Breakouts and Bustups: Weeks 1-4

After COVID took our lives over this year, no one knew whether or not there would be football. When the NFL announced there would be a season, everyone was very surprised and excited that the fall might be somewhat normal. Although the precautions teams need to take to ensure the safety of the team and others are very excruciating, at least those of us watching from our couches aren’t affected.

Whether quarantined or not, the one thing that always follows the NFL season is gambling, particularly fantasy football. As many of us know, the stressors and strategy of winning your league is what keeps us coming back year after year. The “fantasy fanatics” take their time and predict the go-to and stay away players when drafting. Although the predictions are mostly correct, there are always those who defy all odds, and those who struggle greatly.

The Breakouts

Calvin Ridley (WR/Falcons)

Starting with this season, Matt Ryan began targeting the third-year Ridley a lot more, which unsurprisingly affected his fantasy points. Week 1 he came roaring out with 24.9 points (including two touchdowns), week 2 with 22.9 points (including two touchdowns) and week 3 with 11.7 points. Week 4 he put up no points, mostly because he struggled with a hamstring injury, but this did not take away from his stature in my fantasy team, since he came back with 13.6 points in Week 5. I did not see Ridley becoming this lethal when Julio Jones, one of the best WRs in the league, is getting most of the targets. He has proved his dominance in the NFL and should definitely keep a spot on your team.

Josh Allen (QB/Bills)

Before we talk about the fantasy aspect, Allen—also in his third year in the NFL—has really stepped up to the task and is carrying the Bills to 4-0. [Ed. Note—4-1 now.] His first two years, his talent was very raw, and his poor decision-making sealed his fate. This year, he is playing in a Top 5 QB caliber, never letting a play die without coming out with some gain. When we think fantasy QBs, everyone thinks of Mahomes and Jackson, and many predicted that Allen would never find his groove and be a mediocre QB his entire career; he’s already proved otherwise, putting up 28.18 points in Week 1, 34.50 points in Week 2, 31.24 points in Week 3 and 25.42 points in Week 4. Allen would for sure be starting for my team, between his incredible arm and a defense-lethal running game.

Alvin Kamara (RB/Saints)

Holding out on his contract forced many to draft Kamara later than talent like his deserves, since they were wary of a player who might hold out like Le’Veon Bell. With Michael Thomas’ injury, Kamara got plenty of targets and running opportunities, and his fantasy points have proved that—Week 1 with 18.7 points, Week 2 with 29.4 points, Week 3 with 31.7 points and Week 4 with 17.9 points. No matter who else you have in your RB core, I would most definitely start Kamara. The consistency and high numbers make him an all-around solid choice for leading your team.

The Busts

Kenyan Drake (RB/Cardinals)

Drake is trying to fill the hole left by the departure of David Johnson. Before the season began, everyone projected Drake as being
the top breakout RB, but this has yet to come true. His fantasy numbers have been pitiful: 12.5 points in Week 1, 9.5 points in Week 2, 7.9 points in Week 3 and a whopping 3.5 points in Week 4. A “top” RB like Drake should be putting up numbers in the 20s, but he’s yet to break 13. There are those who are still riding the “Drake Train”, but I have stepped off.

Joe Mixon (RB/Bengals)

The past two seasons Mixon justified spots on fantasy rosters with decent production. Given Cincinnati’s brand-new QB, almost everyone thought this would be the year for Mixon to become a top ten RB. And yet, Mixon’s fantasy performance has been proving otherwise, going 5.1, 8.6 and 6.5 in the first three weeks. While it looked as if he was finally coming out of his shell when he put up 36.1 points in week four, the 9.4 he did in Week 5 suggests that was a fluke. Although he’s playing quite terribly, I would still keep Mixon on your bench, in hope that he puts up big points on a weak defense.

Saquon Barkley (RB/Giants)

Barkley is the best RB in the league, and right from the start, he put up tremendous points on an otherwise rough-looking offense—the nickname “Saquad Barkley” came from how he carried the NYG offense on his back. This year, however, was very rough. Weeks 1 and 2 went by with a total of 8.8 points, but none of it was his fault: this can all be attributed to the Giants terrible O-line, who made sure defenders were always on top of him before he even touched the ball. Unfortunately, Barkley’s season has come to a halt, as he tore his ACL against the Bears. Many could look at his two weeks of numbers and call this season a bust, but I see it as unlucky. You could argue that his season would be filled with little-to-no-point games, but that would still not diminish his stature as a star RB. Barkley is a bust because he can’t put up any more points for fantasy owners, but not because he is washed up or no good. Overall, there is plenty of season left to be played, and with injuries affecting every team, there are definitely those who will need to step up to the task and perform to great heights.