The first week of the NFL season has officially wrapped up with some big surprises, big injuries, and big-time offenses scoring points for your fantasy football teams. We’ve spent the offseason speculating about how these rosters might operate, and now we can start to get a feel for how to assess fantasy matchups moving forward. There’s a good, bad, and ugly to everything in life. Here are my takeaways for Week 1.
1) Christian McCaffrey is a fantasy god. He received 30 touches — resulting in 209 yards and 2 TDs. McCaffrey’s 11 targets led the team. No game script or matchup will slow this guy down. Smile at the fact that you own the inevitable overall RB1 for the 2019 season and hold on to him for dear life.
2) Sammy Watkins led all players on Sunday in fantasy points in PPR formats, just like we expected. Watkins saw 11 targets, turning that into nine receptions and 198 yards. He was also on the receiving end of all of Patrick Mahomes’ three passing touchdowns. The connection between him and Mahomes looked strong, to say the least. With Hill injured and out of the lineup for the foreseeable future, feel confident plugging Watkins into your starting lineup each week.
3) Mark Andrews’ second season started with a bang. Andrews caught all eight of his targets, turning those into 108 yards and a TD. The entire Baltimore offense was on fire with Lamar Jackson leading the way. Baltimore’s Week 1 matchup against Miami was a gift from the football gods; however, Andrews looked tremendous and should be a solid start every week in a tough TE position.
Andrews had the most fantasy points over his expected points out of any TE in Week 1.
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1) Brandin Cooks started his season slow with only two receptions for 39 yards. Jared Goff and company looked out of sync the majority of the game; no preseason reps can do that to you. The good news? Cooks still saw six targets with another getting called for defensive pass interference. As the season continues, Goff will start connecting on deep passes with Cooks. I am not worried about Cooks or the Rams offense going forward.
2) Corey Davis had zero receptions on three targets in Week 1. We might be able to chalk this up to the fact that it was a blowout game, and Marcus Mariota didn’t need to pass the ball often; however, Mariota’s connection with A.J. Brown and Delanie Walker looked much stronger. Most of the fantasy community was skeptical that Davis could make that third-year leap; this game doesn’t make me any more confident. He is a bench stash for the time being.
3) Robby Anderson struggled in a tough matchup, only hauling in three of his seven targets for 23 yards. The Jets offense had trouble completing passes down the field against an outstanding Bills secondary. The Bills allowed the fewest fantasy points in the league to opposing QBs and the fourth-fewest to opposing WRs. Sam Darnold and Anderson just missed on three deep pass attempts that would have made his line much better to finish the day. Darnold and Anderson will bounce back; Anderson will be a matchup play.
The Oh So Ugly:
1) The Pittsburgh Steelers offense: Multiple drops, bad play calling, little separation are things that destroyed the Steelers’ offense on Sunday night. Pittsburgh only converted on 3 out of 12 third-down tries and only handed the ball off 12 times — 10 carries for James Conner and two for Jaylen Samuels. Conner did very little with his 10 carries, gaining just 21 yards on the ground. He did get 44 yards through the air to save his fantasy day.
JuJu Smith-Schuster struggled to gain separation against one of the best corners in the league, Stephon Gilmore. Smith-Schuster still had 78 receiving yards on six receptions in a game where nothing was working for the offense, so the future is looking bright for the Steelers new WR1. Donte Moncrief had a rough day only catching three balls on 10 targets. James Washington had one nice deep catch but ended it with what seemed like voluntarily running out of bounds instead of getting into the endzone. Vance McDonald and Jaylen Samuels were non-existent. I’m not giving up on these pieces just yet, but they have a lot to prove heading into a Week 2 matchup at home versus Seattle.
2) The Miami Dolphins, yikes. We knew it would be gross for the Dolphins in Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens, but 59-10 gross? I am sorry if you were at that game. The Dolphins offense only totaled 200 yards; there were 15 completed passes, and Kenyan Drake led the team in rushing yards with 12. I am staying away from all Dolphins players in fantasy until they prove they can look like an actual NFL offense.
3) The Tampa Bay Bucs offense. A juicy matchup against the 49ers, unfortunately, did not result in juicy results. Jameis Winston had a QB Rating of 8.6, throwing for only 194 yards, one TD, and three interceptions. The offense looked out of sync, and Winston saw pressure continuously. O.J. Howard had better days, making multiple mental errors on the field with a fumble and a tipped incomplete pass that turned into an interception. Winston will need to make better decisions going into Week 2 for Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Howard to have better fantasy production. You should still start all three in Week 2, but if the ugliness continues, you may have to pivot to other options throughout the season.
Winston was the worst on the week out of all QBs when comparing the gap between his expected points and his actual fantasy production.
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