Week 1 of the hotly anticipated NFL season is in the books, leaving us to wonder how exactly we have survived the last six months without its wildly exhilarating (yet oddly comforting) warm embrace. Ah, American professional non-Arena League football, how I’ve missed you.
The NFL is like the girlfriend you had a thing with for maybe 4 or 5 months, then one night in early February you got hammered and when you woke up she was gone without a trace. You weren’t quite sure where she went, but you convinced yourself she had gone to the big city because she had always talked about wanting to pursue acting or maybe go back to school or whatever it is that girlfriends do when they ditch you. Over the passing months as memories faded, you started to wonder if she was as amazing as you remembered her being or if you had just built her up into this impossible to replicate fantasy in your obsessed and increasingly deranged mind. Your friends stop wanting to hang out with you as you become more and more isolated and paranoid, trudging around the city in an open bathrobe muttering about this girlfriend you had who was sexier than any girlfriend they ever had, but who may or may not have ever existed. Then one day in early September around 8:00 PM on a Thursday, you hear a knocking at the door and there she is—as smoking hot as ever. You immediately can tell she’s every bit as great as you remembered her being, and you beg her never to leave you again. She says she won’t, but she won’t make eye contact with you. In the back of your mind you have a feeling she’s going to run out on you again next February. But you don’t give a fuck, because you’re going to enjoy the hell out of the next few months.
This of course is just my way of saying that I could not be more thrilled for football season.
At the Roto Street Journal this week, we had some fantasy predictions that were huge hits, a few disappointing misses, and some we’ll be putting in the TBD pile and will be passing verdicts on in the near future. We’ll be laying those out for you in this article, and we’re also going to show you some hard data on how our resident expert (The Wolf of Roto Street) stacked up against the other alleged experts in the fantasy world.
SHOWING OFF THE WOLF’S BIG BRAIN
Tyreek Hill: Let’s start with the guy who (other than maybe Mike Evans) the Wolf has been ranting about all season. Sure, he had him ranked 3 spots higher than the ECR (Expert Consensus Rankings) this week, but the real score here was how much higher we recommended drafting him than pretty much anyone else in the industry. The Wolf ranked Hill as his WR16, five slots higher than the ECR, and his #32 pick overall—a whopping fifteen spots before the rest of the so-called experts. 7 catches, 133 yards and a touchdown later, Hill looks like he has the makings of a legitimate superstar—hopefully the injury he suffered at the end of the unfortunate Patriots massacre won’t be an issue.
Kareem Hunt: 246 yards and 3 touchdowns? Yeah, I think he has filled in the Andy Reid Workhorse Back role quite nicely that Spencer Ware was kind enough to vacate. The Wolf ranked Hunt 12th on his Week 1 running back list—six full spots ahead of the consensus rankings. Did the rest of the “best and brightest” out there suggest that Lamar Miller (17 rushes for 65 yards against the London Jaguars) would be a better play than Hunt? Yes, they sure did. Hope you listened to the Wolf on that one.
Mike Gillislee: It was tough for me to watch what Gillislee was doing on Thursday night without my stomach turning a little bit. Sure, I want The Wolf to prove himself as the guy you should be listening to in the fantasy football arena, but I also have to host a podcast with him, and when he’s smug he is unbearable to listen to. His Mike Gillislee prediction is going to have him smug beyond belief. Not only did The Wolf rank Gillislee six spots higher (18 to 24) than the ECR, he basically predicted accurately the role Gillislee would play (not an easy thing to do with the Patriots’ backfield) with amazing accuracy in his Bold Predictions piece from a few days ago: “Mike Gillislee falls into 15 TDs as the new LeGarrette Blount”. After scoring three TDs in his first game, that insane total suddenly seems attainable. Another home run for the Wolf.
Ty Montgomery: Montgomery’s usage as the clear RB1 for the Packers was a real positive, and another big notch on the Wolf’s prediction belt for the week. Not only did the Wolf have Montgomery ranked a couple spots higher on his RB rankings for the week vs the ECR, the Roto Street Journal advised drafting him a full 8 spots higher than where his ADP was. Keep in mind his 93 total yards and a TD performance was against a stiff Seattle defense on Sunday, and you have to think he’s on his way to more big days.
Ezekiel Elliott: There’s not much to say here except that the Wolf was adamant about taking Zeke in the 2nd round if he were available. Now it looks like he’s going to be able to play the whole season. Start counting your winnings if you listened to him.
Kenny Golladay: 4 catches for 69 yards and a couple of TDs will put anyone on your radar—but he was already on ours (so hopefully he was on yours too). The Wolf’s Roto Street Journal big board had Golladay ranked 54 (no that’s not a misprint) spots higher than where the so-called experts had him on the Wolf’s Draft Big Board.
Cooper Kupp: 4 catches for 76 yards and a TD in Week 1 is going to go a long way towards proving the Wolf’s outlandish preseason prediction that Kupp would outscore Sammy Watkins this year. For the record, The Wolf ranked Kupp 48 spots higher than the ECR on his Draft Big Board (again, not a typo) and 7 spots higher than the ECR for Week 1. And oh, by the way, the Wolf also specifically listed Kupp as one of his top 3 possible replacements for Mike Evans or DeVante Parker in the wake of the Hurricane Irma game postponement in Florida. So… yeah, I guess he saw this coming.
Tarik Cohen: While the rest of the world was sleeping, The Wolf was ranking Tarik Cohen a robust 98 places higher than the ECR (132 to 230, respectively) on his Big Board. After his 13.2 yards per carry and 8 catch performance (one of them going for a score) on Sunday, it looks like Cohen may be here to stay—and the Wolf is looking pretty damn smart. You better believe Jordan Howard is looking over his shoulder now.
ERRORS WORTHY OF PUBLIC SHAMING
Leonard Fournette: Fournette lost a lot of ground with us recently due to his supposed lingering foot issue and concerns over his usage. But as The Wolf tweeted after Fournette’s Week 1 game in Houston, “This is no committee. He is going to be a workhorse RB1.” We had Fournette 5 spots below the ECR on our running backs list for Week 1. Fournette rushed for 100 yards on an impressive 26 carries in his Jacksonville debut.
Eric Decker: Man, oh man. We really loved Decker coming into the season. There was all this talk about how he and Marcus Mariota were just completely on the same page, Decker’s production has been outstanding over the recent years of his career, and that’s not even mentioning his massive hog. So, what the hell happened? Delanie Walker, Rishard Matthews, and Corey Davis all obliterated his stat line, that’s what happened—Decker seemed to be the 4th option for a lot of the game, and finished with a pathetic 3 catches for 10 yards—all while we ranked him 14 spots higher than the ECR. Are we panicking on this one? Not quite yet, but talk to us in a week.
Martavis Bryant: I admit it—I have been drinking the Martavis Bryant Kool-Aid all off season, all preseason, and all Sunday until maybe 4:00 PM. At the end of the game, I felt like a guy who had been given a sure-fire winner at the race track and my horse had finished at the back of the pack. The Wolf had Martavis ranked 5 spots higher than the ECR this week and… Bryant had 2 catches for 14 yards. Meanwhile, undisputed WR1 Fantasy God Antonio Brown pulled in 11 receptions for a cool 182 yards and Jesse James managed 6 catches for 41 and a couple TDs. Of course Ben Roethlisberger is known for his abysmal home/road splits—and this one was on the road—but he didn’t play an awful game. He had 24 completions, it’s just that almost none of them went Bryant’s way. Bryant’s talent is indisputable, so we still expect him to blow up—but this week 1 performance against the hapless Browns was a gut shot for us, that’s for sure.
Kelvin Benjamin: We hated Benjamin, then we loved him, and now we’re a little stunned and (I admit it) worried. The Wolf had Benjamin as his WR11 this week—6 spots higher than the ECR—and while the Panthers won handily against the CFL level 49ers, the passing holes in Cam Newton’s game were evident. Benjamin, who is essentially a walking mismatch, pulled in 1 catch for 25 yards. The thing is, no one really did much in the way of receiving for the Panthers. Benjamin was second on the team in targets—but he was only targeted 5 times. With volume (or lack thereof) like that, Benjamin’s stock could go way down.
Hunter Henry: Hunter Henry has huge upside! He’s a great late round pick-up who can generate some real points in a pass happy offense! Don’t let the zero catches for zero yards stat line in week 1 fool you! Yeah, yeah… we know, this was a truly terrible performance and by extension a really bad call. How much of this was Denver’s amazing defense? Hard to say—Philip Rivers did still notch 3 passing touchdowns and 54 year old Antonio Gates even managed to pull a couple balls in. To be fair, The Wolf and the ECR were almost identical on Henry (10 and 11 respectively) but the double-bagel is just too bad for me to gloss over. Next week is going to tell us if this was a fluke or if we can expect more of the same moving forward. We sure hope it’s the first one.
GUYS WHO WERE LIKE “MEH”
Christian McCaffrey: He was fine. McCaffrey had a good game—he got 13 carries and led the Panthers in targets with 7, managing to snag 5 of them for 38 yards. While clearly a big part of the Panthers’ planned attack in week 1, McCaffrey did not even remotely blow up—and the 49ers’ defense has certainly proved itself to be susceptible to get blown up on by opposing RBs in recent history. We still like him, we’re not panicking even a little bit, but we may have to wait a little while to get the return on this investment we’re looking to get.
Bilal Powell: It is possible Powell belongs in the category above this one—as just a guy we got wrong—but I’m putting him here for now. The fact is, we still love his talent and his potential for usage. But the hard truth is that the Jets are unspeakably awful. They put up 214 yards of total offense against a Bills defense that I don’t think is very good at all. Right now, it’s extremely hard for me to visualize anyone putting up relevant fantasy points for the Jets, but I’d still be inclined to say if there is a guy who’s going to do it, it’s Powell.
GUYS MOST EVERYONE WHIFFED ON
Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, David Johnson, Leveon Bell, Dez Bryant, and a few other highly touted alleged fantasy studs laid serious eggs this week, but the purported experts and the RSJ were aligned on them all going into the week. It’s hard to imagine these guys are going to keep disappointing (although David Johnson will get a pass for his injury); they’re just too talented to not eventually rise near the top of the pile.
HOW THE WOLF DID AGAINST THE “EXPERTS” THIS WEEK
The way I decided to measure the Wolf against the supposed industry experts is pretty simple. I’m taking the Wolf’s top 12 quarterbacks, top 24 running backs, top 36 wide receivers, and top 12 tight ends from his Week 1 Rankings and I’m comparing them to where the ECR had them. Once all the stats are in for the week, we’re going to see who got closer to the actual end of the week fantasy scoring hierarchy, and we’ll have our winner for the week. Will it be the Wolf… or the alleged “experts”?
The Wolf vs. The World competition was very close in Week 1 when it came to quarterbacks. This was the most unpredictable week I can recall as far as this position is concerned—only one guy who ended up scoring in the top 7 was even owned in the Roto Street Journal expert league—so start from that premise and move forward from there.
The guys The Wolf did the most damage in his head to head fight with the ECR were Drew Brees (+3) and Russell Wilson (+4). The so-called experts liked them both more than the Wolf, and they were both disappointing relative to their rankings—Wilson in particular looked like a total disaster. In contrast, the Wolf liked Derek Carr (-4) quite a bit more than the rest of the industry, and he came in with a decent, but not great game.
The Wolf ended the week with a very slim +3 advantage over the ECR based on rankings of their top 12 QBs. This margin is a nice start (since it’s technically a victory) but overall it is not a significant margin.
The running back competition was another hard-fought battle between our resident Wolf and the rest of the world. Amazingly, across a field of The Wolf’s top 24 RBs, our guy and the industry at large… ended up in a tie.
So where were the biggest discrepancies? Well, The Wolf got burned on Adrian Peterson, giving AP quite a bit more respect than the ECR and then watching as the former great did essentially nothing. Bilal Powell and Christian McCaffrey also let him down a little. The Wolf made up ground in a big way with his belief in Kareem Hunt and Mike Gillislee, and he closed the gap completely by not believing in Lamar Miller—a man who has proven at this point that he does not deserve your belief.
The Wolf and the ECR were dead even on RBs this week, allowing the Wolf to cling to the 3 point lead he built on quarterbacks to start the competition.
The wide receiver pool offered the biggest sample size of talent to assess (36 guys in all) so if someone was going to create a little distance in this contest, this seemed to be the place to do it.
The Wolf was crushed by two guys—Eric Decker and Jameson Crowder—who both were huge disappointments this week. However, our guy made up that deficit and then some by getting much closer on TY Hilton, Allen Robinson (I know he got injured, but those are the breaks, right?), Sammy Watkins, Alshon Jeffery, and Emmanuel Sanders—all guys the industry liked a lot more than the Wolf did, and all guys the Wolf was right to doubt.
The Wolf outperformed the ECR by a solid 20 points on his top 36 WR rankings. Through the first 3 positions, the Wolf leads by 23.
With only 12 tight ends going under the microscope, the Wolf is starting to feel a little bit cocky with his lead, but he’d like to build it even more to prove a point if possible.
The tight ends this week were a train wreck. Five of the top guys, including the very top 3, did nothing at all—which everyone missed. In fact, the Wolf and the ECR were dead even on tight ends until the very last guy in the top 12 week one rankings—Jared Cook. Cook was ranked significantly higher by the Wolf than the rest of the industry (12th to 19th, respectively), and his 10th place finish in scoring got the Wolf the 7 points he needed to take home the tight ends crown for the week as well.
The Wolf finishes off the so-called experts, winning the tight end battle by a respectable 7 points.
WEEK 1 REPORT CARD
Our Wolf outperformed or tied the ECR across every position in Week 1 of the fantasy football season. In the end, the margin of victory was 30 total ranking spots over a field of 84 players—meaning the Wolf was about half a ranking slot better than the competition this week. This works out to right around 1.5 to 2 points a game in a half PPR league. Doesn’t sound like much? How many of you lost a game by a point or two this week? If you were listening to the Wolf, you might not have.
Week 1 is officially in the books and after a week of this competition, one thing is clear: