What We Saw: Week 1

Deebo Samuel became the King of the Jungle after his performance against the Lions.

Dolphins @ Patriots

Final Score: Dolphins 17, Patriots 16

Writer: Ben Brown (@BenBrownPL on Twitter)


Two former Alabama QBs, Tua Tagovailoa for the Dolphins and Mac Jones for the Patriots, faced off in this Week 1 matchup in Foxborough, MA. Jones looked like a rookie out there for most of the first half but settled in by halftime and completed his first career touchdown to Nelson Agholor. Tua drove Miami down the field on their first drive of the game and punched in a three-yard run for the score, finishing up a nice drive by the offense when Myles Gaskin did most of the work to get them within striking distance. The Patriots’ defense started out slowly but came into their own, and by the end of the first half they stepped up with back-to-back phenomenal plays to hold Miami to a field goal and a 10-10 score at the half.




In the second half, penalties and turnovers ended up costing New England a victory. The Patriots had an uncharacteristic day, fumbling the ball four times (two lost) and committing eight penalties, and this was the main reason why Miami came out on top.

That’s not to say that Miami’s offense didn’t earn the win on their own, because they certainly did. They drove down the field with ease on multiple occasions, utilizing play-action, quick slants, Myles Gaskin’s quick feet, quick slants, and even the Wildcat to stress New England’s bend-but-don’t-break defense. They often exposed New England’s biggest weakness, cornerback, something that will be an issue in the coming weeks until Stephon Gilmore returns.



All in all, this game could have gone either way but it was the turnovers and the penalties that killed New England’s chances to win. Miami squeaked out the 17-16 victory.


Miami Dolphins




Tua Tagovailoa: 16/27, 202 yards, TD, INT, 2 sacks | 4 carries, 1 yard, TD

Jacoby Brissett: 2 carries, 4 yards


Tua Tagovailoa was surgical on the Dolphins’ first drive. He ran the no-huddle offense with ease, keeping the Patriots’ defense on their toes with quick, short passes and option runs. He capped off the drive with a three-yard TD run that gave the Dolphins the lead early in the 1st quarter.



Tua did a good job of keeping plays active with his feet when the defense brought pressure, but he wasn’t very successful in converting those scrambles into positive yardage. He failed to convert any attempts while under pressure all game, something that certainly helped end a few drives that started off promising. His decision-making wasn’t always great, though, as evidenced by this third-down throw that was nearly intercepted by Devin McCourty.




He did help Miami drive down the field and he connected with Jaylen Waddle for a score on their first drive of the second half.



The score was mostly the result of Waddle making a great play to dive into the end zone, but Tua threw him a perfectly placed ball which enabled him to make his move.

Tua’s only interception of the day was a bad throw on the run while trying to evade pressure once again. I’m not sure if he was trying to throw the ball away or trying to be the hero – if he was trying to throw it away he just didn’t have enough zip on the ball to get it out of bounds, but it’s clear he put a lot of effort into the throw. He simply just wasn’t in a good throwing position and the mistake nearly cost them the game.



Overall, the offense was built off of quick routes and option plays for the majority of the game. Tua did have some nice downfield throws at times, particularly to Waddle and DeVante Parker, which I’ll show in GIF form below. His stat line was also hurt by a couple drops by Waddle that would have extended drives. Overall, it was a solid showing for the young QB against a good defense that should give many QBs fits this season. I’m not running out to grab Tua off the wire if he’s available after this one, but he’s on my radar.


Running Backs


Myles Gaskin: 9 carries, 49 yards | 5 targets, 5 receptions, 27 yards

Salvon Ahmed: 3 carries, 4 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 24 yards

Malcolm Brown: 5 carries, 16 yards


Myles Gaskin looked fantastic early in the game but his usage faded as the game went on. He was phenomenal on the Dolphins’ first drive, almost single-handedly driving them down the field before Tua vultured the TD.




New England made some adjustments as the game went on and keyed in on Gaskin’s ground game. Miami was able to get the ball to him through the air, boosting his fantasy output that ultimately ended up being mediocre for an early-round draft pick. Having that touchdown would have been very nice for those who rostered him.

Miami ultimately decided to go the way of the Wildcat for much of the second-half carries, led by Malcolm Brown. Brown was mostly used as the Wildcat “QB” or on third down in pass protection. He did well in protection and will likely continue to see third-down snaps if that success continues. This could lead to some catches out of the backfield in the future, but he’s just a guy who has never really done much of anything.

I wouldn’t roster him ahead of Salvon Ahmed, who saw limited usage but would likely be Gaskin’s replacement in the event of an injury thanks to his abilities in the passing game. He did have two receptions on Sunday and showed good burst with the ball in his hand. Again, he’s not fantasy relevant as long as Gaskin is on the field, but he could be a waiver add at some point this season so keep him on your watchlist.


Wide Receivers/Tight Ends


DeVante Parker: 7 targets, 4 receptions, 81 yards

Jaylen Waddle: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 61 yards, TD

Mike Gesicki: 2 targets

Durham Smythe: 2 targets, 1 reception, 9 yards

Albert Wilson: 2 targets


Preston Williams was inactive in this game, as well as tight end Adam Shaheen who is on the COVID-19 list. This left Tua Tagovailoa with only three fantasy-relevant weapons to throw the ball to, and he made the most of what he had. DeVante Parker did DeVante Parker things, including this absurd catch on the sideline on a dime from Tua.



Most of his other targets were short and over the middle where he was able to rack up the YAC with relative ease against Patriots’ corners who often gave him plenty of space to work at the line of scrimmage. Parker fell in a lot of drafts this year but he’s still got the talent of a WR1, and if Tua keeps throwing the ball like this then a lot of fantasy managers got themselves a steal with Parker.

The story of the Dolphins’ offense, besides Tua, was Jaylen Waddle‘s involvement early and often. Tua was looking his way from the very first play from scrimmage for Miami, where Waddle made a nice catch and run.



The Dolphins’ next drive ended on a bad drop by Waddle, however, on a throw that went right through his hands. It probably was a little too far ahead of him, but that’s just nitpicking. A professional WR should be able to make this catch ten times out of ten.




Waddle made up for it near the end of the first half with a spectacular catch that helped kick start a scoring drive right before the half.



He also had the touchdown on the other side of halftime, and overall it was an impressive day from the rookie. He clearly still has chemistry with Tua, which should bode well for his stock as the season goes on.

Tight End Mike Gesicki was a nonfactor on the day, a troublesome development for anyone who thought he might work his way into a useful role in this offense. He caught one pass on the day for one yard, but of course, it was called back by a penalty. He should not be started in fantasy at this point, and if things keep going this way for the next few weeks he should be on the cutting block for many teams.


New England Patriots




Mac Jones: 29/39, 281 yards, TD, sack, fumble


It was a Jekyll and Hyde kind of day for Mac Jones. His first two drives were shaky at best and he looked massively uncomfortable in the pocket. Nerves were definitely an issue early on and the offense reacted as a result with five runs on their first drive. His first “pass” was actually an incredibly poor decision where he tried to down the ball at Jonnu Smith‘s feet instead of taking a sack, however, he had spun around and the “pass” was actually a lateral and a fumble as a result.



The play was the result of a missed block by Smith, but Mac should have just taken the sack there. Though we didn’t know it at the time, this would be a sign of things to come for New England on Sunday.

Mac started the day with six straight completions before his first incompletion was nearly intercepted if not for a nice play by Jakobi Meyers.



By this point, Jones started to settle down and his internal clock started to recalibrate. After the early struggles, he performed very well under pressure for the majority of the game. He was much better with defenders in his face than Tua was, by a long shot.



Jones looked great with the play-fake, almost Brady-esque at times.



A few plays later, Jones threw a perfect ball to Meyers that was batted away on an awesome play by former Patriot Jason McCourty.



This was the story of Mac Jones on the day – deadly accurate at all distances, for the most part. It was impressive, and a good sign for all of New England’s offensive weapons.



Jones’ first career touchdown came on a bullet while, you guessed it, under pressure. Damien Harris should have picked up the blitzing linebacker but he allowed him to get a free hit on the QB, but luckily Jones was able to release it in time for the score.




Again, Jones did extraordinarily well in the pocket while under pressure basically all evening long.



He even extended plays with his feet after the pocket collapsed on him. This play didn’t count thanks to a holding penalty, but this was an impressive display of athleticism nonetheless.



Jones’ best pass of the night was this gorgeous floater to James White that was dropped perfectly in the breadbasket.



While the Patriots’ loss wasn’t Jones’ fault, he did blow a chance to extend a drive deep in Miami territory by underthrowing Jakobi Meyers in the flat on third and short. If the ball were a little bit higher off the ground it would have given New England a first down inside the red zone rather than having to settle for a field goal.

While Jones is still a rookie and will likely have hiccups from time to time as the season progresses, he’s a solid QB2 in Superflex leagues and against inferior opponents could challenge QB1 territory at times.


Running Back


Damien Harris: 23 carries, 100 yards, fumble (lost) | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 17 yards

James White: 4 carries, 12 yards | 7 targets, 6 receptions, 49 yards

Rhamondre Stevenson: 1 carry, 2 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 9 yards, fumble (lost)

Brandon Bolden: 1 carry, 5 yards


This game was all about Damien Harris establishing his dominance on the ground in New England’s backfield. He started the game off with a 35 yard run on the first play of scrimmage:



He split carries with James White on the first drive before it fizzled out, but Harris looked like a legit RB1 from the get-go.

Preseason hero Rhamondre Stevenson started the second drive with a carry and also a catch, but he fumbled the ball after the reception and was immediately shooed away to the Belichick dog house.



It was an unfortunate turn of events for Stevenson, who didn’t see the field again until the end of the first half when, after Harris went to the sideline after getting shaken up, he failed to block a blitzing linebacker who was able to get to Mac Jones for the sack.



Stevenson did not see the field again in this one. If you drafted Stevenson thinking he might be a good source of touchdowns this year, you can safely drop him because he won’t be seeing the field much at all over the next few weeks after this disastrous start to his career.

Back to Harris, he carried the rock six times for 60 yards in the first quarter and looked unstoppable at times.



He nearly pounded one into the end zone on a 14-yard run that he just came up short on, but it was called back by a holding call anyway.



He did get shaken up later in the first half when a defender literally ripped the helmet off his head and it bounced back to hit him in the face. He ended up being fine but it certainly looked painful.



Harris has the quickness, elusiveness, and toughness to be an every-down back in this league. It all depends on how the Patriots choose to split up the carries as the season progresses.



It wasn’t all roses for Harris on the day, however, as a late fumble deep in Miami territory ended a drive that would have likely resulted in the clinching score for New England.



This fumble isn’t the only reason why the Patriots lost, but it’s the one mistake that came at the worst possible time. It shouldn’t impact his status as the starter who earns the most carries every week, but it’s something to keep an eye on and if it becomes a habit then he too will end up in the dog house.

One nice development from this game was James White‘s resurgence as a PPR flex option. He struggled mightily last season with Cam Newton‘s inability to run a proper screen, but that part of the offense looks to be comfortable for Mac Jones even this early in his career. White was all over the place for most of the day, even earning some carries up the gut early in the game. It’s not his strong suit, but if anything were to happen to Harris while Stevenson is in the dog house, White is the guy who would benefit the most from a fantasy perspective.


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Nelson Agholor: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 72 yards, TD

Jakobi Meyers: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 44 yards

Jonnu Smith: 5 targets, 5 receptions, 42 yards, fumble | 1 carry, 6 yards

Hunter Henry: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 31 yards

Kendrick Bourne: 3 targets, 1 reception, 17 yards


For the first time in 2021 we got to see what a fully loaded Patriots offense can do, and it looked pretty darn good. With Mac Jones at the helm, all four of Nelson AgholorJakobi MeyersJonnu Smith, and Hunter Henry should have fantasy relevance for most of the season. Agholor and Meyers should be considered strong flex plays in most matchups with WR2 upside.

A sweet 18.2 fantasy points from Agholor is a positive development for a guy who was a very late pick in a lot of drafts. He looked good in this game both running routes and blocking for the running backs, which will certainly earn him some points in the locker room. He made a great cut on his touchdown reception and thankfully didn’t drop any passes on the day. While he’s not the preferred option in this offense, he’s certainly the most likely to convert a deep play on any given day.

Jakobi Meyers has the potential to be a PPR machine in this offense. He was targeted most often and should have had a bigger day if not for the excellent play made by Jason McCourty to knock away the pass that was shown above. He was wide open on this play thanks to a clear pick that was within the allowed one-yard grey area but still could have been called for a penalty.



He has a knack for getting open and, thanks to being a former QB in college, has a great understanding of how the offense should work. Besides the near-interception that was almost his fault, he had a flawless night.

Jonnu Smith was involved all over the place for much of this game. We already know he’s an excellent blocker, and after Trent Brown left the game with an injury we saw a good amount of Smith being used on the right side as a blocker in run situations. He was still given multiple chances to make a play with the ball in his hands, including a nice jet sweep early on and a catch on the sideline that would have gone for over 20 yards if he hadn’t stepped out of bounds.



He was also a member of the #PatriotsFumbleCrew on this acrobatic yet heart-attack-generating hurdle attempt.



He was much more involved than Hunter Henry, who didn’t receive his first target until midway through the third quarter. He did catch all three of his targets, but it’s likely that New England is simply easing him back in after missing the entire preseason due to injury.


Ben Brown (@BenBrownPL on Twitter)

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