A funny thing happens on the Monday after the first Sunday of the NFL season. Everyone starts getting itchy. Every time the bell rings, it ushers in yet another disgruntled fantasy owner wondering if his team is going to crumble.
I’m sure some place some know-it-all with fancy degrees has a medical term to describe this – some sort of syndrome name. Owners are in a panic over Week 1 results like they’re going to be the narrative for the rest of the season.
The Patriots are washed up. Seattle may not score a touchdown all season. The Giants should just quit now. The Cardinals are done. It’s all over for the Bengals.
Fortunately, those of us with the experience of going through this year after year after year understand that in Week 1 every team is as healthy as it is going to get and players are working their way up to playing a full four quarters after making cameo appearances in August.
The result, for the most part is that more games than not are low-scoring affairs in which the defense has the early upper hand. It should have come as no surprise that 10 of the 12 games played on Sunday had the two teams combine to score 40 points or less. It’s the nature of the business. Teams have added new players and new schemes and, in some cases, new coaching staffs that are giving a completely different look than what you’re accustomed to seeing.
For those in full-on panic mode, may I quote St. Aaron of Cheesington when I say, “R-E-L-A-X.” Low-scoring, low-output games from the fantasy perspective are the norm in Week 1.As injuries start to deplete depth and teams get more aggressive with their play-calling, it’s all going to change. It always does.
If there is a way to take advantage of an owner who wants to ship Tom Brady into the welcome arms of your fantasy team for pennies on the dollar, by all means, listen to the offers. Other than that, don’t get crazy about what happened in Week 1.
Change is coming. It always does.
- Those who had Kareem Hunt on their bench for opening night likely aren’t going to make that mistake again. Coming off a game where came two yards away from the rare 100-yard double/double (rushing for 148 yards and a touchdown and catching five passes for 98 more yards and two TDs), it will be difficult for any Hunt owners to lay off him moving forward.
- Ben Roethlisberger’s ownership of the Browns is impossible to deny – a brother cannot lie. In 24 career starts against Cleveland, Big Ben now has a record of 22-2 in those games.
- Tarik Cohen got everyone’s attention against Atlanta. His 66 yards on five carries was impressive, but his 12 targets and eight receptions – twice as many as any other Bear – and a touchdown in the passing game turned heads and got owners scrambling to see if he’s still available in their leagues.
- Those watching the national late Sunday game between the Packers and Seahawks didn’t see any scoring until the clock hit :00 of the first half, which was unusual, to say the least. It was the first time Green Bay hasn’t score points in a half since 2004 – an impressive record that came to an end.
- Congratulations to America’s Little Brother Eli Manning, who became just the third quarterback in history to start 200 straight games. Unfortunately for him, one of the two is his older brother Peyton and his 200th straight start was a full-on stink bomb.
- It likely won’t last, but let’s all hail the Los Angeles Rams, who currently stand alone in first place atop the NFC West.
THE RAZOR’S EDGE
- Let’s Get Used to This – Prior to our draft in The Shop league, I let it be known that I didn’t have any Jets players ranked on my board in and position that I could actually end up with them because they’re going to stink out loud this season. How did they do in their opener? 214 total yards, 11 first downs, 38 yards rushing on 15 carries, 176 passing yards and two interceptions. These numbers aren’t going to be unusual because nobody is projecting the team that handed them the first of many losses (Buffalo) to be playing in January – they haven’t made the playoffs this millennium. It’s going to be a long year for Jets fans.
- If It Ain’t Broke – The Tennessee Titans were the preseason favorite by a lot of talking head types to win the AFC South because they have a dominating run game. But, despite being behind just 16-13 early in the fourth quarter, Tennessee was passing at almost a 3:1 clip. Marcus Mariota dropped to pass 45 times, while DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry rushed just 18 times for 71 yards. As a team, the Titans averaged 4.5 yards a carry but rushed just 21 times. The outcome with a disparity like that seemed obvious – a 26-16 home loss. That isn’t what got Tennessee into the position of being the division favorite. They went away from it and burned an opportunity to get a home win and start building momentum doing what they do best. That will need to change…and change in a hurry.
- Kevin Can Wait – Few players have been a bigger disappointment from their draft position than Chicago wide receiver Kevin White. Taken with the seventh pick of the 2015 draft, White was the direct result of significant moves being made. His drafting led to the trade of Brandon Marshall to the Jets and playing hardball with Alshon Jeffery, who left via free agency this offseason. In his first two seasons, White played just four games – missing all of the 2015 season following August surgery for a stress fracture in his leg. He played four games last year before breaking his fibula. On Sunday, he broke his collarbone and has already been placed on season-ending injured reserve. Injuries are a part of the game, but you can bet the Bears won’t pick up White’s fifth-year option or that any team may ever give him a long-term deal. The Bears have cut checks for more than $11 million on White and all they have to show for it is five games of limited production. Ouch!
- At Least We’re Not the Jets – It was interesting to see how the Giants addressed not having Odell Beckham Jr. in their opener against the Cowboys – arguably the biggest game the G-Men may play all year. If you want to beat Dallas, doing it in their house sends a big message. They did it last year. This time around? Eli Manning’s numbers don’t reflect the reality of how ugly the Giants offense was. In the first half, they had five drives – of 3, 3, 5, 4 and 3 plays and all ending in punts. They had 49 total yards in the first half and trailed 16-0. When they finally did put a drive together, it took almost 10 minutes off the final 30 and resulted in a field goal. Is ODB that important to their offense? It sure enough looked that way Sunday.
- Raising Arizona – The Cardinals have been one of the more difficult teams to figure out the last couple of years. They can look dominant one week and like a dumpster fire the next. Playing against a Detroit team with little to no running game, Arizona got lit up by Matthew Stafford, who completed 29 of 41 passes for 292 yards and four touchdowns. After one quarter, the Cardinals had a 10-0 lead and looked ready to roll. In the final three quarters, they got rolled to the tune of 35-13, which doesn’t bode well moving forward.
- Walk the Line – Seattle has come to the decision that its money is best invested in stockpiling defensive talent. On Sunday, they held Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to no points in the first half, but the woes on the Seattle offensive line made the Packers look like mirror images of them. The offensive line has been awful for two years simply because the Seahawks have failed to invest in its offensive line and the results have been that the Legion of Boom has to hold opponents to 20 or less in order to win games. The Seahawks managed just three field goals and their leading rusher was Russell Wilson when he got forced out of the pocket for two big gains. Unless something changes, the Seattle offense is going to be a dink-and-dunk group whose priority will switch to keeping Wilson healthy rather than attacking other defenses.
- Are the Bungles Back in the Jungle? – Things couldn’t have gone much worse for Cincinnati in its home opener. They got beat 20-0 and they were supposed to have the better running game. However, the triple threat backfield of Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard and Joe Mixon combined to rush 21 times for just 75 yards, while Baltimore rolled up 42 carries. Joe Flacco only had to pass 17 times, while Andy Dalton threw for just 170 yards with four interceptions and a passer rating of 28.4. It was just one game, but it was a humbling home loss that won’t easily be erased or forgotten.
- Harvey Hangover – The Houston Texans said they were going to take their time getting Deshaun Watson into the lineup. That last all of one-half of the first game as Tom Savage stunk the joint out and the home standing Texans fell behind Jacksonville 19-0 at halftime. Houston quarterbacks got sacked 10 times, which will end up getting somebody hurt if that continues. The Texans defense allowed rookie Leonard Fournette to top 100 yards rushing and were never in the position to make a game of it in the second half. The Texans were figured to be a favorite to win the AFC South again, but getting run out of your house by Jacksonville isn’t going to make many believers.
- Indy Under .500 – At the end of Week 1, 16 teams will have a losing record in the NFL. None will be more humbling or more troublesome than the Colts’ 46-9 old-fashioned butt-whoopin’ (in which Indy provided the butt) to the Rams. Scott Tolzein got yanked after throwing two picks – which were both of the Pick-6 vintage – and his team was hopelessly behind. The Colts ran 24 times for 75 yards. Adam Vinatieri even missed chip-shot field goal and an extra point. It’s one thing to have a playoff team go to town on you. It’s another when it’s Jared Goff and the Rams. If Luck doesn’t come home soon, there may be scorched earth in Indiana by the time he comes back.
- Patriot Panic? – It’s funny what happens when New England gets its butt handed to them by the Kansas City Chiefs. Full on panic sets in. For those with longer memories, when K.C. hammered the Pats 41-14 on Monday Night Football Sept. 29, 2014, New England dropped to 2-2 and the Boston media was proclaiming Tom Brady dead as a QB – there was a groundswell of idiot opinion to turn the offense over to Jimmy Garappolo – and that Bill Belichick no longer had the magic. How did they follow it up? They won their next seven games and 13 of their next 15 on their way to a Super Bowl title. The Patriots gave up 21 points in the fourth quarter, which doesn’t happen to them often but is no reason to start bailing out on New England players.