By Jared Clifton
Welcome back football fans! In this weekly article I will present one key takeaway from each team’s matchup. Could be small, could be large, but I promise it will be relevant.
Thursday Night Game
Kansas City Chiefs:
For the first week at least, Clyde Edwards-Helaire made his meteoric rise up draft boards look like a great decision. With 25 carries for 138 yards in a game that was decided by late in the third, he put to rest the notion that he couldn’t carry the load and showed immediate game breaking decision making with dynamic cuts and open field burst. If there is one thing to watch going forward though, it is his complete lack of success within the five yard line. Although he had zero catches on two targets, those will come with game script, but 0-5 inside the 5 could lead to the dreaded TD vulture syndrome from a guy like Darrel Williams.
Overshadowed by an amazing debut by Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Will Fuller looking like a legitimate WR1 for the Texas, David Johnson played exceptionally well with 109 yards on 14 touches. Keep in mind that the Chiefs were 26th against the run last year, but DJ looked much closer to his 2016 self, than the shell of a back we saw in Arizona last year. With a lower leg injury to Duke Johnson Thursday evening, David may be in line for an even better touch share than the +73% he received in the opener.
Early Sunday Afternoon Games
There was a lot of talk this offseason about whether Pete Carroll would let Russell Wilson cook this year and the early results are affirmative. In a game that was never really in question, the Seahawks largely abandoned the run game and allowed Wilson to sling the ball all over the field for 322 and four scores. It’s a good sign for a team that too often got bogged down in the run game last season.
In what could be a continuing trend in 2020 for the Falcons, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage all finished with 9 catches on 12 targets, with over 100 yards each. This is a team that relies heavily on the pass and will not often be on the favorable side of blowouts, so all three wide receivers should remain fantasy relevant going forward.
New York Jets:
The Jets got an early start on the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes and in doing so, showed that target monster Jamison Crowder may be the only fantasy piece that has weekly relevance. Even with a barely functional offense, he was solid if not at times spectacular with 7 catches for 115 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets.
Apart from being the first Bills QB to throw for 300 yard since Tyrod Taylor on Christmas Eve in 2016, Josh Allen did everything well…well, mostly well. He did sail two easy TD passes that would have boosted his already stellar 28.1 points. That’s a symptom to his overall inaccuracy, so be wary of him against more quality opponents.
If you read my Hurry Up Offense, you would have read that I was high on Mitch Trubisky starting out strong and although it wasn’t without it’s mistakes, he led the Bears to a big win in Detroit, with 242 passing yards and three TD’s, while spreading the ball around to 8 different targets. Foles stays on the sidelines for at least another week.
While there was an expectation for the Lions’ backfield to be a mess, few expected Adrian Peterson to look more like his Viking’s self, than his last few seasons. He showed burst and violence in his running style and although I’d expect Swift to be more involved going forward (despite his painful game losing end zone drop), Peterson has secured early run in Detroit.
Green Bay Packers:
So, it appears Matt LaFleur may have offered up an olive branch to Aaron Rodgers, after taking Jordan Love in the 1st round, by opening up the air raid and dialing up 44 passes. That allowed Rodgers to finish up with a vintage 364 yard/4 TD performance to make him one of the top QB’s of the week. Look forward to that trend continuing over the next few weeks, as the make-Aaron-happy tour continues.
Although the game script was out of whack early in Minneapolis, it’s somewhat troubling to see the touch share 13 to 10 between Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison. Cook did punch it in two times, but Mattison looked more explosive on the day. Likely an aberration, but if anyone dropped Mattison after Cook’s big pay day, he may be worth a look.
Who had Myles Gaskin as the leading touch recipient in Miami this week? If you raised your hand, you’re either a genius or a damn liar. It wasn’t a necessarily efficient 13 opportunities, but it fits with his late season usage and with the schedule opening up to easier defenses for the next few weeks, he’s a name to keep an eye on.
New England Patriots:
In a very conservative gameplan against an inferior opponent, Cam Newton looked a lot like his old self. All of his throws were short to mid range, but he was pretty crisp and the new look Patriots used the big body QB very well on goal line run/pass options for two very nice TD runs, He’s the ideal SuperFlex or lower end QB1 type for the next several weeks, where I’m certain the playbook will open up.
Granted it was an ugly game for the Eagles; could we be seeing a shift to Dallas Goedert over Zach Ertz in Philadelphia? It’s one game and both were highly targeted, but Goedert was the tight end that ran the deeper route tree, including a fantastic over the shoulder touchdown in the second quarter. If nothing else, it shows that both will be relevant in an offense that lacks receiving firepower.
Washington Football Team:
They’re celebrating an improbable season opening win in Washington, but fantasy players are left shaking their heads over the 17 inefficient touches by Peyton Barber, that resulted in two short touchdowns and sank any hopes of an Antonio Gibson breakout. Don’t trip on yourself running to grab Barber, because surely a 1.7 ypc average won’t result in continued heavy usage.
Las Vegas Raiders:
As our Kyle Allen likes to repeat “When someone tells you what they want to do, believe them”. They did just that in Las Vegas and Josh Jacobs showed that he was the Raiders offense. The Yards Per Carry aren’t ideal, but he was the second most targeted player on the team and Gruden and Co. called his number every time it counted, resulting in 3 TD’s. This is a star in the making and he’ll be among the best in the NFL all year. Your chance to grab him may have passed, but this would be the week to go hard, before he does it again against New Orleans next week.
When Matt Rhule brought in his former Temple wide receiver Robby Anderson, it should have been a sign that Anderson was about to be a huge part of this Panthers offense. Anderson showed his big play ability with an impressive 75 yard TD, on his way to a 6 catch/115 yard day. Although Carolina may not be a very good team this year, the offense should be well above average and Anderson showed he’s going to be a just fine third option.
What may have been a frustrating early RB room in Indianapolis, may get a little clearer with the
presumed now confirmed Marlon Mack achilles injury. One thing looks clear though; Frank Reich wants to keep Nyheim Hines involved and he looked up to the task with a rushing and receiving touchdown. He’ll likely be among the top waiver claims this week, so keep a close eye on the Mack news and be ready to spend some FAB on a dynamic part of the new Colts 1-2 punch.
In a game I assume Jacksonville accidentally won, James Robinson at least looked the part of a Jaguars running back and should continue to get the ball for the foreseeable future. With an uber-conservative gameplan in place, that bodes well for the undrafted RB for the next few weeks. He’s a low ceiling Flex for now.
Lost in the NFL’s worst QB performance, was the 60/40 split of touches between Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb, with Hunt receiving the heavier side. It furthers the narrative from the latter portion of 2019, that Hunt is just as much the guy as Chubb. It was against the Ravens, but Mayfield and the Browns aren’t good and this could be a recurring theme all year. If you can still get a top notch piece on Chubb’s name, it may be a good time to do so.
The script went to plan, with the very notable exception of JK Dobbins getting the two touchdowns over Mark Ingram. Neither of them looked particularly great, but it was telling that the vet didn’t get the last easy TD try. Dobbins could get a sizable TD number this year, in this fantastic offense.
Sunday Late Afternoon Games
Los Angeles Chargers:
As expected, the Chargers implemented a very conservative heavy run approach in their first post-Philip Rivers game. It showed that Joshua Kelley is likely to be the thunder to Austin Ekeler’s lightning and he should be well used in goal to go scenarios, especially if the Chargers get Ekeler more involved in the passing game week 2 (1 catch for 3 yards in week 1).
Against the stingy Chargers defense, there wasn’t a lot to get hyped for the Bengals in week 1. One notable development was Joe Burrow’s running ability, which should set up a pretty decent floor as he deals with early season struggles on a still mediocre offense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
With his former coach leading a largely mediocre offensive team in New England to their first post-Brady victory, it’s possible that Tom Brady was pressing in his Tampa Bay debut. Brady threw two costly picks, after not having a single game last season with multiple turnovers, and the offense just looked vastly overmatched. They’ll get a reprieve next week against an inferior Panthers team and with a healthy Evans back at full speed, there should be some fireworks as Brady looks to find his groove.
New Orleans Saints:
Surely sick of hearing the anointing of the Bucs, the Saints handily disposed of their NFC South rival. But, it was mainly due to good defense and turnovers, as the offense was quite pedestrian outside of a good showing by Jared Cook and a pair of TD’s for Alvin Kamara. It’d be an overreaction to panic about the poor showing, but the offense certainly didn’t click in week one.
Kyler Murray did his best Lamar Jackson impersonation in a great win over the 49ers. He was the offense and showed immediate chemistry with DeAndre Hopkins. It was a departure from Kliff Kingsbury’s normal offensive structure, so it’ll be interesting to see if the ball gets spread around more in week 2 or if Murray only has eyes for Hopkins.
San Francisco 49ers:
There has been a fair amount of debate in the offseason on whether Raheem Mostert can carry the load or if he’ll be a cog in the RBBC Kyle Shanahan machine. For one week at least, he was dynamic and showed great separating speed on his 76 touchdown catch and run, as well as the ability to grind, with 15 carries. This is the 49ers, so it could very well be Coleman or McKinnon next week, but Mostert looked the part of a top tier running back for 2020.
Sunday Night Game
With Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott doing Zeke and Dak things, it was the wide receiver trio that was most interesting to watch on Sunday night. Amari Cooper was the definitive number one, but both Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb looked good in an offense that was at times rusty in game one. This looks to be a fun offense though and much like Atlanta, all three receivers will have relevance each week.
Los Angeles Rams:
Sean McVay told us that Malcolm Brown would start and that Cam Akers would get his opportunities and that’s just what happened. Brown likely has hold of the main portion of the split for now, as he shined as the grinder late into the game and had two hard fought TD’s. He’s going to be one of the top names on waivers this week, so prepare to pay if he’s your target, but also understand that he scored two TD’s in week 1 last year and then only had one more game with double digit touches in 2019.
Monday Night Games
In an effective return for the intact Pittsburgh offense, it was Benny Snell that stole the show on Monday night. Easily supplanting the lackluster James Conner, Snell put up an impressive 19 carries for 113 and moves up to the top of the waiver heap going into week 2. If nothing else, Snell has set himself a nice place at the table in the coming weeks.
New York Giants:
15 carries for 6 yards happens. It just shouldn’t happen to Saquon Barkley. He salvaged a poor ground showing with 6 catches for 60 yards, but outside of a nice 38 yard reception, he averaged just 1.86 yards per touch on the remaining 20 opportunities. The Steelers defense is legit, but there could be many games where Barkley suffers behind a stale offense.
In a low scoring game that still provided plenty of fantasy relevance, Corey Davis emerged, if only for one night, as the go to option for Ryan Tannehill. Do yourself a favor and go watch his toe dragging catch along the sidelines. It is one of several testaments to his talent being realized and hopefully his line of 7 catches for 101 is more of baseline, than a ceiling.
Noah Fant was extremely efficient in week one and the murmurs of poor work effort should soon be put to rest going forward. With Courtland Sutton sidelined, he provided Drew Lock with a steady target and his athleticism showed why he was a first round pick just a year ago. If he’s still floating around on your waivers, go get him now.
I’ll be back with The Hurry Up Offense on Saturday night, but in the meantime, send me any start/sit or FAB questions on Twitter @unstuckintime82 or to the gang @rideordynasty.
Jared Clifton – Dynasty/Editor
Ride or Dynasty