Fresh off the most recent slate of games, Fantrax looks back at all the good, the bad, and the interesting from the first Sunday of NFL games in the Week 1 fantasy football recap.
If we are being honest with ourselves, we did not know anything about the 2022 NFL season before today’s games began. We can try to trick ourselves into thinking we know how the snap rates, usage, and targets will be distributed, but until we see guys like Greg Dortch have nine targets and seven catches, it’s impossible to know for sure.
Now, we know….something. Hopefully, we can use what we learned in the first week of fantasy football to help make better lineup decisions moving forward. This weekly column will look highlight the week’s slate from a fantasy perspective, while also analyzing what trends to pay attention to in the weeks ahead.
Each week will look back at the fantasy day that was with a theme of a different television show. For Week 1, we head back into The Office.
Week 1 Fantasy Football Recap
Week 1 Studs
“Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy. Both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”
When fantasy managers started drafting Josh Allen and Justin Herbert ahead of Patrick Mahomes this offseason, it wasn’t quite as bad as Erin choosing both Gabe and Pete Miller over Andy Bernard, but it was close. Mahomes made sure people still knew he is the GOAT-apparent with 360 passing yards and five passing touchdowns in a dismantling of the Arizona Cardinals. Even without Tyreek Hill, Mahomes was able to seamlessly incorporate his new wideouts and revitalize the fantasy corpse of Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
It was turn-back-the-clock night for Wentz’s first game with the Washington Commanders as he threw up 313 passing yards for four touchdowns plus a two-point conversion. This was against Jacksonville, and Wentz has just three 300-yard passing games over the last two years so I wouldn’t hang my fantasy hat on this performance. This was also the first time since 2017 he threw for four touchdowns. But if you need a Dak Prescott fill-in, there are worse options on the waiver wire.
Against the Detroit Lions, Hurts was running more than the office staff in the “Michael Scott’s Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Fun Run Pro-Am Race for the Cure.” The Eagles’ dual-threat quarterback threw for 243 yards but rushed 17 times for 90 yards and a score. Four different Eagles scored rushing touchdowns today, so that might be a fantasy headache, but the pass/run threat from Hurts will pay fantasy dividends all year.
The first half of this game looked like Barkley was going to wind up on the “Duds” list for sure. But then he ripped off one of his patented 68-yard runs en route to 164 total rushing yards, 30 receiving yards, and a score. With 24 opportunities (targets + rushes) in this game, Barkley showed why he remains the only reliable fantasy asset on the Giants.
Jamaal Williams may have tried to pull a Dwight Schrute-style coup at the goal line today, but it was still D’Andre Swift who came out of the power play as the clear manager of the running back room. Williams’ two vultured touchdowns hurt, but Swift still ended up with 175 total yards and a score in an offensive game plan that looked surprisingly potent. It is clear, however, that Williams will continue to steal more work than Swift’s managers want him to.
Nick Chubb may have come away with the yards (144 rushing yards), but it was Hunt who came away with the more valuable targets, receptions, and (2!) touchdowns. Even though Chubb had 23 opportunities in this game, the Browns still found a way to get 15 for Hunt. He is a set-it-and-forget-it RB2 moving forward, even with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback.
Tyler Allgeier was banished to the annex for this game, being listed as a surprise inactive against the New Orleans Saints. That left Cordarelle Patterson free to pick up where he left off in 2021. C-Patt had 27 opportunities that resulted in 136 total yards and a rushing touchdown in this one. Were we too low drafting Patterson at pick 101 overall in preseason drafts? Does Stanley get excited for Pretzel Day?
Just simply the best performance from any player on this fantasy day. He was making long catches, acrobatic catches, and degree-of-difficulty catches. Add it all up and you have 184 receiving yards on nine catches with two touchdowns. He’s the new 1.01. Give him all the fantasy Dundies.
How do you define a wide receiver alpha on a team? Find the guy who played at least 16 snaps more than any other skill player on his team, the guy who had more targets than any other two players combined, and the guy who turned that all into nine catches for 121 yards and a score. This is a top-five wide receiver year incoming now that he has a competent quarterback.
If the Tennessee Titans were watching the Eagles-Lions game until halftime, they were treated to this:
AJ Brown’s first half as an Eagle:
Always open. pic.twitter.com/dCLhwxRpra
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 11, 2022
It was clear Philadelphia was making a concerted effort to get their shiny new toy the ball, and he and Hurts have a connection already. He finished with 10 catches and 155 yards in a season debut that was better than “Weight Loss” or “The Dundies.”
Maybe someday Chris Olave will join the party, but for now, it looks like Jameis Winston only has eyes for Jarvis Landry and Michael Thomas. The former saw nine targets, catching seven for 114 yards. Thomas, coming all the way back from missing over a year with injury, saw eight targets and turned that into 57 yards and two touchdowns. Thomas led the team in routes run, showing no lingering effects of injury.
Reliable. Dependent. Productive. Always has the numbers in the end. Kelce is the Oscar Martinez of the Kansas City Chiefs. As expected, Kelce led the way for the Chiefs’ pass-catchers post-Tyreek Hill. He also led all fantasy tight ends in points with eight catches for 121 yards and a score.
After Keenan Allen left with an injury, guys like Gerald Everett and DeAndre Carter stepped up in his absence, but it was still a messy situation where seven players saw three or four targets in this game that was pegged to be an offensive explosion. Everett took advantage of his opportunity, making a couple of nice, long grabs including an astounding 18-yard grab for a score that would prove to be the deciding touchdown.
OJ Howard shocked the fantasy world with the only two receiving touchdowns for the Houston Texans on Sunday. That temporarily snuffs out the fantasy flame for sleeper Brevin Jordan. But buyer beware. He ran a quarter of the routes and played a quarter of the snaps that Jordan did. And Howard’s two touchdowns were his only two targets of the game. Don’t blow your FAAB here.
Week 1 Duds
“I am running away from my responsibilities. And it feels good”
Watching Lance play in the slop at Solider Field on Sunday was more cringy than sitting through a dinner party at Michael and Jan’s condo. Lance was under a 50% completion rate for the day with no passing touchdowns and a pick. The 13 rush attempts were very nice, but turning them into only 54 rushing yards is not ideal going forward. Is it possible Lance needs to braise longer than the osso bucco until he is absolutely ready? One game is too soon to tell, but Jimmy G lurks on the sidelines if there are many more performances like this.
On the other side of the field, Fields did throw two passing touchdowns, but it was clear from the terrible game conditions in this one the Bears weren’t going to prioritize the passing game. Fields threw the ball only 17 times compared to 37 rush attempts in this game. Fields did tuck it and run on 11 of those, but for just 28 yards. An ugly interception didn’t end up costing the Bears, but just 8-for-17 for 121 yards needs to improve for the second-year QB.
Dak Prescott and the Cowboys Passing Game
After an abysmal game where Prescott threw for just 134 passing yards and a pick, it was announced he will miss several weeks with an injury to his throwing hand. By the way Jerry Jones made it sound, this injury is much worse than, say, stepping on a George Foreman grill. It’s a massive downgrade to CeeDee Lamb, Dalton Schultz, and the entire Cowboys’ passing attack. Get well soon, Dak.
If this is the level of efficiency Montgomery is going to continue to display, his managers are going to have a Khalil Herbert problem on their hands. Montgomery gained just 26 yards on 17 carries while Herbert looked explosive with 45 yards on nine totes. Herbert also scored the touchdown when Montgomery was nowhere to be found on the field. The usage and snaps still heavily favored Montgomery, but it’s not hard to imagine a world where that begins to shift.
Let me see if have this straight? The Saints threw for 269 yards and rushed for 151, but Kamara amassed only 46 of those? And no scores? Can that be true?
“Hey Mr. Moore, What you gonna do,
What you gonna do make our dreams come true?!
Hey Mr. Moore, What you gonna do,
What you gonna do make our dreams come true?!”
Moore needs to give us a lot more than we got on Sunday to make our fantasy dreams come true this season. He caught just three of his six targets for 43 yards and nary a score. Robbie Anderson looked the part of a better option, which is certainly a problem.
See: Fields, Justin, and Montgomery, David. Just three targets and outplayed by Equanimeous St. Brown? Yikes.
A terrible start to the season with just two catches for 19 yards, but not to panic. He ran nine more routes than anyone on the team and tied for the team lead in targets. Pitts was swarmed for most of the game and should have clearer lanes for big games moving forward.
It seems like it would be impossible to lead a team with 71 routes run but draw only one target for seven yards. And this was playing with Jacoby Brissett who likes to target tight ends. That’s like a Jim Halpert-level of slacking off on the job.
Situations to Monitor
“Fool me once, strike one. Fool me twice, strike three.”
The Green Bay Packers Passing Tree
I realize that Allen Lazard (who could be a number one receiver) was out this week, but there may be a potential problem brewing with how we decipher where targets go in Green Bay. Here are the receiving numbers from Sunday’s loss to the Vikings.
Davante Adams ain’t walking through that door, so what do you do with seven players who draw between three and six targets? I will be watching this situation closely when Lazard returns next week to see if anyone starts to separate from the pack. Aaron Rodgers did seem to look to Romeo Doubs late in the game, so maybe the connection is developing there.
Jacksonville Jaguars Running Back Splits
As the preseason came to a close, it became clear that James Robinson being healthy for Week 1 was a reality. Travis Etienne zealots like myself began to be truly worried about the prospect of Robinson stealing the thunder and just leaving the lightning to Etienne. Through one week it looks like that’s what happened (charts courtesy of Pro Football Focus).
An almost even split backfield emerged today in a close game. Robinson takes the early downs and the short yardage while Etienne gets the third downs and the two-minute drill. And it looks like they split the goal line work as well.
Who is Lamar Jackson’s Favorite Target?
It was the unheralded Devin Duvernay who stole the offensive show for the Ravens on Sunday, scoring two touchdowns with four catches and 54 receiving yards. But I would let someone else pay that freight at the FAAB table this week. Both Rashod Bateman and Mark Andrews played more snaps, ran more routes, and drew more targets. This was a right place, right time situation for Duvernay apparently.
That being said, these three guys were the only pass-catchers involved in the game in any meaningful way. If the Ravens increase their passing rate from last year (56.4%, 22nd in the NFL), Duvernay can still have value with this narrow passing tree.
Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel Breakout?
The unbelievable passing performance from Carson Wentz on Sunday had to drag some pass-catchers along with it, and while more notable names Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson did just fine, it was rookie Jahan Dotson and veteran Curtis Samuel that stole the show.
All three primary receivers for the Commanders eclipsed 80% route participation.
Terry McLaurin 94%, 8%
Jahan Dotson 90%, 13%
Curtis Samuel 83%, 28% (plus 16% rush share)
— Dwain McFarland (@dwainmcfarland) September 12, 2022
If Samuel can stay healthy and Dotson is all that the prospect evaluators claim he can be, this might suddenly be a formidable passing attack. In a game that had a neutral game script to it for the vast majority of the contest, the Commanders had a 41/28 pass to run ratio. If that trend holds, Samuel and Dotson are going to be very worthwhile waiver claims to make.
Who Catches Passes in Arizona Besides Hollywood Brown?
The Arizona Cardinals hate Andy Isabella so much they have Greg Dortch 38 more snaps, 27 more routes, and six more targets in this play catch-up game against the Chiefs. With no Rondale Moore and De’Andre Hopkins, only three players saw more than three targets: Dortch, Marquise Brown, and James Conner. Zach Ertz looks to be added to that group once he plays more than half the game, but that’s the passing list for Kyler Murray.
There’s no getting around the fact that the Cardinals did not look good on Sunday. But hey, at least Hard Knocks: In Season got some good footage, I bet. And I can’t help but think something went very wrong when a guy (Dortch) who had three career targets before Sunday led the team with nine. When his weapons are back, I have no doubt this offense will improve, but until they are healthy and whole on both sides of the ball, the road to vast improvement ahead might be quite long and hard.
That’s what she said.