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We’re back! Week 1 of the NFL was spectacular. We saw several rookie quarterbacks play well during their debut, several close scoring affairs, and of course plenty of fantasy points. Let’s dive right into it!
Ja’Marr Chase Silences The Haters
Chase became a bit of a laughingstock given his propensity to drop the football over the course of the preseason. You wouldn’t have known this fact if you watched his NFL debut. Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase exhibited the same mind-meld that they had in college. Chase caught five of his seven targets for 101 yards and a touchdown. Chase led the team in targets, which was ostensibly a function of Tee Higgins missing the rest of the game after receiving an IV. Hopefully, the hydration issue for Higgins is only a short-term issue because the Bengals’ offense is shaping up to be a bonanza for scoring fantasy points.
Somebody's Heinicke Is Crowding My Icebox
Groan all you want, but it won’t stop me from making bad puns. Humor is the only way we can cope with Ryan Fitzpatrick’s injury. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Fitzpatrick is set to miss the next six to eight weeks with a hip subluxation. Taylor Heinicke will be the starting QB for the Washington Football Team for the near future. Heinicke did look like the superior option after entering the game for Fitzpatrick, so I’m hopeful that he’s not going to sink the fantasy prospects of Terry McLaurin, Antonio Gibson, Logan Thomas, and Dyami Brown.
Yeah, I’m back with the bad puns, but head coach Kyle Shanahan has earned them. The Athletic’s Matt Barrows noted that Shanahan announced that there will be no firm running back rotation in San Francisco this season. Raheem Mostert will be placed on injured reserve “for approximately eight weeks” after suffering a knee cartilage injury. Mostert exited Week 1 after his first two carries, which paved the way for rookie RB Elijah Mitchell to see work as a bell-cow running back. Mitchell should be added in all formats. I’m very intrigued to see if third-round running back Trey Sermon will be active next Sunday and what his usage might look like. It’s possible that Mitchell could see run as the bell-cow RB for the 49ers for the early portion of the season.
More surprising than Sermon being inactive was Brandon Aiyuk’s surprise tumble down the depth chart. Aiyuk practiced in full on both Wednesday and Thursday and should’ve seen more usage than the 0 targets he received on Sunday. NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco said that Aiyuk “tailed off dramatically” and is “still learning how to be a pro”. Aiyuk was essentially benched in favor of Trent Sherfield and it’s going to be very difficult to start Aiyuk this week.
Impressive Debut For The Rookie Quarterbacks
Trevor Lawrence passed for an impressive 322 yards and three touchdowns, with two interceptions in his NFL debut. The entire game was off-script for the Jaguars, who were punched in the mouth by the Houston Texans, but it’s heartening to see Lawrence make plays at the next level.
Zach Wilson completed 20 of 37 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception this Sunday. Interestingly, Wilson completed 15 of 21 passes for 149 yards, a touchdown, and an interception when throwing from a clean pocket. The Jets’ offensive line did Wilson no favors on Sunday and may now lose Mekhi Becton for an extended period. It’s a good sign Wilson is a capable pocket passer, but the Jets’ offensive line would need to gel in order to unlock his ceiling.
Mac Jones might’ve stolen the show. He completed 29 of 39 passes for 281 yards, despite having Nelson Agholor as his leading wide receiver. The Dolphins boast an elite defense, so it’s quite impressive that he was the only starting rookie QB to not throw an interception. Jones’ ceiling might be capped given the current state of the Patriots’ receiving corps, so he’ll be a streaming option at best.
Trey Lance played four snaps and tossed a five-yard touchdown on his only pass attempt. If Jimmy Garoppolo continues to play well, it’s unlikely we’re going to get an extended look at Lance for a while.
Matt Nagy stuck to his guns, trotting out Andy Dalton as the Week 1 starter. Justin Fields saw limited action but made the most of his opportunities. Fields completed both of his passes for 10 yards and added a three-yard touchdown run. Hopefully, Nagy realizes that Fields gives the Bears the best opportunity to transform this offense, and they let him start sooner rather than later.
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Quick Hits - Injury Version
Unfortunately, there were a lot of injuries in Week 1. Several notable injuries for fantasy purposes are as follows:
1. Broncos WR Jerry Jeudy was carted off the field in the Broncos’ Sunday Week 1 win over the giants. Head coach Vic Fangio noted that Jeudy had suffered a high ankle sprain and is “going to miss some time”. It sounds like Jeudy might avoid surgery but will definitely miss a huge chunk of playing time. K.J. Hamler would be a priority addition for teams who need wide receiver help.
2. Note that the Giants did not hold practice on Monday, but the team estimated that TE Evan Engram would’ve been classified as a DNP. It’s quite possible that Engram misses the Giants’ Thursday night game against the Washington Football Team. RB Saquon Barkley’s estimation was limited in practice, and Joe Judge sounds optimistic that Barkley will play Thursday night. Barkley saw spotty usage in Week 1 (played less than 50% of the snaps and only had 10 carries). Barkley will need to see a massive uptick in production before he can be ranked as an RB1.
3. The Cowboys officially placed WR Michael Gallup on injured reserve. Gallup suffered a calf strain in Week 1 and will miss at minimum three games. Both Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb are set to see massive target shares and are high-end WR1’s.
4. Ian Rapoport notes that Rashaad Penny is “expected to be shut down for a few weeks”. It sounds like Penny will be placed on IR after suffering a calf injury. Both DeeJay Dallas and Alex Collins need to be rostered in case of emergency to starter Chris Carson.