Questions, answers and judgement; Week 1 recap

September 15, 2020

Packers and Cardinals lead the upsets, Falcons air it out

The weekend has come and gone, but unlike the past few months, people enter Monday with a buzzing sense of satisfaction.

Why? Football is back, baby. It’s time to answer our long-awaited speculation with more questions.

Kansas City Chiefs vs Houston Texans — 34 – 20

What questions did we have going in?

Is David Johnson done? Can Deshaun Watson survive without DeAndre Hopkins? How much work will Darrell Williams take from Clyde Edwards-Helaire? Who is the No. 2 wide receiver in Kansas City? Will Bill O’ Brien trade Watson for a conditional bag of Lays?

What happened?

Exactly what people expected to happen happened on Thursday Night Football. A great night of football and plenty of fantasy points. Johnson showed that he still has some juice, leaving the only question remaining is his durability. With Duke Johnson currently dealing with a sprained ankle, David Johnson should continue to be a solid fantasy contributor for as long as his body allows. Selling high is tempting.

Watson also showed why he is the second-highest paid quarterback in the league, displaying his uncanny ability to escape pressure and make plays. It was noticeable the lack of separation his weapons created, however. Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb combined for a forgetful 4-43-0 receiving line. But positive game scripts and freakish talent showed that Watson can be a good fantasy option even when his weapons disappoint, save for Will Fuller who had a solid outing. Things should be better against Philadelphia next week.

Yeah, nobody should have been worried about Darrell Williams, who plodded his way to a change-of-pace role. Edwards-Helaire was the clear starter in a perfect debut, marred only by a strange lack of receiving work and an inability to convert on the goal line. In this Chiefs offense, continue to fire up Edwards-Helaire as the RB1 he is. Ride this out.

For Mecole Hardman truthers, however, sound the alarms. The revolving door that is the No. 2 wide receiver in Kansas City is a real thing and will continue to be so. Sammy Watkins is a perennial Week 1 mirage, but he won’t go away. Neither will Demarcus Robinson. It’s a streaky position with a high ceiling. That won’t change any time soon. The Chiefs should have plenty of opportunities to score once again against the Chargers.

What questions remain?

Can Cooks or Cobb step up as the WR2 in Houston? Likewise, can Watkins continue to be the WR2 in Kansas City?

Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets — 27 – 17

What questions did we have going in?

What will Adam Gase’s running back rotation look like? Will Chris Herndon make the jump? How much does Zach Moss affect Devin Singletary? Does Stefon Diggs get upset at Josh Allen’s inaccuracy during or after the game?

What happened?

A slaughter happened. Never before has a Week 1 team looked so out of touch and disinterested than the New York Jets as they failed to summon a pass rush or a running game.

Starting with the Jets, Jamison Crowder appeared to be the target hog we expected him to be, racking up seven receptions for 115 yards and a score. With a losing record imminent and few weapons to speak of, Crowder should be a PPR machine. Chris Herndon also showed signs of life, though he did not do much with his six receptions. Don’t count him out due to a bad matchup; there are better days ahead.

Meanwhile, Le’Veon Bell suffered a hamstring injury that forced him out of the game in the third quarter. This left Frank Gore and Josh Adams to carry the load in a game of “who can look worse.” An ugly rotation should be expected throughout the season akin to Gase’s team in Miami. If Bell is active, he gets the edge as the receiver in the group. Sam Darnold will likely be running for his life against Nick Bosa and the 49ers in Week 2.

The Bills won this game from start to finish. Allen lit up a weak Jets defense for over 300 yards passing and three total touchdowns. His threat on the ground and weapons through the air will make him a weekly option, though don’t expect this each week. Allen still missed his usual throws and had all day to throw. On the ground, both Singletary and Moss saw equal volume with poor results. More notably, Moss saw goal line work. This trend should continue with Singletary working passing downs, likely with a more balanced offense. A Week 2 matchup with an improved Miami team should test Allen more.

What questions remain?

Can Josh Allen keep this passing volume up? Will Chris Herndon be more efficient? How is Bell’s hamstring?

Minnesota Vikings vs Green Bay Packers — 34 – 43

What questions did we have going in?

Can anyone fill the Stefon Diggs void in Minnesota? Simultaneously, can anyone be the No. 2 in Green Bay? Will A.J. Dillon vulture touchdowns from Aaron Jones? Can Davante Adams see 1,000 targets?

What happened?

Aaron Rodgers showed that he’s still the gunslinger that we all know and love, lighting up a depleted secondary for 364 yards and four passing touchdowns. The last question may have been a joke, but Adams was the entire offense, ending up with a ridiculous 14 receptions for 156 yards and two touchdowns. It’s a testament to the connection the duo has, but also a slight on the secondary that lost three of their starting cornerbacks in the offseason. Rodgers also connected with Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdez-Scantling for scores. Both wide receivers should rotate as the No. 2 each week.

The ground game was a bit surprising as Jamaal Williams got work early and often. Eventually the team went back to Aaron Jones who was the most efficient of the bunch as usual. It confirms that Dillon still has to surpass Williams on the depth chart before he can even sniff a starting role. Things should be just as easy for Green Bay on offense against Detroit next week.

Meanwhile, Minnesota emphasized the run game early, with Cousins attempting a mere five passes in the first half. He ended up with 25 even when trailing for most of the game. In case anyone did not know, the teams’ identity is through the ground game. Adam Thielan will remain a great fantasy option, but the rest of the weapons will eat into each other rather than stepping up. That includes Irv Smith Jr., Olabisi Johnson and Kyle Rudolph. Maybe rookie Justin Jefferson can step up as the season progresses, but for now, he’s well off the radar. The Vikings will look to bounce-back against a Colts team that just lost Marlon Mack and their dignity against Jacksonville.

What questions remain?

Can the Vikings defense improve, or will the team need to pass more? Can Valdez-Scantling or Lazard emerge as stable options?

Philadelphia Eagles vs Washington Football Team — 27 – 17

What questions did we have going in?

Can Boston Scott and Corey Clement fill in for Miles Sanders? Will Jalen Reagor make an immediate impact? Does Washington stick with a committee backfield? Is Steven Sims the DFS darling I want him to be?

What happened?

The Eagles came out flying and fell back to Earth in the second half. Carson Wentz looked like his 2017 self, finding his tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert for a pair of scores. But the offensive line crumbled against a fierce defensive line and Wentz took eight sacks. The wide receivers were all but invisible. With Miles Sanders looking to return to health in Week 2 against the Rams, this offense should get back on track. However, this was a disheartening performance against a weaker opponent.

It wasn’t all roses for Washington either, but the way the team rallied in the second half spoke volumes about the character change Ron Rivera worked hard to impose. Terry McLaurin continued to be a reliable option and Sims showed he can be a weapon in space. It was also an amazing show of leadership and maturity for Haskins, who had a second-half to remember. Fantasy owners should be excited when Washington plays Arizona in Week 2.

The backfield was the most curious part, with Peyton Barber receiving a whopping 17 carries despite the coaching staff insisting on a committee. Those 17 carries went for a meaningless 29 yards, but his usage on the goal line, over time, got him two touchdowns. Antonio Gibson’s time is coming — Barber is just not good enough to hold this role for long. Gibson is a possible buy-low candidate for anyone with burnt Week 1 expectations ahead of a Week 2 tilt against Arizona.

What questions remain?

Will Barber continue to see early-down and goal line work? Can Sims be a reliable No. 2? Is Sanders ready to return? Can the Eagles offensive line protect Wentz?

Baltimore Ravens vs Cleveland Browns — 38 – 6

What questions did we have going in?

How involved will be rookie J.K. Dobbins? How well will Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb co-exist? Who is the No. 2 target in Cleveland? Can Baker Mayfield earn his money on the field rather than through advertisements?

What happened?

Geez. Talk about a demolition. The Ravens did everything they wanted and more to the Browns, with few surprises. Marquise Brown looked great, Lamar Jackson was dominant, Mark Andrews was his usual self. The only shocker was how slow Mark Ingram looked. I’m not sounding the alarm, but Dobbins was the one who found the end zone twice. The Browns have a strong run defense, so this can be taken with a grain of salt. After all, Dobbins struggled on the ground too. But should Ingram continue to falter, this can become an unfavorable split for him. The offense will remain high-scoring enough to spread the wealth — but take note. The Ravens should explode once more against the Texans who just allowed 34 points to the Chiefs.

Now the Browns, on the other hand, were plenty surprising. Mayfield looked panicked and rushed, perhaps seeing the same ghosts that haunted Sam Darnold last season. It honestly would not be surprising to see the Browns go with backup Case Keenum, who had a solid training camp and worked with head coach Kevin Stefanski in Minnesota. Odell Beckham Jr. only caught three balls on 10 targets, tight end Austin Hooper only saw two targets and backup David Njoku was the star of the bunch despite suffering a knee injury. Baltimore’s defense was always going to be a challenge while adjusting to an entirely new scheme, but signs of improvement need to be seen next week against Cincinnati.

The rushing game provided some highlights at least. Hunt flew past defenders both on the ground and through the air. Chubb played well, but the game script showed his floor given his lack of receiving volume. Both should see better days ahead, particularly against a weaker team like the Bengals next week.

What questions remain?

Can Mayfield find his rookie form? Will Beckham Jr. get back on track? Has Ingram lost a step?

Jacksonville Jaguars vs Indianapolis Colts — 27 – 20

What questions did we have going in?

Is Minshew Mania enough? Where’s the value in the Jacksonville backfield? Can Marlon Mack stave off Jonathan Taylor? Who will Phillip Rivers target? Will Rodrigo Blankenship make kickers cool again?

What happened?

The demise of the Jacksonville Jaguars has been greatly exaggerated. Minshew was near perfect on Sunday, completing all but one of his 20 attempts for 173 passing yards and three passing touchdowns. It’s not a trend one should expect to repeat, but it is getting harder and harder to dismiss Minshew’s talent in favor of a 2021 quarterback. James Robinson led the team in carries and was solid, if unspectacular. Should Ryquell Armstead miss another week, Robinson is an RB3/RB4 against the Titans purely based on volume.

The spotlight should be on rookie Laviska Shenault Jr. who was the clear No. 3 receiver ahead of veteran Chris Conley. The Colorado prospect found the end zone and looked good doing so. His upside, and slot receiver Dede Westbrook’s healthy scratch, could make him an interesting option given his versatility across the field. the rookie will look to build on his impressive debut against the Titans.

Marlon Mack’s injury lowlights the Colts display. He suffered an Achilles tear which will sideline him for the season. It’s a devastating blow to a player in his contract year, but the fantasy ramifications must be discussed. Taylor immediately becomes a dynamic, must-play RB2 with clear RB1 upside as the workhorse. His perceived limitations in the passing game still resulted in six receptions and 67 receiving yards, even with a huge game by scatback Nyheim Hines. Both can coexist. Hines is sure to be discussed in detail in tomorrow’s waiver wire article, so stay tuned.

Rivers was his usual self out there, throwing interceptions, targeting slot receivers and running backs like he never left Los Angeles. The no-nonsense quarterback couldn’t connect with T.Y. Hilton and sparingly used Jack Doyle who was one contested catch away from a solid game. The benefactor of Rivers’ 363 yards was mostly second-year Parris Campbell, the speedy slot receiver too many wrote off. Campbell finished with six. Like Hines, he should be discussed deeper tomorrow, but this is a name to watch given Rivers’ history with the slot and Campbell’s athletic ability. The Colts should be tested once more against Minnesota next week.

What questions remain?

Will each week be a roulette game between the Colts receiving weapons? Can Shenault continue to impress as a rookie? Is Robinson anything more than a volume play?

Carolina Panthers vs Las Vegas Raiders — 30 – 34.

What questions did we have going in?

Can Ian Thomas breakout? Is Curtis Samuel or Robby Anderson going to be a sneaky fantasy option? Will Josh Jacobs catch passes? Is Bryan Edwards or Henry Ruggs the rookie Raider to own? How bad can these two defenses possibly be?

What happened?

Jacobs happened. The Panthers had no answer for the sophomore running back who rumbled for three touchdowns on 25 rushes. He actually was not efficient with the work, only tallying 95 rushing yards, but he caught four passes for 46 yards. That’s the headline, of course. The efficiency will come, and if receiving work is tallied on, a special year is coming for Jacobs. On the passing end, Carr was not asked to do much. But Ruggs, not Edwards, was the rookie with an immediate impact as he galloped all across the field. It was an impressive debut even if the box score does not reflect it. Equally impressive was second-year Hunter Renfrow, who was a clear part of the game plan early on. Whether it was a screen or a short route, the Raiders made a clear attempt to get him the ball. With a tough schedule on its way (vs NO, @ NE, vs BUF), expectations should be tempered. But this was an encouraging display from a team that needed to come from behind to win.

The Panthers, on the other hand, were an interesting team to watch. Anderson exploded for 115 yards and a touchdown while Samuel received a lot of scripted work that did not yield much gain. D.J. Moore seemed critically underused, but this is exactly how head coach Matt Rhule wants the offense to run — three-wide receiver sets with deep shots through Anderson. My doubts remain that those deep shots will work against better opponents, and that is when the volume should shift back to Moore. Not panicking yet. The Panthers play the Buccaneers in Week 2 in what could be another high-scoring game.

Oh, and Christian McCaffrey did his thing.

What questions remain?

Will Moore receive the touches he needs? Is Anderson going to see enough deep shots to warrant his risk/reward play? Can Edwards make an impact at all after a disappointing debut?

Detroit Lions vs Chicago Bears — 23 – 27

What questions did we have going in?

Who is running the ball and when in Detroit? Can T.J. Hockenson fill the Kenny Golladay void? Is Anthony Miller a late-round breakout wide receiver? Has Mitchell Trubisky improved at all? How many reverse end-around fake screens will Matt Nagy call on the goal line?

What happened?

The jury remains out on whether Trubisky improved at all. The first half was a display of years past — wobbly, inaccurate tosses that felt like a toddler was learning to throw. The second half was much, much better. Remember that this is against a Detroit defense missing first-round cornerback Jeffrey Okudah as well as Darius Slay who was traded to the Eagles in March. Trubisky has not turned over a new leaf, but he served as a reminder that fantasy relevance can exist in Chicago with subpar quarterback play. Allen Robinson disappointed, but those who played Miller were rewarded with a nice touchdown. Ultimately, save for a rotating cycle of volume that more than often lands on Robinson, fantasy value only exists through touchdowns here. Maybe things will change when/if Foles takes over, but for now Trubisky and the Bears will square off against the Giants.

The Lions, sans Golladay, succeeded in blowing this game, giving up 21 straight points in the fourth quarter. But let’s focus on the bright spots. Hockenson had a solid game and found the end zone, hopefully a sign of things to come. But diving deeper reveals some startling facts — Hockenson was only lined up in the slot or out wide on 19 of his 50 snaps. He was not an every-down player either, being off the field for 28 plays. It’s certainly exciting to see him get in the end zone, but Matt Patricia wants to keep him as an in-line player, which reduces his upside considerably. Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola led the receivers in yards, both solid options. What was noteworthy was rookie Quintez Cephus, who tied CeeDee Lamb for the most snaps by a rookie receiver on Sunday. He should return to a reserve role when Golladay returns, but Cephus appears to be ahead of Marvin Hall on the depth chart and could be a nice tournament DFS play.

The rushing game was predictable. Kind of. Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson split reps but the former was far more effective, running at a 6.6 yards-per-carry (ypc) clip compared to Johnson’s 2 ypc. Swift was the third-down back and ended a solid debut with a horrific drop in the end zone that likely would have won the game for the Lions. It was a gut-wrenching play, but his usage in the receiving game should be seen as an encouraging sign. An increase in rushing volume needs to be the next step before fantasy value can be had. Things don’t get easier for Detroit as they head to a suddenly red-hot Green Bay.

What questions remain?

Can Miller keep his momentum up? Will Chicago continue to feature the tight ends? How fast can Golladay return? Will Johnson find himself out of the rotation?

Atlanta Falcons vs Seattle Seahawks — 25 – 38

What questions did we have going in?

Can Hayden Hurst fill the Austin Hooper role? Does Todd Gurley have any juice left? Will D.K. Metcalf make a second-year jump? Is there anything to #LetRussCook? How many sticks of gum will Pete Carroll chew before finally calling a passing play on second and long?

What happened?

The Falcons passed the ball. Then they passed. And then they passed some more. Matt Ryan’s league-high 54 attempts went for another league-high 450 passing yards and two touchdowns, along with one interception. It wasn’t a perfect day by any means, but fantasy owners will take it, nonetheless. Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage had terrific fantasy outings at the expense of Hurst, who only caught three passes. Gurley, who looked alright, was saved by a touchdown. He was spelled in the red zone by Brian Hill and Ito Smith, which isn’t the best recipe on a pass-first team. Expect Gage’s effectiveness to alternate with Hurst’s value with the latter winning out more than often. The Falcons will continue to air it out against the Cowboys in what should be a high-scoring affair.

Seattle put on a clinic as they wiped the floor with Atlanta. Russell Wilson reminded us why he is a perennial MVP candidate by completing all but four of his 35 attempts, scoring four passing touchdowns along the way. Two of those went to running back Chris Carson who only scored two receiving touchdowns in all of 2019. Call it an anomaly, but Carson has always found a way to be a good running back. He should be a high-end RB2 at worst in this system. Metcalf found himself open yet again on a “go” route. He may never answer my questions about his route tree but if he keeps scoring by running straight, who am I to judge? He might find less space against New England next week, however.

What questions remain?

Can Hurst become more involved in the offense? Will Gurley see more receiving work? How long can Metcalf keep this one-trick move up?

New England Patriots vs Miami Dolphins — 21 – 11

What questions did we have going in?

Can Cam Newton have a resurgence? What will this Patriots backfield rotation look like? Can Mike Gesicki succeed with Preston Williams healthy? Was DeVante Parker’s breakout a sign of things to come? How many interceptions will Ryan Fitzpatrick need to throw before Tua Tagovailoa steps in?

What happened?

Week 1 overreactions are real, but Newton looked terrific in his Patriots debut. His mobility and swagger were on full display — it’s clear the effort he has put in to rebuild his body has paid off. It is also yet another testament to Bill Belichick’s brilliance on how perfectly structured the playbook was to Newton. Meanwhile, everyone else was pretty “meh.” Sony Michel looked like he ran in molasses — undrafted rookie J.J. Taylor, sure enough, looked the spryest of the bunch (he was promoted three days ago). James White suffered an injury but returned to action. Julian Edelman was solid but had another drop. N’Keal Harry was ok. Things will be clearer as the season progresses, but the main takeaway was clear — Newton is back. Week 2 @ Seattle should be a thrilling matchup for all.

Miami, on the other hand, cannot be too thrilled with their quarterback. Fitzpatrick did his best to answer that last question by throwing three interceptions and forcing throws all over the field. Parker could not get anything substantive going and neither could anyone else. The rushing attack also stalled, with Jordan Howard being absolutely useless. Myles Gaskin led the team in rushing, and that’s a testament to how bad everything was rather than a positive on Gaskin. The matchups don’t get much easier as they play Buffalo in Week 2, San Francisco in Week 4 and Denver in Week 5.

What questions remain?

Can Miami find a running game and will Breida see receiving work? Will Tagovailoa step in? Can Harry take a step forward as the No. 2 target?

Cincinnati Bengals vs Los Angeles Chargers — 13 – 16

What questions did we have going in?

Will the Bengals be able to protect rookie Joe Burrow against a fierce pass rush? How reliable will Cincinnati’s wide receivers be this year? Can Tyrod Taylor keep the Chargers offense moving? Will Joshua Kelley steal work from Austin Ekeler? How many quarters will A.J. Green be able to play before an injury?

What happened?

The Bengals were one shanked field goal away from bringing this game into overtime, but both teams played poorly all day. Joe Burrow had a solid debut capped off by a very impressive final drive, but his offensive line was mauled by Joey Bosa and co., allowing three sacks and a myriad of pressures. Tyler Boyd and A.J. Green were clamped by cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Chris Harris Jr., combining for nine catches and 94 scoreless yards. Joe Mixon also failed to get much going on the ground and caught just one pass. There will be better days ahead, but in a strong division featuring plenty of tough matchups, this will become the norm. The lone bright spot was Burrow’s rushing volume, running eight times for 46 yards and a score. That type of baseline immediately puts him on the streaming radar in certain matchups. Week 2 @ Cleveland might be one of them.

The Chargers, on the other hand, were brutal to watch. Taylor was lost out there, completing just over half of his 30 attempts for 208 yards. He tried to make up for it on the ground but — spoiler alert — Taylor is no Lamar Jackson. His six attempts went for just seven yards and this team’s identity became abundantly clear. The Chargers will go as far as Ekeler and Kelley can bring them. The duo looked great on the ground, albeit in a favorable matchup, and touched the ball 32 combined times. Yet only one of those was a reception, surprising for Ekeler given that it’s one of his many strengths. Expect the Chargers to go back to the drawing board and script some plays for Ekeler next week — but Kelley certainly is not going anywhere, and he shouldn’t.

There is not much to touch on for the receivers given Taylor’s failures as a passer, but Mike Williams had his usual bunch of insane grabs nullified by small factors. The talent is freakish and if the quarterback play ever improves, so should Williams. Hunter Henry was the leading receiver on the team which makes sense given Taylor’s propensity to throw to the tight end. Taylor’s limitations will mean that several of his receiving weapons will bust on any given week. Ekeler got enough carries to cover his lack of receptions. Williams made some outrageous plays. Keenan Allen was the odd man out. This could and will change at any given week, starting on Sunday against the Chiefs.

What questions remain?

Can Taylor look just average as a passer next week? How long until Justin Herbert steps in? Will Burrow continue to rush? Can Mixon find himself involved in the passing game?

San Francisco 49ers vs Arizona Cardinals — 20 – 24

What questions did we have going in?

Will Tevin Coleman (sickle cell) play due to the air quality? Will any 49ers wide receiver step up with Deebo Samuel injured? Is the Cardinals hype real? How much will Chase Edmonds affect Kenyan Drake? How sad will Texans fans be after DeAndre Hopkins suits up as a Cardinal?

What happened?

Man, what a game. Raheem Mostert was the 49er to watch, catching four passes for 91 yards and a receiving touchdown in addition to his 15 for 56 rushing line. Was it perfect? No, but when he gets in space there are not many players who can catch him. The rest of the offense consisted of quick throws to several receivers — eight players recorded a reception and no player had more than four. George Kittle suffered an injury scare but returned in short order. Monitoring his health should be a priority in Week 2. This offense desperately missed a playmaker, namely Deebo Samuel or even first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk. Expecting a bounce back in Week 2 against the Jets is more than fair for the reigning NFC champions.

The Cardinals are here to stay. Kyler Murray may not have had the best box score, but he showed up when it matters. He scampered for a go-ahead rushing score in the fourth quarter, capping off a solid game against a defense that was in his face all game. His 13 rushing attempts ranked second on the team, a beautiful baseline for fantasy. The offensive line remains a major question mark after they were destroyed by a tough defensive unit, but this remains a huge win for the Cardinals. Better days are ahead for the rushing attack that was kept under wraps but still showed signs of life, particularly for Drake who still saw good volume with Edmonds factoring in.

Don’t react to the Christian Kirk one-yard game, either. This was always going to be a tough game for him and a Week 2 tilt against Washington should tell us a lot more.

What questions remain?

Will Edmonds continue to see enough receptions to warrant standalone value? Is Christian Kirk able to bounce back? Can the 49ers find a capable receiver?

New Orleans Saints vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers — 34 – 23

What questions did we have going in?

Can Emmanuel Sanders carve out a fantasy-relevant role? Will Jared Cook continue to find the end zone after a career-high nine touchdowns? Which Tampa Bay running back sees third downs? How involved is Mike Evans (hamstring)? How great of a game will this be?!?

What happened?

Eh. Good game, I guess? As a Steelers fan, it was indeed fun to watch Tom Brady flounder all game long like a fish out of water. He just looked bad; no more excuses, he had an awful game. Mike Evans, predictably, had yet another awful game against Marshon Lattimore and the Saints. Lattimore seriously owns real estate in Evans’ head, and he’s not looking to sell any time soon. Chris Godwin and Scotty Miller led the team, but this was a horrible game for the Buccaneers offense no matter how you spin it. Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard split reps and Howard was the fantasy-relevant one. It can change any week, and it could be neither any week. Ultimately, it’s a duo to move on from.

The rushing game was a bit more interesting at least as Arians tried his best to give Ronald Jones the work. He played better than his 66 rushing yards would indicate, but it was still an underwhelming day for all. Leonard Fournette was not better, rushing for five yards on five attempts. As for third downs, it seems like it is still a question to be answered. Jones led the way with two receptions, but pass-protection can be a streaky thing for these running backs; at any point they could be pulled. Hopefully the entire offense can get back on track in a favorable matchup vs. Carolina.

The Saints had an up-and-down game too. Drew Brees’ arm continued to look a bit aged, but I would not sound the alarm just yet. Michael Thomas was surprisingly uninvolved, but it was later revealed he suffered a high ankle injury when it was rolled on by teammate Latavius Murray. Cook, after leading his way via touchdowns in 2019, had a respectable five catches for 80 yards. He also had a terrible drop, but such is life in the world of Cook. Emmanuel Sanders was all but invisible outside of a pass interference call and a touchdown. Murray actually out-carried Alvin Kamara, who was completely bottled up on the ground. The biggest plays for the Saints came courtesy of Cook or the screen game, of which Kamara looked elusive as ever. Things should even out for all of the Saints, similarly to the Bucs, when they face the Raiders on Monday Night Football.

What questions remain?

Will Murray continue to out carry Kamara? Can Sanders carve out more volume? Has Brees or Brady taken another step back? Will Fournette take more work from Jones next week?

Los Angeles Rams vs Dallas Cowboys — 20 – 17

What questions did we have going in?

Who will lead the Rams running backs in touches? Will Gerald Everett prevent Tyler Higbee from reaching lofty expectations? How involved will rookie CeeDee Lamb be? Can Blake Jarwin be the animal fantasy owners want him to be? Will the lack of clapping in Dallas impact the offense?

What happened?

Well, Cam Akers fans like myself will need to take a step back and re-evaluate. Malcolm Brown was the star of Sunday Night Football, roaring for 79 yards and two touchdowns to which the box score does not do credit. This is a stout Dallas defense that controlled the aforementioned Akers. Brown is here to stay, and while Akers will be right behind him should he falter, Brown is the running back to play in Los Angeles. On the receiving end, Robert Woods had a terrific game, with a majority of his production coming on the first drive of the game. The team made a clear effort to get him the ball. The same can’t be said for Kupp who sleepwalked to 40 yards on four receptions. Better days are ahead but it was a disappointing reminder that Kupp might need a touchdown to overcome the scheme change the team underwent last season.

Speaking of the scheme change, it all revolves around the tight ends. Unfortunately for fantasy that meant both Everett and Higbee would split time. Higbee looked like the better player, but the Rams have plans for both. Higbee is still a TE1 that should be started, but Everett definitely impacts his ceiling considering Higbee’s best games last year came sans Everett. The Rams face off against Philadelphia next week.

Dallas started off hot and ended up ice cold. It certainly was to no fault of Ezekiel Elliot, who looked like a man among boys on the field. It’s clear that Elliot will continue to get his volume (25 touches) and when the talent is there too, production is tremendous. Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb all had solid outings without a touchdown, which was encouraging. Gallup’s biggest play was called back by an illegal block in the back by Lamb, so it was a tough break for those expecting a big game.

Blake Jarwin, the breakout many were hoping for, unfortunately suffered a non-contact knee injury that is feared to be a torn ACL. If so, it will sideline him for the remainder of the year. It’s a brutal blow to a promising athlete. Hopefully he can recover for a post-hype sleeper 2021 campaign. Dallas plays Atlanta next week in what should be a much friendlier matchup for all Cowboy options.

What questions remain?

Who will step up in Jarwin’s absence? Can Kupp find himself more involved? Will Brown continue to shoulder the load?

New York Giants vs Pittsburgh Steelers — 26 – 16

What questions do we have?

Will Golden Tate (hamstring) find himself as the odd man out? How will the Giants move the ball against a stout Steelers defense? Can Juju Smith-Schuster rebound from a disappointing season? Can Ben Roethlisberger still throw? Is Eric Ebron a streaming option? How often will T.J. Watt appear in Daniel Jones’ nightmares this coming week?

What happened?

The Steelers started off slow and ended off hot. Roethlisberger was understandably rusty early on and looked sluggish in the pocket but was pretty solid in his first game back from his season-ending elbow surgery. The entire offense seemed rejuvenated, and while playing against the Giants will do that it was more than that. Smith-Schuster was terrific, scoring two touchdowns while acting primarily as the teams’ slot receiver and Johnson was solid, catching six passes on ten targets for 57 yards.

The story of the day was not Roethlisberger’s comeback as much as it was Benny Snell’s dominance. James Conner left the game early with a sprained ankle, and Snell never looked back. He carried 19 times for a career-high 113 yards in an incredibly impressive game. Conner should be back next week, per Adam Schefter, but it’s hard to imagine Snell riding the bench completely after a great game. The Steelers return to Pittsburgh to play Denver who will likely be without Phillip Lindsay (turf toe).

Rookie coaches went 0/3 in their coaching debuts this weekend when the Giants lost to the Steelers. The offensive line predictably struggled against a stout Steelers defensive front. Saquon Barkley was invisible on the ground, rushing 15 times for just SIX yards. He still managed to scrape some fantasy value out through the receiving game with six receptions; players of his talent don’t stay bottled up for long. The night simply served as a reminder that the Giants do not deserve Barkley.

Daniel Jones was … alright. A solid B-. Under duress all game the sophomore quarterback clearly put an emphasis on getting the ball out early. The occasional drop did not help but Jones deserves his fair share of critique after throwing two interceptions, the latter one being a crushing end to a 19-play drive featuring four third-down conversions and a fourth-down conversion. It was reminiscent of his predecessor Eli Manning who was prone to the occasional bonehead throw under pressure. Darius Slayton continued his 2019 form and showed his impressive rapport with Jones once more while Shepherd had a forgetful day, catching six passes on six targets but not doing much with it. Brighter days should be ahead for Evan Engram who caught just two of his seven targets. He had a costly drop early, but also just narrowly missed a touchdown on the same drive. The Giants travel to Chicago where they could face the same issues once more, this time with Khalil Mack.

What questions remain?

Can the offensive line improve at all? Can Barkley succeed in spite of it? How will Tate’s inevitable return affect Slayton and Shepherd? How involved will Snell be if Conner is active?

Tennessee Titans vs Denver Broncos — 16 – 14

What questions do we have?

With Darrynton Evans inactive, will Derrick Henry see passing work? Can Jonnu Smith take advantage of his opportunity? Can Jerry Jeudy or Noah Fant fill the void left by Courtland Sutton? How will the Denver backfield get split up? How many defenders will Henry turn into mush?

What happened?

Where are my Corey Davis truthers at? Come on out, it’s safe to admit it with me.

Davis was the star of the night, catching all but one of his targets for 101 yards with some impressive toe-taps in there. He looked like the No. 1 receiver the Titans drafted him to be. Sure, it likely won’t continue on a run-heavy team that still has A.J. Brown and Smith but it was a very nice thing to see. Speaking of Brown, he was invisible for most of the game, save for a few receptions late. People knew that he would be streaky when he drafted to your fantasy teams; this did not say anything that we did not know. Don’t overreact. Some days it will be Smith, some days it will be Brown and Monday night happened to be Davis.

Derrick Henry got the volume and it will continue to provide a nice floor. It was not the most productive night for the workhorse, but fantasy owners should be satisfied. Similarly, Ryan Tannehill had a solid game while spreading the ball around. He should be a solid streaming option all season, particularly next week against Jacksonville.

Drew Lock came out firing but could not score on the goal line, getting stuffed on two separate occasions on fourth-down. Jeudy looked great out there, save for one bad drop, and was as sharp as he was at Alabama. As long as he knees hold up to the viciousness of his cuts, he will be a star in no time. Already a star, however, just might be Fant. The tight end caught five passes for 81 yards and a touchdown, displaying the athleticism and big-play ability that made him a first-round pick in 2019. While he certainly benefitted from Sutton’s absence, he should remain an important part of this offense given his rapport with Lock and scheme fit with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmer who loves to use his tight ends. He should be a priority waiver wire pickup if he is out there.

Unfortunately, the Broncos were not just limited by Sutton’s injury as Lindsay left the game with a foot injury. Schefter reported that the third-year running back is dealing with turf toe. While the team hopes it is a “mild” injury, turf toe can be a tricky one to navigate. He could be back this week or he could be back several weeks from now. Further tests should provide clarification later this week. For now, treat Melvin Gordon like a high-end RB2, back-end RB1 as the lone show in town. Royce Freeman should have a similar change-of-pace role to last year, but Gordon will be the receiver in 2020. The Broncos square off against a tough Pittsburgh defense that just made life very difficult for Barkley and the Giants.

What questions remain?

How will Sutton’s return affect the target share of Jeudy and Fant? Can the Broncos improve in the red zone? Will Davis keep it rolling in his contract year? Can the Titans find a kicker?