay off his seventh-round ADP, and he should be viewed as a WR3 at this time.