Too often we make up our mind on a player before the final script has been written.
I might have been guilty of exactly that with Melvin Gordon, as we saw once again in Week 7. But he wasn't the only running back who made people dancing on their grave look silly.
In the same way, we often make determinations about which player in the offense is more talented and ignore evidence to the contrary. We reach on the player we view as talented and miss on the player with opportunity. Opportunity is a huge part of the equation in Fantasy and we saw that again in Week 7.
Now we have to decide what was more correct -- our predispositions or the evidence we saw in Week 7. Let's take a look.
Jay Ajayi is a must-start No. 1 RB rest of season.
Jay Ajayi joins OJ Simpson, Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams as only NFL players with back-to-back 200-yard rush games.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 23, 2016
Now that's some good company. I wasn't certain that Ajayi had the talent to succeed in the NFL three weeks ago and I certainly didn't think he was worth the injury risk.
He's running with physicality, breaking big plays and hitting the holes that his much-improved line is providing.
You can't expect 200 yards every game but this was a superstar performance against a legitimate run defense. I can't find a reason to doubt what Ajayi is doing. If there's someone in your league trying to sell high I would make an offer.
Verdict: Believe it. It is remarkable how much better this offense looks with a healthy offensive line. It's even more amazing how confident Ajayi looks running behind a line that is opening up huge holes. I'm not saying it's easy to do what he's doing, because if you watch him break tackles it's anything but easy. But Ajayi is a guy who has never lacked confidence and now it shows in his running style.
There are still things that could go wrong. The injury concerns could resurface. The offensive line could get dinged up again. But as long as the circumstances remain constant I'll have a difficult time ranking him outside of my top 10 running backs each week.
Tyrell Williams is the No. 1 WR in San Diego.
I bought into Travis Benjamin almost immediately after Keenan Allen went down and even thought for a week that Dontrelle Inman might be relevant. I didn't totally ignore Williams, but I didn't really consider him a reliable Fantasy option either.
Williams topped 100 yards for the second time in three games and has at least five receptions in four of his last five. The one bad game he's had over that stretch came against the Denver Broncos and we all know receivers don't succeed against them.
There's talk around San Diego that Williams isn't just a good fill-in but a future star. He's clearly earned the trust of Philip Rivers and should earn your trust as well. Williams is a borderline No. 2 WR the rest of the way.
Verdict: Don't believe it. There is no No. 1 in San Diego. They will take what the defense gives them. We've seen all three Chargers receivers excel and both of their tight ends heavily targeted. This is an offense without a star and they spread the ball out accordingly. What's worse is once they get inside the 5-yard line they pound it with Gordon relentlessly.
Remember when Hunter Henry was a thing? He will be again. So will Williams, Benjamin and others. This is a good offense with a lot of weapons, but I don't see any of them distinguishing themselves from the others. View Williams as a weekly flex who can creep into No. 2 WR range with a good matchup.
Matt Asiata is the best back to own in Minnesota.
I love Jerick McKinnon's talent. I'm not sure that's enough to keep ignoring the reality of the situation. Here are the Vikings' running back stats in the four full games since Adrian Peterson went down:
The one area McKinnon has had an advantage is in volume, but even that reversed itself in Week 7.
No one is going to have a lot of success behind this patchwork line, but McKinnon had been awful. We thought he may be more well-suited for this offense, but that certainly hasn't been the case. In Week 8 you're going to have a decision to make with a good matchup against the Bears. The right choice would be Asiata.
Verdict: Believe it. If nothing else we know Asiata is more likely to see work in the passing game and more likely to score a touchdown. If the touches are anywhere close to even that's enough to make Asiata the better play. If the trend we've seen in touches is real and Asiata starts seeing a 60/40 advantage, he'll become a decent flex play on Monday night against the Bears.
Reports of Matt Forte's demise were greatly exaggerated. He's a No. 1 back again.
Remember when Forte was washed up and the team was transitioning to Bilal Powell? No? Let me remind you.
Forte had 99 rushing yards over the three weeks prior to Week 7. He only had five receptions for 26 yards during the same period. He was getting out-snapped and outperformed by Powell, especially in the passing game.
Then Week 7 happened.
Against the Baltimore Ravens the veteran back totaled 154 yards and scored twice. Powell was an afterthought as Forte looked like every bit the elite back he has been for nearly a decade. It was pretty clear to anyone watching that Forte is just fine and should be treated like the must-start option he is.
Verdict: Don't believe it. What we saw is what we already suspected. Forte is the go-to option when the team has the lead. When he starts getting heavy work in a come-from-behind effort I'll believe he's must-start.
In fact, I'll go a step farther. If you can get anyone in your league to buy low on the 30-year-old running back, I would sell now. Just don't rush it. The Jets get the Browns in Week 8, so Forte should have another opportunity to improve his trade value.
Todd Gurley isn't going to salvage 2016.
Boy, was this a whiff on Draft Day.
Gurley was a consensus first-round pick and for most of us a top-three running back. He's been dreadful. Early in the year we attributed his struggles to a bad offensive line and a difficult schedule. While those things are true it's also obvious Gurley has become less trusting of his offensive line and less decisive as a runner.
It's probably too late to sell Gurley to someone who thinks he may break out of it, but against the most difficult matchups we might have to start thinking about benching him.
Verdict: Believe it. I'm a guy who likes sample sizes, so a month into the season it was easy for me to look at Gurley's 2015 season and say he was legitimately better than his recent performance. That's getting more difficult. Over his last 16 games Gurley has averaged 3.7 yards per carry. He has only two games where he's reached even 90 rushing yards.
I've railed on Melvin Gordon plenty for his inefficiency and at this point it's unfair to give Gurley a free pass. The one silver lining is the work he's doing in the passing game. He's averaged 40 yards per game in the air over the past four games, which has somewhat salvaged his value in PPR. I wouldn't give him away for nothing or bench him out of spite, but he's going to be one of the biggest busts of 2016.