Stealing Signals: Week 1, NFC

Identifying and acting on underdiscussed early-season trends can be a huge boost to building a championship fantasy football roster. Here are the moves I’m considering and the things I’m watching in Week 1. 

NFC North

Green Bay Packers

We have a pretty good idea what the pass-catching corps will look like, so the big question is how the running back workload splits out. Rookie Jamaal Williams looked to have a line on substantial playing time in conjunction with Ty Montgomery until Montgomery played a high percentage of first-team snaps in the third preseason game. How much, if any, work fellow rookie Aaron Jones gets will also be of interest, as he looked to be the superior prospect to Williams.

Detroit Lions

There are a lot of workload question marks in Detroit, but a couple I’m most interested in are how much Kenny Golladay and Eric Ebron play, and what their involvement looks like. Ebron is recovering from a hamstring injury originally suffered July 31, and missed basically all of August, returning to practice on Labor Day. He was very acquirable in August drafts, as the fantasy football community seemed to buy the concern around hamstring injuries lingering. The possibility the team was playing it safe with their breakout-candidate, fourth-year TE is an afterthought, but his Week 1 snap count should give us an indication as to his health. Big involvement for the exciting rookie Golladay would go far to proving Heith Krueger’s thesis Golden Tate was overvalued based on fraudulent expected volume. The other big thing to track is the snap count between Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. It seems a foregone conclusion for many Abdullah will lead the backfield in playing time this year, but if so, by how much?

Minnesota Vikings

A big storyline from preseason Week 3 was Stefon Diggs running routes on the outside, with Adam Thielen in the slot. My take on this is WRs move around a lot, and while we know Diggs was very efficient in the slot and a move to the outside probably isn’t great on the surface, we don’t know how permanent that is nor how he’ll fare out there. It’s entirely possible the Vikings used him exclusively on the outside in pre-Week 3 out of a desire to work on that look; that interpretation suggests Diggs could still play in the slot a fair amount. Meanwhile, it’s also possible he’s plenty effective outside. He’s good. Also keep an eye on the Dalvin Cook/Latavius Murray split. I explained yesterday why a rookie not getting massive work shouldn’t be a red flag, but the inverse would be pretty telling. Of course, in this case Murray isn’t fully healthy, so there’s another layer here.

Chicago Bears

There are available targets for days here. My guess is Zach Miller, Kevin White, and Kendall Wright get targeted most frequently, and are guys I’d speculatively add if you need WR or TE depth. The Bears might not be good, but targets drive fantasy scoring. If you’re excited for Tarik Cohen after the Jeremy Langford release, you need to see him play ahead of Benny Cunningham. My expectation is Cunningham is the second RB in snaps, which makes Cohen a hard hold in redraft leagues.

NFC West

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By Ben Gretch | @YardsPerGretch | Archive

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