I sense a disturbance in the force. We’re one week into this NFL season, and one day away from the beginning of Week 2, and you, my fantasy brothers, are worried about the utter lack of anything you received from many of the running backs that cost way too much on draft day.
I’ve heard your cries, and running back concerns will dominate this week’s Hate List as we bring Week 1 to a close, and attempt to project how many crappy trends will continue in Week 2. This slice of top three listicle fun is exactly what it sounds like: a run down of the primary players who caused us great pain during a given week, and what to expect going forward. Usually it will appear in this sacred Flea Clicker space, unless it gets bumped for other more pressing matters.
On with it then.
1. David Wilson: You know this tale of woe well by now. Wilson fumbled twice on just seven carries, the worst possible outcome after an offseason of hype. What’s odd, though, is that Wilson has instantly gained a reputation as a rampant fumbler, which is fueled by his ball turfing exactly a year ago during the opening week of the 2012 season. Perhaps Sunday night was an aberration, and a particularly bad evening, because over 78 career carries Wilson has now fumbled three times. That’s a pace of a fumble every 26 carries, which sounds horrible until you realize how much it’s skewed because Wilson’s only fumble last year came in Week 1, and then he held on to the ball just fine during 70 other carries.
Outlook: Be afraid, but just not too afraid. If Andre Brown was healthy, there would be much more reason for legitimate concern. But he’s not, and Brandon Jacobs was signed yesterday as little more than an extra bit of motivation. Head coach Tom Coughlin has repeatedly said he still believes in Wilson, but the search for a veteran is an action which speaks louder than his words. Those of you in deep leagues who spent an early-round pick on Wilson will have to keep trotting him out, as finding a suitable replacement just won’t happen this early in the year. Be prepared for a possible decreased workload, and utter doom if he fumbles again.
2. Lamar Miller: In a week that was especially frustrating for running backs, there are others who could have drawn our ire. But we can give a pass to the likes of C.J. Spiller and Doug Martin, because at least they have a history (albeit brief ones) of elite performance, and Chris Johnson below has lost his right to such an exception. Miller here gave us a special kind of disappointment: failing to even hint at an ability to match preseason hopes and dreams, while also failing to do anything at all. On 10 carries he had three yards. Not a typo.
Outlook: Maybe it’s my calm and patience prevailing, but I’ll need to see equal horribleness from Miller at least once more before a serious loss of faith happens. This came against a tough Browns run defense, and there was little Miller could do as he received no blocking whatsoever (Miller and Daniel Thomas averaged a whole 1.1 yards per carry). The latter frustration is clearly concerning, but it’s also correctable (in theory), and once Mike Wallace gets going and begins his field stretching, more green space should open up (in theory).
3. Chris Johnson: If I could associate a sound with every fantasy player I’ve ever owed (example: Peyton Manning), I would probably pair the sound of a puppy crying with Chris Johnson. What’s maddening is that based on sheer volume and his 25 carries, Johnson still managed to produce an average day with 70 rushing yards, and therefore seven fantasy points. But by the standards of any other metric, he was horrible while averaging 2.8 rushing yards per carry.
Outlook: This was what we now know as Chris Johnson being Chris Johnson. Over 20 or so carries he’ll hack away for a decent but still underwhelming rushing total, and then he’ll eventually break for a booming home run (last year despite his overall awfulness, Johnson still had three runs of 80 yards or more). He just forgot the second part against the Steelers, and that might not change in an equally tough matchup this week in Houston.
More notes, stray thoughts, and other such randomness
Reggie Bush is playing no limits football
After he posted 191 total yards during his Lions debut with a touchdown and four receptions, you’re feeling pretty good about all that offseason Reggie Bush hype. And Bush is feeling pretty good about being in an offense that actually knows how to use his unique talents. Annnd Lions fans are feeling pretty good about having a backfield that’s beyond respectable and is honestly, really productive between Bush and Joique Bell.
Yes, knowledge of how to use Bush (hint: don’t just pound him into large men) is key if Detroit’s O’s wish to win their battle against the X’s.
Everyone is feeling good, except maybe Reggie Bush.
Bush dislocated his thumb during the Lions’ win over Minnesota while also tweaking his groin and suffering a seemingly minor hip injury. No biggie, right Jim Schwartz?
“His thumb happened on a pass. That’s life in the big city. You’re a running back in the NFL, there’s going to be some Monday’s where you’re not going to be feeling great. Feel a little bit better when you get the win and when you make the plays that he made. That’s what we’re looking for from him and not anything else.”
That’s funny, because all this time that I’ve lived in a large city, I thought “life in the big city” actually meant tolerating smog, public transit delays, and the periodic smell of urine. Evidently, dislocated thumbs are also a known part of city life.
Clearly for fantasy purposes it’s wonderful that Bush won’t miss time this week or be limited. But for both fantasy and reality, you have to wonder when we’re getting a little greedy here. It’s Week 2, and Bush isn’t exactly a large guy. He has a backup who’s more than capable in Bell, and a history of recent breaking. Maybe right now a little bit less could lead to a whole lot more.
Chip Kelly is, and will forever be, the best
I’m not sure how I missed this yesterday and Monday night. I’ll blame a lack of sleep while watching and consuming all the football Sunday and Monday. Apologies, I’m not quite yet in midseason couch sitting form yet, but it’ll come.
There’s no “too late” with a picture this spectacular. During his time at Oregon Chip Kelly’s random, pop-culture themed play cards became famous due to their awesomeness. You see, to run his stupidly fast offense, information needs to be communicated quickly and concisely, which is done through more than just the quarterback’s headset. Hand signals are also used, in addition to pictures of…stuff.
From the fine folks at The 700 Level:
So you’re a staffer/intern, and you want something important to do. You’re then handed a picture of Rocky and the Phinatic, and told to go nuts. To Chip Kelly, you are now important.
Of course, all of this seems like nonsense, and much of it could be. Like any signal, these pictures could mean absolutely nothing, a form of deception that Peyton Manning has been practicing for years with his constant arm flailing. Or they could mean everything, and as USA Today explained, they usually relay something simple yet crucial quickly to a group of mentally exhausted athletes, and they do it in the most Chip Kelly way possible:
Many of the pictures and signals are intentionally humorous and based on what amounts to inside jokes, which are deviously simple and in effect create a language only players know.
A hypothetical example is a photo of Phil Mickelson indicating a snap count of two, because the golfer often finishes second. And it’s based on the concept of a combo meal at a fast food restaurant, where ordering a “No. 2″ at McDonald’s gets you a Quarter Pounder, medium fries and a drink.
I’m endlessly fascinated by this system, and my goal in life is to be on a Chip Kelly play card.
So, about that whole passing league thing
We deal with a lot of numbers around here, which happens when you do something like scour the waiver wire and then deliver a manifesto. Sometimes those numbers are a little complicated and come in fancy stat form, while others are more simple, but equally important.
This one definitely falls under the latter category, but still, umm, wow. Watching even eight minutes of Week 1 football told you that, yes, the NFL is still a passing league. Fantasy wise that’s pleasant news for every player who doesn’t play running back, as there were only three 100-yard rushers in the first week, and one of those guys plays quarterback (Terrelle Pryor).
In his thorough breakdown of the target distribution throughout the NFC, Rotoworld’s Chet Gresham reminded us of just how exaggerated the pass leaning was: there were 1,173 Week 1 pass attempts, which easily trumped the 813 rush attempts.