Fantasy Season Review: Week 1
Another season has reached its end. With Championships won, crushing defeats, tanking complete or the void in between we have now reached the furthest point we will be from the next Fantasy Football season; the ideal time to look back on the season just gone and how it all went so terribly wrong.
So cast your mind back to September 6th, 2019. The NFL was ready to kick off it’s 100th season in Chicago with a contest between two of its most storied teams – the Bears and the Packers. The Baltimore Ravens were 45-1 outsiders to win the Superbowl, the Patriots were gearing up for yet another run, the Browns were finally set to crack the upper echelons of the league and the Eagles had built an unstoppable group of wide receiving options. Rest assured that when it comes to the NFL, nothing changes. We, like Jon Snow, know nothing.
Week one arrived and things immediately started to look different. Lamar Jackson, the Quarterback who had been “found out” by the Chargers in the Playoffs in 2018 exploded out of the gate. He went 17 of 20 for 324 yards and 5 touchdowns. It’s tough to remember that he didn’t even run in week 1 – that would come later. The Dolphins looked like an XFL team and had analysts talking 0-16.
The much-hyped Browns were flattened by the Titans led by a strong fantasy day by Marcus Mariota. Perhaps this was finally to be his year? AJ Brown should initial flashes that would really come to life down the final straight and Derek Henry racked up 160 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. The Browns highly touted offense offered little. Their only touchdowns came from David Njoku and Dontrell Hilliard and MVP candidate Baker Mayfield threw 3 interceptions.
The Eagles pre-season hype already showed signs of weakness as they started slowly against the Redskins who got a star turn out of little heralded rookie Terry McLaurin (5-125-1) and had Case Keenum throw for 380 yards and 3 touchdowns. A second half comeback led by a resurgent Carson Wentz and DeSean Jackson suggested that the Philly offense was indeed set to be an explosive, fantasy relevant points machine. Wentz threw for 313 and 3 touchdowns, Jackson had 8 catches for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Cowboys crushed the woeful Giants with Dak Prescott laying down a marker for what would be an excellent fantasy season.
The Chiefs offense picked up where it had left off the previous years with MVP Pat Mahomes throwing for 378 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tyreek Hill did almost nothing, leaving injured early on, as Sammy Watkins exploded for 198 yards and all 3 of the Chiefs receiving touchdowns. There were some early hints at the Chiefs running game struggles as Damian Williams and LeSean McCoy split time. The latter producing a reasonable 81-yard rushing day on 10 carries but much of that on a single 31-yard run. On the other side of the ball we saw the birth of two early season sensations as Gardner Minshew threw 275 yards and 2 TDs in relief of an injured Nick Foles and DJ Chark put 146 yards and a touchdown on 4 catches. It was however clear even then that the Jags defense wasn’t the unit from 2017.
Christian McCaffrey started his Fantasy MVP season with the first of many monster games. 128 yards rushing, 81 receiving and 2 touchdowns in the Panthers loss the Rams laid the groundwork for his incredible 1000/1000 season to come. He was almost matched by another running back, Chargers’ Austin Ekeler who rushed for 58 yards on 12 carries but got nearly 100 receiving and two touchdowns. The team barely missed hold-out Melvin Gordon at all.
TJ Hockenson gave his owners great hope as he broke the record for most receiving yards by a TE on their league debut with 131 yards on six catches. He also added a touchdown giving his many fans reason to be hopeful for the season ahead. In the same game the Cardinals got a nice late surge by rookie QB Kyler Murray who brought them back from the dead to tie. On top of Murray the Cards got a nice day out of David Johnson strengthening the belief that he was set to come back to life under Kliff Kingsbury.
Fantasy monster Mike Evans had a disastrous start to the season with 2 catches for 28 yards. He couldn’t even blame it on Chris Godwin who only had 3 for 53 as the Bucs were swept aside by a little hyped 49ers team, who even in victory produced little of fantasy value.
The Patriots defense started as they meant to go on with two turnovers in the rout of the still Big Ben led Steelers, cementing the Patriots as an unstoppable juggernaut set for back to back Superbowl victories. Sony Michel started what would be a disappointing season with a shocking 14 yards on 15 carries.
Monday Night Football produced contrasting fantasy offerings. In New Orleans the Saints and Texans produced points galore. Both Quarterbacks had good games, Brees throwing for 370 yards and 2 touchdowns and Watson going for 268 and a touchdown through the air and 40 and a score on the ground. The receivers also came to play with DeAndre Hopkins snagging 8 catches, 111 yards and 2 scores against Michael Thomas’ 10 catches for 123. Finally, Alvin Kamara picked up where he left off gaining 169 yards from scrimmage despite being vulture for a touchdown by Latavius Murray.
It was quieter in Oakland, but we did get an impressive fantasy debut from Josh Jacobs, with 85 yards and two scores rushing touchdowns and early signs of the breakout seasons by Darren Waller (7 for 70) and Courtland Sutton (7 for 120).