Is It Legit? Week 1: THE NFL IS BACK
Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire
After a long successful day of never leaving the couch, the first Sunday of what looks to be a beautiful 2018 NFL Season is in the books. We witnessed the longest game in NFL history, the end of the Browns 17-game losing streak (still need to get the win streak going), and a 20 point comeback by the most talented one-legged QB of all time. Amidst the madness, certain players managed monster performances, but are they here to stay?
Austin Ekeler (RB, Los Angeles Chargers)
Not to get lost in the Tyreek Hill show, Austin Ekeler was a standout in the game between the Chargers and the Chiefs. With 5 rushes for 39 yards, Ekeler proved nearly twice as effective on the ground (7.8 ypc to 4.3 ypc) than the Chargers’ lead-back, Melvin Gordon. Additionally, he proved his worth in the passing game with 5 receptions for 87 yards and a TD. After a few drops from his wide receivers, Philip Rivers was confident in his backup running back; throwing a jump ball to Ekeler with a linebacker in his face. From this point forward, expect an increase in touches for Ekeler as he proved to be a dynamic weapon in all facets of the offense. Ekeler will never surpass the amount of touches that a healthy Gordon will see, however after this strong performance he will definitely see more playing time in passing situations. He absolutely can continue this pace and end up a lower end RB 2; a definite stash in deeper leagues.
Will Dissly (TE, Seattle Seahawks)
A largely unknown 4th round pick, Will Dissly is in the lead for the starting TE job in Seattle. Dissly managed to pick up 105 yards on just 3 receptions to lead his team in receiving. He caught a 15-yard TD and an impressive 66 yard reception while being targeted 5 times (one away from the team high). In an offense lacking consistent options, Dissly might easily become a favorite target. With Russell Wilson’s two favorite targets from 2017 being gone (Jimmy Graham to Green Bay and Doug Baldwin injured in the first quarter), there are plenty of targets to be spread around. Dissly should continue to put up numbers in the passing game and break into the top tier of TE’s.
The Entire Buccaneers Offense
The biggest surprise in Week 1 was easily the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ upset over the New Orleans Saints. The Bucs managed 519 yards of total offense and 5 TD. If you had Ryan Fitzpatrick to DeSean Jackson as the dynamic duo of the day, you are lying. Fitz finished the day 21/28 with 417 and 4 TD, two of those went to Jackson who had 146 receiving yards on five catches. Mike Evans chipped in with 7 receptions for 147 yards and a TD. This performance from The Harvard Hammer may have ended Jameis Winston’s career, but they still have the 4th toughest strength of schedule when comparing 2017 records. Do I ever expect them to be THIS good ever again? Probably not. Could they? Possibly…. (Realistically, Fitzpatrick could be a reliable 2nd tier QB and has proven he could be. Evans should have been this good all along, and moving forward I would not expect much from Jackson, who suffered a concussion late in the game).
Washington R Words RBs
With the most impressive and most dominating win of the first week of the season (I’m not going to count the Bills as a team quite yet), the R Words beat the Cardinals 24-6, with the lone Arizona TD coming with just under 6 minutes left in the game. They relied heavily on the run game, and what looks to be a rejuvenated Adrian Peterson, to control the game. Peterson had 26 rushes for 96 yards and a TD, while Chris Thompson added 5 rushes for 65 yards. The two were also active through the air with 2 receptions for 70 yards and 6 receptions for 63 yards and a TD respectively. These numbers are inflated because of how atrocious the Cardinals looked, but they seem to be indications of what the usage will be throughout the season for the two RBs; Peterson will be an absolute workhorse while healthy (although this will likely be his best game) and Thompson will be heavily involved in the passing game (finished as the team’s leading receiver). Both should be consistent fantasy starters throughout the year.
Phillip Lindsay (RB, Denver Broncos)
The hometown hero destroyed the hopes and dreams of Royce Freeman fantasy owners everywhere as the two shockingly ended up splitting carries. Phillip Lindsay and Freeman finished with the exact same production on the ground, 15 rushes for 71 yards, however, Lindsay was targeted 3 times in the receiving game while Freeman was not used at all. Lindsay scored the Broncos’ first touchdown but finished the game with just 2 receptions. It appears that Lindsay has created a competition to be the team’s feature back and absolutely could win the job. He will likely be at the top of every waiver list.