We now have two weeks in the books to extrapolate full-season forecasts. I think we’re about halfway to stabilization, which is commonly thought to be 50-percent skill and 50-percent randomness. But the problem with Fantasy Football, unlike baseball, is that true skill level is largely illusory and players mostly a product of their offensive environment.
1. But let’s start with a player who sure seems to have true-skill level in spades: Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt. Last week, I said the key was him beating his lofty projection, which he did quite easily after a slow start. Now he’s a top-five player for sure.
The question is whether Hunt is a once-in-a-generation fantasy rookie. One other running back has scored multiple touchdowns while posting at least 100 scrimmage yards in his first two career games: Billy Sims of the 1980 Lions. I don’t like samples of one. But Sims as a rookie electrified the football world with 1,924 scrimmage yards and 16 total touchdowns. He’d be in the Hall of Fame if not for injuries. Hunt is either the first- or second-most valuable player in our game right now not for what he’s done but for what he’s likely to do for the remainder of the season.
2. Chris Carson has tough sledding with that putrid Seattle Seahawks offensive line and the team may struggle to score all year. But is he going to seize the feature-back role and thus render that less relevant given his touch floor? Carson has demonstrated skill with a third best 2.58 yards after contact and 2.50 yards before contact (10th). I think both stats are important. Seattle’s other backs are all under 1.0 yards before contact on 14 combined carries.
3. Road Ben Roethlisberger is a thing that no one can explain, yet still a thing. Since the start of 2015 he has 16 road TD passes, tied for 21st with Jay Cutler, who has played four less games. It’s not impacted Le’Veon Bell much (over 1,000 rushing yards and seven rushing TDs in 10 games, plus another 387 receiving yards on 51 grabs). Antonio Brown has rolled, too, to 1,675 receiving yards on 125 catches in 17 games (8 scores). So this is really a Roethlisberger only concern, oddly.
4. Chris Thompson and Jalen Richard are testing NFL coaches discriminatory rushing allocation when it comes to seemingly undersized running backs. Though both are short, neither is actually small. And Richard, fourth highest yards per rush since the 1970 merger minimum 90 attempts first two years, is actually 11th in RB body-mass index, according to Pro-Football-Reference. That’s among the 68 backs with at least six carries. Marshawn Lynch is 34th. And Thompson is tied in BMI with David Johnson (44th) and 0.1 higher than Le’Veon Bell (47th). PFR lists Thompson at 5-foot-8, 195; he measured 5-7, 192 at the combine, which is actually a higher BMI (30.1 than his PFR 29.6).
5. Trevor Siemian is on fire throwing touchdown passes with a league-best rate of 10% of throws. That’s top 30 in the first two weeks since the merger. However, in subsequent weeks, those passers regressed to about the period average (4.8% vs. 4.15%). I’d be surprised if Siemian remained a starting-caliber fantasy QB the rest of the year. But maybe I am holding his draft slot against him. I said his comp was Jake Plummer, not a bad QB, on the Breakfast Table podcast with my fellow Yahoo scribe, Scott Pianowski.
6. DeAndre Hopkins is on an incredible target pace — 29 in two games equals 232 for a full season. Let’s see how he deals with Bill Belichick doing everything he can to stop him. If he breaks 14 targets again, he may actually be a volume play. But today I trade him happily for anyone who worships targets and completely discounts efficiency and QB play.
7. Will the Baltimore Ravens defense stick a fork in Blake Bortles’s career? I think this could be it for him with the Jacksonville Jaguars by halftime. There is no viable alternative for the Jaguars either. Since the 1970 merger, the Ravens are the 40th team with consecutive games of at least four picks. No team has had three straight games. Where can I bet this?
[Watch on Yahoo: Ravens vs. Jaguars live from London Sept. 24]
8. I like Devin Funchess in his new environment with all those missing Greg Olsen targets. He’s a better athlete than Kelvin Benjamin. His most comparable player physically is Brandon Marshall. Funchess was a second-round pick and is good at finding the end zone with nine scores on just 60 catches. Every starting player in reality is worth of being a fantasy starter when they face the New Orleans Saints.
9. Ameer Abdullah looked very good against a good New York Giants defense in a game where the offense wasn’t pressed to do anything. Can he put consecutive productive games together and cement his status as a top 20 RB? He’s another guy who’s bigger than we think, adjusted for height (30.1 BMI is 28th of 68 and higher than Todd Gurley (29.8).
10. When the facts change I change my mind. Carson Wentz looks good now. His YPA is up significantly to 7.5 from a terrible 6.2 last year. He’s been on the road in two games where he’s topped 300 passing yards both times and added two scoring strikes in each, too. He’s even run for 61 yards. I’m okay with dropping Russell Wilson (a great player in a terrible spot with one of the worst offensive lines I’ve ever seen) and Cam Newton for him right now. That list may grow by 4 p.m. ET on Sunday. But you may want to wait as the Giants D is still tough opponent.