Top 5 Fantasy Football Surprises of Week 1

Chip Bayless
By Chip Bayless

 

 

*All statistics/projections are based on ESPN Standard Rules for PPR leagues*

 

 

1. Nyheim Hines

Projected Points: 9.1

Actual Points: 27.3

After starting the season listed as Indy’s third running back and their primary kickoff and punt returner, Hines was given a projection of 9.1 points for week 1. He nearly tripled that projection when he was thrust into the offense with Marlon Mack going down with an Achilles injury. While Hines carried the ball just seven times for 28 yards, he scored on the ground as well and snagged eight receptions for 45 yards and a receiving score.

 

While Jonathan Taylor will take over as the primary running back with Marlon Mack out for the season with his torn Achilles, Hines will get snaps on all downs and will likely be the primary receiving back (head coach Frank Reich told Andrew Walker of the Colts’ official site).

Hines accounted for the first two scores of the Colts’ season and led the team in red zone touches. His involvement in the passing game skyrockets his fantasy value, especially in PPR leagues. His eight catches led the team and led all week 1 RBs.




Owned in just 36% of leagues, Hines should be one of the top waiver-wire pickups with Marlon Mack out, though there will be plenty of competition with rookie Jonathan Taylor and Jordan Wilkins vying for time.

 

 

2. Malcolm Brown

Projected: 5.8

Actual: 26

Cam Akers was the talk of the draft as many assumed he would be the Rams’ lead horse. Although, it was Malcolm Brown who led the L.A. backfield in rushes, snaps, touches, targets, and receptions. For now, it appears Brown is the L.A. RB you want to own. If you have a choice, I would pick him up over Hines. He’s likely available in your league as he’s rostered in under 8% ESPN leagues. After Week 1, Brown ranks as the fifth-best back in fantasy football.

 

Brown rushed 18 times for 79 yards and two touchdowns while adding three receptions on four targets for 31 yards in Sunday’s 20-17 win over Dallas. The career backup took full advantage of the opportunity and turned in a strong fantasy performance while averaging 4.4 yards per carry. The Cowboys defensive line isn’t known for stopping the run, and the team lost star linebacker Leighton Vander Esch early in the game, making this a relatively easy match-up on the ground.

A few things to note here: while Brown led the Rams with 21 touches, rookie Cam Akers wasn’t far behind with 15 and looks to be the team’s receiving back; however, none of Rams’ other backfield options could muster more than 3.0 yards per carry Sunday. Brown is clearly the back to target heading into Sunday’s match up against the Eagles, but owners need to keep an eye on his share of touches going forward. Hopefully his snaps increase and he can maintain this production.

The Rams seemingly trust Malcolm Brown the most in clutch situations too and he was the RB the team looked to when they had the lead and were running down clock. Finally, Brown dominated third downs over Darrell Henderson and Cam Akers.

 

3. Dallas Goedert

Projected: 7.8

Actual: 24.1

Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert (88) catches a pass on his way to scoring a touchdown against Washington Football Team Kevin Pierre-Louis (54) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Although Goedert has the potential for big games, few would have predicted he would have outscored Ertz, Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook, and Patrick Mahomes in Week One. The tight end put up WR1 numbers to kick off the year, hauling in eight grabs for 101 yards and a score on nine targets. Goedert led the Eagles in targets, catches and yards.

Ertz is still an incredibly valuable TE and should be a lock in your lineup every week until he proves otherwise, but the question here is if this offense will still be giving Dallas Goedert nine quality targets a game when they get Miles Sanders back and when Jalen Reagor is at full health.




Unfortunately, that question can’t be answered yet but given his history and the Eagles dependence on two TEs, he deserves consideration in your TE slot every week until he proves otherwise unless you have someone like Ertz, Kelce, etc. Hell, he’s the #1-ranked TE in fantasy at the moment.

Keep in mind, Goedert finished last season ranked as the tenth TE in fantasy in terms of total points and the Eagles have been holding off on a new contract for Ertz. If Goedert’s role expands or if he takes over the starting role somehow, he will be a top-10 TE lock every week. Rostered in just over a quarter of all leagues, he’s absolutely worth a claim.

 

4. Robby Anderson

Projected: 10.7

Actual: 25.5

Robby Anderson had six catches on eight targets for 115 yards and a touchdown and looks to be a phenomenal addition to Carolina’s receiving group. Coming into the season, it looked as if skinny Robby Anderson would likely function as the team’s second or third receiver after D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel but also the team’s top deep threat. It is unlikely many would have picked him to lead all Panther receivers in yards in Week 1 like he did.

Despite the majority of Anderson’s production coming on his 75-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter, it is nice to see him notch just one fewer target than D.J. Moore.

Anderson has the potential for this kind of performance every week with his speed, but he struggled to do so consistently with the Jets. Depending on your lineup, Anderson is not worth more than a WR3/flex slot until he proves he can generally maintain this production on a weekly basis.

Rostered in 70% of leagues, if he is available in your league he’s definitely worth a waiver claim if you are in need of a receiver. Who knows, he could take the WR1 slot from D.J. Moore in Carolina when its all said and done.

 

5. Calvin Ridley

Projected: 13.6

Actual: 33.9

Calvin Ridley lies at the bottom here because he was universally drafted relatively highly, had undisputed WR2/3 value going in to Week 1, and is rostered in 98% of leagues. But don’t tell me for one second that you thought Calvin Ridley would be the third-highest scoring player in all of fantasy football after week one. Ridley outscored Adam Thielen, DeAndre Hopkins, Christian McCaffrey, Zeke, Lamar Jackson, and Julio Jones despite all of those players scoring 25 points or more.

Ridley caught nine of 12 targets for 130 yards and two TDs during the Falcon’s 38-25 loss. The third-year receiver out of Alabama looked like a an elite WR in Week 1, matching 15% of his 2019 receiving production during his 2020 debut against the Seahawks.




Ridley was scorching hot before suffering a season-ending abdomen injury last December and averaged 6.8 catches and 98.8 receiving yards per game with three total touchdowns Weeks 11 to 14.

As the top deep threat in a high-octane offense starting opposite a dominant WR1, Ridley could make these performances more of a regular occurance. While he faces a Cowboys defense in Week 2 that allowed the fifth-fewest receiving yards to opposing wideouts during 2019, the speedy Ridley should be a lock in your lineup with defenses keying on Julio and now garners borderline WR1 value.

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