Kareem Hunt and Todd Gurley are back at it again in this week’s PPGAR rankings, though their leads have narrowed significantly as the season has gone on. After scoring 45.6, 25.9 and 25.3 points in each of the first three weeks of the season, Hunt has actually “slowed down” amassing only 16.1 and 14.6 points in the last two weeks (which is still pretty damn good).
In other PPGAR news, Leonard Fournette has been a delightful surprise this year on a fairly stagnant offense. It’s possible his numbers will pull back to the pack a bit as teams hone in on the run against Jacksonville and dare Blake Bortles to throw on them. Out wide, DeAndre Hopkins might be back, you guys. Remember what a beast he was in 2014 and 2015? Well, this year he’s been a target machine on a surprisingly efficient offense in Houston even if he’s another slow-down candidate as defenses learn Deshaun Watson’s tendencies.
It’s hard to believe but we’re already a quarter of the way through the NFL season. If you’re lucky, your fantasy team got off to a strong start and, like the Rams, Bills and Lions, you’re feelingly surprisingly good about your team. Or maybe, like the Browns, Giants and Chargers, your team is 0-4 and feeling pretty hopeless. (It’s worth nothing that your shitty fantasy team probably has more fans than the Chargers these days.) Either way, there’s still a lot of season left and players who have looked great could slow down or get hurt even as players who have slumped or been injured finally get back on track. In the meantime, let’s take a look at five early season storylines that have stood out through the season’s first quarter.
Todd Gurley is Back
It’s early but the Los Angeles Rams seem to have found new life under new head coach Sean McVay. Nowhere is this spark more visible than the rebirth of Todd Gurley, who leads all running backs in fantasy points and has been a monster in both rushing and receiving yardage. McVay has committed to getting Gurley the football behind a re-tooled offensive line and it sure seems to be working: Gurley is averaging 29 fantasy points per game and is showing no signs of stopping. With Gurley averaging over 21 carries and five catches per game, his owners have to be thrilled with his early work this year. Look for the Rams to continue to provide lots of opportunity for this offensive juggernaut.
ACDC and the Raiders are a Mess
New Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing has been ineffective in play-calling for this talented offense. Amari Cooper (AC) has ghosted on the season, tallying only 12 catches thus far. Couple this with Derek Carr’s (DC) lower back injury and you have a recipe for fantasy disaster. Carr is slated to miss as many as six weeks and the Raiders will have to handle his situation delicately. Backup QB E.J. Manuel does not provide the kind of downfield ability that Carr possesses and which is so important to the team’s offensive gameplan. To go along with the struggles of ACDC, the Raiders have hardly gotten anything from Marshawn Lynch. The preseason hype that Lynch garnered was due mainly to a supposed “high-caliber” offensive line. Lynch is averaging only 3.4 yards per carry and has found the end zone only once. If you’re an owner of anyone from the Silver and Black, your best bet might be to place them on your bench until they can prove that they’re worth a start.
To say Todd Gurley suffered from a sophomore slump last year is to put it mildly. Throughout the whole year, he struggled to get anything going. Despite an increased workload, Gurley finished his second season 221 yards and four touchdowns shy of his rookie totals. He only averaged 3.2 yards per carry, down from 4.8 the year before. So what happened? Was Gurley’s down year the result of terrible offensive line play? Should blame rest on the shoulders of his mediocre head coach? Was it all due to an injury? Did he go all Hollywood on us, selling out his game for the chance to eat horrifying CGI burgers? Yes to all of the above. Especially that last one.