Welcome to the 2023 Fantasy Football Week 2 Stock Up/Stock Down article.
One single week in the NFL (especially Week 1) is often the definition of overreaction theater, much less the week-to-week game of Fantasy Football. Each player has data from which we draw conclusions. We are forced to use that information to make decisions moving forward.
We tend to evaluate each week's Fantasy performances thinking about the short term. What does the data tell us about what to expect for a defined period of time, or for the rest of the season? But we can also draw conclusions from a longer-term Dynasty perspective.
Who saw their stock rise based on usage or opportunity in Week 1? Who saw it fall due to their own performance, lack of usage, or because of a change in role? Let’s dive in and find out.
2023 Fantasy Football Week 2 Stock Up/Stock Down
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Tyler Allgeier, RB, Atlanta Falcons
By the end of Fantasy Football draft season, Atlanta Falcons' running back Tyler Allgeier had fallen to an average draft position (ADP) of 127.2. He was going off the board as the RB42 in drafts, behind names like Samaje Perine, Jamaal Williams, and Jerick McKinnon. The drop after a 1,000+ yard rushing season in 2022 was understandable after the Falcons selected Bijan Robinson in the first round. But perhaps what we all forgot is that the Falcons have absolutely zero desire to throw the ball in any game, which means both running backs will be fantasy viable.
Handling 56% of the snaps (Robinson was in on 65%), Allgeier piled up 75 rushing yards, 19 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. Robinson also scored, and it would imagine that this is the beginning of a pattern that will emerge. The running backs for this team are going to have the lion's share of Atlanta's touchdowns this season. In 2022, the Falcons were second in the NFL with a 55.3% rushing play percentage, and that number was a healthy 54.2% on Sunday. The only teams with a higher percentage were Cleveland, Dallas, and Baltimore, three teams that won in blowouts and didn't have to pass much in the second half.
It's tough to call someone a potential league-winner after one week, but for those who took a chance on Allgeier in the 10th or 11th round of drafts this preseason, it looks like you'll be printing money off that investment all year long.
Puka Nacua, WR, Los Angeles Rams
I bet if I were to dig up a Los Angeles Rams fantasy team preview from around May or June it would be certain to say a few things. It would say the fantasy players to invest in are Cooper Kupp, Cam Akers, perhaps Tyler Higbee. Van Jefferson would be a deep sleeper in case anything happened to Kupp. After the Rams' Week 1 game came and went - a surprising win! - that fantasy script is totally flipped on his head. None of those four players were the ones you wanted on your roster this past weekend. Instead, the players everyone will be trying to grab on the waiver wire this week are Kyren Williams, Tutu Atwell, and especially Puka Nacua.
After being peppered with 15 targets in Week 1, fifth-round rookie Nacua finished with 10 catches for 119 yards. That's otherwise known as a PPR manager's dream scenario. He was tied with Tutu Atwell with 79% of snaps played, good for second among LA's wide receivers. He also dominated the target share with 40% of Matthew Stafford's targets coming his way. In fact, only Zay Flowers (47.6%) saw a larger target share among skill players this week.
At 6'2" and 205 pounds, Nacua is big enough and fast enough to play on the outside, so even when Cooper Kupp does return (presumably in Week 5), Nacua could still carve out a major role in this offense that looked better than expected.
Joshua Kelley, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Even before we learned that Austin Ekeler got out of Week 1 with an ankle injury, Kelley showed us he has value. Perhaps because of the injury and perhaps because of the fast pace of the game, Kelley played 48% of the snaps to Ekeler's 51%. That allowed Kelley to get 91 rushing yards and a score in the high-octane game. Kelley didn't record a catch, but we know that work is almost exclusively reserved for Austin Ekeler when he is on the field. There is a chance this is a fairly even backfield when all is said and done.
Joshua Kelley was in a drive-for-drive rotation with Austin Ekeler during the first half of Week 1’s game (before Ekeler’s ankle injury).
Kelley’s snap percentages during each of the Chargers’ drives:
-0% (2-minute drill).
This may be closer to an even…
— Zareh Kantzabedian (@ZKantzFF) September 12, 2023
If Tyler Allgeier was cheap, that means Joshua Kelley was downright free in drafts, going as the RB66 at pick 229. Now, Kelley is a priority pickup in waivers heading into Week 2. He has a role that might be largely oversized compared to expectations. His Week 2 matchup against the Tennessee Titans could be a tough one. Tennessee allowed the fewest rushing yards per game to opponents last year (76.9 yards). After that game the Chargers have soft matchups against the Vikings and Raiders.
Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams
With Cooper Kupp on IR, this was supposed to be a great Cam Akers spot against the Seahawks. Last season, Seattle allowed just under 152 rushing yards per game to opponents, 30th in the NFL. After a slow start to 2022, Akers dominated over the last six games for the LA Rams. From weeks 12-17 he posted 17.3 carries, 85.3 rushing yards, 19 receiving yards and one touchdown per game. Expectations were his workload would increase with Kupp out of the lineup and the other receivers unproven.
Instead, Akers got completely lapped by his backup and now looks to be the man second in line. And it wasn't just a bad performance for Akers on Sunday (29 yards on 22 carries). It was ugly.
Cam Akers' 22-carry, 29-yard outing in Week 1 goes down as the fifth-fewest yards per carry (1.3) on at least 20 rush attempts since 2000. Not beating the plodder allegations anytime soon.
— Kyle Dvorchak (@kyletweetshere) September 11, 2023
When you look at the snap share between the two running backs, it looks like Kyren has already taken over. Williams had 53 snaps to Akers' 28, and eight of those came in the final drive when the Rams were up 30-13. That's usually back-up, kill the clock duty. Unfortunately for the sixth-round draft pick, that's what he might be going forward.
Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Let's start with the good news for Najee Harris (of which there is very little). He out-snapped Jaylen Warren 52% to 40% and did start the game. He also had 66% of the rushing share. That's about the extent of the good. In eight fewer snaps, Warren had more targets (six to two) and outscored him in all fantasy formats. Harris' six carries were a career-low and he was basically uninvolved once San Francisco got out to a big lead. In PPR leagues, here are some names that running backs that outscored Najee Harris: Alec Ingold, Chuba Hubbard, and Samaje Perine.
Fantasy managers can't be feeling too good about that especially after offseason rumors that suggested Harris and Warren would split the backfield evenly. It is just one game, and it was a massive blowout from the first few minutes. A grain of salt is needed. But Harris is coming off back-to-back seasons with less than 4.0 yards per carry. His targets fell from 94 in 17 games two years ago to 53 in 17 games last year. He only saw two of them in Week 1.
Next week will be a tough test on Monday Night Football against the Cleveland Browns. After that Harris gets easy matchups against the Raiders and Texans. I'm willing to hold on to him through those weeks, but if the split persists, I'll be out. Anticipating that, Warren is also a top waiver priority right now.
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