Week 1 of the NFL season is always a whirlwind which unsettles so many pre-conceived notions from the lead up to game day. While we don’t have the sample size which we prefer to work with, we do have some glaring indications. Here are a collection of 5 takeaways going into week 2:
Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys appear poised to lead the NFL in passing yards in 2021. This may or may not lead to multiple Cowboys receivers reaching WR1 status. Despite being narrowly edged by Derek Carr and the Raiders, Dallas threw for 391 yards and had a league leading 58 passing attempts. Prescott impressively completed 72.4% of his passes on the night and put WR’s Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb into the WR1 and WR13 spots of PPR formats. On the flip side, Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys rushing offense were asked to be patient in week one but performed extremely well in pass protection assignments. I’ll be giving both Elliott and Tony Pollard a pass against a stout defensive group in Tampa Bay. Prescott and Lamb should be trade targets going forward. Amari Cooper is a great sell high candidate. Ezekiel Elliot shouldn’t be a buy-low opportunity after week 1, but he is.
Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles are going to move the ball extremely well this season. The ADP values of Eagles players were depressed across the board. What we saw in week 1 was a recipe which could see all of them outperform expectations. Hurts completed 77% of his passes on Sunday for 264 yards and 3 TD’s. The addition of his 8.9 YPC average for 62 yards on the ground is going to be a game changer for the Eagles. After being a pre-season skeptic about Hurts I’m quickly changing my tune despite the weak opponent in the Atlanta Falcons. 2021 1st round draft pick DeVonta Smith appeared “as advertised” hauling in 6 of 8 targets for 71 yards and 1 TD. Whether or not he emerges as the top target for the Eagles in 2021, he has already won my vote of confidence. With Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell putting together 156 all-purpose yards this tandem should keep oppositions balanced in their defensive sets. An injury to either RB could lead to a significant boost in Fantasy value for the other, despite Boston Scott being praised during pre-season activities.
The Detroit Lions may be one of the league’s weakest teams on paper, but they look like a reliable source of fantasy points while predictively trailing in games. D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams both had strong fantasy performances tallying 20.4 FPTS and 21.00 FPTS respectively. For anyone concerned about the disparity in production between these two RB’s, consider that Swift played 63 snaps as compared to Williams 32. A nearly 2:1 ratio should be keyed on in any backfield barring injury. Taking the usage of these two players one step further, they saw 11 and 9 targets respectively. That is an elite level of usage which anyone should be keen on having. Beyond the astounding production from the RB’s we got a very nice 8/97/1TD stat line from TJ Hockenson who ranked 2nd in TGT’s at the TE position with 10, behind only Darren Waller. These are the 3 players I’m keying on from the Lions roster in 2021.
Joe Mixon and the Cincinnati Bengals are committed to a strong run game in 2021. I don’t blame anyone who was keen on the Ja’Marr Chase and Joe Burrow connection in week one. To me, the story line was Joe Mixon and his league leading 127 Rushing yards on 29 carries. With Frank Pollack returning to Cincy as the Offensive Coordinator Mixon stands to benefit the most out of the offensive group. Mixon had the best portion of his career the last time the two worked together and after week 1, its easy to see why the value of Mixon is on the rise across all leagues. I’m checking in on the price of Joe Mixon across all my leagues. I would happily pivot from a player like Ezekiel Elliot or Austin Ekeler in a package deal which helps both teams.
Deebo Samuel and the San Francisco 49ers need to show us a lot more than what we saw in week 1 vs Detroit before we change any pre-season values by drastic amounts. Frankly put, this offense is in flux and the only position where the 49ers have clarity is Tight End. Facing the Detroit Lions defense we didn’t learn anything more than we already knew about either side. Detroit was still as susceptible as ever to a power run game and didn’t gave up consistent big plays on defense. Deebo stole the show in week 1 with a 9/189/1TD performance on 12 targets while Brandon Aiyuk saw a string of 0’s, by comparison, on only 15 snaps. With Trey Sermon being held out of action in week 1 it’s hard to know how the injury to Raheem Mostert affects the San Francisco backfield dynamic assuming that Eli Mitchell and Sermon now enter into a competition for the role. While the whole Fantasy Football community has rushed to acquire Mitchell, we don’t have indication that he is anything more than a short term option which fit Kyle Shannahan’s eye in week 1.
Thanks for checking in with my top 5 takeaways from week 1. I hope that you’re off to good start following week one and can find some value in my thought process.
David Carey – @87_Carey