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Stock Up, Stock Down: Rams still fantasy relevant

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks

Sep 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) hands the ball off to running back Kyren Williams (23) during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

As always, the first NFL Sunday brought a plethora of emotions out of fans and players alike. Overall, most teams seemed to display a sloppy version of themselves on offense. Week 1 can tell you a lot of truths and a lot of lies, I’m here to tell you what I saw as the truth. Tutu Atwell had a standout day gaining a career-high 119 yards on six receptions, but are you ready to throw him into your lineup? My guy Anthony Richardson is currently QB4 in fantasy (MNF pending) and was as good as (some of us) advertised, but it sure would be nice to have Jonathan Taylor back there with him huh? The Jaguars didn’t respect the Colts’ run game at all.

Jordan Love (15-of-27, 245 yards and three touchdowns) and Michael Pittman (8-97-1 on 11 targets) also made believers out of some of their doubters as well. Kenneth Gainwell led all Eagles’ running backs in touches (by a wide margin) with 18. Is Justice Hill the Ravens’ RB that you want to pick up this week? Who knows, anyway, let’s get into who made their mark (and who didn’t) in Week 1.

STOCK UP

RB - Kyren Williams, Los Angeles Rams

This one was a complete shocker, not that he played, but he was the clear favorite (and better) running back for the Rams in Week 1. The yards per carry weren’t high, but Williams gained 52 tough yards on 15 carries and punched in two touchdowns. Williams was explosive when he touched the ball and did well in pass protection. He played a whopping 53 snaps compared to Cam Akers’ 28. Williams also ran 29 routes compared to Akers. Williams got off to a slow start as a rookie dealing with injuries and could never find his footing. By the time he started to get reps later on in the 2022 season, Akers began to ascend as one of the top backs in fantasy football. This season is a much different story as Williams, at least for now, looks like the new RB1 in Los Angeles.

RB - Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons

Introducing to you the Falcons’ offensive leader in yards from scrimmage, Mr. Allgeier. He saw the team draft Bijan Robinson at eighth overall and didn’t blink. Despite Robinson clearly being a better runner and weapon, Falcons coach Arthur Smith (who hates fantasy football btw) leaned on Allgeier when it mattered most. Robinson had a nice stat line in his own right totaling 16 touches for 83 total yards and a TD. Allgeier, however, tallied 18 touches for 94 yards and two touchdowns that he punched in at the goal line. Allgeier was always going to get his touches, but many were probably shocked to see that the Falcons preferred him at the goal line. I presume that eventually they’ll lean more on Robinson, but Allgeier is a FLEX play with the amount of work he’s getting.

WR - Puka Nacua, Los Angeles Rams

For some rookies it takes a while to get acclimated to the speed and feel of the NFL. For others, it takes a single game. Nacua will likely be everyone’s number one waiver wire priority after his 15-target, 10-catch, 119-yard performance put fantasy managers on notice. To be honest, with all due respect to the *great* Cooper Kupp, the offense was fine without him. Stafford locked in on Nacua and Atwell and never looked back. Nacua’s 40.5% target share may not be sustainable, but the trust that Stafford has in him is. Yesterday was all set up for Van Jefferson to finally have a day and he dropped a deep ball. Nacua took advantage of the opportunity so we’ll be seeing a lot more of him soon. He is easily a FLEX play for the near future, good luck getting him on waivers.

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STOCK DOWN

QB - Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers

Pickett is a quarterback who performed bad in Week 1. It’s one game so it’s not the end of the world, but after the preseason many of your favorite fantasy football analysts predicted a big jump for Pickett that would make him a value in fantasy football. Again it’s one game and it was against the 49ers defense, but c’mon, completing 31-of-46 passes for only 232 yards a touchdown and two interceptions is a bad way to start. There’s no question that there will be better days, but it might be a while before you have him on a fantasy roster. Receiver George Pickens is already not happy with his usage in the offense; they better correct that soon. Pickett must cash in on his perceived improvements down the stretch of last season to right the ship.

RB - Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams

This one hurt and hit me like a bat out of the worst hell. First off, Akers rushing 22 times for 29 yards was one of the oddest stat lines I’ve ever seen. You may say “well he had 22 carries”, think again, the bulk of Akers’ work came while the Rams were trying to run clock after being up a couple of scores. Akers started the game, but he was quickly replaced by Kyren Williams (see above for snap counts). He struggled to find running room against a refurbished Seahawks’ defensive front and did not seem to be Sean McVay’s favorite running back of the day. This is concerning for those (like myself) who drafted him thinking he’d carry the load for the Rams. Proceed with caution going forward.

WR - Marquise Brown, Arizona Cardinals

We knew the Cardinals’ offense would struggle without Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins, but it was supposed to mean something good for Brown’s target share. No matter the Cardinals had to throw to somebody right? Well they did, they targeted seven different pass catchers and Brown came in tied for second (with five targets) on that list. No one expected Josh Dobbs to be the Cardinals’ starting quarterback to begin the season, so he may need to build more chemistry with his receivers (he said this himself). Brown could turn it around, but going 3-28-0 without Hopkins in the building isn’t a start that we saw coming. You’re definitely not dropping him, but he may be best served on your bench for now.