Facts vs Feelings: First impressions on Breece Hall, Justin Fields and more

Fantasy football is a passion for many. Sometimes that passion causes fantasy managers to make emotional decisions even when the data suggest otherwise. Each week during the 2023 NFL season Liz Loza will attempt to strike a balance between what the data states and what the heart wants. This is called Facts vs. Feelings.

"Mistakes are fine to make, as long as you learn from them."

Excellent advice. Ironically delivered by one of the biggest mistakes of my life. We won't get into that right now, but suffice it to say it's a mantra I've strived to (even, at times, reluctantly) incorporate into my every day.

But what if you don't know you're making a mistake? Or, more aptly, that a mistake has even been made? Maybe the red flags haven't fully unfurled and that knowing squeeze in your gut hasn't entirely clutched the rest of your insides. In those instances, you have no choice but to keep on existing and collecting data until your unique alarm bells blare and the aha moment smacks you square in the face.

Captaining a fantasy football team is not so different. This game -- the popularity of which has increased because of its proximity to our social interactions -- requires us to constantly reflect, review and react. One week into the season we definitely don't have all of the facts, but we do have a few and we're going to need to rely on those, as well as some feelings, moving forward.

So, whether you boomed like the Cheetah or busted like a Bengal it's time to acknowledge what was learned and make some educated guesses about the future.

Breece Hall, RB, New York Jets We're going to start with what happened last, first. Understandably buried in the Aaron Rodgers injury news was Breece Hall's explosive return. The second-year RB drew the immediate start, rushing for 26 yards on New York's first possession. What a statement from the player and the team! His 83-yard run a quarter later was confirmation that the 22-year-old is back. He might be closer to 92 percent than 100 percent (per Next Gen Stats, Hall managed the third-fastest speed of his career on the aforementioned 83-yard run, topping off at 20.54 mph) but these Jets need juice.

Dalvin Cook closed out the contest leading the backfield in touches (16), but Hall was far-and-away the more effective player with 147 scrimmage yards. New York's challenge becomes leaning on, without overloading, their second-round pick from a year ago. It's a tricky dance, but one the team skillfully finessed Monday night.

Of Hall's 17 snaps, 10 were carries and two were targets, which means he touched the ball on 71% of his snaps. That's wild usage. It demonstrates both his importance to the offense and the team's commitment to striking a balance between effective utilization and potential pushing. I expect more of the same in Week 2 when the Jets travel to Dallas to take on a Cowboys squad that allowed a formidable (but not entirely scary) 4.6 YPC to RBs last Sunday.

Rachaad White, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; If Hall did the most with the least, then White did just a little bit with a whole lot. A highly touted (yes, by me) dead-zone pick, White finished as fantasy's RB39 in Week 1, just ahead of Dameon Pierce. Conversely he was the RB10 in attempts with 17 carries (plus two catches).

Recording fewer than 7 fantasy points stinks. It feels bad. But the fact remains White registered the fifth-highest snap share (79%) of any RB last week. Sean Tucker -- an undrafted free agent out of Syracuse and the team's RB2 -- was a distant second, managing just 5 carries and 10 snaps. Neither of these backs, by the way, were effective versus a Brian Flores tweaked Vikings run defense. And the Bucs pulled off the upset. So don't panic. White figures to bounce back versus a still-stunned Chicago defense that was just steamrollered by Aaron Jones & Co.

Justin Fields, QB, Chicago Bears: While we're on the topic of the Packers, let me encourage my fellow Bears fans and Justin Fields stans an opportunity to scream into the wind. Sunday was brutal. My dear friend and former colleague Charles Robinson offered the only quip clever enough to make me smile. And I still hate him for it. We cannot, however, allow those negative emotions to fester. We must recalibrate, look ahead, and manage our expectations.

I don't feel good about Fields in Week 2. The matchup at Tampa Bay appears more favorable, but that's assuming Fields attacks via the air. No. 1 averaged a career-low 4.1 air yards per attempt versus Green Bay. He was also pressured on 42% of his dropbacks, which factored into a four-sack day. On the other hand, Fields, 24, led the position in rushing yards (59), reminding fantasy managers of the primary reason for drafting him as one of the top eight fantasy QBs.

This duality forces fake football enthusiasts to uncomfortably divorce bad play from potentially good fantasy production. That's tough to do. Facing a Bucs secondary that gave up over 340 receiving yards, Fields' connection with D.J. Moore must be prioritized. It also needs to be built upon in subsequent weeks if Fields is going to make the (Baby) Jalen Hurts-like leap that so many investors are expecting.

Heading into Sunday's test, Fields is worthy of top-10 FF QB consideration. A second failed showing, however, figures to require more panic than patience.

Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams: Any leftover equanimity I had for Cam Akers, though, has evaporated. Brah, bye. Enough with the stats. I have diligently cited them to the detriment of my mentals. I don't care if he's no longer in the doghouse or that L.A.'s offense isn't a total dumpster fire. I have had enough.

Sure, I just extolled the virtue of Rachaad White's volume over the pesky truth of his inefficiency. And, yes, Akers' 22 carries were tied with Christian McCaffrey's for the most attempts in Week 1. I can submit as well that two goal-to-go rushes and a TD via the Rams theoretical RB1 additionally suggests legit upside. But I don't want to.

Not when Kyren Williams -- who is finally healthy and received glowing reports as a rusher and a receiver throughout training camp -- pops up on the stat sheet for 15 carries. And definitely not when the second-year player out of Notre Dame records six red zone carries to Akers' two rushes inside the 20-yard line.

Neither of these backs figure to fare well versus a seemingly relentless 49ers defense. However, one of them is the future of a team that has no choice but to look forward. Williams might be just a top-40 fantasy RB in Week 2, but his ascent on an increasingly run-focused squad appears set into motion.

Rashid Shaheed, WR, New Orleans Saints: Speaking of forging ahead, the Saints seem to have hit on a new deep threat. Shaheed began to emerge during the double-digit weeks of 2022, converting 20 of 23 looks for an average of nearly 65 yards per game over his final five starts of last year. A former track and field standout with an estimated 40-time of 4.4 seconds, the Weber State star worked behind Chris Olave and (a healthy) Michael Thomas, registering a 5-89-1 stat line in New Orleans' narrow victory over Tennessee.

While Shaheed, 25, opened the season third in targets (6) and receiver snaps (35), it's worth noting that he posted a higher target-per-route-run rate than Thomas. He also drew two end zone looks (whereas Olave and Thomas combined for a total of just two targets from 10 yards out) and managed the third-highest aDOT (16.0) for the week. A field-stretching talent with injury issues could certainly lead to boom or bust production, but there's no doubt Derek Carr trusts Shaheed and understands the value he brings as a complimentary speed element.

Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts: If you take the validation Carr experienced on Sunday and triple it, then you'll know how I felt watching Pittman score a 39-yard TD in Week 1. A sure-handed and physical player, Pittman moves like a running back after the catch (no surprise, his father played RB in the league from 1998 to 2008). I pounded the table in favor of his alpha potential back in 2020, but a slew of subpar quarterbacks prevented the USC product from attaining fantasy glory. I don't anticipate Anthony Richardson breaking that streak. However, I do believe there's room for optimism.

Richardson managed a top-15 completion percentage (65%) in his debut. More importantly, he recorded the 10th-most pass attempts (37) for the week, indicating that the team is willing to let him air it out when necessary. And we all know it's going to be necessary. A whopping 28% of Richardson's throws were targeted at Pittman, who converted 8 of 11 looks for 97 yards and a touchdown.

He's the team's clear-cut No. 1 wideout and he deserves the fantasy community's respect. Consider the 25-year-old a top-25 fantasy play at the position when he travels to Houston this weekend.

Hunter Henry, TE, New England Patriots: Kudos to fellow tight end whisper Sal Paolantonio for talking up Hunter Henry's fantasy profile on "Fantasy Football Now" on Sunday morning. Paolantonio expertly mentioned Bill O'Brien's affinity for the position. While Mac Jones spread the ball around, Henry materialized as his QB's preferred option over the middle, drawing a respectable six looks. Henry, 286, made good on five of those opportunities, three of which were contested. Additionally, Henry's 56 yards led the position while his 16.6 fantasy points were the highest of any TE for the week.

Chasing the previous game's stats often comes back to bite you, especially at a position as volatile as tight end. I'm not chasing dusty numbers, though. I'm leaning into the matchup. The Dolphins struggled versus TEs (a trend that's seemingly carried over from 2022), giving up a total of 5 catches, 42 yards, and a score to the Chargers' tight end tandem last Sunday.

It's possible Mike Gesicki becomes more involved and steals some of Henry's shine, but Jones' preexisting rapport and subsequent willingness to trust Henry have me believing this is not a mistake. Look for HH to finish inside fantasy's top-15 producers at the position again in Week 2.

Follow Liz on social @LizLoza_FF