Ten Things We Learned in Week 1 (Fantasy Football)

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Football has arrived and with it comes a slew of storylines, new players to root for, and hold-your-breath moments as we do our best to navigate the fantasy football landscape. Each week brings excitement and disappointment, and the opening slate of games is one of the most exhilarating weeks of them all. But it’s important to remember that it’s only Week 1. Overreacting to Week 1 is commonplace in the fantasy community, but things are going to continue to evolve throughout the season. You’re not dropping or trading your highly-drafted players after a bad week and you’re not spending all your FAAB on a surprise player who had a good first game. That being said, there are important observations we can take away from opening week that can help inform the decisions we make moving forward.

1. Calvin Ridley is Back

During draft season, it was tough to come to a firm conclusion with the return of Calvin Ridley after almost two years away from the field. Some were all in while others were hesitant to select the talented wideout. The uncertainty landed Ridley in the fourth round of fantasy drafts, and based on his first game back, Ridley drafters have reason to celebrate. The 28-year-old WR was clearly Trevor Lawrence‘s number-one target in their first game together, finishing with 101 receiving yards and a touchdown on eight catches. There are plenty of talented skill players on the Jaguars, but it’s easy to see that Ridley is the best of the bunch and is going to command the majority of targets this season. It’s only one game, but Ridley has been a top-five WR before. When all is said and done, he could finish as a top-five WR again this season.

2. Brandon Aiyuk has WR1 Potential

Brandon Aiyuk is coming off his best season as a pro, finishing with 1,015 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in 2022. In his first action this season, the 49ers wide receiver picked up where he left off, logging 129 yards and two touchdowns while catching all eight of his targets. Like Jacksonville, there are plenty of mouths to feed in San Francisco, but Aiyuk is emerging as Brock Purdy‘s go-to target. His route running looked crisp, his hands were sticking to the ball like glue, and he even made the key block on Christian McCaffrey‘s 65-yard touchdown run. That has to endear him to his teammates and the coaching staff.

3. Kenneth Gainwell is the Eagles RB to Roster

The Philadelphia running back situation was one of the biggest question marks heading into the season. The team even named all four of its backs: Kenneth Gainwell, D’Andre Swift, Boston Scott, and Rashaad Penny as starters. Based on Week 1, that was all just a ruse. Penny was a healthy scratch and Swift and Scott saw just one carry apiece. Gainwell, who last season was the team’s pass-catching back, starred in both the running and receiving game this time around. He carried the ball 14 times for 54 yards and caught all four of his targets for 20 yards. It’s probably worth waiting another week to see how the Eagles deploy their RBs next game, but Gainwell should be rostered immediately and could be a weekly fantasy starter if the trend continues.

4. Tyler Allgeier Will Remain Heavily Involved in Atlanta’s Offense

Despite rushing for over 1,000 yards last year, Tyler Allgeier was regarded as nothing more than an insurance policy this season with Atlanta’s selection of Bijan Robinson in the 2023 NFL Draft. It made sense – Allgeier was a fifth-round pick and Robinson was drafted eighth overall while being regarded as one of the best RB prospects in a long time. But this is the same regime that drafted Allgeier and this is the same regime that loves to run the football. Both RBs scored in the opener (Allgeier had two touchdowns on the ground and Robinson had one receiving touchdown) but the second-year RB garnered more touches than the rookie. Robinson will likely surpass Allgeier in touches as the year progresses, but the latter is going to remain involved week in and week out. Allgeier has legit flex appeal in the right matchup and is an extremely valuable insurance policy.

5. The Colts’ Offense has Fantasy Potential

Anthony Richardson looked the part in his first professional game. The rookie QB threw for 223 yards and a touchdown, adding 40 yards and a touchdown on the ground. This bodes well for Michael Pittman, who was a forgotten man being drafted as the WR34. Pittman caught eight of 11 targets for 97 yards and a touchdown. If Richardson proves to be the real deal, not only will he have top-10 potential at the QB position, but Pittman will benefit and easily outperform his ADP.

6. Tennessee is in Trouble

At the top, I stressed the importance of not overreacting to Week 1, but it’s hard to see any positives coming out of the Titans’ first game. Ryan Tannehill was atrocious, which was pretty much the story last season. There is no doubt DeAndre Hopkins still has talent and ability, but unfortunately, he won’t be able to showcase them in Tennessee. Hopkins had seven catches on 13 targets for 65 yards, but those targets were not pretty. And if Tannehill were to lose the starting job, it’s not like Malik Willis has proven he can be an accurate passer. Derrick Henry didn’t look like his dominant self, only salvaging his day with a 46-yard reception. It may be early, but fantasy managers might want to start contemplating letting go of some of these pieces, even at a discount.

7. The Rams have Unexpected Fantasy Producers

Cooper Kupp and Cam Akers were the only two Rams that were being drafted early in fantasy. Tyler Higbee, Van Jefferson, and Matthew Stafford (in SuperFlex leagues) were viewed as late-round sleepers. Well the Rams defeated the Seahawks handily in the opener, and none of the names listed above had any concrete results for fantasy. Instead, it was deep-league darling Puka Nacua (10 catches for 119 yards), former second-round pick Tutu Atwell (six catches for 119 yards), and backup running back Kyren Williams (15 carries for 52 yards and two touchdowns) who shined. With Kupp on IR, there was a spot for someone to put up numbers, but that was thought to be Higbee or Jefferson. Akers also scored but had only 29 rushing yards on 22 carries, making for a lousy 1.3 yards per carry average. Nacua and Williams will likely be highly sought after waiver wire adds, and managers should keep Atwell on their radar. Akers, Jefferson, and Higbee should be relegated to fantasy benches in the meantime.

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8. The Tight End Position Remains Volatile

It was going to be tough without Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews in Week 1, but the top finishers at the TE position were once again impossible to predict. Not counting the Monday night game, Hunter Henry was the top-scoring tight end with 14 fantasy points. Hayden Hurst finished second with 12.6 points. Donald Parham Jr. finished third with 9.6 points. Blake Bell was fourth with 8.2 points and T.J. Hockenson rounded out the top-five with 7.5 points. Kelce and Andrews should hopefully be back in Week 2, but aside from them, you never know what you’re going to get from the TE position each week.

9. Keep an Eye on Jordan Love

Jordan Love had himself a terrific 2023 season opener, throwing for 245 yards and three touchdowns against the Bears. Green Bay fans have to be excited about Love and fantasy managers should take note as well. The Packers’ next four games are against the Falcons, Saints, Lions, and Raiders. Those are four golden opportunities for Love to continue to build confidence and prove he is the right QB to lead the franchise into the future. He is a viable QB2 in SuperFlex leagues and could be a great streaming option in the coming weeks. If he shows out in the next four games, he could even be worthy of a permanent starting role, as the Packers also have a juicy schedule in the last few weeks of the season for what would be the fantasy playoffs.

10. Wide Receivers with 0 points, is there Concern?

There were two big names at the WR position who failed to record a point on Sunday, Tee Higgins and Drake London. For Higgins, there should be no concern whatsoever. The veteran wideout didn’t have a catch but still saw eight targets in a game that was hit with heavy rain. Joe Burrow and the Bengals have a tendency to start slow as well, so this is typical and there is no need to panic when it comes to Higgins. London on the other hand, does bring a smidgen of doubt. We know the Falcons prefer to run the ball, but with Desmond Ridder at the helm this year there was hope the team would throw more than they did last year. That wasn’t the case in Week 1. Ridder threw the ball just 18 times and London received only one target. He is a talented player with high draft capital, but is a risky play, even at the flex spot. There should be a need for more passing in the next few weeks against the Packers, Lions, and Jaguars, so pay close attention to see if London is warranting more targets.

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