Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Famer Michael Fabiano will be joining the 33rd Team’s Fantasy Football coverage this season, writing a weekly column with his top fantasy observations for the week.
Here’s what’s on my mind heading into Week 2 of fantasy:
49ers backfield and Elijah Mitchell
Mitchell led the San Francisco backfield in snaps (35), touches (19), and fantasy points (17.4 in .5 PPR) last week after Raheem Mostert went out with the knee injury. Now Mostert will be out for the season. Trey Sermon was a healthy scratch. My sources have told me he was a healthy scratch because he was not 100% going into the week. This DOES NOT mean he is behind Mitchell or JaMycal Hasty on the depth chart. Mitchell was the most added player in fantasy football this week, but we ultimately have no idea what the 49ers’ backfield rotation will be on a week-to-week basis. Make sure you’re keeping tabs on that backfield this week against Philadelphia. Does Sermon start? Does Mitchell start? Who sees more snaps? The Shanahans have been known to be tricky with their backfields. If you didn’t blow a significant percentage of your free-agent acquisition budget (FAAB) on Mitchell, that is okay; we just don’t know who is going to be the starter. Due to this, I don’t have Mitchell ranked in my top 24 RBs this week. That being said, I do like this backfield because it is very RB friendly; we will just need to watch and learn
Darrell Henderson Jr. and the Rams
Henderson played 100% of the Rams offensive snaps in the first 55 minutes of the game against the Bears Sunday night. He had 49 total to Sony Michel’s three fourth-quarter snaps. Henderson had a 39.5% touch share. He was “the guy.” Before the season, I really feared Henderson wasn’t more than an RB3/Flex option due to durability. While he did look good in Week 1, I still don’t trust that he isn’t an injury risk, but as we speak right now he is the guy. Michel is just a stash at this point. I’m confident in Henderson as an RB2/3, but if he has another good couple games, I will be looking to sell high.
Arizona Cardinals wide receivers
Obviously, DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins had a massive game last week. Other than that, it was interesting to see what the snap shares were. Rondale Moore only had 20 snaps. He was better than A.J. Green, who had 55 snaps, by a mile. Christian Kirk had 39 snaps and 2 TDs. I personally see Kirk’s performance as an outlier. In 2020, he had three games of 18.2, 20.8, 21.6 points. His remaining 11 games averaged 5.59 points (.5 PPR). One week, he’ll go off from your bench and then do nothing when you start him. Moore is intriguing; he had 13 pass snaps and 5 targets. He was targeted on 38.5% of his pass plays. They definitely want to use him. I wonder if they use him more as the season goes on because Green is a 33-year-old wide receiver and he looks it. If Moore is floating around on your waiver wire, then pick him up.
Buffalo Bills wide receivers
Stefon Diggs is the guy, there is no doubt about that. But everyone was fading Cole Beasley because of the anti-vax stuff. Beasley had 77 snaps and 13 targets. He was also the No. 26 WR in .5 PPR last season. If he is out there, I would pick him up. He is a big part of the offense as he was last season, anti-vax or not. Gabriel Davis was fourth on the Bills with 5 targets behind Diggs, Sanders and Beasley. Emmanuel Sanders played 79 snaps and he had 8 targets. All of these players are going to have value as the season goes on. Diggs is obviously a must-start guy, but I see Beasley as a guy you can start in the flex every week in a PPR league and he’ll be pretty consistent.
Kyle Pitts and the Falcons
Pitts only scored 5.1 points (.5 PPR) and wasn’t that good in that respect. He played 49 snaps. He was targeted 8 times on 36 passing snaps. He ran 19 routes from the slot and 10 from outside. They’re using him in a multitude of ways out of the gate to start the season. That’s a huge positive. You’re still going to start him. Overlook his bad week and look at his involvement in the passing game. That should definitely continue and possibly grow moving forward. This week he is playing a Buccaneers defense that has a banged-up secondary. Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin combined for 9 receptions on 10 targets against them last week. This defense is not invulnerable to pass catchers.
Q: Were there any players that you were high on that had a Week 1 performance that really put a damper on your hopes for their season?
FABIANO: Brandon Aiyuk! He played 26 snaps and had zero targets. What I heard after was that the hamstring wasn’t 100% healed. An inside source told me that Deebo Samuel was the WR1 based off his camp performance anyway, but Aiyuk’s performance last season gave everyone hopes that he could possibly contest him for that. If Trent Sherfield is ahead of him on the depth chart, which it appears he was at least last week, then that is a big problem. I don’t think you can start him this week with any confidence.
Q: Were there any players that you weren’t valuing very highly that had a Week 1 performance that’s making you question your judgment?
FABIANO: I wasn’t super low on Jameis Winston for the season, but was for Week 1. While it was a “home game” for the Saints, it was played on a neutral field in Jacksonville. Jaire Alexander dominated Marquez Callaway and he still threw 5 touchdowns. That absolutely shocked me. If you had told me before the game that Winston would have zero TDs and two picks, and Aaron Rodgers would have five TDs and no picks that would have made sense. The flip was unbelievable. That was Rodgers’ worst game I have ever seen him play to the point it makes me question what’s going on behind the scenes. They have Detroit this week and I expect them to bounce back in a big way. Winston had better be signing an endorsement for Lasik surgery. If he goes from a 30-interception season to a five TD, zero INT game before and after Lasik surgery, then it just makes sense! I would start Jameis in 2-QB leagues going forward, I wouldn’t start him in a 10-12 team traditional league until he proves it, though.
Andy Hanson contributed to this story