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NFL Matchups - Week 1 Recap

Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Venue: Lincoln Financial Field(Philadelphia)Thu. 9-6 @ 8:20 pm EDTOver/Under: 45

   Weather

Philadelphia Eagles 18  Atlanta Falcons 12

The 2018 NFL season kicked off with a Battle of the Birds and in the end, it looked like something out of a Mr. Mister video. Get it…? Broken Wings? Come on, people. Am I that old? Dammit.

In any event, we actually got exactly what we expected to get in a preseason that saw very few starters take the field in game action. The play was sloppy and riddled with penalties. In fact, there were almost as many penalties as there were points scored in this game as both teams continuously shot themselves in the foot. The defending Super Bowls champs managed to escape with the victory, but there wasn’t a whole lot for fantasy owners to enjoy.

Eagles

Nick Foles looked a whole lot more like the journeyman back-up he is than the Super Bowl MVP of last year as he struggled to find his rhythm and keep drives alive. He leaned heavily on Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz , both of whom were targeted 10 times, but there was no excitement to be had. He was picked off once, but got away with some poor decisions throughout the night as it was evident he needed some additional game-time work with his receivers. He tried to hit Mike Wallace downfield but that never materialized and, in the end, he completed just nine passes to wideouts and eight of them were to Agholor.

Jay Ajai was the lone shining star in this offense as he rushed for 62 yards on 15 carries (4.1 YPC) and found the end zone twice. It wasn’t some spectacular debut, by any means, but he protected the ball well and he eliminated most concerns regarding his knee. It’s obviously something to watch further down the road, but head coach Doug Pederson seemed pleased with the performance as he only spelled Ajayi a handful of times with Corey Clement and Darren Sproles .

The Eagles defense looked solid, picking off Matt Ryan once, but Ronald Darby did have his hands full with Julio Jones all night.

There were no injuries to report, but prior to the game the Eagles put WR Mack Hollins on Injured Reserve. He will be eligible to return after Week 8.

Falcons

The team picked up right where they left off last year and that’s actually not a good thing. The offense struggled once again under the leadership of second-year OC Steve Sarkisian and they failed to build up any legitimate momentum throughout the night. Matt Ryan struggled to find any receivers not named Julio Jones , so he targeted the super-stud a whopping 19 times. He hauled in 10 of those for 169 yards and while he failed to find the end zone, he still posted strong totals for his fantasy owners. Ryan did not, throwing for just 251 yards and one interception.

It looked as though the ground game was going to be ignited early on, but Devonta Freeman had trouble finding his lanes as, again, Sarkisian mixed up his run-blocking schemes and failed to do it in a successful way. Freeman carried the ball just six times for 36 yards and then found himself on the sidelines after tweaking his knee. The most recent reports are saying he is fine and his removal was more precautionary, but look for practice reports early in the week to be sure. Back-up Tevin Coleman finished the night with nine carries for 19 yards and a touchdown which came late in the game as the Falcons tried to wage a comeback.

Again, the rest of the receiving corps was minimally involved as Mohamed Sanu made four grabs and tight end Austin Hooper hauled in three. If this offense is going to expand beyond Julio, Sarkisian needs to shake some things up and get on the same page with his quarterback. If not, it’s going to be another long season.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Indianapolis Colts

Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium(Indianapolis)Sun. 9-9 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 47.5

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Cincinnati Bengals @ Indianapolis Colts

Final: CIN 34 IND 23

 

In what was a well played and evenly matched contest, fantasy studs emerged by the names of Joe Mixon , A.J. Green , T.Y. Hilton , Eric Ebron , Jack Doyle , and for the first time in two years…. Andrew Luck . Yes, you read that right, Luck is back! While he needed to shake the cobwebs off early on by throwing a red zone interception on his first pass of the season, in all he managed to finish an impressive 39-for-53 (74%), with 319 yards, and two touchdowns. Unfortunately his defense blew a substantial second half lead, and on a potentially game winning drive, Jack Doyle fumbled away the comeback bid. Give credit to Cincinnati though, as they mounted an impressive fourth quarter comeback and managed to do it by sticking to their game plan.

Some takeaways to note for both teams going forward include the fact that Joe Mixon is undoubtedly the bell cow back for the Bengals (saw 17 carries to the rest of the team’s single tote), while the Colts contrarily have no clue who they should defer to in their backfield (Marlon Mack is injured, while Jordan Wilkins , Nyheim Hines , and Christine Michael all struggled on Sunday. Most importantly to take note of is that Andrew Luck seems more than content to use both of his starting caliber tight ends. Week 1 saw both Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron receive over five targets, four receptions, and 50 yards. Ebron got into the end zone, while Doyle outpaced him in receptions, targets, and yards.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints

Venue: Mercedes-Benz Superdome(New Orleans)Sun. 9-9 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 49.5

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints

Final: TB 48 NO 40

 

Yowzers! This one was a barnburner! Don’t believe me? Chew on this: Per ESPN.com, “The combined 88 points (between the Bucs and Saints this Sunday) set an NFL record for a regular-season opener, narrowly eclipsing Philadelphia's 45-42 victory over Washington in September of 1947.”

Clearly, contrary to the rest of the slate this week, the dome in New Orleans protected play from Mother Nature’s tears. To list the fantasy studs in this one would be exhaustive, but today it’s the cross I bear…

Both quarterbacks finished interception free and eclipsed the 400-yard barrier! Drew Brees tossed three touchdowns, while Ryan Fitzpatrick outdueled him to the tune of four. Their favorite receivers all came out to play, as Mike Evans caught seven balls for 147 yards and a touchdown, DeSean Jackson caught five passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns, Ted Ginn Jr. caught five passes for 68 yards and a touchdown, while Michael Thomas threatened records with 16 receptions for 180 yards and a touchdown. While none of the running backs really got much going on the ground in this aerial battle, Alvin Kamara still managed to score three times, while racking up 112 receiving yards on nine receptions.

[Exhale!]

Looking forward, the Saints need to figure out what the hell happened to their vaunted defense from last season. Surrendering 48 points at home to Ryan Fitzpatrick is unacceptable. On the other side of things, the Buccaneers need to keep on keeping on, as they went into one of the toughest buildings in the NFL and punched their division rivals in the mouth. They may be onto something with this gun-slinging Ryan FitzMagic… Now they just need to tighten it up in the secondary!

Tennessee Titans vs. Miami Dolphins

Venue: Sun Life Stadium(Miami Gardens)Sun. 9-9 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 43.5

   Weather

 Miami Dolphins 27  Tennessee Titans 20

This game is probably one of the toughest to assess as the weather really disrupted the game flow and neither team was really able to build any momentum. The rain was teeming down throughout the day and a lightning storm caused not one, but two two-hour delays. The whole thing lasted a brutal seven hours and by the time the teams actually finished the first half, they simply changed sides and skipped over halftime. Yes, the Dolphins won, but talking player specifics is going to be tough.

Dolphins

There is really nothing you can say to really critique Ryan Tannehill . He looked healthy and threw efficiently (20-for-28), but that was about it. He hooked up with Kenny Stills on four catches for 106 yards and a pair of touchdowns and threw a couple of picks. All in all, a pretty typical, albeit wet, Tannehill performance.

Stills, once again, shined bright for the Dolphins passing game and this performance probably woke up a number of fantasy owners who somehow avoided him in drafts and left him for the 10th-round scrap heap. Tannehill spread the ball around fairly well, but we should always expect him to seek out Stills, especially on the long passes when the team falls into catch-up mode. It’s going to be better than owning a garbage-time receiver, but once defenses start keying in on him more, we’ll really know what he’s made of this season.

It’s very difficult to discuss the ground game here due to all the delays. As expected, Kenyan Drake was the lead back, but Frank Gore still saw nine carries to Drake’s 14. You have to figure that head coach Adam Gase pulled back on Drake a little to avoid potential injuries. When a guy gets loose, plays for a quarter and then sits on his hands for two hours, running him hard after that is a recipe for a hamstring injury. It was smart to hold him back and, in the end, the Fins won and they all stayed healthy.

Titans

While the Dolphins escaped with the win and without injuries, the Titans cannot say the same. For starters, quarterback Marcus Mariota left the game in the third quarter with an elbow injury and while he returned one play later, he was ineffective, threw a pick and then left the game entirely. During the post-game press conference, he explained that he was experiencing numbness in his fingers and could not grip the ball properly. He is still under evaluation and the team has yet to release any more information. If he is unable to play in Week 2, the Titans will be forced to start Blaine Gabbert .

The Titans also lost starting tight end Delanie Walker who suffered a dislocated ankle which also had a fracture. Walker is officially done for the rest of the season, moving Jonnu Smith into the starting tight end job. Fantasy owners should probably look to Smith if they don’t have a back-up as the Titans playbook dictates looks to the “tight end” inside the red zone, not just to Walker. Smith may have some value here.

Again, the other receivers are tough to judge given the weather and presence of a back-up under center. Corey Davis saw 13 targets which may be encouraging for the future, but again, it’s Gabbert likely now throwing unless we get some encouraging news about Mariota.

And finally, there’s the ground game. We expected the fairly even split between Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry , so no real surprises. Those who used Lewis were obviously happy, but those who were relying on Henry against a porous Dolphins run defense, got screwed as he had a 62-yard touchdown run negated by a holding penalty that wasn’t even a hold. The takeaway is that Henry is still just a boom or bust guy while Lewis seems to be the one with more stability. Funny enough, had henry’s touchdown counted, no one would even be concerned that, without it, he averaged just 2.6 yards per carry. Hmmm. Perhaps some food for thought there…

San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings

Venue: U.S. Bank Stadium(Minneapolis)Sun. 9-9 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 46

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San Francisco 49ers @ Minnesota Vikings

Final: MIN 24 SF 16

 

San Francisco 49ers

  • It was a humbling season opener for Jimmy Garoppolo . He completely just 15-of-33 pass attempts for 261 yards and a touchdown. He also threw three interceptions and failed to get any momentum against Minnesota’s secondary.

  • Matt Breida and Alfred Morris virtually split touches down the middle. Alf had 12 carries for just 38 yards while Breida had 11 carries for 46 yards while adding one catch for five yards.

  • Marquise Goodwin saw just one target due mostly to a quad contusion that took him out of the game.

  • George Kittle led all pass catchers with nine targets. He brought in five of those for 90 yards.

  • Trent Taylor and Pierre Garcon each had six targets. Taylor brought in four catches for 21 yards, and Garcon had two catches for just 21 yards.

  • Dante Pettis brought in two of his five targets for 61 yards and a touchdown.

  • DeForest Buckner was the lone bright spot on defense for San Francisco as he tallied 2.5 sacks and three tackles for loss.

 

Minnesota Vikings

  • After a preseason filled with mixed reviews, Kirk Cousins had a solid regular season debut with Minnesota. He completed just 20-of-36 pass attempts for 244 yards, but he tossed a pair of touchdowns and added 26 yards on the ground.

  • Dalvin Cook looked good in his return from a torn ACL last season. He rushed for just 40 yards on 16 carries, but he added six receptions on seven targets for 55 receiving yards. However, he did lose a fumble.

  • Adam Thielen led all receivers with a whopping 12 targets. He brought in six for receptions and had 102 receiving yards.

  • Stefon Diggs brought in three of his six targets for 43 yards and a touchdown.

  • Kyle Rudolph had an 11-yard touchdown catch, but that accounted for his only fantasy production. Nobody outside of Thielen, Cook, or Diggs had more than five targets.

  • The Vikings defense forced four turnovers and limited the 49ers to just 16 points.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New York Giants

Venue: MetLife Stadium(East Rutherford)Sun. 9-9 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 42.5

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Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Giants

Final: JAX 20 NYG 15

The season kicked off sloppily in New Jersey, as both the Jags and the Giants struggled to get much going for fantasy owners. For Jacksonville, they had no receivers eclipse 60 yards or five receptions, while their ground game saw no rushing touchdowns or any back over 55 rushing yards. Most importantly for Jacksonville’s disappointment was that second-year stud Leonard Fournette missed most of the game with a hamstring injury. If anything serious, this will be a tremendous blow for fantasy owners, as Fournette looked very effective prior to the injury. Cue the skyrocketing stock of T.J. Yeldon .

On the Giants side of things, for most of the contest they struggled move the ball offensively. Penalties and negative plays often had them in third and very long situations. In these scenarios, the Jags basically played “no doubles” defense across the board, allowing the G-Men to gain plenty of yards, but no first downs. This is how Odell Beckham managed 11 receptions for 111 yards, despite being lined up across from the game’s best corner.

In the much-anticipated debut of Saquon Barkley , the Jaguars clearly made it a point to punish the rookie phenom. For the most part, he was bottled up and often popped behind the line of scrimmage, however on one remarkable play early in the fourth quarter, the Penn State product managed to show his explosiveness and worthiness as the number two overall pick in this past April’s draft. Barkley took the shotgun handoff and read the zone left cutback lane to perfection. He broke a few tackles and stiff-armed another defender to China along the way. He would eventually capture the edge and scamper along the right sideline for a 68-yard touchdown. In all, Barkley finished his NFL debut with 18 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown; an impressive first game to say the least. It should be noted however, that without the breakaway touchdown he averaged a mere 2.2 yards per carry.

Looking forward, the Jaguars need to ensure the health of Leonard Fournette , as without him they lack an offensive identity. I would hate to see a game where Blake Bortles is expected to beat defenses on his own.

For the Giants, it’s back to the drawing board. It shouldn’t be understated that they managed to hang in there with an elite defensive team, but at home you need to play cleaner football. An improved emphasis on establishing the run should help their offensive line protect Eli Manning better on play action passes. Another takeaway for them is that Odell Beckham looked as good as he ever has. He took the top off of the defense a few times, while Eli Manning just kept missing him. Beckham is poised for a huge season, in spite of his over-the-hill quarterback.

Buffalo Bills vs. Baltimore Ravens

Venue: M&T Bank Stadium(Baltimore)Sun. 9-9 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 38.5

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Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens

Final: BAL 47 BUF 3

 

Buffalo Bills

  • The Bills were able to generate just 153 total yards of offense (70 yards passing and 83 yards rushing).

  • Nathan Peterman may not have thrown five interceptions in one half, but he only completed just 5-of-18 pass attempts for 24 yards and a pair of interceptions.

  • LeSean McCoy managed seven carries for just 22 yards to go with one catch for a loss of one yard.

  • If there’s a silver lining for Bills fans to take note of, Zay Jones saw six targets (three receptions for 26 yards) and Kelvin Benjamin saw seven targets (one catch for ten yards).

  • Although it was “garbage time” Marcus Murphy did rush for 31 yards on six carries. Additionally, he had two targets albeit he had zero catches. Perhaps the biggest take away for Murphy was that he had five attempts returning kickoffs and he totaled 165 return yards.

 

Baltimore Ravens

  • Joe Flacco had his first three-touchdown game since 2016 and each touchdown went to a player that wasn’t on the roster last season (Michael Crabtree , Willie Snead , and John Brown )

  • Alex Collins rushed for just 13 yards on seven carries, but he hit pay dirt with a touchdown and a lone reception for six yards. He also did lose the ball on a fumble in the first half. Collins sat out the remainder of the first half with the Ravens in favor of Javorius “Buck” Allen. Collins did appear in the second half with the game well in hand and was on the field for Allen’s one-yard rushing touchdown, but unfortunately didn’t get the carry on that play. The workload distribution in Baltimore’s backfield will be worth keeping an eye on if Collins continues to struggle protecting the ball.

  • Kenneth Dixon led the way with rushing attempts, 13 for 44 yards and a touchdown. However, his workload came with the Ravens up 30+ points in the fourth quarter.

  • Four players (Willie Snead , Nick Boyle , Michael Crabtree , and Buck Allen) had six targets. John Brown managed four targets.

  • The Ravens defense collected six sacks, ten tackles for loss, two interceptions, and just three points allowed on the day.

Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots

Venue: Gillette Stadium(Foxborough)Sun. 9-9 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 49.5

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Houston Texans @ New England Patriots

Final: HOU 20 NE 27

 

While the final score was close, this one played out like a warm-up game for the Patriots. They had Brady-to-Gronk working in full flight early on, while the rest of the team fell into place. The defense didn’t seem to miss a beat without Matt Patricia calling the shots, as they relentlessly harassed Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson .

The Texans, on the other hand, should get some credit for going on the road, getting pinned with both shoulders on the mat early on, and then getting back up. This was not a one touchdown game by any stretch, and yet they battled back to make it look like one.

As for the fantasy notes… As previously stated, Brady-to-Gronk was in midseason form, as the two combined for seven completions on eight targets for 123 yards and a touchdown. Speaking of the touchdown the two connected for, take note of the fact that Gronk was blanketed in punt return double-coverage. Gronk used his power forward build and manhandled the two outmatched defenders for the impressive score. This play perfectly exemplified the trust and cohesion between the two future Hall of Famers. Don’t always trust the offseason media narratives people.

In the New England backfield, Rex Burkhead was treated as the clear-cut feature back, as he saw 18 carries, which was 13 more than James White – the next closest – who saw only five.

On the Texans side of things, check the boxes of Lamar Miller leading the team in rushing yards and attempts with 98 and 20 respectively, while DeAndre Hopkins led the team in catches, yards, and targets with eight, 78, and 11 respectively. As already noted, it should be back to the drawing board for Deshaun Watson who was sacked three times, threw a pick, and failed to eclipse 200 yards passing.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns

Venue: FirstEnergy Stadium(Cleveland)Sun. 9-9 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 41

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Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns

Final: PIT 21 CLE 21

 

Get your barf bags ready, because this one ended in the dreaded TIE finish! It’s unfathomable that in 2018 we are still allowing our football games to end in ties, but I digress.  Outside of the horrendous tie outcome, actually watching this one may have been equally as nauseating, as the rain and mud turned the game into a six-touchdown slog. This poor weather really bogged down the play of the two quarterbacks, as TyRod Taylor completed just 38-percent of his passes and failed to eclipse 200 passing yards in five quarters, while Big Ben struggled to the tune of three interceptions. Contrarily, this sloppy game flow played right into the hands of emerging superstar James Conner , who racked up 192 total yards and two touchdowns on a whopping 36 touches – Le’Veon who?? Despite the passing game struggles, the extra quarter of play in this one allowed the pass catchers in the matchup to meet their quotas for their concerned fantasy owners. Antonio Brown hauled in nine balls for 93 yards and a touchdown, JuJu Smith-Schuster caught five passes for 119 yards, Jarvis Landry caught seven passes for 106 yards, while Josh Gordon caught a 17-yard touchdown on his only reception.

Going forward for both teams, nothing much needs to really change. The Browns should build off of this momentum; the almost sarcastic buzz of finally not losing a game on a Sunday, while the Steelers need to just tighten up the mistakes. The rain seemed to affect Big Ben and it is unlikely to catch him off guard again. They will be just fine.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Venue: StubHub Center(Carson)Sun. 9-9 @ 4:05 pm EDTOver/Under: 48

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Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Charges

Final: KC 38 SD 28

 

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Patrick Mahomes was everything he was advertised to be. He only had 27 pass attempts, but threw for 256 yards and tossed four touchdown passes while adding 21 rushing yards as well. Two of his touchdowns, however, were simple forward tosses that barely left his hand.

  • Tyreek Hill had himself a day with seven catches on eight targets for 169 yards and two touchdowns while also adding a punt return for a touchdown as well.

  • Travis Kelce disappointed with just one catch on six targets.

  • Sammy Watkins saw five targets, but only caught three passes for 21 yards.

  • Kareem Hunt had a relatively quiet day behind an underwhelming Chiefs offensive line. He rushed for just 49 yards on 16 carries.

 

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Philip Rivers threw for 424 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Most of the damage was done in the second half/garbage time as the Chargers totaled just 12 points in the first half.

  • Keenan Allen had eight receptions on 11 targets for 108 yards and a touchdown.

  • Melvin Gordon rushed for 64 yards on 15 carries while hauling in nine passes on 13 targets for 102 yards. He didn’t find the end zone, but if you own Melvin Gordon you need to handcuff him with Austin Ekeler . Ekeler rushed for 39 yards on five carries, while bringing in all five of his targets for 87 receiving yards and a touchdown.

  • Six players saw at least five targets for the Chargers:

  • The Chargers vaunted defense was already without Jason Verrett for the 2018 season, but they were also without defensive end Joey Bosa for the day as well. Additionally Casey Hayward battled a late-training camp hamstring injury, Trevor Williams missed almost the entirety of camp with an ankle injury. So the Chargers were left with starting three rookies on defense.

Washington Redskins vs. Arizona Cardinals

Venue: University of Phoenix Stadium(Glendale)Sun. 9-9 @ 4:25 pm EDTOver/Under: 43.5

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Washington Redskins vs Arizona Cardinals

Final: WAS 24 ARI 6

Washington Redskins

  • As far as building/generating chemistry is concerned, the Redskins did just fine on Sunday. Alex Smith completed 21-of-30 pass attempts for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns while adding 14 yards on the ground.

  • Adrian Peterson had himself another “revenge game” rushing 26 times for 96 yards and a touchdown. He also brought in two of his three targets for 70 yards in the passing game.

  • Chris Thompson rushed five times for 65 yards and brought in six of his seven targets for 63 yards and a touchdown so it looks like he’ll still maintain his appeal in PPR formats.

  • Alex Smith continued his love with tight ends connecting with Jordan Reed four times on five targets for 48 yards and a touchdown.

  • While Paul Richardson ’s production was minimal (four catches for 22 yards), he did have the second-most targets with six, behind Chris Thompson .

  • Jamison Crowder had just three receptions on four targets for 22 yards. Josh Doctson had a lone catch for 11 yards on three targets.

  • The Redskins defense wasn’t outstanding, but they were solid overall this past Sunday. They allowed just 221 total yards of offense, two sacks, an interception, and a fumble recovery.

 

Arizona Cardinals

  • It was a very underwhelming debut with the Cardinals for Sam Bradford . He completed 20-of-34 pass attempts for just 153 yards with an interception and a lost fumble.

  • David Johnson had a relatively quiet day. He only had nine carries for 37 yards, but he did find the end zone. The Cardinals had to play from behind in the second half so Johnson did see nine targets, but they only translated to just five catches for 30 receiving yards.

  • Larry Fitzgerald continues to dazzle even at 35 yards of age. He brought in seven of his ten targets for 76 yards, although he didn’t find the end zone.

  • Chad Williams and Christian Kirk , despite some hype in the preseason had little-to-no production. Kirk brought in one of two targets for four yards. Williams failed to haul in any of his three targets.

  • Ricky Seals-Jones had three receptions on six targets, but only for 19 yards.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos

Venue: Sports Authority Field at Mile High(Denver)Sun. 9-9 @ 4:25 pm EDTOver/Under: 42.5

   Weather

Seattle Seahawks vs Denver Broncos

Final: DEN 27 SEA 24

Seattle Seahawks

  • This was definitely a game Russell Wilson took into his hands. He threw for 298 yards, three touchdowns, but did have a pair of interceptions. He also fumbled the ball twice although neither was lost to the defense. He also added five rushing yards, but obviously you’d like to see more in that department.

  • Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny each had seven carries. Carson easily outdid Penny by rushing for 51 yards while Penny collected just eight yards. They each saw five targets out of the backfield and this is where Penny got the better of Carson. Penny had four catches for 35 yards to Carson’s three catches for 28 yards.

  • Brandon Marshall led all Seahawks receivers with six targets, and had three catches for 46 yards and a touchdown.

  • Will Dissly had three receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown.

  • Tyler Lockett had three receptions on four targets for 59 yards and a touchdown.

  • Doug Baldwin saw just one target in today’s game as he’s now dealing with injuries to both his knees.

 

Denver Broncos

  • Case Keenum had a solid debut for the Broncos as he threw for 329 yards and three touchdowns. However, he did also throw three interceptions as well.

  • Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman each had 15 carries for 71 rushing yards although it was Lindsay who hit pay dirt in the passing game with two catches for 31 yards and a touchdown.

  • Devontae Booker had just two carries for four yards and two receptions for 11 yards.

  • Demaryius Thomas had six receptions on ten targets for 63 yards and a touchdown.

  • Emmanuel Sanders had ten receptions on 11 targets for 135 yards and a touchdown.

  • The Broncos defense had six sacks and eight tackles for loss. Three of the sacks were credited to Von Miller .

Dallas Cowboys vs. Carolina Panthers

Venue: Bank of America Stadium(Charlotte)Sun. 9-9 @ 4:25 pm EDTOver/Under: 42

   Weather

Dallas Cowboys @ Carolina Panthers

Final: DAL 8 CAR 16

 

Where to begin for this one? Welp, we’ll just call it a “defensive struggle.” Which of course is code for a shitty fantasy matchup.

On the Cowboys end of things, there was nothing positive to take note of. The banged up offensive line struggled to create holes for bell cow Ezekiel Elliott , and while he scored a touchdown and tallied close to 100 total yards, his production was far from what we have come to expect. As for Dak Prescott , he did nothing short of solidifying my belief that he is the single most overrated player in football, while his lack of playmaking weapons across the roster only made things worse this Sunday. If he’s your “Plan B” fantasy quarterback, you'd better start scouring the waiver wire. If he’s your “Plan A” you’d better start thinking of a new hobby.

The only real shining fantasy star of this matchup was Cam Newton , and not because of his right shoulder either, but instead for his 13 carries, 58 rushing yards, and one rushing touchdown. Those numbers, combined with 161 passing yards made him a more than viable fantasy option this week. It should also be noted that Christian McCaffrey did his thing, tallying 16 touches for a total of 95 yards. He failed to get into the end zone, but for PPR owners, his nine targets in the passing game came as a very comforting sign in Week 1.

Looking forward for both teams, they at least can be pleased with their defensive performances, beyond that, there is plenty of work to do. Specifically for the Panthers, they need to make sure Greg Olsen ’s ankle is not going to turn into a season-long saga. If it is, they need to find ways to better implement rookie Ian Thomas into the game plan, as he possesses high potential but is still a bit raw in comparison to what Cam Newton needs out of his tight ends. Speaking of Cam Newton , what are we to think of his whopping 13 rushing attempts in Week 1? For his career, he averages about seven to eight carries a game. Is this near double rush uptick a product of new OC Norv Turner’s season-long philosophy, or is it just because the Cowboys defense decided to focus on every player except for the biggest one on the field? The next few weeks should paint a better picture.

As for those Dallas Cowboys… The question remains on how long of a leash owner Jerry Jones will have for the long-tenured coaching staff. By my estimation, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan may not make it to the end of this sentence. They need to find some sort of identity and cohesion offensively because as it stands right now, they offer the most predictable playbook in the NFL. This will be no easy task, as third year quarterback Dak Prescott looks lost. He lacks confidence in every single decision he makes, which leads him to be indecisive with the football. At the quarterback position, indecisiveness turns into incompletions, sacks, turnovers, and in the worst cases, injuries. To keep heaping trash on this Cowboys offensive dumpster fire, the o-line needs to step up. Future Hall of Famer Tyron Smith and perennial All-Pro Zack Martin are paid the exorbitant salaries that they are because of their reputations and capabilities as elite linemen. In the indefinite absence of center Travis Frederick , this line has no swagger, no cohesion, and no leader. They must get back to blowing defensive lines several yards off the line of scrimmage so that “Feeding Zeke” and killing the clock becomes their identity once again. That is their only chance of success this season. For once they seem to have a defense to compliment their ground and pound philosophy.

Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers

Venue: Lambeau Field(Green Bay)Sun. 9-9 @ 8:20 pm EDTOver/Under: 45

   Weather

Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers

Final: GB 24 CHI 23

Chicago Bears

  • It was a tale of two Trubisky’s last night. In the first quarter Mitchell Trubisky completed 8-of-9 pass attempts for 99 yards. He had a 112.5 QB rating. In the final three quarters combined he went 15-for-26 for just 72 yards with a QB rating of 62.6 as the Bears blew a 20-0 lead to lose 24-23. The offensive line fared poorly trying to protect him as he was sacked four times. Trubisky did manage to rush for 32 yards and score a rushing touchdown, but he also fumbled twice , one of which was lost.

  • Jordan Howard rushed 15 times for 82 yards while also adding five catches for another 25 yards. Tarik Cohen didn’t cut into Howard’s workload all too much. Cohen had just five carries for 25 yards and three receptions for 16 yards. All in all it was a solid performance out of the Bears running game.

  • The receivers saw a fairly even share in target distribution. Below is a breakdown of how the targets were dispersed:

  • Allen Robinson led all receivers with 61 yards. No other pass catcher had more than 30 receiving yards.

  • The defense was the bright spot for Chicago, especially Khalil Mack . In his Bears debut, he recorded a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, an interception, and a defensive touchdown. The only other player to do that was Mack himself back in 2016.

 

Green Bay Packers

  • Green Bay avoided a disaster after Aaron Rodgers went down with a left knee injury in the first half, but he did return for a classic Aaron Rodgers performance in the second half. Rodgers finished the game with 286 yards and three touchdowns while leading the Packers back from a 20-point deficit. He was doing his best to keep pressure off his left knee so that will be something worth monitoring throughout this week.

  • The running game was less than stellar. On 15 carries, Jamaal Williams by far had the most touches, but only totaled 47 rushing yards.

  • The passing game went largely through Randall Cobb , Davante Adams , and Geronimo Allison . Adams and Allison each had five catches on eight targets and a touchdown, while Cobb led all receivers with nine receptions on ten targets for 142 yards and a score. It’s pretty hard to believe the Packers considered cutting/trading him during training camp.

  • It was a quiet debut for Jimmy Graham . He saw only four targets, and had just two catches for eight yards.

New York Jets vs. Detroit Lions

Venue: Ford Field(Detroit)Mon. 9-10 @ 7:10 pm EDTOver/Under: 44.5

   Weather

 New York Jets 48  Detroit Lions 17

Well this was certainly a different result from what most people expected as the Jets walked into Ford Field and punched the Lions square in the mouth. It looked as if we were in for a tight, back-and-forth game in the first half, but after the Lions tied it up at 17 in the third quarter, the Jets scored 31 unanswered points and walked away with what looked to be a relatively easy victory.

Jets

Let’s start off with the debut of Sam Darnold , the apparent savior of New York football. Opening night jitters? Perhaps, as the first pass he threw was picked off by Quandre Diggs and returned 37 yards for a touchdown. You could almost hear the cries of “same old Jets” from the heart of the city, but Darnold showed why he was considered the top quarterback in the draft as he recovered nicely and played a strong, efficient game from then on. He even looked strong as he rolled out to his left and threw across his body, something you don’t really want to see as few can do it effectively. He finished the night 16-for-21 for 198  yards, two touchdowns and the one interception and did a nice job leading the Jets on some solid, sustained drives.

Let’s face it….your rookie QB is going to need a strong support system in the NFL if he is going to have success and that support needs to come from the backfield. Hello Isaiah Crowell . Could you tell how happy he was not playing for the Browns this year? The Jets new leader in the backfield racked up 102 yards on 10 carries and found the end zone twice, the second time on a 62-yard run that was enabled by some insanely poor tackling efforts by the Lions. As expected, Bilal Powell saw some decent work and while he had 12 carries to Crowell’s 10, he still played only a secondary role.

The Lions had Darius Slay on Robby Anderson for most of the early part of the game, but once Slay left injured, the Jets took advantage and Darnold hit Anderson for a 41-yard strike that put the Jets ahead in the first half. But the real receiving hero had to be Quincy Enunwa who Darnold leaned on heavily, as evidenced by the 10 targets. Enunwa did an outstanding job helping move the chains between the 20’s and found his way into the endzone during that 31-point third quarter when he carried a pair of defenders across the goal line.

But the big story for the Jets had to be the defense as they picked off Matthew Stafford four times, one of which turned into a Darron Lee 36-yard INT for a touchdown. Get this…it was the Jets first defensive touchdown in five years. Five years! If Todd Bowles has his defense working like this all year, we could see some big surprises throughout the season.

And as if the defensive touchdown wasn’t amazing enough for the Jets and their fans, when was the last time we saw someone from this team return a punt for a touchdown? Andre Roberts , a well-traveled journeyman receiver ran one back 78 yards to help put this game out of reach.

While there is definite excitement, let’s not get too crazy here. Bender loves his Jets but even he is pumping the brakes.

Lions

Just an all-around disaster for this team as Matthew Stafford had a horrible game. The offensive line didn’t afford him the necessary protection, he took a hit to the knee that hobbled him for a while and he just never found a groove against an amped-up Jets defense. Stafford is still someone to trust moving forward, especially once he lands on the same page as his receivers. They had a few miscues, but then again, the whole night was one giant miscue for them.

The real issue for the Lions – one they’ve dealt with since the day Barry Sanders retired – is the lack of a ground game. LeGarrette Blount posted negative yards on just four carries and left with a knee injury. He hyperextended it and immediately went down but eventually left the field under his own power. We are still waiting for test results, so continue to check the reports. Beyond that, Kerryon Johnson ended up with five carries for 17 yards and three catches for 20 while Theo Riddick had four carries for 20 yards and five catches for 15. But considering the Lions called 52 pass plays, it’s tough to evaluate this backfield right now.

As for the receivers, we saw some nice efforts from the big three – Golden Tate , Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay . In fact, it was Golladay who had the biggest game with 114 yards on seven grabs, though it was Tate who found the end zone. Jones almost did, but Stafford overthrew him in the fourth quarter. This pass attack will click as the season progresses and maybe, just maybe, Bender will find a way to endorse Golladay.

Los Angeles Rams vs. Oakland Raiders

Venue: O.co Coliseum(Oakland)Mon. 9-10 @ 10:20 pm EDTOver/Under: 0

   Weather

Los Angeles Rams 33  Oakland Raiders 13

This was the perfect build-up as the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. We got our first real look at the Rams in Year 2 of the Sean McVay Era as well as our first glimpse into what the Raiders will look like under the guidance of new head coach Jon Gruden. While the final score would indicate a lopsided contest, this game was actually a lot closer than many expected.

Rams

On the offensive side of the ball, we got exactly what we were expecting. Jared Goff may not have been as efficient with his completion rate as we would have liked, but 233 yards and two touchdowns is hardly something to thumb your nose at, especially when we didn’t see the first-team offense take any in-game snaps during the preseason. He did a nice job of spreading the ball around as Brandin Cooks , Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods split 26 targets fairly evenly. It was Kupp who grabbed the glory with an eight-yard touchdown catch to close the third quarter, but both Woods and Cooks were active throughout the night. Leave it to Cooks, by the way, to do his patented pass interference-inducing play down the sidelines which helped push the rams towards one of Greg Zuerlein ’s three field goals.

Todd Gurley was, once again, a shining star and will be throughout this season, He carried the ball 20 times for 108 yards and caught three passes for 39, including a 19-yard touchdown catch and run in the first half. There is no denying that this offense runs through Gurley and while you’d love to see Goff blossom into a consistent 300-yard passer, you’re just not going to get that with a beast like this in the backfield.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Rams are going to shine bright. Their run defense is going to be strong and Marcus Peters ’ 50-yard interception for a touchdown was likely the first of many. He and Aqib Talib are a dynamic pair of cover corners. The Rams are going to have to work their linebackers more with regard to coverage though, or, at the least, get the safeties to pinch in more. The secondary held the Raiders receivers to just 43 yards, but the team, overall, got killed by the short-passing game, particularly to the tight ends.

Raiders

It’s tough to criticize Derek Carr too much as he was facing one of the league’s best pass defenses. He managed to throw for 303 yards as the Raiders stayed within reach until the second half and then he needed to take some chances. The big problem was his receivers as they failed to get any kind of separation in the defensive backfield and Carr was forced to work the shorter routes to tight end Jared Cook who racked up an amazing 180 yards on nine catches. Once Gruden saw Carr struggling to find his receivers, he immediately pulled back and had Jalen Richard on the field for much of the second half. Richard saw 11 targets, second only to Cook.

It was a fairly quiet debut for Marshawn Lynch who managed just 41 yards on 11 carries, though he did punch one in from 10 yards out to open the scoring. However, as the running lanes narrowed and the raiders fell behind in the second half, he was rendered ineffective, something fantasy owners should expect to see in the future.

 

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