Panic Meter: Week 1 Overreaction Edition
Baker Mayfield is awful. Austin Ekeler doesn't get targeted. Michael Thomas is bad at football. Tom Brady has lost it. Joe Mixon is underutilized (alright, this one's just a fact).
All takes that people tried to victory lap on Monday, a day after the majority of NFL teams kicked off their seasons. Overreaction Monday was strong this season, and for good reason. This hasn't been a traditional offseason and won't be a traditional season. We've already seen it. Tons and tons of injuries and underwhelming performances. Guys like Malcolm Brown, Russell Gage, and Darius Slayton finished near the top of their position. Guys like Austin Ekeler, Joe Mixon, Michael Thomas, and George Kittle struggled to produce. Let's take a look at the panic meter headed into Week 2.
Photo by NBC Sports/Getty Images
Panic Meter: Reaching an absurd level
Overreaction: More than likely
First, I want to give Jake Burns a shoutout for his absolutely amazing article highlighting the concerns surrounding Baker Mayfield. Jake has been one of the most positive people with regard to Baker, and even he had to take the heart out of it and identify Baker's struggles.
The problem with Baker is weird, though. In Baker's rookie season, he moved through his progressions well and took the league by storm. Teams adjusted. Baker hasn't. Kevin Stefanski faced a tough task getting Baker prepared to face one of the Super Bowl favorites in Week 1 in a shortened offseason. Browns fans that thought it would be rainbows and sunshine were always delusional; the Ravens are far-and-away the superior football team.
However, Stefanski didn't put Baker in position to succeed. Baker's under-center snap total was absurd for a guy that does his best work while throwing on the run after rolling out.
Do I have my reservations about Baker Mayfield's ability to be a high-end starting quarterback in the NFL? Absolutely. I think the leash is shorter than it's ever been. Do I think that Baker has a prime opportunity to turn it around in Week 2 against a Bengals secondary that saw inflated stats due to Tyrod Taylor's poor play? Absolutely.
Panic Meter: Way too high
Folks. Carson Wentz is going to be fine. Let's list the players Carson Wentz was missing on his side of the ball in Week 1:
Expecting the Eagles offense to even be a shell of itself against a formidable defensive front in Washington can only be described as silliness. We should have seen this type of performance coming. The Football Team finished Week 1 with the third-best pass rush grade, according to PFF, and their coverage grade was top-half of the league, as well. Meanwhile, Desean Jackson wasn't a factor, Boston Scott left with an injury, and John Hightower was laughably bad (might have missed on him; whoopsies).
Carson Wentz should get Miles Sanders and Lane Johnson back in Week 2, barring any setbacks, and will return to the very good quarterback we know him to be.
Panic Meter: Gaining steam
Austin Ekeler was open on Sunday. He was open a ton. He probably could have made a major impact on the game.
But Tyrod Taylor was the quarterback, completing just over 50% of his passes for 208 yards and rushing for 7 yards. None of that is the problem, though. Tyrod's hesitance to check down and his reliance on pulling the ball down when pockets collapse is going to be a big problem for Austin Ekeler. 1 target is not a good sign. And:
Add in the fact that Joshua Kelley is the goal line back for the Chargers, and you have yourself a big, big problem for a guy that was drafted inside the top-15 running backs. You all told me that Austin Ekeler's increase in carries would negate his lack of pass-catching work.
We're about to find out how true that is. I'm full tilt on Ekeler, though.
Photo by New York Post/Associated Press
Panic Meter: Extreme
I'm as out on Lev Bell as anyone. I stayed away from him in 95% of my drafts and took the flier in one in case his head coach was fired. And I'm glad I don't have that much exposure to the back that was losing time to Frank Gore, even before his injury.
But Le'Veon Bell will have some value once he returns from Injured Reserve. Of course, his return could line up with Denzel Mims' which would limit the total number of targets to go around. But in terms of running back targets, there isn't a single running back that should challenge Lev. He's by far the best pass-catcher on a team that has a pretty bad quarterback (if Week 1 is any indication), so even in a worst-case scenario, Lev is a solid PPR third-down back.
He's definitely going to be a bust, but he won't be completely useless when he returns. Calm down on Lev.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Panic Meter: Fair
Overreaction: For the most part
Tom Brady. Rob Gronkowski. Mike Evans. Chris Godwin. Leonard Fournette.
All of these guys disappointed in Week 1, with Tom Brady being the best fantasy performer (yet, an awful quarterback). Let's face the facts: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were not prepared for that game. In my rewatch, it almost seemed like New Orleans knew what plays were coming before the snap, which would be cause for concern if they weren't a division rival.
The Bucs will be fine; provided that Bruce Arians isn't washed. Tom Brady isn't, despite his poor performance. If anything, Tom Brady looked sharper than Drew Brees. And he's the determining factor for every other guy.
Rob Gronkowski is surely the TE2 on his team (like I've been saying for months now), but the rest of these guys should bounce back in a big way against the Panthers this week; Chris Godwin especially, who has the best advantage against his opposition this week, according to PFF.
Week 1 panic is traditionally foolish. Joe Mixon scored 2 FPTS in Week 1 of 2019. DeVante Parker had 10.50 FPTS across his first two games and finished as a WR1.
Things will get better for most. But there is some basis to worry in some cases. Who are you panicking on headed into Week 2?