Week 1 of fantasy football is always weird. Add an abbreviated offseason with no preseason games and fantasy GMs are left scratching their heads, wondering if the games we watched are indicative of trends or just flukes.
There were some interesting upsets this week like the Cardinals defeating the 49ers and the Eagles going down to the Washington Football Team. It’s a new year, a strange year, and Week 1 is just the beginning of an exciting, and much-anticipated new season.
A Few Highlights
Some things remained constant from 2019 to 2020. QB Philip Rivers will find a way to throw interceptions no matter what jersey he wears and the Lions will still find a way to lose despite a heart-stopping fourth quarter almost-comeback. HC Adam Gase still loves RB Frank Gore, although most of that could be attributed to an injury to RB Le’Veon Bell. Oh, and RB Christian McCaffrey and TE Mark Andrews are really good, in case you missed it.
Rookie running backs stepped up in a big way in Week 1. J.K. Dobbins of the Baltimore Ravens scored two touchdowns, making veteran Mark Ingram woefully ineffective. Jonathan Taylor had to step up to the plate earlier than expected when Marlon Mack went down with a torn Achilles. Not to be left out of the action, Zach Moss also found the end zone for the Buffalo Bills and Joshua Kelley carried the ball 12 times for 60 yards and a touchdown. James Robinson picked up where Leonard Fournette left off in the Jaguars’ offense, rushing 16 times for 62 yards in their win over the Colts.
Unfortunately, D’Andre Swift dropped the ball for Detroit in a big way (literally). With 10 seconds left in the game, Swift dropped a game-winning touchdown pass. It wasn’t pretty. The whole Lions’ run game was confusing. Newly signed Adrian Peterson led the team in carries with 14 and 93 yards even though Kerryon Johnson was fully healthy. It will be interesting to see how HC Matt Patricia uses these backs as the year progresses. I am hesitant to go anywhere near the Lions’ backfield until then.
Despite a Falcons loss to the Seahawks, QB Matt Ryan won for fantasy, connecting with WR Calvin Ridley nine times for 130 yards and two touchdowns. The Ridley-hype this offseason seems like the real deal. RB Todd Gurley also proved that he is ready for the action, scoring the Falcons’ first touchdown of the game and finishing with 14 carries, 56 yards, and a touchdown. It was a bit of a surprise not seeing him more involved in the passing game with only two receptions.
The early games were fun to watch, but let’s be honest. All eyes were on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the New Orleans Saints. QB Tom Brady proved that he is human, throwing two interceptions, including a pick-six. He finished the game with 23 completions on 36 attempts, 239 yards, rushed in a touchdown, and passed two to TE O.J. Howard and WR Mike Evans. Tampa Bay’s defense looked impressive, holding elite WR Michael Thomas to three receptions for only 17 yards. TE Jared Cook and RB Alvin Kamara saw five looks each and Kamara capitalized with a receiving and a rushing touchdown. Despite seeing Kamara often during the game, it was RB Latavius Murray who saw a majority of the carries with 15 to Kamara’s 12 and 48 yards to Kamara’s 16. Sixteen yards. You read that correctly.
QB Joe Burrow made his NFL debut for the Cincinnati Bengals against the Los Angles Chargers. True to form, Burrow looked cool and collected, but a win was not meant to be. Trailing by three, Burrow drove down the field to throw a potential touchdown pass to veteran WR A.J. Green. However, he was called for offensive pass interference after pushing off of the defender. All they needed was a 31-yard field goal to tie the game and head into overtime. Bengals’ kicker Randy Bullock missed the field goal, hurt his calf, and Burrow’s expression quickly went viral.
All hope is not lost, though. When all is said and done, the future is surprisingly bright for Cincinnati with the new QB under center. Hopefully, they shed the dreaded Cincinnati curse.
The evening game featured a nail-biter with the Dallas Cowboys visiting the Rams in the brand new SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. The game came down to the wire with the Rams leading the Cowboys 20 - 17. A questionable pass-interference call against Cowboys WR Michael Gallup and a handful of incompletions prevented Dallas from getting into field-goal range to tie the game. Despite the loss, QB Dak Prescott finished with 25 completions on 39 attempts, 266 yards, and a touchdown. QB Jared Goff also threw a touchdown on 20 completions for a total of 275 yards.
For the Rams, it was veteran RB Malcolm Brown who came away as the fantasy winner. He rushed 18 times for 79 yards and scored two touchdowns. There are still question marks as to who is going to get the volume in that backfield. Rookie RB Cam Akers rushed 14 times for 39 yards but did not see the end zone. The Rams relied on Brown in Sunday’s game, but there is no guarantee it stays that way. If you have shares of Brown, you may want to capitalize on his big game and move him now.
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Like I said at the beginning of this article, Week 1 is weird. This year is especially rocky with a shortened training camp and no preseason games. There will undoubtedly be knee-jerk reactions to this week’s performances. Here are a few names you should consider targeting as we move forward into Week 2 as well as a few you should consider moving while their stock is high.
Remember, trades are incredibly objective and are entirely dependent on your team’s needs. When you are considering a trade either for a player or trading him away, keep in mind a simple rule of thumb. Trade away a player while their stock is high and trade for a player when their stock is low. You can find some studs who bombed in Week 1 and offload players who may not have a consistent future.
Here are some names to consider in trade negotiations.
Sammy Watkins (WR - KC)
Latavius Murray (RB - NO)
Jared Cook (TE - NO)
Aaron Rodgers (QB - GB)
Robby Anderson (WR - CAR)
Malcolm Brown (RB - LAR)
Nick Chubb (RB - CLE)
Tyler Boyd (WR - CIN)
Austin Ekeler (RB - LAC)
Christian Kirk (WR - ARI)
A.J. Green (WR - CIN)
Preston Williams (WR - MIA)
Antonio Gibson (RB - WAS)
It is becoming a trend for WR Sammy Watkins to have a huge Week 1. He did it last year and he did it again this year. In 2019, Watkins posted nine receptions on 11 targets for 198 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1. After that game, he didn't have more than 13 targets a game and didn't score another touchdown the entire year. Kansas City has too many talented players to feature Watkins as a consistent piece in the offense. Take advantage of his boom game and get rid of him for the best value you can.
If you have running back depth and need some help in other areas of your roster, consider trading away RB Latavius Murray. He got the volume on the ground, but Kamara should continue to be the end zone target. You may also consider capitalizing on WR Robby Anderson if you have depth at the wide receiver position but need help elsewhere.
TE Jared Cook led in receiving yards with 80 and QB Drew Brees looked his way under pressure. The tight end position in fantasy is tricky and I do worry for Cook’s season-long production. WR Emmanuel Sanders only saw three targets, but one of them was for a touchdown. I can certainly see Sanders matching or overtaking Cook in targets. If you want to trade Cook away hold off for another week. The Saints play the Raiders in Week 2 who allowed the second-most fantasy points to the tight end position last year behind the Arizona Cardinals.
You may think I am crazy to suggest trading away QB Aaron Rodgers. Remember, trade targets are about team needs. Your leverage in targeting stud players just went way up with Rodgers on the trade block. Even though he blew up with fantasy points this week, it does not mean he will be a consistent auto-start for the rest of the season.
On the flip side, some potential studs disappointed this week, but you should be looking to add these players your roster if possible. RB Nick Chubb is a good example. He posted 10 carries for only 60 yards and did not find the end zone. With a run-heavy head coach in Kevin Stefanski, I don’t think the mediocre performance is indicative of the rest of the season. The same is also true for RB Kareem Hunt and even WR Odell Beckham Jr. Don’t forget that the Ravens Defense is very, very good and they had a chip on their shoulder after last year’s defeat.
Running backs Austin Ekeler and Antonio Gibson posted mediocre to poor numbers, and WRs A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd didn’t find the end zone against the Chargers. Fantasy managers may be ready to move these players after Week 1. If you need some depth at these positions and the waiver is too thin, consider trading for them. You may also want to look at WR Christian Kirk to add to your squad after all the attention was showered on WR DeAndre Hopkins.
Miami’s WR DeVante Parker was injured in Sunday’s matchup against the Patriots. Look for WR Preston Williams to absorb those targets. It was a poor showing for QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and I expect him to improve in the passing game as the season continues.
I apologize in advance for being redundant, and it won’t be the last time I say it. When you trade players, you are trading them AWAY at their HIGHEST value and trading FOR them at their LOWEST value. Just because a good player has a bad game, does not mean you immediately get rid of him. That is the opposite of what you need to do. I know it’s frustrating watching a player underperform and possibly cost you a game. Wait until he has a good game and then look to move him.
Don’t forget to check out this week’s Waiver Wire article for pickups that may not be rostered in your league.
Cowboys TE Blake Jarwin possibly tore his ACL in Sunday night’s game against the Rams. … Saints WR Michael Thomas suffered an ankle injury and is considered questionable. … Colts RB Marlon Mack exited the game with a suspected torn Achilles. … Cleveland TE David Njoku scored the Browns’ first TD in the season opener but suffered a knee injury. … Jets RB Le’Veon Bell questionable with a hamstring injury. … Miami WR DeVante Parker left the game early with a hamstring injury. … 49ers WR Deebo Samuel was placed on IR and cannot return until at least Week 4. … Giants WR Golden Tate is questionable with a hamstring injury leading into Monday’s matchup. … WR Courtland Sutton suffered an AC sprain but HC Vic Fangio stated that if Sutton can do 10 jumping jacks before the game, he’ll play, according to NFL Network’s James Palmer.