One of the biggest misconceptions about NFL Week 1 is that fantasy football managers think what they are seeing is real.
Isiah Pacheco rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown? He’s definitely pushing Clyde Edwards-Helaire for carries this season. Mike Williams caught just two passes and now Keenan Allen is hurt? He won’t be productive because defenses will key in on him.
We saw Thursday night of Week 2 that neither was true. What, then, makes you think your other Week 1 assumptions will be? This week will be more telling as to what teams are going to be doing than Week 1 ever will be, and the Packers are the perfect example. What you saw from Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay’s wide receiver corps is not what you will see from them in the future.
Let’s face it: The Packers’ passing attack last week was horrendous. Rodgers threw for just 195 yards, Jordan Love relieved him and threw for 65 and the two combined to hit 10 different pass-catchers. Neither found a receiver to comfortably lock onto, and 11 of the 35 targets went to running backs while eight went to tight ends. We witnessed a number of drops, including what should have been an easy touchdown for rookie Christian Watson. By the time Rodgers walked off the field in the fourth quarter, fantasy owners were ready to cut loose every Packers wide receiver.
This week, you can expect a much different story. Allen Lazard has put in multiple practices this week and is expected to be on the field Sunday night against the Bears. Given what we know about Rodgers’ need for familiarity, you can probably expect double-digit targets for Lazard. From there, you can expect to see Sammy Watkins as the No. 2 with a mix of Randall Cobb and rookie Romeo Doubs working out of the slot.
Rodgers will lean on his veterans, while youngsters Watson and Doubs will be forced to prove themselves both at practice and during games. It will be a long road for both.
Monitor both snap counts and targets for the Packers receivers this week, and the long-term picture will be clearer. If Lazard is available, he is a must-own. Watkins probably comes next. Beyond that, you will need to monitor to determine actual receiver value, but don’t be surprised if your next must-own is tight end Robert Tonyan.
Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy sports advice, player projections, injury updates and more.