Taking a quick rundown of the Sunday NFL games from a fantasy perspective.
SEA 38, ATL 25
This was never really in doubt by the end of the third quarter when the Seahawks led 31-12. Russell Wilson ended with 322 yards and four touchdowns which were divided up between D.K. Metcalf (4-95, TD), Chris Carson (6-45, 2 TD), and Greg Olsen (4-24, TD). Tyler Lockett caught eight passes for 92 yards in this pass-happy scoring fest. Carson only ran for 21 yards on six carries and the lone rushing touchdown was given late to Carlos Hyde (7-23, TD). This was a competitive game but only the Seahawks stepped up their play after the halftime. The Seahawks rushing offense disappointed, but it did not matter.
Matt Ryan threw for 450 yards and two scores that both went to Calvin Ridley (9-130, 2 TD) while Julius Jones (9-157) and Russell Gage (9-114) both had monster performances when the Falcons were forced to the air. Todd Gurley ran in a score on his 14 runs for 56 yards but only added two catches for one net yard. He was not a factor after halftime and started strong but quickly faded. The Seahawks host the Patriots this week while the Falcons head to Dallas.
NYJ 17, BUF 27
The Jets did not look anywhere nearly as good as the score may suggest. The Jets led 21-0 at the half. Little worked for the Jets until the Bills stopped caring. All combined, they only ran for 46 yards on 14 carries but Josh Adams ran in a late score. Sam Darnold passed for 215 yards and a touchdown but only managed 8-18-86 yards at the half with one interception. Jamison Crowder scored a 69-yard that salvaged the passing stats and ended with 115 yards on seven catches. Chris Herndon was used more with six receptions for 37 yards but this offense looked no better than last year, if not worse. And Le’Veon Bell left injured.
Josh Allen ran for 57 yards and a score plus passed for 312 yards and two touchdowns for one of his best performances. Newly signed Stefon Diggs led the crew with 86 yards on eight catches and John Brown scored on his six receptions for 70 yards but Allen missed several wide-open passes to both. It just did not matter this time. Disappointing was that the backfield workload was split into two with Devin Singletary (9-30) and Zack Moss (9-11) ineffective. In fairness, the Jets defense played well in that one facet. Great to see Allen with better passing stats but they could have been even more. The Jets host the 49ers this week while the Bills head to Miami.
CHI 27, DET 23
This was a tale of two halves. The Lions led 23-6 in the third quarter but then allowed the Bears to string out 21 straight points to take the win. Mitchell Trubisky passed for 242 yards and three touchdowns but almost all of that was in the fourth quarter. Anthony Miller (4-76, TD) caught the winning 27-yard touchdown in the final two minutes and Allen Robinson (5-74) was the only other notable wideout. Jimmy Graham only managed three catches for 25 yards but one was a score. David Montgomery gained 64 yards on 13 rushes but Tarik Cohen was given seven carries for 41 yards and even Cordarelle Patterson (4-19) also pitched in the always frustrating rotation in the backfield. Three quarters of play said the Bears were in trouble this year. The final one suggested maybe they just start slowly.
Matt Stafford passed for 297 yards but only one score to T.J. Hockenson (5-56, TD). Danny Amendola was the top receiver with 81 yards on five receptions but the absence of Kenny Golladay was evident. Adrian Peterson ran for 93 yards on 14 carries while Kerryon Johnson left injured. D’Andre Swift scored once but only ran for eight yards on three carries and dropped what could have been the winning touchdown catch at the end of the game. With Johnson likely out for a while, the Peterson addition makes more sense. We’re still waiting for Swift to be busier but he missed time in the summer because of injury. The Bears host the Giants this week while the Lions travel to Green Bay.
MIA 11, NE 21
The Dolphins were expected to struggle in this and likely all other games this year. Ryan Fitzpatrick flopped with only 191 passing yards and three interceptions while the Pats secondary is still pretty good even with the losses to COVID-19 opt-outs on defense. The backfield is a mess with Myles Gaskin the most productive with 40 yards on nine catches and Jordan Howard scoring once despite only gaining seven yards on his eight rushes. Matt Breida was almost a no-show until five carries for 22 yards proved he was at least there. Devante Parker left injured and yet was still the top receiver with 47 yards on four catches.
Overall… it looked like the New England Panthers. Cam Newton only passed for 155 yards but ran for 75 yards and two scores on 15 rushes. Sony Michel ran for only 37 yards on ten carries but scored once. Throw in Rex Burkhead (7-32) and the only running back with reliable fantasy value appears to be Cam Newton. James White (3-30) is not going to figure in much with Newton just running the ball instead of tossing dump-offs like Tom Brady. The Pats won and their defense played better than expected. But almost nothing here looked like the Patriots we’ve seen for the last 20 years. The Dolphins host the Bills this week and the Pats head to Seattle.
PHI 17, WAS 27
The Eagles led 17-0 in the second quarter and the game seemed to be over by halftime. But then they sputtered and turned the ball over three times while the Football Team woke up on defense. Carson Wentz passed for 270 yards and two scores but two interceptions. Dallas Goedert became the top receiver with eight receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown while Zach Ertz (3-18, TD) caught the other score. Miles Sanders missed the game and Boston Scott only gained 54 total yards. Corey Clement pitched in with only 19 yards on six runs. DeSean Jackson (2-46) and Jalen Reagor (1-55) caught long passes, just not very many of them. No rushing game hurt the Eagles and then Wentz had a surprisingly difficult time passing in the second half.
The Football Team did little on offense. Dwayne Haskins ended with 178 yards and one score but completed just seven of 16 for 77 yards at the half. Antonio Gibson only ran for 36 yards on nine carries while Peyton Barber scored twice on his 17 rushes for 29 yards. Terry McLaurin was the best receiver but only had five receptions for 61 yards. The Washington defense showed up after a slow start and the offense did just enough to get the win. The Eagles host the Rams while the Football Team heads to Arizona.
LV 34, CAR 30
This game bodes well for both teams. At least on offense. The Raiders only saw Derek Carr pass for 239 yards and one score but Josh Jacobs ran in three touchdowns on his 25 carries for 93 yards. Jacobs also added four receptions for 46 yards for one of his career-best games. The new-look receivers only provided Henry Ruggs with three catches for 55 yards (and one went for 45 yards) before leaving injured. Bryan Edwards only managed one catch for nine yards but the Raiders were getting solid gains from their backfield. Darren Waller still turned in the most receptions with six for 45 yards.
The Panthers new offense kept them in the game the entire way but their old defense couldn’t seal the deal. The new offense still used Christian McCaffrey for 23 rushes for 96 yards and two scores plus three catches for 38 yards but his role as a receiver was reduced from 2019. Robby Anderson had a big debut with 115 yards on six catches and included a 75-yard touchdown catch. DJ Moore was limited to only 54 yards on four catches as a disappointment. Teddy Bridgewater threw for 270 yards and one score but wasn’t quite good enough to catch up to what his defense was giving away. The Raiders home debut comes against the Saints while the Panthers head to Tampa Bay.
IND 20, JAC 27
The debut of HC Doug Marrone and OC Jay Gruden was a definite success. Gardner Minshew passed for 173 yards and three touchdowns between Keelan Cole (5-47, TD), Laviska Shenault (3-37, TD), and DJ Chark (3-25, TD). James Robinson was the surprise starting running back and kept the offense going with 16 runs for 62 yards and a catch for 28 yards. The Jags won mostly thanks to the defensive effort that was far better than expected.
Philip Rivers debut saw him with 363 passing yards but only one touchdown and two interceptions. Parris Campbell turned in a team-high six catches for 71 yards while T.Y. Hilton ended with four catches for 53 yards. Jonathan Taylor only ran for 22 yards on nine carries but caught six passes for 67 yards and takes over as the primary back since Marlon Mack tore his Achilles. The Colts’ offensive line should have been better than this. For now, the Colts disappointed while the Jaguars have to be pleased. The Colts will host the Vikings this week and the Jags head to Tennessee.
CLE 6, BAL 38
The Ravens looked like they are ready for the AFC Championship while the Browns were never in this blowout loss. The debut of HC Kevin Stefanski was set-up for disappointment playing in Baltimore anyway, but the Browns looked like they weren’t quite ready for the NFL. Baker Mayfield threw for 189 yards and one score to David Njoku (3-50, TD) who left injured. Jarvis Landry (5-61) and Odell Beckham (3-22) both struggled and Beckham had ten targets. Nick Chubb was limited to ten runs for 60 yards while Kareem Hunt took the lead with 13 carries for 72 yards. The loss was expected, but the Browns never really in this or even saw trash time production.
Lamar Jackson opened the year with 275 passing yards and three touchdowns while “only” rushing seven times for 75 yards. Mark Ingram only managed 29 yards on ten runs while the rookie J.K. Dobbins scored twice on his seven carries for 22 yards as the short-yardage guy. Marquise Brown opened with a big Week 1 showing for the second year in a row with five catches for 101 yards. Willie Snead (4-64, TD) and Mark Andrews (5-58, 2 TD) also enjoyed their first game. The Ravens were at home and the Browns are installing yet another offense, but these Ravens looked like they were in mid-season form and the Browns didn’t seem prepared to play. The Ravens go to Houston this week and the Browns have their home opener versus the Bengals.
LAC 16, CIN 13
The Chargers slink out of Cincinnati with a win thanks to Randy Bullock pulling a hamstring while missing a last-second 31-yard field goal to tie. There wasn’t much happening in this one by either team as the score indicates. Austin Ekeler ran for 84 yards but only caught one pass for three yards. Justin Jackson left injured and the rookie Joshua Kelley gained 60 yards and a touchdown on his 12 carries. But Tyrod Taylor only passed for 208 yards and no score with Hunter Henry (5-73) and Mike Williams (4-69) as the top receivers. Keenan Allen was held to only 37 yards on four receptions. The Charger ran the ball 33 times but split it up enough that no one had a big performance.
Joe Burrow’s debut saw him complete 23 of 36 for 193 yards and one interception. Pretty standard. Burrow ran for 46 yards and the only team touchdown. Joe Mixon only gained 69 yards on 19 rushes and A.J. Green (5-51) led the receivers. He had the game-winning catch at the end of the game but was called for a push-off. The offense was predictably sluggish but almost pulled it off. That errant field goal ruined a chance for Burrow to get a win. The Chargers return home to face the Chiefs while the Bengals head to Cleveland.
TB 23, NO 34
Great game, just not in the way we were used to seeing. The first time dueling 40-year-old quarterbacks ever met saw Tom Brady throw for 239 yards and two scores, but also two interceptions including a pick-six. His 78.4 QB rating was lower than usual but he did steal the only rushing touchdown from the backfield. Chris Godwin led the crew with 79 yards on six catches while Mike Evans was held to only one catch for two yards (but a touchdown). Ron Gronkowski (2-11) still not a factor. Ronald Jones opened the game as the starting running back and gained 66 yards on 17 carries plus caught two passes for 16 yards. Leonard Fournette only gained five yards on five carries and caught a 14-yard pass.
Drew Brees only passed for 160 yards and two scores while Michael Thomas went from 11-182-2 in this matchup last year to only three catches for 17 yards though he sprained his ankle during the game. Jared Cook was the lead receiver with 80 yards on five catches and the best fantasy play was Alvin Kamara with a score on his 12 runs for 16 yards and a second touchdown on his five catches for 51 yards. He came within inches of a third score at the end of the game. The Saints took the win, but it wasn’t nearly the offensive fireworks that this matchup generated last year. The Bucs get their home opener against the Panthers this week and the Saints head to Las Vegas.
ARI 24, SF 20
Is the power shifting in the NFC West? The Cardinals left San Francisco as the better team this week when Kyler Murray threw for 230 yards and a score plus gained 91 yards on 13 runs plus one touchdown. Kenyan Drake also scored on his 16 carries for 60 yards though he only caught two passes for five yards. The best feature of the Cardinals was newly-signed DeAndre Hopkins with 14 catches for 151 yards though, as usual, he drained the fantasy value out of all other receivers. The Cardinals played a solid game but their defense was as much to credit for their win.
Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 259 yards and two scores that included a 76-yard touchdown pass to Raheem Mostert (4-95, TD) who also ran for 56 yards on 15 rushes. The other receivers had a very quiet day though both Deebo Samuels and Brandon Aiyuk were out. George Kittle was held to only 44 yards on four catches though he sprained his knee during the game. We need next week to see if the Cardinals defense is that good or if the 49ers offense is just struggling. The Cardinals host the Football Team this week while the 49ers play at the Jets.
DAL 17, LAR 20
Not exactly the point-explosion that was hoped for, but at least several players turned in significant fantasy production. Dak Prescott passed for 266 yards and one score and ran for 30 yards as well. Amari Cooper led the receivers with ten catches for 81 yards and CeeDee Lamb debuted with five receptions for 59 yards. The Cowboys relied mostly on Ezekiel Elliott who ran for 96 yards and a touchdown on 22 rushes and caught three passes for 31 more yards and a second touchdown. The Rams secondary was able to mostly handle the Cowboys vaunted set of receivers. Blake Jarwin may be lost for the year but as expected, the tight ends did not play a major role for the Cowboys with three talented wideouts.
The Rams relied on a committee backfield that saw Malcolm Brown run for 79 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries and add 31 yards on three receptions. The rookie Cam Akers gained 39 yards on 14 rushes and appeared a definite No. 2 behind Brown for now. Jared Goff passed for 275 yards but no scores while Robert Woods (6-105) was the only successful wide receiver. Cooper Kupp was limited to only 40 yards on four catches which was a disappointment against a Cowboys secondary that lost talent in the offseason. The Cowboys host the Falcons this week while the Rams head to Philadelphia.
Packers 43, Vikings 34
This was a great fantasy game. It also wasn’t nearly as close as the score looks. The Packers led 29-10 entering the fourth quarter and the Vikings did almost all of their scoring after the Packers dropped back in the prevent. Dalvin Cook was limited to only 12 runs for 50 yards but scored twice. Kirk Cousins ended with 259 yards and two scores entirely thanks to trash time. Adam Thielen (6-110-2) was the only receiver of any note. The Vikings passing game struggled badly until the Packers stopped caring. Either the Packers’ defense is much better than expected, or the Vikings offense is much worse. Maybe both.
Aaron Rodgers had a monster game with 364 yards and four touchdowns. Davante Adams blew up with 14 catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns and even Marquez Valdes-Scantling ended with 96 yards and a score on four catches. Aaron Jones ran for 66 yards and a score on 16 rushes but that was the Packers’ final touchdown in the game. Jones added four catches for ten yards and wasn’t that productive until the final touchdown. The Packers host the Lions and the Vikings travel to Indianapolis this week.
It was a great opening week and most teams did not play as sloppily as feared after far less time in practices and without any preseason games. There were surprises and flops as there also are and on average, one out of every 16 players just had their best game of the season. There were no big injuries aside from Marlon Mack’s Achilles but soft tissue problems like hamstrings started showing up in practice last week.
We’re on to a couple of Monday night games and then Week 2. And it feels pretty good to see football again.