Week 1 of the 2020 NFL Season is in the books! Didn’t think we’d make it this far, did you? It was an exciting doubleheader featuring two tried and true veteran QBs facing off versus two young sophomore signal callers to finish the week.
Pittsburgh Steelers Takeaways
Ben Roethlisberger looked healthy, by all means, returning from his 2019 elbow injury. He looked to be throwing the ball more accurately as the game went on and connected well with JuJu Smith-Schuster and sophomore wideout Diontae Johnson. Once timing had been established, the team built a rhythm that allowed them to move the ball well.
Right tackle Zach Banner was carted to the locker room after suffering a knee injury in the fourth quarter. He was visibly shaken as his teammates consoled him on the bench after the play. This was Banner's first career start after winning the job over Chukwuma Okorafor in camp.
James Conner exited the game early with a sprained ankle after struggling to remain healthy for most of 2019. Prior to the injury, he had six rush attempts for just nine yards. His absence didn’t stifle the run game, however; it sparked it. RB Benny Snell exploded on 19 carries for 113 yards. Snell was just the second running back to manage 100+ rushing yards in Week 1.
New York Giants Takeaways
The most significant thing to note for the Giants is the leap their second-year quarterback has taken in the 2020 offseason. Daniel Jones appears to have taken the next step as a passer, looking calm and collected while being harassed by Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt for most of the night. He made some tight throws and nice reads.
Saquon Barkley was suffocated in this matchup, totaling just six rushing yards on the game. Luckily, for fantasy managers, he did reel in six of nine targets for 60 receiving yards to save his day. Darius Slayton dominated the game with six receptions for 102 yards and a pair of TDs. The team was without WR Golden Tate, who is dealing with a hamstring issue, so it is possible we see Slayton return to earth should Tate return soon.
Fantasy Notes: 2020's Pittsburgh Steelers may not be a spitting image of the 2018 powerhouse (yet), but it's worth noting that the team made strides as the game went on. If the offense continues to ramp up, the Steelers are looking like a true playoff contender with a defense determined to create pressure and turnovers. With Conner's ankle sprain, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him miss a week or two, though reports say he is hopeful to return soon. Benny Snell is a priority waiver wire acquisition, though Week 2 brings a more difficult matchup in the Denver Broncos. Slayton appears to be the favorite for team targets and can be considered a WR3 with weekly WR1/2 upside.
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Tennessee Titans Takeaways
The Titans Offense didn't look to have the same burst they had in 2019, but they managed a win in the end by controlling the game clock and establishing the run with their newly-paid workhorse RB. Even in the absence of Von Miller, the Broncos Defense was sturdy, holding Derrick Henry to just 3.7 yards per carry and keeping WR A.J. Brown in check with just 5 receptions for 39 yards. Of all people, this was a Corey Davis game, who finished the matchup catching 7 of his 8 targets for 101 yards.
Somehow, Titans kicker Stephen Gostkowski took over the headlines of the game, missing three field goals from 47, 44, and 42 yards and an extra point. These missed kicks led them down to the wire to close out the game, as they were down just one point on the game's final drive, but Gostkowski redeemed himself with a 25-yard field goal to take the lead. The Titans are in a tough spot with the veteran kicker, who has been historically productive but clearly had some confidence issues to open up the season.
Denver Broncos Takeaways
The Broncos were without their star wide receiver Courtland Sutton and stud outside linebacker Von Miller, but they certainly were not shaken. Much like the New York Giants, the team saw lots of progress in their sophomore quarterback Drew Lock. Lock appeared confident and made some risky throws look easy, though his stat line doesn't look all that exciting.
After the team opened the game with a running back carousel, Phillip Lindsay sustained a foot injury after totaling eight touches for 35 yards. Newly a Denver Bronco, Melvin Gordon looked good in his first outing, making some nice cuts and catching all three of his targets, even if it was only for eight yards. He finished the game at 5.2 yards per carry - an efficient game, considering his career average of 4.0 yards per attempt.
Rookie WR Jerry Jeudy had his ups and downs as the lead wideout in his first NFL game, totaling four receptions for 56 yards. He stumbled with two drops on the night but showed promise in his known ability as a route runner to create separation.
Fantasy Notes: With Phillip Lindsay out of the active lineup, Melvin Gordon will have weekly RB1 upside. Lock won't consistently have the passing volume to be a sustainable fantasy quarterback, but it does appear that Fant could be an early favorite to lead the team in targets. The team should likely see WR Courtland Sutton return in their Week 2 matchup against the Steelers, but it will be difficult to start him with confidence in that matchup and returning from injury.
Kyle Shanahan confirms that TE George Kittle suffered a knee sprain in the team's home opener. Though he did return after halftime, he didn't catch a single ball afterward. If he plays in Week 2, he's got an incredible matchup versus the New York Jets who appear to have given up. ... Lamar Miller had a visit with the Indianapolis Colts Monday following the news of Marlon Mack's season-ending Achilles injury. Rookie RB Jonathan Taylor was announced as the team's starter, though Nyheim Hines should continue to have value in PPR leagues considering that Philip Rivers is under center. ... NFL Network reports that Michael Thomas suffered a high-ankle sprain to open up the season. Though he appears determined to play, it's worth noting that veteran Emmanuel Sanders presence on the field seemed more significant than his 3/15/1 line would suggest. Some friendly matchups coming up in Vegas, Green Bay and Detroit may make him a nice play in DFS formats. ... Texans RB Duke Johnson did not practice Tuesday after suffering an ankle injury on TNF. His counterpart, David Johnson, showed burst that we haven't seen in some time and should be considered an RB2 against the Ravens. ... Dallas tight end Blake Jarwin suffered a torn ACL win Week 1. It's an unfortunate blow, as many expected to be a breakout season. Dalton Schultz is the next man up but won't be fantasy-relevant. Rookie CeeDee Lamb may absorb some of that intended target share.