I’ve been tasked with dumping cold water on your optimism on a weekly basis, highlighting a handful of upcoming “busts” for the forthcoming slate of games. Let me be clear — I like fun, I prefer to focus on positives and, most of all, do not hate any of these players.
I simply believe they will perform below their normal output.
Total: o/u 51.5 – 91% Started
All summer we hoped Tim Kelly’s placement as the Texans’ Offensive Coordinator would lead to easier completions for Watson. Instead, Week 1 forced Watson to reprise his role as Atlas after the initial script ran out. Layup completions resulted in just five RB targets and multiple offensive linemen looked like saloon doors. From a fantasy perspective, Watson’s scoring line was aided by 27 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. That playmaker mentality is always in his back pocket, but Watson’s last performance against the Ravens (3.9 fantasy points) in 2019 does not elicit much optimism ahead of the weekend. In that contest, Watson threw for 169 yards, was sacked six times and ran for just 12 yards. Based on the Texans’ OL play last Thursday, Baltimore’s defensive success against the Browns in Week 1, and what the Ravens’ running game should do to the Texans’ defense, Watson should be considered a low-end QB1 despite possessing the potential to create miracles even out of the worst situations.
Prediction: 26 of 37 attempts for 210 yards and 1 touchdown
Total: o/u 47.6 – 63% Started
After a year off and on a new team that features two other talented tight ends, it is no surprise that Gronkowski was not a focal point of the Bucs offense in Week 1. The positives: Gronk did play the most snaps among Tampa Bay TEs (77% vs O.J. Howard’s 53%) and led in routes (21 routes vs 19 for Howard). Despite that usage difference, Howard doubled Gronkowski’s targets, 6-to-3. If the Bucs narrowed their position to just one TE, yes, he would be a great play. But with the opportunity split between two players at the position, to go along with two star receivers and clear chemistry between Tom Brady and third receiver Scotty Miller, Gronkowski will rely on touchdowns in order to maintain Top-10 TE value. That will absolutely be the case this week in a game where the Bucs are favored by 8.5 points, a game script likely to lead to rushing success.
Preseason games would have gone a long way to defining the Rams backfield for us, the public. The Rams have clear in-house confidence in Malcolm Brown, and he proved them right with a spirited effort, resulting in 110 total yards and two touchdowns. This limited Akers to just 33% of the team’s offensive snaps. Optimistically, 15 touches on limited snaps is an indicator the Rams do want to involve Akers. His time to star is on the horizon, but do not count on it happening this early in the season. Akers handled RB40 usage against the Cowboys. All 14 touches took place on 1st or 2nd down with just one inside the red zone. Comparatively, Brown received five opportunities inside the red zone and was the trusted player on 3rd down. Now the Rams face the Eagles, a team that allowed just 80 total rushing yards despite losing by 10 points on opening weekend. Treat Akers as a desperation FLEX play.
Prediction: 12 carries for 38 yards, 3 catches for 19 yards
I whiffed on Darius Slayton last week against the Steelers. The 41-yard touchdown was a beautiful catch and throw, and Slayton is clearly the most explosive receiver on the Giants’ roster. It’s fair to wonder if Steelers CB Steven Nelson can maintain the stellar play he showed in 2019; Week 1 would indicate no. With Courtland Sutton absent, Jeudy led all Broncos in targets, catching 4-of-8 for 56 yards, although context will show his long reception of 25 yards was on the final snap of the first half; empty production. As of now, I’m expecting Sutton (shoulder) to return, but the real concern right now is Drew Lock. As Sharp Football’s Rich Hribar points out, Lock has recorded just one game above QB20 in his last six starts. I don’t expect that to change against a stingy Steelers defense that surely will secure the loose ends displayed against the Giants. The trickle-down likely hurts Jeudy’s upside as even a FLEX play.
Prediction: 7 targets, 4 receptions for 39 yards
Lions RB Adrian Peterson vs GB (-6)
Total: o/u 49.5 – 12% Started
Adrian Peterson is immortal. In the words of Gregg Rosenthal, the Lions instantly trusted Peterson after three practices to be the team’s leading runner, and the 35-year-old immediately “justified the decision.” Peterson clearly looked like the Lions’ best ball carrier, turning RB24 usage into a top 20 scoring week. But we always arrive at the same conclusion with Peterson: He will never be a consistent part of the passing game, which means a capped outlook in games where the Lions are heavy road underdogs. Sunday is one of those instances, as the Packers are -6 favorites. If you need to force Peterson into your lineup due to injuries limiting other players, I understand. But this week could feature rookie D’Andre Swift seeing an increase on his five targets from Week 1.
Prediction: 11 carries for 45 yards – 3 catches for 15 yards, 0 touchdowns
Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for Rotoworld and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter.