The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from Week One|Fantasy Football Takeaways

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Alex Kurpeski

Oh week one, how you hurt me so. With monster performances from several unexpected sources, massive flops from consistent contributors, and several unfortunate injuries to beloved stars, the rude awakening to the harsh reality of Fantasy Season seemed especially vengeful this time around. However, for all the bad aspects that affix themselves to the start of the season, they often come with silver linings (such as the early exposing of potential fantasy duds). Here are some of the biggest highlights (and lowlights) from the season’s first slate of games.

The Good

A big day for deep threats 

Sammy Watkins runs wild on the Jags D

The majority of this week’s fantasy stars belonged to that ever so mercurial class of receiver that commentators love to describe as “guys who can really stretch the field”. Well speed was responsible for the demise of several unlucky fantasy opponents this week, as Desean Jackson, Sammy Watkins, John Ross, Terry McLaurin, and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown awoke from their slumbers in explosive fashion. Whether the production from these players is sustainable week-to-week is another story entirely, as Jackson, Brown, McLaurin, and Ross gained the majority of their points on a couple long catch and run plays. However, Watkins stands out from his peers in this department, as his chemistry with quarterback Patrick Mahomes was impeccable. If Tyreek Hill is forced to miss significant time Watkins will have a real shot at producing WR1 numbers on a consistent basis.

More than just a running back

“Pretty good for a running back”

We were promised an offense that would revolutionize how the NFL viewed running the ball, yet John Harbaugh instead unveiled something even more tantalizing. A new and improved Lamar Jackson, looking extremely comfortable in the pocket marched his team up-and-down the field with ease, dropping dimes to his playmakers all afternoon. While Jackson monster performance came at the expense of the Dolphins, a team that finds itself one trade away from a full blown strike, he has reestablished the confidence of the fantasy community in his development as a passer. 

The kids are alright after all

Sep 8, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson (88) catches a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t the start we wanted from this year’s rookie class, as we saw David Montgomery, Miles Sanders, and Darrell Henderson struggle to find any room to run (or even touch the ball) in their respective week one matchups. However, we did see the emergence of several dangerous pass catchers, as the aforementioned Marquise Brown and Terry McLaurin declared their candidacy for offensive rookie of the year with no time to spare. Likewise, we saw two of this year’s highest drafted skill position players flex their muscles in an otherwise ugly matchup between the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals. While Detroit tight end T.J Hockenson did his best George Kittle impression, number one overall pick Kyler Murray nearly led the Cards to an improbable comeback victory. Expect more stars to emerge from this rookie class as the season drags on. 

Run CMC much more than just a flash in the pan

Sep 8, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) runs as Los Angeles Rams inside linebacker Cory Littleton (58) and free safety Eric Weddle (32) defend in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Oh baby! If you had Christian McCaffrey in your lineup this week you were the happiest camper at the fire pit. With the skill set of an all-pro wideout infused into the body of a bellcow running back, McCaffrey picked up right where he left off last season, dropping 40+ points in PPR formats. On a day where the Panthers offense as a whole struggled to move the football, CMC produced elite numbers. Now only imagine what he’s capable of when the team is rolling offensively. Mark my words, a healthy Christian McCaffrey will be the RB1 in all fantasy formats this season. 

Cardinals fly free thanks to Air Raid

Kyler’s comeback is just the start for him

While it took a while to get off of the ground, the revamped Cardinals offense was on full display during the fourth quarter of this week’s game against the Lions. While Kyler Murray had his share of rookie jitters, including an interception and several batted down passes at the line of scrimmage, he looked very good in the fourth quarter, leading the offense comfortably and dropping a pair of touchdown passes. While it’s unclear whether Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid scheme can bring wins to the desert, it is certainly an improvement over last season’s dumpster fire of an offense. 

Austin Ekeler picks up right where Melvin Gordon left off

Austin Ekeler scores one of his 3 touchdowns on the day

While most of us in the fantasy community believed that the drop-off from Melvin Gordon to Austin Ekeler would not be world changing, few could have predicted that Ekeler would pickup Gordon’s staggering touchdown rate as well. With three touchdowns on opening week, Ekeler flashes similar RB1 upside to Gordon, as the lead back for a Chargers offense that is expected to be among the best in the league this season. 

Waiver Wire Warriors of the Week

  1. WR Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Baltimore Ravens
  2. TE T.J Hockenson, Detroit Lions
  3. QB Case Keenum, Washington
  4. RB Malcolm Brown, LA Rams
  5. TE Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
  6. WR A.J Brown, Tennessee Titans
  7. WR Tyrell Williams, Oakland Raiders
  8. RB Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 
  9. WR D.J Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars
  10. WR Chris Conley, Jacksonville Jaguars 

The Bad

Mitch gets packed away by The Pack

Mitchell Trubisky disassociates from humanity following an abominable opening night performance

This one was just sad. On opening night we were witness to the possession of young Mitch Trubisky by the ghost of Blake Bortles. While Trubisky’s ineptitude was disconcerting (especially for Bears fans), his performance can likely be attributed to a lack of live action in the preseason, as well as an offensive game plan that was far too “cute” for a division rivalry game. Let’s see what we get from young Mitchell in week two.

Baker feels the wrath of the Titans

Baker Mayfield sulks on the sideline as the Titans medieval offense scores off of his most recent turnover

While the Browns offense as a whole had a fine outing, Baker Mayfield struggled mightily with turnovers against Tennessee. While this could be a nice learning experience for Baker and the Browns as a whole, there also exists a dark timeline where this opening loss to a Titans team that resembles an SEC bottomfeeder sets the course for a miserable campaign for the Dawg Pound.

Reliable Studs turn in Dud performances

Mike Evans was a major dud in week one

Week one is a constant reminder that the fantasy gods are cruel and your top draft picks are not the demi-gods you have made them out to be during your fantasy draft preparation. Some “duds”from this week included Mike Evans, Davante Adams, Zach Ertz, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and James Conner. Whether it was due to gamescript or simply excellent defense, several reliable contributors flopped this week, but have no fear, as they will almost surely bounce back. 

Cancel the Dolphins

0-16 isn’t out of the question for this team

This might be the worst team of all time. The Football Gods have smited Josh Rosen once again. I would advise against owning anyone on this team in fantasy.

The Curse of the Committee

C.J Anderson ruins yet another backfield by stealing touches from Kerryon Johnson

Oh the dreaded “running back by committee” approach how you ruin fantasy football. Some victims of this week’s epidemic included Kerryon Johnson, Todd Gurley, Derrius Guice, Miles Sanders, Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and Damien Williams. It will be interesting to see whether any of these timeshares get busted as the season rolls on. 

Mooch of the Week

Stop throwing at this guy

How many times do we need to be told that Cameron Brate is Jameis Winston’s favorite redzone target? Why do we even bother rostering Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and O.J Howard anymore if Winston is just going to throw the ball up to Brate every time? Cam, you went to Harvard honey, can you please go use your degree to help enrich society so our fantasy players have a chance at some touchdowns? Thanks.

The Ugly

Injuries decimate fantasy gold standards once again

Tyreek Hill agonizes in pain following a shoulder injury that can only be attributed to cosmic irony

With injuries to both Joe Mixon and Tyreek Hill, the Football Gods appear to be on a path of vengeance against players accused of domestic violence (watch out Zeke). With injuries being dealt so early to two of the highest drafted players in redraft leagues, many owners are bound to be scrambling for replacements this week. Have no fear, as both Hill’s replacement (Mecole Hardman) and Mixon’s (Gio Bernard) should be available on the waiver wire in most redraft leagues.

A murky future for Gurley

Todd Gurley running far less explosively than we have become accustomed to

While he still looked the part of an NFL starting running back, it was clear as daylight that Todd Gurley’s knee was holding him back on Sunday. Yet it wasn’t even Gurley’s degenerative knee that held him back from a great fantasy performance on Sunday. Longtime backup Malcolm Brown was given the chance to tote the rock 11 times, punching in two short touchdowns on carries that would have usually been reserved for Gurley. If this committee approach (which should soon include rookie Darrell Henderson as well) continues throughout the season then Gurley’s days as a high end RB1 in fantasy are finito. 

Falcons offensive woes persist

A bad week at the office for Matty Ice

Now that there is no Steve Sarkisian to blame for the Atlanta’s offensive failures, we must begin to point the finger at HC Dan Quinn (and perhaps GM Thomas Dimitroff as well). This once dynamic and diverse offense looked absolutely lost on Sunday, as many of the team’s fantasy stars were saved from being “dud” candidates by scoring garbage time touchdowns late in the game against Minnesota’s disinterested defense. With a matchup against Matt Ryan’s ultimate bugaboo (The Philadelphia Eagles) in week two, there is a good chance that this team finds itself in an 0-2 hole. 

Josh Allen gets brutalized

Josh Allen runs for his life

The Bills won but Josh Allen really paid for it. While Deshaun Watson took the worst beating of any QB this week (don’t worry kids he is used to it by now), Allen took an alarming amount of hits from the Jets defense on Sunday. For those of us relying on Allen (especially his rushing) for fantasy, the lack of protection for him was extremely disconcerting. Allen is a prime injury risk candidate until the Bills are able to sort out their offensive line issues. 

Foles becomes first starting QB to bite the dust

Nick Foles returns in street clothes to watch the rest of his team’s game following his injury

This one just plain sucks. Universal nice guy Nick Foles broke his collarbone in the Jaguars-Chiefs clash on Sunday, a very unfortunate injury for Foles, the Jags organization, and anyone with a stake in their offense for fantasy. While backup Gardner Mineshew looked solid in his place, the loss of Foles will certainly hurt Leonard Fournette, Dede Westbrook, and Chris Conley. 

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