Welcome to Overreaction Monday! The day after the dust settles during the NFL season, it means that we can take any occurrence from Sunday and make a completely wild narrative with it. We also want to make bold claims to remain ahead of the curve!
Every Monday, we’re going to identify five of these potential overreactions from the week’s NFL action. While these are just our opinions, feel free to use your own thoughts on each narrative. The storylines have been played out, it’s now our job to decide if we feel the story is fact or fiction.
The stories were aplenty this week: The Baltimore Ravens STUNNED the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. The Cowboys vs Chargers shootout turned out to be a fight with pistols. The 49ers running back situation seems to be as murky as ever. There were so many quarterback injuries that you needed two hands to count them!
All of this has led to some great overreactions on Monday morning. So as we will do each week, it’s now time to react to the potential overreactions!
1) You should SELL Saquon Barkley
Saquon Barkley has not looked like the 8th running back & 9th overall player (According to FantasyPros ADP) that he was drafted to be. After his 13 carries for 57 yards and 2 catches for 12 yards against Washington on Thursday, it’s hard to be encouraged about Saquon & his outlook. He just doesn’t look much like the guy we saw pre-injury.
However, outside his 23 carries for 83 yards on the season (3.6 ypc), we can remain optimistic on his outlook going forward. According to Football Outsiders, both the Broncos and Washington rank in the top half of team DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value over Average) against the run this season. Denver ranks 5th in the least rushing yards allowed per game at 67.5.
Barkley goes from a short week on Thursday night football, to a 10 day rest and getting to go against the putrid Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons through 2 weeks have allowed the second-most rushing yards per game at 173 and rank in the bottom 10 in terms of DVOA against the run. This is a BUY NOW window for Barkley & not a sell.
2) Justin Herbert is a good REAL LIFE Quarterback, but not a good FANTASY quarterback
Verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION
Let me preface by saying: I think Justin Herbert is a phenomenal NFL Quarterback. The Chargers have themselves a great face of their franchise and someone who is truly a difference-maker at the position. We do know however that there’s a difference between being a good fantasy quarterback, and being a good real-life quarterback. Tim Tebow, Blake Bortles, & many others have shown that you can not be effective for your team on an NFL playing field, but put up tons of numbers in Fantasy Football.
Justin Herbert is missing a big part in his game to be a Top 10 Fantasy Quarterback: Rushing. Using research put together from Matthew Betz (@TheFantasyPT on Twitter), “From 2016-2019, the average rushing production from QB1’s was 273.4 yards.” Now Herbert had 234 yards in his rookie season. The problem? He never topped 183 yards in any of his collegiate seasons. Herbert now has 11 rushing yards on 8 attempts in 2 games. He is now QB22 at the time of this writing.
Herbert was never going to fully replicate what he did last season. He threw the ball 595 times in 15 games at nearly 40 att per game! Among those that played at least 10 games, Herbert ranked 2nd in att per game & 4th in overall attempts. That volume just didn’t seem sustainable. With the lower passing volume and virtually no rushing floor, Justin Herbert will fit in the mold of an average Fantasy QB but a great real-life one.
3) Damien Harris has the POTENTIAL to be a Top 12 RB in Standard Scoring Leagues
Verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION
That run Damien Harris had against the Jets yesterday was pretty wasn’t it? I’ve watched the play numerous times and it seems he breaks around 7 tackles on that amazing play. On the season, Harris has recorded 39 carries for 162 yards (4.2 ypc) & that one rushing touchdown. He’s even chipped in 3 catches for 19 yards.
However, anyone with eyes can see that Harris is not going to be a big part of the Patriots’ passing game. That role will continue to be occupied by one James White. White may only have 9 carries on the season, but he’s recorded 12 catches in 2 games. At 6 receptions per game on average early on, it’s clear to see the Patriots still want White entrenched on passing downs.
That is why the distinction of separating the league format is important here. I think Harris has 20 touches per week of volume (assuming he doesn’t fumble again). That type of volume will definitely play in fantasy, especially when there’s a rookie QB at the helm. The Patriots will be relying on the run plenty this season and that will be huge for Harris. At 42.52% already this year (14th in the NFL), I only see that number rising when the weather gets colder in the next couple months.
4) Rob Gronkowski will be the #1 TE in Fantasy Football in 2021
If you predicted Rob Gronkowski would have 2 receiving touchdowns in back-to-back games to start the season, please reach out to me on Twitter so I can pick your brain on how to make a lot of money. Gronk has looked like his old self on the field, dating back to the Super Bowl last year where guess what? He had 2 touchdowns in that game too!
Gronk has 12 receptions for 129 yards to go along with those NFL-leading 4 touchdowns. However, if you look deeper, the second game isn’t quite as impressive as the first. You first have the overall targets going down from 8 to 5. Second, while Mike Evans was able to have a monster game, Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin were basically useless to the Bucs in this one. Going from Godwin, Brown, & Gronk in Week 1, to Evans, Gronk, with a little Godwin in Week 2, shows us that this offense is unpredictable and it’s anyone’s guess on who will be Brady’s favorite target in a given week.
What this has shown us, is that Gronk should be a Top 12 TE rest of season, and someone that gives a little more assurance at a very weak position. Gronk will be a TE1, just not THE TE1 that I expect to be Travis Kelce or Darren Waller.
5) Tony Pollard is going to be SOMETHING in this Dallas Cowboys offense
Verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION
Maybe this one is a little more obvious than the other statements in this column, but it definitely needs to be said. Zeke is still going to do his thing and that’s not changing. While Zeke contributed to the win, Pollard was the star on the day, recording 13 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown while adding three catches for 31 yards on three targets. With 23 touches in 2 games, that speaks volumes on the floor for the workload we can expect Pollard to receive, maybe even more if he remains this efficient.
How efficient you may ask? Well through 2 games Pollard has recorded 31.3 PPR points to Zeke’s 23.6 PPR points. Pollard is also averaging nearly double Zeke’s PPR points/touch. Right now Zeke is still out snapping Pollard at around a 70/30 clip but don’t be surprised if that number starts rising more in Pollard’s favor. I ranked Pollard going into the season as the TOP handcuff in Fantasy Football and he remains the biggest lottery ticket in the sport. He’s already a borderline flex and a league winner of Zeke were to ever miss extended time with injury.