2020 Fantasy Football Week 1 Wrap: Brady vs. Brees doesn't disappoint, but is the decline phase here to stay?

Dalton Del Don
·11-min read

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints

In the NFL’s first ever game featuring two 40-year-old quarterbacks, the Saints/Bucs combined for 57 points in a fantasy-friendly matchup. Brady got just 6.6 YPA and had a couple of picks, including one returned for a touchdown (a TB requirement?), but he produced three touchdowns (one rush) and could’ve had more yardage if not for multiple PI calls. It remains to be seen how the 43-year-old holds up over the season, but Sunday proved he’s still capable of making some nice throws downfield, and it helps Tampa Bay can’t run the ball. Brady now gets a favorable matchup at home against Carolina, where it will be hard to start Rob Gronkowski (O.J. Howard looks like the preferred TB tight end).

Ronald Jones dominated the carries, and while reports during the game suggested he continued to struggle in the receiving game throughout camp, Leonard Fournette should hardly be assumed a superior option there. I’d far prefer Jones over Fournette moving forward (although a committee may result in both being worthless in fantasy) … A hobbled Mike Evans would certainly help Chris Godwin’s fantasy value, although it wasn’t a great start for either while facing a New Orleans defense that ranked bottom-five in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers last year.

Alvin Kamara scored two touchdowns, but he had totaled just 30 yards before a late gadget play and was out-carried by Latavius Murray in both the first and second half. Kamara’s 1.3 YPC came against last year’s #1 ranked run defense in DVOA though, and he gets a much more favorable meeting against the Raiders in Week 2. But that usage isn’t nothing.

Michael Thomas finished with just 17 scoreless yards after averaging 128.4 yards at home last season, and he’s worth monitoring after hobbling off the field at the end of the game ... Drew Brees recorded 18 touchdowns over six home games last year, so it’s discouraging to see him get just 5.3 YPA after a shaky finish last season. The Bucs have a legit defense, but Brees is 41 years old, and the decline phase can often be sudden.

Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots

Cam Newton broke his eight-start losing streak and is going to be a big help in fantasy leagues running like that, although he won’t benefit from a home game against the Dolphins every week. Still, Newton is without question one of the big Week 1 winners ... The answer to Jordan Howard or Matt Breida turned out to be Myles Gaskin, which makes Miami’s backfield unusable for now … With a poor defense and running game and DeVante Parker injured, Preston Williams and Mike Gesicki are going to eat moving forward. Don’t worry about Week 1’s quiet numbers against New England’s strong secondary … I wouldn’t be overly optimistic about any Patriots skill position player right now.

Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens

I tended to be with the “Nick Chubb will still be fine” side of the argument, but if Sunday’s usage was an indication of the future, Kareem Hunt is the more valuable PPR fantasy back … My over/under for Mark Andrews touchdowns this season is 14.5, and he has a strong argument as fantasy’s #1 tight end right now … Baker Mayfield has now had four head coaches in two+ seasons, and Sunday’s game was a tough matchup, but his career trajectory has been a massive disappointment … Lamar Jackson got 11.0 YPA and included three TDs among his 25 tosses Sunday; he might look even better in 2020.

New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen lost two fumbles and got just 6.8 YPA against a decimated Jets defense missing their linebacking corps (and Jamal Adams), but he became the first Bills QB to throw for 300 yards since 2016 (marking the first time he’s reached 270 yards in a game in his career) and added three scores. Maybe he won’t regress with the goal-line scores as foolish skeptics like myself expected … Sam Darnold has a makeshift WR group and was playing in windy conditions against a Bills defense that allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks last season, but he also didn’t play well. A long Jamison Crowder TD really saved his fantasy day … As feared, Zack Moss was Buffalo’s preferred option around the goal line, but it was nice to see Devin Singletary get five targets (it’s Allen’s GL presence that really destroys their fantasy values). Allen missed a wide open John Brown on a short throw in the end zone on what would’ve been the receiver’s second score.

Las Vegas Raiders @ Carolina Panthers

Josh Jacobs saw 29 touches and his six targets were as encouraging as his three touchdowns. He won’t always face a Carolina defense that was gashed for the most fantasy points against running backs last season, but maybe Jacobs won’t be as game-script dependent as his rookie year versus upcoming tougher competition … It’s just one game, but under the team’s new coaching staff and quarterback, Christian McCaffrey saw just four targets, a number he beat in all but two games last season.

Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons

Russell Wilson got 9.2 YPA with a 4:0 TD:INT ratio while leading the Seahawks in rushing on just three attempts, as he continues to carry the team. #LetRussCook … Fantasy managers of Chris Carson have to prepare for Carlos Hyde to be plenty involved moving forward, but that can be offset if Carson continues to be used heavily in the passing game like Sunday (second-most targets of his career) … Hayden Hurst is a buy-low candidate, while Matt Ryan had one of the quieter 450-yard games in recent memory … It’s not often you see three wide receivers from the same team all go at least 12-9-110 in the same game, but Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and even Russell Gage are set up for a lot of volume this season … Todd Gurley scored, but after finishing last by a wide margin in yards per route run among RBs last year, he turned five targets into one yard during his Atlanta debut. Try to trade him if you can.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson was in peak form in Week 1. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Football Team

The Eagles were up 17-0 with less than a minute left in the first half and lost 27-17, as Washington truly had 27 “unanswered” points. Football Team’s defensive line was expected to make a big jump this year, and it helped facing a Philadelphia O-line decimated by injuries, as they recorded the team’s most sacks (eight) since 2014 … Peyton Barber had the most Peyton Barber line ever, turning 17 carries into 29 yards and two touchdowns (in fairness, it beat J.D. McKissic’s -0.7 YPC). It was disappointing to see Antonio Gibson get just two targets … Bigger games are ahead for Terry McLaurin, and Logan Thomas should be treated as a top-25 fantasy tight end moving forward … Given their age, career trajectory, and health risks, I don’t think it’s a stretch to prefer Dallas Goedert over Zach Ertz in fantasy leagues moving forward … The injuries to Philadelphia’s backfield have been real fantasy buzzkills.

Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions

Mitch Trubisky somehow ended with three TD strikes and is likely to remain the starter with the Bears’ win, which was aided by an absolutely brutal late drop by D’Andre Swift on a would-be game-winning score … Adrian Peterson looked good and even saw three targets. As the primary goal-line back on an offense that will be much better moving forward, he’s easily an RB3 in fantasy leagues — even a borderline top-25 RB.

Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars

As frustrating as Jonathan Taylor’s day was (clear #3 in RB pecking order and missing a TD on his first NFL touch by an inch), he’s a top-10 fantasy RB moving forward with Marlon Mack going down with a feared torn Achilles. Taylor secured all six of his targets, and it’s clear that will remain a theme with Philip Rivers dumping off, also making Nyheim Hines essentially Austin Ekeler right now (only with a far better offensive line). Even with Taylor, I’d bid the rest of my FAB in any PPR league in which Hines happens to be a free agent (he’s the one RB I regret not ranking much higher after Week 1). Taylor seeing six targets with Hines at the goal-line, while Clyde Edwards-Helaire left the field on passing downs yet saw a handful of GL carries, just as expected … Gardner Minshew is going to be a top-15 fantasy QB this year.

Unfortunately for those who backed Indy in Survivor, Rivers brought with him the same INT problems and proclivity to underperform expectations … Don’t let the mediocre box score fool you; James Robinson is legit. Like Hines, I’d be extremely aggressive with FAB if the rookie is somehow available in your league. He’s clearly Jacksonville’s feature back.

Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings

Aaron Rodgers got just 6.1 YPA on the road last season, but he shredded a banged-up Vikings defense Sunday, and it could’ve been more if not for a few egregious Packers drops. Davante Adams is the heavy favorite to be this year’s #1 fantasy WR as long as he stays healthy … It appears A.J. Dillon and his thighs are behind Tyler Ervin as Green Bay’s #3 running back … Marquez Valdes-Scantling had two bad drops and was tackled at the one-yard line, but it appears all the preseason hype was warranted, as he’s the other GB receiver worth using in fantasy leagues.

Los Angeles Chargers @ Cincinnati Bengals

It was an underwhelming debut for Joe Burrow, although he saved his fantasy day with this nice TD run in which he patiently followed his block. He and Joe Mixon had to deal with Cincinnati’s line being dominated by the Chargers. Mixon fumbled for just the second time of his career and the first since his rookie season (losing it), while Randy Bullock ended the game by pulling his hammy while shanking a 31-yard FG attempt, in a fitting way for me to lose one of my five “SuperContest” picks this week (the Lions being another!). Good stuff. And by that I mean the opposite … Maybe an even bigger concern for Keenan Allen than the QB change in LA is Mike Williams’ emergence, as he looks like a future star in the right situation and was top-10 in target share Sunday … While Austin Ekeler was given a career-high 19 carries, he saw just one target without Philip Rivers, and Joshua Kelley’s impressive summer carried over into game action. LA’s game scripts will be different, but Ekeler’s fantasy value is a wild card right now (Kelley is the real deal).

Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers

Kyler Murray was elusive and showed immediate chemistry with DeAndre Hopkins, who wasted no time setting a career-high with 14 catches … Jimmy Garoppolo is dealing with an extremely injured group of wide receivers and was pressured consistently but also missed throws, as he really needs Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk to return. The biggest story of Sunday’s game for the 49ers was arguably George Kittle not suffering what looked like a possible season-ending knee injury, although he completely disappeared afterward against an Arizona team that was destroyed by tight ends last year.

San Francisco can change weekly game plans, but Raheem Mostert not only dominated carries during his first career NFL start but also led the team in targets with a career-high five, including this one he took 76 yards to the house, becoming the fastest ballcarrier since Tyreek Hill in 2016. Mostert played wide receiver in college, so his role in SF’s passing game should continue to grow. He was stopped at the one-inch line Sunday, but Mostert has scored 13 touchdowns over his last nine games now and has a new left tackle doing things like this.

Dallas Cowboys @ Los Angeles Rams

Dak Prescott and Jared Goff combined to throw just one touchdown during Sunday night’s game that featured this week’s highest over/under, as LA opened its new $5 billion stadium with an upset victory. The Cowboys are 1-7 during one-possession games since last season. Goff continues to be the league-leader in having receivers getting tackled at the one-yard line, with Malcolm Brown the beneficiary Sunday night. Brown is clearly a bigger hurdle for Cam Akers than Darrell Henderson … Ezekiel Elliott hinted at an expanded receiving role and caught a TD, but Dallas’ wide receivers were a big letdown, as Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb combined to get a modest 7.6 yards per target without scoring … I expected a nice year from Blake Jarwin, who went down on a non-contact injury, which should open up more targets for the WR trio … Robert Woods has a high floor, but he lacks top-10 WR upside like others thanks to such little RZ action … Tyler Higbee is going to have a big season, so see if his quiet Week 1 makes him easier to get in a trade.

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