It didn’t take long for Week 1 to provide us with plenty of jaw-dropping plays, huge stat lines and, of course, some forgettable performances and heartbreak mixed in.
For example, Ryan Fitzpatrick had an unreal game against a strong Saints defense. No one expects him to keep this up, of course, and there’s a good chance he’s not the Buccaneers’ starter next month when Jameis Winston gets back from suspension. He is nothing more than a streamer or 2QB league starter for the next few weeks. The Bucs certainly have plenty of offensive weapons to work with for whomever is under center this season.
The real riser of the week at QB was Patrick Mahomes. Drafted primarily as a high upside backup in all but 2QB and deep formats, Mahomes showed off his top of the line arm to the tune of 256 yards and 4 TDs. He twice connected with Tyreek Hill for scores, forming what is already one of the most exciting duos in the NFL. Mahomes adds to his Fantasy prowess with his legs, particularly around the goal line. The thought that he is still somewhat raw is scary but also speaks to his ceiling. The Chargers’ defense was expected to be formidable, and he picked them apart. The Steelers are up next, and Mahomes should be inside the Top 10 QB starts for the week. If you have a mid-level starter or one with an early bye week, it’s time to make room for him on your roster.
Deshaun Watson was an early QB selection in nearly every league. Given his dominant rookie performance and the offensive talent around him, it is easy to see why owners were quick to pull the trigger. Coming off of an early November ACL tear, Watson struggled to get anything going against an improved Patriots defense. Perhaps he’ll shake off the rust and be ready to roll against a Titans squad that he lit up last year for five TDs. If you spent an early round pick on Watson, you need to roll with him as your QB1. He’s too talented not to bounce back in the coming weeks, even though you should expect some regression from his seven-game sample size last year.
There were a number of standout running back performances on Sunday, including James Conner’s impressive fill-in for Le’Veon Bell. What about 33-year-old Adrian Peterson’s 28 touches and 166 total yards for Washington? Not too bad for a guy who went in the late rounds or undrafted in many leagues. Receiving back ace Chris Thompson had an impressive game as well, but Peterson’s performance hints at future RB2 value with plenty of touches to go around. He operated as the clear bell cow back for the Redskins and has an upside matchup in Week 2 versus the Colts.
The Cardinals looked like a disaster on offense with Sam Bradford under center, which put a damper on David Johnson’s Week 1 opportunities. Will this be a concern throughout the year? It’s not time to hit the panic button just yet, but the Cardinals may need to make a QB change in an attempt to jumpstart that offense. Your finger should be on the button for Royce Freeman. With an ADP that crept up after every big pre-season play (of which there were plenty), Freeman owners had hopes that his talent would lead to a potential RB1 season. He looks to be in a full-blown committee right now with Devontae Booker and fellow rookie Phillip Lindsay. While we have seen enough of Booker thus far to know he’s not much of a threat ability-wise, Lindsay looked quick and agile as a runner and receiver on Sunday. Freeman needs to improve in pass protection and will definitely cede passing down opportunities, but there’s still enough here for him to become an RB2. Stay patient here because of Freeman’s talent, but look for depth options in the coming weeks.
With Case Keenum upgrading the previously revolving door at QB in Denver, both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders got a much-needed boost this offseason. Given draft cost, Sanders was more often than not the better value. Targeted as an ideal WR3 coming into the season, he delivered right out of the gate with a 10-135-1 line. Sanders’ production should return to 2015-2016 levels where he was a Top 20 wideout and reliable on a weekly basis. Rookie Courtland Sutton could earn more looks as the season goes on, but right now expect the targets to funnel through Sanders and Thomas.
A quick look at the Patriots’ receivers for Week 1 led everyone to the obvious conclusion that Chris Hogan was going to see a ton of targets from Tom Brady. He caught 1-5 targets for 11 yards. Brady has proven that he can and will spread around his targets to Rob Gronkowski first and then just about anyone within reach next. I understand the appeal of the situation, but Hogan is really just a 29-year-old rotational player that defaulted to a number one option. Yes, he’ll have some big numbers when the game plan allows the Patriots to exploit his matchups, but he’s not a Fantasy breakout star in the making. Plus, when Julian Edelman returns in a few weeks, his value takes another hit. His situation is too fruitful for you to discard him because he’ll make a nice upside play during bye weeks and when the matchup is right. With the Jaguars up next in Week 2, Hogan is not likely to keep you rolling.
While Jimmy Garoppolo had an uneven performance on Sunday, his go-to target was clearly tight end George Kittle. Part of that was due to the Marquise Goodwin injury, but regardless Kittle is in line for a plethora of targets this season. At the start of the offseason, he was being talked about as a breakout option in the same breath as Trey Burton, but a shoulder injury hurt his stock in redraft leagues. Kudos to you if you drafted him late, because you just found starter value. If he’s still on the waiver wire and you need TE help, make a move for him. He should be considered a weekly TE1 option.
Speaking of Burton, he received six targets on Sunday night. Unfortunately for his owners, he only hauled in one of those passes for 16 yards. The Burton Hype Train was full-steam ahead this summer, but owners are already panicking after his Week 1 dud. While Mitchell Trubisky is going to limit the entire passing game’s upside to an extent, Burton and a healthy Allen Robinson should be among the most targeted Bears on a weekly basis. He’s still a Top 10 play and will be a key factor in this offense. Expect a rebound against the Seahawks.