Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season has come and gone. It's important to take note of different storylines and situations, but it's also important not to overreact on some of these circumstances and occurrences. Here's a look at last year's top Week 1 performances and how they finished. Not everyone who produces in Week 1 is a league-winner.
Case Keenum, WAS started the year with 380 yards passing and 3 touchdowns in Week 1. He started each game until getting hurt in Week 8. He was the 27th ranked quarterback after Week 8.
Malcolm Brown, LAR started off with two rushing touchdowns in 2019 just like he did in Week 1 this year. He would score five times in 2019, but not again until Week 11. His role was reduced and he gave way to Todd Gurley. Overall for the year Brown finished 62nd. Could the same happen in 2020 with Cam Akers? It's definitely possible.
Rex Burkhead, NE had 5 receptions and 85 total yards in Week 1 of 2019. He only exceeded those numbers once more in 2019, in Week 16. He finished 48th.
The wide receiver position arguably has the most variance from Week 1 success to end of the year rankings. The top 3 wide receivers in Week 1 in 2019 were Sammy Watkins, DeSean Jackson, and John Ross. Phillip Dorsett and Danny Amendola were also among the top 15. They finished the year 51st, 123rd, 72nd, 67th, and 53rd respectively.
Last year, we probably recall T.J. Hockenson having a huge Week 1. So did Delanie Walker, Vernon Davis, David Njoku, Blake Jarwin, and Jimmy Graham. Including Hockenson, these tight ends finished 31st, 42nd, 62nd, 82nd, 28th, and 21st respectively.
There are also examples of players who do well in Week 1 and it carries over for the rest of the season. Such examples from last year include Terry McLaurin, D.J. Chark Jr, Mark Andrews, Chris Carson, Michael Gallup, Jamison Crowder, etc.
Which fringe players with success in Week 1 are contenders and which ones are pretenders?
Darius Slayton, NYG - Slayton benefited last year from injuries in the Giants receiving corps. He showed well in his opportunity collecting touchdowns in four games after Week 3, including three multi-touchdown games. He finished 16th in FanDuel scoring from Week 10-17. He started 2020 with a bang with another multiple-touchdown game. He now has scored in six total games out of 15 and he has scored more than once in four of those games. He has reached 7 targets in six of his last eight games played and looks to be Daniel Jones' most trusted downfield target on the team, especially in the red zone.
Nyheim Hines, IND - Nyheim Hines not only had 8 receptions for 45 yards, but he scored a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown. The reception success is likely to continue, but the touchdowns probably won't be as common. The Colts, now that Philip Rivers is under center, will utilize their running backs early and often in the passing game. All Colts backs combined for 17 receptions in Week 1, by far the most of any team. Hines definitely has a defined role, especially with Marlon Mack out for the year with an Achilles injury, but don't expect the touchdowns to be consistent week to week. I would liken his 2020 outlook to look similar to his 2018 season where he finished with 63 receptions, 4 touchdowns and a 39th place finish (standard scoring). At best, he is on the fringe of a top 20 finish in PPR scoring, which is better than his preseason projections. Is he a contender? I say yes, in PPR leagues because he has a chance at a top 20 finish. There is a possibility that Indianapolis will look to sign a veteran back (Devonta Freeman is a popular name) to fill the void left by Mack, but Hines' role shouldn't waver much if that comes to fruition.
Jamison Crowder, NYJ - It's easy to discount a member of the Jets as someone who can help your fantasy team, however, if there is one player who can be a consistent producer for them this year, it's Crowder. In weeks where Sam Darnold and Crowder played last year (weeks 6-17), Crowder was the 15th ranked PPR wide receiver. He topped 123 targets and finished with 78 receptions for 834 yards and 6 touchdowns. He started 2020 with a bang catching 7 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. His 13 targets bested Breshad Perriman's 5 targets and it's clear that Darnold has confidence throwing him the ball. He should continue to be a focal point in the offense, especially with Le'Veon Bell sidelined multiple weeks with a hamstring injury.
Dallas Goedert, PHI - Since Week 11 last season, Zach Ertz and Goedert had 60 and 55 targets respectively, easily the top two targets of all Eagles receivers (Greg Ward was third with 40). Ertz was the #2 overall tight end in that span and Goedert was #6. Even when both tight ends are healthy, they both produce. I expect Ertz to rebound but I don't see Goedert's success going away. Both tight ends can flourish together, we saw it last year after Week 11. Goedert is continuing to develop and he's being targeted by Carson Wentz as a result. Goedert may not top 8 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown every week, but he is a key piece of the Eagles 12-personnel offense moving forward and the fantasy success should continue.
Noah Fant, DEN - The Broncos are loaded with offensive weapons, but it's clear that Fant is among the biggest pieces of the offensive pie. Courtland Sutton will return, Jerry Jeudy will get better and become more reliable but Fant isn't going anywhere. He may not have the type of outcome every week as he did in Week 1 (5 receptions, 81 yards, 1 touchdown), but he is the top option for the Broncos at tight end and should continue to be a viable fantasy commodity at tight end as he continues to develop.
Will Fuller V, HOU - The departure of DeAndre Hopkins has opened up the door for someone to fill the void of his 150 targets. Will Fuller V, not Brandin Cooks, not Randall Cobb, answered the bell with 8 receptions for 112 yards and 1 touchdown on 10 targets. Cooks was second with 5 targets. He had 2 receptions for 20 yards. Cobb was out of the picture until late in the game. Deshaun Watson has long had a good rapport with Fuller, but mostly as a big-play threat. This year it appears as if Fuller is taking over the duties as the team's possession receiver, which is excellent news for his fantasy stock.
J.K. Dobbins, BAL - We may not have seen the changing of the guard from Mark Ingram II to J.K. Dobbins just yet, but it's getting close. Dobbins performed well when his number was called and Ingram looked to be a step slower in comparison. Dobbins, not Ingram, was given the nod to punch in two short-ranged touchdown runs, and he delivered. It could've been Ingram, but coach Harbaugh gave it to the rookie, the future. The Ravens rushed for over 2,000 yards last year, not including Lamar Jackson. They are a formidable group with fantasy appeal at every corner, even the backups Gus Edwards and Justice Hill. Ingram still has a ton of value, but Dobbins is closing fast accumulating his own value. The more Dobbins produces on the field, the more his number will be called. It's that simple. The Dobbins train is roaring down the tracks and gaining steam. It's speeding up, not slowing down. It's time to get on board.
Parris Campbell, IND - Campbell was on the field for 61 of the team's 82 snaps (82%) compared to 80% for T.Y. Hilton. It's only one game, but Campbell was the better receiver than Hilton against the Jaguars. Michael Pittman Jr is being brought along slowly, but Campbell appears to be ready for the bright lights. His needle is pointing up. He should be a key piece to Philip River's passing offense in 2020 and it's possible that he may overtake Hilton as the top target at some point this season.
Malcolm Brown, LAR - We saw the same outcome last year when Brown started 2019 with a two-touchdown performance only to eventually give way to Todd Gurley. What makes 2020 any different but instead of Gurley, it's second-round pick Cam Akers? Yes, Brown is a trusted goal-line back and he probably knows Sean McVay's offense better than the other backs at this time, however, it's more likely that he will eventually give way to Akers as the season progresses. Brown is a good play for now, but extended success seems to be pushing it, especially because this same scenario was presented last year.
Robby Anderson, CAR - This one is a tough one for me to gauge, but ultimately, I side with pretender on this. If there was an uncertain category, he would be at or near the top of the list. Can he be a reliable flex option going forward? Possibly. Will he finish in the top 12, which is where he is after Week 1? Doubtful. Carolina may have several games where they score 25-30 points and still lose. This all bodes well for their fantasy options, including Anderson. However, if not for the long 75-yard touchdown, Anderson would've finished with 5 catches for 40 yards on 7 targets. He has a propensity for scoring though, which should not go unnoticed. He has 21 career touchdowns in 62 games (38%) and he's arguably on a better offense with Carolina. He has scored at least 5 touchdowns in each of the last three seasons. He can be a helpful addition to your roster, but I don't see him maintaining this type of production throughout the season.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, GB - You can add Allen Lazard to this list as well. As long as Davante Adams is healthy, he should be the 1a and 1b target for Aaron Rodgers. Adams is the team's top receiver by far and the others may just file in when they can, catching a long pass here and there, scoring here and there, but with no consistency. 2020 Adams reminds me of 2019 Michael Thomas. The clear-cut top target who gets the majority of the results.
Russell Gage, ATL - Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of rostering Russell Gage, but I'm not sure if he's the best every-week fantasy starter. Matt Ryan had 54 pass attempts in Week 1 and threw 9 receptions each to Gage, Calvin Ridley, and Julio Jones. Looking back at 2019, Ryan had seven games with 45 pass attempts or more, which is more than I thought. This bodes well for Gage and the Falcons receiving corps as a whole, but there will be games where Gage won't be involved as much. Deciding which games to start Gage could be problematic. As a bye-week option or desperation flex play, you could do much worse, but I don't see him being a weekly fantasy threat moving forward.
Sammy Watkins, KC - We've seen this scenario with Watkins time and time again. He's like the Ryan Fitzpatrick of wide receivers. Well, sort of. He'll show up one week and be a non-factor the next. He's also unreliable, missing three, six, two, and eight games respectively over the last four years. If he's available on your waiver wire, you can target him as a roster stash, but the cheaper alternative is to target Demarcus Robinson who could reap the benefits when and if Watkins is forced to miss time.
Benny Snell, PIT - I would love to say that Benny Snell is a contender, but I'm just not sure. Week 1 was super, however most probably didn't start him. Do you start him Week 2 if James Conner is healthy enough to play? Probably not. So now, we're into Week 3. Conner is likely more healthy. Do you start him? The only scenario where this is a yes is if Mike Tomlin comes out and names Snell as the starter. This is the same Mike Tomlin who said in the offseason that he had "big time" confidence in him, saying he would be the bell cow this season. If Snell is available on your waiver wire, consider the move, but it's no guarantee that he'll be worth the gamble.
The sky is not falling but we need to read the tea leaves in some situations
Don't give up on players who have shown success in the past who may have struggled Week 1. Each week is different and some teams and players take some time to get going. At the same time, we have to come to the realization that in some instances, expectations and reality may not be equal.
Saquon Barkley, NYG - He was stymied by the Steelers defense and totaled 6 rushing yards on 15 carries. He did manage 6 catches for 60 yards. This type of performance should not continue. Chalk it up as a tough matchup. A very tough matchup.
Nick Chubb, CLE - 10 carries for 60 yards, 1 reception for 6 yards, 0 scores. Chubb and Kareem Hunt nearly split carries 50/50. Hunt out-gained Chubb 81-66 but a lot the game script was not in Chubb's favor. Better games are coming for Chubb, and the Browns. The matchup was not favorable against the Ravens.
Joe Mixon, CIN - The Chargers gave up only 13 points and Joe Burrow is starting to get his acclimated to the league, the offense, etc. Mixon finished with 19 carries for 69 yards and 1 catch for 2 yards. He was on the field for 40 of 68 snaps (59%), but on the bright side, his 19 carries compared to Giovani Bernard's 1 carry is good news.
Austin Ekeler, LAC - Ekeler finished with 84 yards on 19 carries with 0 scores. While he received a good amount of volume, the concern is the lack of targets. He had just one reception on one target. It seems clear that Ekeler will not see the same number of high-volume targets like he did last year. Philip Rivers is out of the equation and it's not something that Tyrod Taylor goes out of his way to accommodate. Ekeler may wind up having better numbers if and when Justin Herbert becomes the starting quarterback. Ekeler should see some good rushing games with occasional scores, but it's becoming more likely that he won't perform as well as expected at the spot he was drafted.
James Conner, PIT - An ankle injury doesn't seem like the type of event that will derail his spot as the team's primary ball carrier, however, Benny Snell's performance will warrant more touches going forward. One successful game from Conner when he returns may be all that is needed to get him back in the good graces of Mike Tomlin, who has faith in his every-down back. If he doesn't, it could mean more uncertainty and concern for Conner and his owners.
D.J. Moore, CAR - The Panthers scored 30 points, but Moore was held to 54 yards on 4 receptions. The needle is pointing up on the Panthers offense, so the concern may be a bit premature, however, with Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel, and Mr. Touchdown, Christian McCaffrey, there are more mouths to feed. That doesn't even include the possible emergence of Ian Thomas. Moore is too much of a talent to be ignored. He'll rebound, but the target shares are a slight concern.
A.J. Brown, TEN - The Titans top receiver was second fiddle to Corey Davis in Week 1. It's possible that Ryan Tannehill took advantage of A.J. Bouye being out and exploited his looks towards Corey Davis. Brown still managed 8 targets, like Davis, but the downfield strikes and run after the catch opportunities weren't there. It's premature to consider Davis as a WR1 for the Titans, but there's a chance that he could take away some targets from Brown, on what is already a low pass volume offense.
Antonio Gibson, WAS - The game plan is still intact for Gibson to flourish but it appears as if Ron Rivera isn't fully ready to throw him into the deep end just yet. Peyton Barber collected a few scores that could've gone Gibson's way. The talent and potential that Gibson has exceeds that of Barber, but it may take a bit longer than expected for him to see increased touches. Gibson was on the field for only 26% of the team's snaps. His time is coming. Keep the faith if you have him on your roster.
My top 16 waiver claims for Week 2
This is difficult to pin down because your waivers may not be as deep as others, but this is how I see it.
- Dallas Goedert, PHI
- T.J. Hockenson, DET
- Jamison Crowder, NYJ (update - Crowder has a hamstring injury of unknown severity). This would drop him down much lower in waiver ranks.
- Nyheim Hines, IND
- Parris Campbell, IND
- James Robinson, JAC
- Laviska Shenault Jr, JAC
- O.J. Howard, TB
- Benny Snell, PIT
- Josh Kelley, LAC
- Malcolm Brown, LAR
- TreQuan Smith, NO
- Mike Wiliams, LAC
- Scotty Miller, TB
- Jordan Akins, HOU
- Logan Thomas, WAS
Running backs on the rise? Backs who scored with less than 10 carries
- 2 carries, Josh Adams, NYJ
- 3 carries, D'Andre Swift, DET
- 7 carries, J.K. Dobbins, BAL
- 7 carries, Nyheim Hines, IND
- 7 carries, Carlos Hyde, SEA
- 8 carries, Jordan Howard, MIA
- 10 carries, Sony Michel, NE
Receivers (WR/TE) on the rise? Receivers who scored with 4 targets or less
- 1 target, Nelson Agholor, LSV
- 1 target, MyCole Pruitt, TEN
- 2 targets, Javon Wims, CHI
- 2 targets, Jordan Akins, HOU
- 3 targets, James Washington, PIT
- 3 targets, D.J. Chark Jr, JAC
- 4 targets, Allen Lazard, GB
- 4 targets, Laviska Shenault Jr, JAC
- 4 targets, Greg Olsen, SEA
- 4 targets, Mike Evans, TB
- 4 targets, Willie Snead IV, BAL
Scores coming? Players with 10+ targets and 0 touchdowns
- 10 targets, Diontae Johnson, PIT
- 10 targets, Quintez Cephus, DET
- 10 targets, Will Fuller V, HOU
- 10 targets, Odell Beckham Jr, CLE
- 12 targets, Russell Gage, ATL
- 12 targets, Julio Jones, ATL
- 14 targets, Amari Cooper, DAL
- 16 targets, DeAndre Hopkins, ARI
Players with 15+ carries but did not score a touchdown
- 15 carries, Latavius Murray, NO
- 15 carries, Saquon Barkley, NYG
- 16 carries, James Robinson, JAC
- 17 carries, Ronald Jones II, TB
- 19 carries, Benny Snell, PIT
- 19 carries, Joe Mixon, CIN
- 19 carries, Austin Ekeler, LAC
- 31 carries, Derrick Henry, TEN
Defenses with 5+ sacks
- 8 Washington
- 4 Kansas City
- 4 Indianapolis
Defenses who allowed 15 points or less (all from the AFC).
- 6 Baltimore
- 11 New England
- 13 Los Angeles (AFC)
- 14 Tennessee
Defenses with 2+ interceptions
- 3 New England
- 2 Jacksonville
- 2 New Orleans
- 2 Pittsburgh
- 2 Washington
How do we feel about players going forward? I set to twitter to get the consensus scoop.
Which unexpected Week 1 WR darling shows more consistent production for the rest of the year?— Jeff Haseley (@JeffHaseley) September 15, 2020
Which Week 1 RB darling do you want on your fantasy roster over the other three?— Jeff Haseley (@JeffHaseley) September 15, 2020
If last option, state which one in the replies.
Which fairly high-drafted Week 1 RB disappointment would you rather have on your roster for the rest of the year over the other three?— Jeff Haseley (@JeffHaseley) September 15, 2020
Which RB3 or RB4 would you rather have on your roster for the rest of the season over the other three?— Jeff Haseley (@JeffHaseley) September 15, 2020
Which RB would you rather have on your roster for the rest of the year?— Jeff Haseley (@JeffHaseley) September 15, 2020
Which lesser tier potential waiver claim RB is a better target? (redraft)— Jeff Haseley (@JeffHaseley) September 15, 2020
Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org