Week 1 Fantasy Football Studs and Duds

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The NFL season is finally here and what a stormy inaugural week it was.  Whether your fantasy team caught lightning in a bottle or you were left feeling a little thunderstruck, there are lessons to be learned as we put Week 1 of the 2018 NFL season behind us.  In this article, we will take a look at the studs and duds from the week that was, but since I’m a bad-news-first kind of guy, we will start with the players who pooped in their big boy pants and finish on a high note with the stud muffins.

Editor’s Note: Get the full breakdown from The Fantasy Footballers Podcast on Episode #603: Week 1 Studs & Duds, Rising Stars, Trey Doo-Doo

Duds
Quarterbacks

Ben Roethlisberger @ CLE
335 passing yards, TD, 3 INTs, 16 rushing yards
Somehow it felt and looked so much worse than this.

Sam Bradford vs WAS
153 passing yards, INT
Two seasons ago, Bradford set the NFL record for completion percentage in an NFL season.  That was a long, long time ago.

Dak Prescott @ CAR
170 passing yards, 19 rushing yards, fumble
It’s almost as if the Cowboys offensive weapons were the Guardians of the Galaxy and the offseason was the snap of a mad Titan… I hope they remember you.

Running Backs

LeSean McCoy @ BAL
7 carries, 22 rushing yards, 1 reception, -1 receiving yard, 3 targets
It’s probably best if we just let the rain wash the performance away like the Bills let it wash away Week 1.

Kareem Hunt @ LAC
16 carries, 49 rushing yards, 1 target
Spencer Ware is a potential problem for Hunt owners: he is back and he looks good.  Hunt is the starter for now, but if he struggles like he did in the middle of last season, Ware could turn this into a committee.

Derrick Henry @ MIA
10 carries, 26 rushing yards, 1 reception, 5 receiving yards
You don’t get fantasy points for plays called back on a penalty, so what you see is what you get.

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Jamaal Williams vs CHI
15 carries, 47 rushing yards, 2 targets
Nothing about this game was going to work out for Williams.  The Packers found themselves in a 20-point hole early on in this contest and needed to play catchup the rest of the way.  It is possible that the Packers go more run-heavy next week to protect Aaron Rodgers from the Vikings defense.  If so, it’ll be good news for Williams who needs volume and to establish himself before Aaron Jones returns.

Alfred Morris @ MIN
12 carries, 38 rushing yards
You need Alf to rack up the yards and score TDs.  He did neither on Sunday and even managed to fumble on the goal line.  Not a good look.

Matt Breida @ MIN
11 carries, 46 rushing yards, 1 reception, 5 receiving yards, 2 targets
I think we all expected Breida to be involved in the passing game, especially with the 49ers trailing the entire game.  I doubt Breida and Morris will be allowed to keep their big boy pants much longer if the duo puts up any more performances like this.

Mike Gillislee vs TB
3 carries, 9 rushing yards, fumble
Gillislee, meet Waiver Wire.

Wide Receivers

Chris Hogan vs HOU
1 reception, 11 receiving yards, 5 targets
Seven-Eleven? More like Chick-fil-A.  Get it?  Because Chick-fil-A isn’t open on Sundays…

Kelvin Benjamin @ BAL
1 reception, 10 receiving yards, 7 targets
Benjamin is clearly intended to be the Bills number 1 WR.  That’s not the problem.  It’s their number 1 and number 2 QBs that are the problem.

Pierre Garcon @ MIN
2 receptions, 21 receiving yards, 6 targets
Garcon! Can we get some more fantasy points for the table?  And another basket of breadsticks while you’re at it.

Sammy Watkins @ LAC
3 receptions, 21 receiving yards, 5 targets
Watkins played second fiddle to Tyreek Hill who stole the show in Los Angeles.  If he’s not careful, he could be marginalized all season as Hill has clearly established himself with Patrick Mahomes.

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Jamison Crowder @ AZ
3 receptions, 32 receiving yards, 4 targets
A healthy Chris Thompson and Jordan Reed are going to be a problem for Crowder.  You can’t start him with any confidence until the situation changes.

Allen Hurns @ CAR
1 reception, 20 receiving yards, 3 targets

Michael Gallup @ CAR
1 reception, 9 receiving yards, 1 target

The Cowboys made some poor choices this offseason and the health of their offensive line isn’t doing them any favors.  This is a passing attack to avoid until further notice.

Tight Ends

Travis Kelce @ LAC
1 reception, 6 receiving yards, 6 targets
Oh boy.  Kelce was supposed to be one of the big 3 TEs.  The volume was there, however, so hopefully, he gets on the same page with Mahomes sooner rather than later.  I mean, what are we supposed to do?  Bench him?  Nah.

Jimmy Graham vs CHI
2 receptions, 8 receiving yards, 4 targets
Graham is going to be TD dependent this season.  He didn’t score this week but there will be weeks where he does.

Trey Burton @ GB
1 reception, 15 receiving yards, 6 targets
Burton was clearly a key part of the offensive game plan.  However, Chicago’s offense started taking on water in the second half and Burton went down with the ship.

Evan Engram vs JAX
2 receptions, 18 receiving yards, 5 targets
If you drafted Evan Engram, you did so knowing that Week 1 was going to be rough.  The TE pool is already thin and is getting thinner.  You must keep rolling with Engram.

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Ricky Seals-Jones vs WAS
3 receptions, 19 receiving yards, 6 targets
I’m not convinced that a late round sleeper TE was worthy of high expectations in Week 1.  So it’s hard for me to get too upset when he didn’t perform well.  Hopefully, there are better weeks ahead, for the Cardinals, Seals-Jones, and his owners.  Though I doubt they will be in the next 2 weeks (Rams, Bears).

Studs
Quarterbacks

Ryan Fitzpatrick @ NO
417 passing yards, 4 TDs, 36 rushing yards, rushing TD
“Fitz-magic is alive and well” pretty much says it all, but before you rush out to add Ryan Fitzpatrick, take note that his next three opponents are the Eagles, Steelers, and Bears.  Not exactly the friendliest of matchups.

Drew Brees vs TB
439 passing yards, 3 TDs
Drew Brees and the Saints may have lost to the Bucs, but I doubt that his fantasy owners did.  Age is definitely just a number to Drew Brees.

Patrick Mahomes @ LAC
256 passing yards, 4 TDs, 21 rushing yards
In the first meaningful start of his career, Mahomes torched the Chargers on the road on just 15 completions.  Well, to put it more accurately, Tyreek Hill torched the Chargers.  The good news is that Mahomes gets credit for those yards and TDs too.

Philip Rivers vs KC
424 passing yards, 3 TDs, INT
There’s a bit of a theme developing here.  The first 4 QBs in this section were all engaged in duels with each other.  These games are the springs (or rivers) from which fantasy points flow.

Tom Brady vs HOU
277 passing yards, 3 TDs, INT
If there’s another theme to take note of from this section, it’s that QBs in good weather conditions perform better than those playing in a monsoon. Tom Brady did his part to silence the critics who predicted a slow start to the season for the Patriots offense.

Case Keenum vs SEA
329 passing yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs
It wasn’t pretty, but at least it wasn’t Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch or Brock Osweiler, am I right?

Joe Flacco vs BUF
236 passing yards, 3 TDs
If you had told me that Lamar Jackson would be playing in the second half on Sunday, I would’ve believed that Flacco was so bad that Harbaugh had made a switch.  Nope.  Flacco looked good and completed a TD pass to each of his new WRs for good measure.

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Aaron Rodgers vs CHI
286 passing yards, 3 TDs, 15 rushing yards, 1 leg
I’m speechless, as I’m sure is Jay Griz.

Running Backs

Alvin Kamara vs TB
8 carries, 29 rushing yards, 2 TDs, 9 receptions, 112 receiving yards, TD, 12 targets, 2pt conv
Alvin Kamara is an unusual RB in the NFL and he provides unusual fantasy production.  Sean Payton is sticking to his guns when he said that Kamara will not be a workhorse back in Ingram’s absence.  What he failed to mention, however, is that Kamara would be a workhorse receiver.

James Conner @ CLE
31 carries, 135 rushing yards, 2 TDs, 5 receptions, 57 receiving yards, 6 targets
James Conner answered the Bell on Sunday.

Joe Mixon @ IND
17 carries, 95 rushing yards, TD, 5 receptions, 54 receiving yards, 7 targets
This project as a plus matchup for Joe Mixon and he didn’t disappoint.  I was most impressed with his work in the passing game.  Lining up often as a WR and drawing 7 targets is impressive considering they have a good pass-catching back on the roster in Gio Bernard.  Beware of the upcoming schedule of Ravens, Panthers, Falcons.

Melvin Gordon vs KC
15 carries, 64 rushing yards, 9 receptions, 102 receiving yards, 13 targets
This game script should’ve been a disaster for an RB generally identified as a thumper.  However, Gordon dusted off some of his 2017 receiving chops and was heavily involved despite a negative game script.

Adrian Peterson @ AZ
26 carries, 96 rushing yards, TD, 2 receptions, 70 receiving yards, 3 targets
Adrian Peterson is still capable of solid performances.  Especially when his legs are fresh, and his team is spotted a 21-point lead in the first half.

Chris Thompson @ AZ
5 carries, 65 rushing yards, 6 receptions, 63 receiving yards, TD, 7 targets
I was concerned for Thompson this season given the reports that he was still recovering from his broken leg and wouldn’t be fully recovered until as late as November.  He looks 100% to me.  Let’s hope he stays healthy.

Saquon Barkley vs JAX
18 carries, 106 rushing yards, TD, 2 receptions, 22 receiving yards, 6 targets
Barkley escaped his matchup with the Jaguars without poop in his pants, though I’m not sure his owners can say the same.

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Jay Ajayi vs ATL
15 carries, 62 rushing yards, 2 TDs, 2pt conv
The same thing I said about Barkley can be said for Ajayi.  At halftime, Ajayi had 3 carries for 11 yards.  After the game, Doug Pederson said that this was the plan.  They wanted to ease Ajayi into action as he was recovering from a lower-body injury.  For what it’s worth, Pederson has vowed to feature Ajayi going forward.

Wide Receivers

Tyreek Hill @ LAC
7 receptions, 169 receiving yards, 2 TDs, 8 targets, punt return TD
Unfair.  Tyreek Hill’s speed and quickness were unmatched by the Chargers defense and they got shredded.

DeSean Jackson @ NO
5 receptions, 146 receiving yards, 2 TDs, 5 targets
There’s a reason that a big yardage day with a couple of long TDs on minimal volume is referred to as a D-Jax like performance.  Jackson invented this kind of stat line and he put it on the Saints in Week 1.  Jackson is in the concussion protocol, so if you want to chase these points, monitor his status throughout the week.

Mike Evans @ NO
7 receptions, 147 receiving yards, TD, 7 targets
There are some who faded Mike Evans in drafts because of the early season suspension for Jameis Winston.  That sure looks silly now.  As discussed with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Evans doesn’t have the easiest slate of games coming up, but you have to start your studs, and Evans is a stud.

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Michael Thomas vs TB
16 receptions, 180 receiving yards, TD, 17 targets
After Thursday Night Football, the consensus in the community was that no one would get as many targets as Julio Jones got (19).  Michael Thomas didn’t quite need that many.  17 was enough.

Randall Cobb vs CHI
9 receptions, 142 receiving yards, TD, 10 targets
Cobb may have been on the NFL trade block a few weeks ago, but he is likely off the trade block in fantasy football after this scorcher which included a 75-yard score.

Kenny Stills vs TEN
4 receptions, 106 receiving yards, 2 TDs, 5 targets
Stills was so good on Sunday that the Dolphins made sure to savor the moment.  So much so that this game lasted 7 hours and 10 minutes from kickoff until the clocks read triple zeroes in the 4th quarter.

Emmanuel Sanders vs SEA
10 receptions, 135 receiving yards, TD, 11 targets
Sanders was a difficult WR to rank coming into Week 1.  Were the Seahawks going to be as bad on defense as some projected with the loss of Sherman and Cam Chancellor?  Were Sanders and his new QB, Case Keenum going to develop chemistry this early in the season?  I think both answers are pretty soundly, yes.

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Julio Jones @ PHI
10 receptions, 169 receiving yards, 19 targets, 11 rushing yards
If there’s one thing we can learn from the Falcons offense in Week 1 it is that Julio Jones is #goodatfootball.  If there’s another thing we can learn from the Falcons performance, it’s that the rest of the offense needs some work.  From the play calling to the supporting cast, to Matt Ryan’s arm.  It all needs work.

Keenan Allen vs KC
8 receptions, 108 receiving yards, TD, 11 targets
Did somebody say “#goodatfootball”?

Antonio Brown @ CLE
9 receptions, 93 receiving yards, TD, 16 targets
We knew two things for certain headed into Sunday’s games.  First that the Antonio Brown was going to get him, and second, that the Steelers weren’t going to lose to the Browns (though they certainly tried).

Tight Ends

Rob Gronkowski vs HOU
7 receptions, 123 receiving yards, TD, 8 targets
When he’s on the field, Gronk is the best TE in football.  He’s also the best pass catcher on a team with the greatest QB to ever play the game.  I just feel bad for the linebackers and safeties for the Jaguars, Lions, and Dolphins.

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