Logan Gooley ‘24
Kickoff week is by far one of the most intriguing weeks for both fantasy and regular fans of the NFL. Fresh out of the offseason, teams and players often look very different from their expectations. For fantasy logistics, the start of the season is incredibly important in seeing playing time and touches certain players can expect to see.
Two players who received extreme workloads in terms of snap counts were Pittsburgh’s Najee Harris and Cincinnati’s Joe Mixon. Starting with the Steelers RB, he never left the field. Harris played 100% of the snaps, which is amazing news for any Harris fantasy owner. Despite a lackluster 5.4 half-PPR point performance, 16 rushing attempts with 3 targets is an elite amount of opportunity, not to mention that Harris’ matchups will only get easier from Buffalo’s 10th best rushing defense from last year. While Mixon didn’t play 100% of the snaps, he did play 79% and had 33 touches. 33 is an incredible amount of opportunity, especially for a running back with Mixon’s skill. While Mixon has struggled with injuries in the past, taking a risk on a player who has the potential to be a top-5 RB is undoubtedly worth it.
Two players who didn’t quite get the touches most expected were Austin Ekeler and D’Andre Swift. Ekeler is coming off a 54-reception season, which led many to believe that he would put up similar numbers. However, this week Ekeler received 0 targets from Justin Herbert, who had previously thrown more passes to Ekeler than any other QB-RB connection. While there is quite a bit of reason to be concerned, on the bright side Ekeler finally started to get snaps at the goal-line, something he rarely has seen before. Hopefully, for Ekeler owners, this lack of targets was a matchup problem, but if Ekeler doesn’t see 5+ targets against Dallas’ weak defense, it may be time to panic. For Swift, the concern is less but still very real. Swift received 68% of the snaps with 11 carries and 11 targets while Jamal Williams received 36% of the snap with 9 carries and 9 targets. As a Swift owner, these numbers are scary, but there are a few bright points. Firstly, the fact that Swift played so well against an amazing 49ers front seven leads me to believe that he is for real. Additionally, Jamal Williams was hyper-efficiently used while he was on the field, which should hopefully mean that he will receive fewer snaps as the season goes on. Lastly, Swift ran 49 routes compared to Williams’ 23, which is great news for those who play in PPR or half-PPR like myself.
Looking ahead, there are a few interesting streaming options that are definitely worth additional research and thought. 49ers’ RB Elijah Mitchell received 19 of 22 RB touches from the 49ers’ offense and looks to be in a great spot to receive even more next week. Sterling Shepard also looked amazing in his return to the slot position for the Giants this week, posting a 7 reception, 113 yards, and one touchdown performance. Jameis Winston looks to be a great streamable quarterback after he dominated the Packers with a 5 TD performance with a 70 completion percentage. The defense to pick up this week is New Orleans’, as they take on the Panthers who could only muster 19 points against an inexperienced Jets’ defense.