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Fantasy football: Random thoughts from NFL Week 1

Heath goes game-by-game with a few thoughts on each contest.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

KC 42, NE 27

Alex Smith passed for 368 yards and four touchdowns and had zero interceptions. Kareem Hunt rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. In short, the Patriots defense was shredded. Mike Gillislee rushed for three touchdowns on 15 carries, so it is pretty clear what his role is for New England right now. Last but not least, the Patriots looked lost without Danny Amendola. It probably makes sense for Chris Hogan to see more slot time in the future, at least based off of the first game’s statistics. “Tichaona,” as my Shona friend says. “We shall see.”

NYJ 12, BUF 21

The Bills only passed for 218 yards, but they ran for 190 and crushed the Jets in time of possession (33:04 to 26:56). LeSean McCoy racked up 27 touches en route to leading the Bills in rushing and receiving, which is probably going to be a running theme for this team. Charles Clay (4-53-1) did manage to produce, though, and he is a high-end TE2 option for the time being. The Jets split carries between Bilal Powell (7-22) and Matt Forte (6-16) but Powell nabbed the receiving work (5-17). What a putrid-looking offense this is. I cannot imagine being a Jets fan.

ATL 23, CHI 17

The Bears contained the Falcons on the ground, as Devonta Freeman (12-37-1) and Tevin Coleman (8-16) were punchless save for Freeman’s touchdown. Chicago struggled against the pass, though, as multiple Falcons ripped off chunk gains. Austin Hooper finished with a line of 2-128-1, for instance (an 88-yard reception will certainly pad your stats). Matt Ryan (21 of 30) carved out 321 passing yards and a touchdown pass. Time of possession was pretty even in this one as the Bears gave it a good effort all around. Jordan Howard (13-52-1) and Tarik Cohen (5-66) paved the way on the ground, while Cohen amassed 8-47-1 through the air. Kendall Wright (3-34) was a no-show until Kevin White went down with a fractured scapula. With White heading to I.R. and Cameron Meredith already lost for the season, I think people are correct in adding Cohen, though expectations should be tempered. The Falcons did allow the most receptions to enemy running backs last season, after all.

BAL 20, CIN 0

Baltimore only passed for 111 yards, but they rushed for 157 behind Terrance West (19-80-1) and Buck Allen (21-71). The main story here is Danny Woodhead’s early dismissal due to a recurring hamstring issue. For now, West’s carries seem safe and Buck Allen is a quality add (I like him more than Cohen). On the Cincinnati side, Andy Dalton tossed four interceptions and only A.J. Green (5-74) had a receiving line worth mentioning. It was a full-blown RBBC, too, with Bernard (7-40), Hill (6-26), and Mixon (8-9) splitting the carries. Yikes. PSA: Don’t give up on Mixon just yet. Be patient.

PIT 21, CLE 18

You were expecting the score to be higher, right? Other than Le’Veon throwing up a total dud (10-32 running, 3-15 receiving) the biggest surprise was Duke Johnson’s lack of involvement in the running game. It appears that Matt Dayes (3-7) is the new backup to Isaiah Crowell (17-33) and that Duke is now a receiver. Duke played 76% of snaps and managed only a 2-20 line receiving (stat courtesy of John Paulsen). DeShone Kizer only passed for 222-1-1 but he ran for 5-17-1. Corey Coleman (5-53-1) was the apple of Kizer’s eye, while Kenny Britt (1-13) was left out in the cold. Antonio Brown decimated the Browns (11-182) and Jesse James (6-41-2) poached a pair of scores. I thought it was interesting that the Browns actually had the ball more in this one (31:10 to 28:50). They ran more plays (62 to 54) and successfully kept the better offense off of the field. Too bad you don’t get extra points for that. PSA: No, you are not worried about Le’Veon Bell. The Steelers got behind the proverbial eight ball on offense (13 penalties for 144 yards) and the run game suffered. Please don’t wig out if you own Le’Veon.

ARI 23, DET 35

The story here (other than David Johnson’s injury) has to be Matt Stafford, right? The dude was overlooked all offseason and just torched a really good Arizona defense. Stafford was 29 of 41 for 292 yards with four scores against one interception. The slot receiver role against Arizona continued to be lucrative, as Golden Tate amassed a 10-107 line. Preseason hero Kenny Golladay (4-69-2) came through in the clutch, while Marvin Jones came through with a 2-37-1 line. Ameer Abdullah (15-30) had a poor outing and ceded plenty of receptions to Theo Riddick (6-27-1). I don’t have interest in Abdullah in any format. Now we get to it...what do you do if you drafted David Johnson? Do you add Kerwynn Williams? Add Andre Ellington? Stash T.J. Logan? I say “no” to all three options. The Cardinals are considering bringing back Chris Johnson. I have zero interest in this ugly RBBC. Carson Palmer may throw it 50 times next week, so get ready for some old-man magic with he and Larry Fitzgerald. This will continue to be a thing for as long as their ancient bodies can withstand the toll.

JAX 29, HOU 7

Allen Robinson suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and will miss the remainder of the season. The Jaguars still have Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns, and Arrelious Benn to throw to, but you should expect the bulk of their offense to run through Leonard Fournette, who had 29 touches, 124 total yards and a score on Sunday. Fournette played on 61% of snaps, which was only the third-highest mark for a rookie running back in Week 1 (Dalvin Cook and Run-CMC bested him). The Texans were anemic against the Jaguars’ defense, with Lamar Miller (17-65) failing on the ground and no one except DeAndre Hopkins (7-55-1) posting a noteworthy receiving line. The big news was Deshaun Watson’s serviceable debut effort (12/23, 102 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT). That, and Nuk Hopkins amassing a whopping 16 targets in the passing game, of course. The Texans are likely sticking with Watson for Week 2, so go watch this touchdown pass from Watson to Hopkins and pray for more of the same.

OAK 26, TEN 16

What stood out to me was Corey Davis (6-69) leading the Titans with 10 targets in the passing game. Apparently the rookie is farther ahead than we knew. Since that is the case, I question the long-term value of Rishard Matthews (5-71) once Eric Decker (3-10) is fully entrenched in this offense. The Titans did run 11 personnel (three-wide receiver sets) on 76.2% of their plays, though (shouts to Matt Harmon for the stat). So maybe there is hope for all three receivers. Tichaona! The Raiders had contributions from the usual suspects in Amari Cooper (5-62-1) and Michael Crabtree (6-83). Newcomers Marshawn Lynch (18-76) and Jared Cook (5-56) also made their presence felt. Now go watch Beast Mode truck a 300-pound defensive lineman. You are welcome.

PHI 30, WAS 17

Jamison Crowder was a colossal letdown is my truest feeling about this game. Alshon Jeffery (3-38) suffered through Josh Norman’s shadow, while Zach Ertz (8-93) and and Nelson Agholor (6-86-1) picked up the pace. Ertz looks like a Top 5 tight end in that offense. Tichaona. Anyway, Captain Kirk had a pretty miserable game (two fumbles and a pick) but one of them was pretty controversial. I do think it should have been overturned, but who really knows anything about NFL rules anymore? Terrelle Pryor (6-66) had a decent debut, while Jordan Reed (5-36) continued to scare us all with the talk of pain in his fractured toe. Yikes. Both running games were pretty uninspiring. Nothing to see there.

IND 9, LAR 46

Wow at that score! That’s what happens when the Colts trot out Scott Tolzien...he offers up a pair of pick-sixes on a platter and tries to set an NFL record with three in one game. It’s almost like Tolzien started all of the Rams in fantasy football this week. Anyway, Cooper Kupp (4-76-1) is the guy you need if you just lost Allen Robinson. Jared Goff was passable (21/29 for 306 and 1 TD) and Gurley was still bad (19-40-1). Gurley did catch five passes, though. He may “ugly” his way to usefulness this year, but that poor showing against a really bad team makes me very happy I have no season-long shares of him this year. The last interesting number was Marlon Mack’s workload—he managed 10 carries for 24 yards and a touchdown, notable since Frank Gore only had 10 carries. Granted, this was a blowout of epic proportions, so we’ll see how things shake out in closer games. At the very least, Robert Turbin (2-7) appears to be behind Mack for now. Oh yeah, I nearly forgot—Jacoby Brissett is likely to start in Week 2 for Indianapolis. Someone tell me again how Colin Kaepernick is out of a job? He should have been the Colts quarterback a month ago.

SEA 9, GB 17

Not quite the barn-burner we all had in mind, eh? First off, the Seahawks’ backfield is a three-headed monstrosity that I have zero interest in. Also, Thomas Rawls should be back next week. I think Rawls is still the guy to own when he is healthy, but I might be the only one. Anyway, unless it’s Doug Baldwin (4-63) or Jimmy Graham (3-8) I have little interest in this passing game moving forward. Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett are depth plays in my opinion, with the nod going to Richardson until Lockett actually overtakes him. On the Green Bay side of things, the slot receiver role was a boon against Seattle, as Randall Cobb (9-85) emerged from his offseason slumber. Jordy Nelson (7-79-1) rose above the tough matchup, but my favorite story is Ty Montgomery getting it done via the ground (19-54-1) and the air (4-39). I love me some “TyMont” moving forward, and he should be a popular option in all formats next week against Atlanta. The Falcons historically get carved up by runners who can catch the football, and we know the converted wide receiver can do that much.

CAR 23, SF 3

And here is where I lost my DFS monies. I had some Hoyer-Hyde and Hoyer-Hyde-Garcon stacks going with my Jonathan Stewart picks sprinkled in. I kept telling you guys J-Stew wasn’t done, but I am certain few of you listened. Stewart contributed on the ground (18-65) and via the air (2-17-1) while Christian McCaffrey netted 18 touches and 85 total yards. I am a little concerned for Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen in the future. I expect this team to be run-heavy and to scheme more for Run-CMC as we move forward...I question how much will be left for the receivers in that offense. Still, it is folly to overreact to one game, and we shouldn’t accurately judge the Carolina offense until we know Cam is back to full health. On the San Francisco side of things, Carlos Hyde’s usage was encouraging (9-45 on the ground and 6-32 via the air). Lastly, I think it is noteworthy that rookie tight end George Kittle caught five balls. He may sneak into a few of my DFS lineups here and there if that trend continues.

NYG 3, DAL 19

Ezekiel Elliott (24-104) ran roughshod over my GMen. He also chipped in a 5-36 receiving line. The dude can ball when he is on the field. How long will he be on the field, though? Tichaona! Paul Perkins (7-16) and Orleans Darkwa (3-14) proved the Giants still can’t run the football. Granted, OBJ’s absence hurt considerably, but still. Perhaps this is why Shane Vereen amassed a whopping nine receptions for 51 yards? Time will tell what his role will be when OBJ returns, but for a team that can’t run effectively I expect Vereen to be relevant this year (especially in PPR formats). The Giants continued to be abysmal at covering tight ends, as Jason-Witten-the-Giant-Killer struck again (7-59-1). Dez Bryant’s foray into his “tough cornerback schedule” did not begin well against Janoris Jenkins as Dez (2-43) was largely contained. I still expect Bryant to be a Top 10 wideout this year, but he is certainly going to earn it with that schedule.

NO 19, MIN 29

Sam Bradford is out here ballin’ out. He is a legitimate QB2 option in your fake leagues, and a QB1 option when he plays against the Saints (346 passing and 3 TDs). Dalvin Cook (22-127 and 3-10) played 79% of the snaps for Minnesota, tops among rookie runners in Week 1 (shouts to Graham Barfield for the stat). Adam Thielen (9-157) and Stefon Diggs (7-93-2) dominated via the air, while popular late-round tight end Kyle Rudolph (3-26-1) buoyed his numbers by finding paydirt. On the New Orleans side, the big melodrama is Adrian Peterson’s lack of usage in the running game, as well as the loss of another offensive lineman in Zach Strief (MCL). The Saints should move the ball easier against New England in Week 2, but the OL issues are a concern—even against a hobbling Patriots defense.

LAC 21, DEN 24

Full disclosure, I did not watch this game. I experienced some effects from Irma and actually went to bed early. What leaps out at me is Denver leading 24-7 heading into the fourth quarter, and nearly giving the game away with a couple of turnovers. That, and Philip Rivers slinging three scores against a stout pass defense, of course. Rivers remains one of my favorite dark horse candidates for a Top 12 quarterback season. On the Denver side, it would appear that C.J. Anderson (20-81) is currently healthy, so feel free to ride that train for as long as it keeps rolling. It is difficult to get excited about Demaryius Thomas (5-67) or Emmanuel Sanders (3-26) in this offense. I like Trevor Siemian in real life, but not for my fake team. The best bet moving forward in Denver will continue to be the defense.

I spent far too much time looking at box scores in this one. Let me know if it was helpful, and tell me what stood out to you this week. Peace!