Evaluating players is always the hardest in week 1. When guys surprisingly break out on the first Sunday of the NFL season, it’s hard to tell if they did so because they and/or their situations have improved, or if it was just a one-time thing that could’ve occurred during any other week of the season. So we’re here to tell you which Week 1 breakouts you can trust for the future, and which ones are destined to bust.
1. Patrick Mahomes – 24 Points
Patrick Mahomes’ breakout wasn’t necessarily a huge surprise, but most people didn’t expect him to have the field day he did against the Chargers. Mahomes went 15 for 27 with 256 yards, 4 TDs, no picks, and a nice little 21 yards rushing on 5 carries to top it off. His 127.5 passer rating was the third best mark of week 1, trailing only Ryan Fitzpatrick and Drew Brees.
Everyone knew Mahomes had huge upside heading into the year. Incredibly strong arm, mobile, and has great weapons around him. And luckily for fantasy owners, it all came together to the tune of 24 fantasy points. The main concern before the season was (and still is) decision making, but that’s the case for any young QB. Owners will still have to be wary of that, and Mahomes will have to keep proving his big arm won’t get him into trouble with ill-advised throws. But if he can continue minimizing the turnovers, performances like Sunday’s will be the norm.
2. Emmanuel Sanders – 19 Std Points, 29.5 PPR Points
Last year was a nightmare for Sanders. He had to deal with the quarterback carousel from hell: the trio of Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, and Paxton Lynch. Unsurprisingly, none of those guys were capable of propelling Sanders to his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season. In fact, thanks to the QB issues along with Sanders missing 4 games due to injury, he barely made it halfway there, totaling just 555 yards and 2 TDs on 47 receptions.
But the Broncos made it up to Sanders by signing 2017 Vikings breakout Case Keenum to a two-year deal. Sanders promptly thanked them with 10 catches for 135 yards and a TD in week 1. Even with the three interceptions, Keenum looks like a capable NFL quarterback under center for Denver, which is more than you can say about their options last year. Sanders is healthy, has a QB who can actually get him the ball, has good receivers around him to take some pressure off, and has what looks to be a revitalized run game as well. Health permitting, he’ll be back to his 1,000-yard ways in 2018.
3. Phillip Lindsay – 16 Std Points, 18.2 PPR Points
Another Bronco – and the first name on this list who’s definitely on your waiver wire – Phillip Lindsay came out of nowhere to lead the Broncos backfield in touches in week 1. The rookie out of Colorado had 15 carries for 71 yards, which is the exact same rushing line as fellow rookie Royce Freeman, but tacked on 2 catches for 31 yards and a TD through the air.
It seems that despite Devontae Booker being listed as the starter as recently as last week, the Broncos figured out something we’ve all known: he’s not very good. With 2 carries for 4 yards and 2 catches for 11 yards, Booker shouldn’t be much of a factor the rest of the way, leaving Lindsay and Freeman to compete for work. Even if Lindsay doesn’t supplant Freeman as the starter, he doesn’t have to in order to be fantasy-relevant. More performances like this are not out of the question and he should get the touches to at least be a viable flex most weeks. So go ahead, put your waiver claims in. Phillip Lindsay isn’t going anywhere.
1. Ryan Fitzpatrick – 41 Points
Ok. Where did that come from? It’s not a surprise that Ryan Fitzpatrick can put up a solid fantasy game here and there; he’s been doing that off and on for years. The surprise is that he waltzed into the Mercedes Benz Superdome, took on a highly-talented Saints defense, and put up quite literally the best single-game statistical performance of his career. 21 for 28 passing, 417 yards, 4 TDs, no interceptions, along with 12 carries (12 carries?) for 36 yards and another TD. Just an absolutely ridiculous day for the Harvard man. But don’t bank on it going forward.
And by “don’t bank on it”, I’m not just saying don’t bank on more 40-point performances. Obviously we shouldn’t expect any more of those. What I’m saying is you shouldn’t even bank on average performances from FitzMagic from here on out, at least not consistently. There’s too much going against him here. Despite what head coach Dirk Koetter says about Jameis Winston’s job security, or lack thereof, it’s hard to see Fitzpatrick keeping this job for too long. He’s never had that type of consistency. And as for the short term, particularly the next two games that Winston is suspended for, the next one is against the Eagles. The Philly defense will not let Fitz carve them up the way he did the Saints, or anything close to it. Fitz could be a good streaming option against the Steelers in two weeks, but that’s about it. Don’t expect many more QB1 performances from the journeyman.
2. Phillip Dorsett – 12 Std Points, 19.6 PPR Points
Having a prominent role in the Patriots offense is never a bad thing, and that’s exactly what Dorsett has right now. He looked very polished as a receiver in week 1, securing all 7 of his targets for 66 yards and a TD. But the unpredictable distribution of targets week to week on the Patriots, as well as Julian Edelman’s impending return, prevent Dorsett from being worth owning.
His 7 receptions look great for the future until you realize Chris Hogan, Rex Burkhead, and Cordarrelle Patterson only had 1 each. That’s not gonna continue. It wouldn’t be a surprise if any of those guys had 7 receptions in a given week, making this an impossible receiving corps to predict. And if you think it’s hard right now, there’ll be even less receptions to go around once Edelman comes back in week 5 and resumes his role as a target hog. Don’t expect any shred of consistency out of Dorsett going forward. Despite the 7 catches, he’s as boom/bust as they come and is only a risky flex play from now until week 5, at which point he becomes unplayable.
3. Ted Ginn Jr. – 14 Std Points, 17.8 PPR Points
If you’ve been playing fantasy football for longer than a year, you should know exactly why Ted Ginn is here. Ginn has always failed to live up to expectations. You would think that being the WR2 in a high-powered offense with one of the best QBs of all time would lead to some consistency. But no. Ginn managed just 5 double-digit fantasy performances last season. Credit to him, he’s off to a good start this year with one under his belt already, but betting on the 33-year-old Ginn finally doing that on a consistent basis isn’t the best idea.
Most of the Saints’ games this season probably won’t follow such a pass-heavy game script either. The Saints had just 13 rushing attempts against the Bucs despite averaging over 27 rushes per game last season. With arguably the most potent rushing attack in the league and a defense that should rebound from this disaster against Tampa Bay, Ginn’s chances of producing fantasy-relevant weeks on a consistent basis dwindle to basically nothing. Don’t trust Ted Ginn in your lineups, and don’t bother rostering him outside of extremely deep leagues. He’ll be more of a headache than he’s worth.