What We Saw: Week 1

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

Chargers @ Football Team

Final Score: Chargers 20, Football Team 16

Writer: Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)


Second-year star Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert capitalized on a mistake in the fourth quarter to throw a game-winning touchdown that felt like a true wind change for this franchise. After years of last-minute defeats, poor coaching decisions, and failed comeback drives for the Chargers, Herbert was the catalyst today, turning the tide and pushing his team over the line against one of the best defenses in football. Time after time, Herbert made elite-level throws to move the sticks and keep the momentum going for his team. Rookie Head Coach Brandon Staley gave his young quarterback room to breathe despite penalties still hampering this young offense at times. It was the defense that gave Herbert the opportunity to go out and win the game, with Kenneth Murray excelling in his second year at the linebacker position – he made the key fumble recovery that led to the game-winning score.



On the other side of the ball, the Washington Football Team lost the magic early with Ryan Fitzpatrick forced from the game with a hip subluxation after taking a big hit from Uchenna Nwosu. He will undergo an MRI to determine the severity of the injury but it is likely he will miss some time.



Backup Taylor Heinicke performed admirably in relief in a game that was a battle in the trenches for the most part. And, if it was not for an Antonio Gibson fumble inside his own 5-yard line, the score could have been different. The quality of Herbert shone through in the end though, leaving the Chargers looking ahead to a mouthwatering clash with Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys next week.


Los Angeles Chargers




Justin Herbert: 31/47, 337 yards, TD, INT, fumble, 2 sacks | 4 carries, -1 yard


Justin Herbert probably deserved a little better than what the stat line gave him in this one. His third-down play was simply sensational today. He went 13-of-16 for 160 yards with 11 first downs and the touchdown to Mike Williams on third down. That is elite playmaker stuff and I am all for it. His fumble was also a bit of a farce, with the referees deciding that this disrupted forward pass was actually a fumble out of the hand and through the back of the end zone. The play resulted in a touchback when it should have been incomplete, giving the Chargers another shot at a score.



His interception was his fault, however. Herbert stared down tight end Stephen Anderson on his first read and then overthrew the ball. Cornerback William Jackson saw it all the way and was waiting to pounce. A learning point for sure for the second-year signal-caller.



Let’s emphasize just how good Herbert looked today – from his poise in the pocket to his ability to hit targets at all three levels, there is no doubt that Herbert is going to take the next step this season and catapult himself into the conversations about the top ten quarterbacks in the league. Both Allen and Williams dropped a number of perfect throws that hurt his stat line, too. This third-down throw to Jared Cook from the opposite hashmark showcases his ability to read the field, his phenomenal arm strength, and his pretty mechanics. Just beautiful.




You should be confident to start Herbert as your QB1 every week. He took apart a top-5 defense regularly today.


Running Back


Austin Ekeler: 15 carries, 57 yards, TD

Larry Rountree III: 8 carries, 27 yards

Justin Jackson: 1 carry, 5 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 5 yards

Gabe Nabers: 1 carry, 2 yards


After the first drive of the game, Austin Ekeler looked to be on course for a mammoth day against a stout Washington defensive front. Ekeler weaved his way downfield with two impressive runs, the second a neat punch in for six.



However, it never really materialized as he ran for less than 4-yards-per-carry across 15 touches. More stark is the fact that the nifty back saw ZERO targets out of the backfield. Not ideal for PPR formats where Ekeler has thrived throughout his career. New offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi called 47 pass plays compared to 25 runs so Ekeler needs to see some of those targets to be a top RB option going forward.

Ekeler also ceded touches to rookie running back Larry Rountree III, who ran well and showed a spark on and off the ball. Here, he darts into the open space created by fantastic blocking from first-round offensive tackle Rashawn Slater.



Wide Receiver/Tight End


Keenan Allen: 13 targets, 9 receptions, 100 yards

Mike Williams: 12 targets, 8 receptions, 82 yards, TD

Jared Cook: 8 targets, 5 receptions, 56 yards

Jalen Guyton: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 49 yards

KJ Hill: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 30 yards

Joshua Palmer: 1 target, 1 reception, 17 yards

Stephen Anderson: 2 targets, 1 reception, 1 yard

Donald Parnham: 1 target


The talent pool in this Chargers receiving corps is ridiculously good and Lombardi spread it around nicely with many of the complementary receivers impressing with limited service. Of course, Herbert’s accuracy and execution made it pretty easy for these rookies to thrive. It was no surprise that Keenan Allen put up a 100-yard day on 13 touches. Herbert had some beautifully thrown balls to Allen with a mix of different play designs. Two of my favorites – the first is Allen motioning to the right side of Herbert before running a lovely angle route for a 3rd down conversion.



The second is this dart from Herbert that Allen picks out of the sky majestically. WR1 plus points for style.



Mike Williams hauled in the only passing touchdown from Herbert to cap off a productive day for the big guy from Clemson. Undervalued and underused under Anthony Lynn, if this is the volume he is going to get under Staley and Lombardi, I am all in. He could be a guy who is available on your waivers at 73% rostered in Yahoo! leagues. Or you could look to work a trade. He is a high-upside WR2 on the basis of this outing.



Jared Cook was serviceable from the tight end position but it is not a position Herbert has prioritized in the red zone in the past. Hunter Henry only had four touchdowns last year and Cook was only targeted near the goal line once this week. What you saw from him today will be his consistent production, then throw in the odd score here and there but that is hard to predict.

Jalen Guyton, K.J. Hill, and rookie Joshua Palmer all flashed their skills in this one. They are a near-perfect if somewhat unproven set of receivers that will likely share as many as 10-12 targets per week. Guyton had some big-play moments as a deep threat last season, Hill will work out of the slot and Palmer is probably the guy who may see some work on the outside as a fallback option when Allen has some designed plays on the cards. All should be kept an eye on although none are fantasy relevant right now. Guyton hauled in another wonderful Herbert throw on yet another third down today.



Washington Football Team




Ryan Fitzpatrick: 3/6, 13 yards, sack | 1 carry, 2 yards

Taylor Heinicke: 11/15, 122 yards, TD | 3 carries, 17 yards


Everyone was keen to see what Ryan Fitzpatrick could do with this offense brimming with young talent. Coming into the game, “Fitzmagic” was the only quarterback since at least 1950 to start a season opener for at least six different teams. His cavalier approach and rugged determination have won over fans from all areas of the game. The injury comes at the worst possible time and isn’t something he is likely able to shake off. Search now for his replacement if you are relying on him as your QB1.

Taylor Heinicke has been here before, of course. The journeyman backup (who has also appeared on five different rosters since coming into the league in 2017) performed admirably in last year’s playoff loss to the Super Bowl-winning Bucs. And the same could be said of yesterday’s performance. Heinicke injected some life into an offense that had stuttered to post a couple of long field goals under Fitzpatrick in the opening quarter. In the first drive after the half, Heinicke capped an 8-play, 81-yard drive with a pass that only Logan Thomas was going up to get to put Washington in front.



Dustin Hopkins missed a field goal before Gibson fumbled to give the Chargers the advantage. On the next drive, Adam Humphries was given a 15-yard penalty for clipping when Heinicke had moved the ball efficiently into Chargers territory. Washington was forced to punt and they never got the ball back. So, Heinicke wasn’t helped out by his teammates one bit and can’t really be blamed for this one. He isn’t a particularly attractive fantasy asset if he does replace Fitzpatrick long-term.


Running Back


Antonio Gibson: 20 carries, 90 yards, Fumble (Lost) | 5 targets, 3 receptions, 18 yards

Jaret Patterson: 2 carries, 9 yards | 1 target

J.D. McKissic: 1 carry, 8 yards | 1 target


On what was otherwise an impressive showing from second-year running back Antonio Gibson, the talented back will have to take this loss on the chin for his team after that devastating fumble inside his own 5-yard line in the fourth quarter. Earlier in the day, he showed us the vision and acceleration that made him stand out last year in his rookie season.



Somewhat surprisingly, he only saw five looks in the passing game and that is something fantasy managers will see as a red flag. Conservative playcalling from Scott Turner was also a disappointment yet understandable given the early loss of Fitzpatrick. Gibson was seen in some discomfort on the sideline with a shoulder problem after the fumble, so that is something to keep an eye on. PPR darling J.D. McKissic was a valuable flex option last season but he only saw two looks all day in this one.


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Terry McLaurin: 4 targets, 4 receptions, 62 yards

Logan Thomas: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 30 yards, TD

Cam Sims: 1 target, 1 reception, 17 yards

Adam Humphries: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 10 yards

Dyami Brown: 4 targets, 1 reception, -2 yards


This group gave a collective two-thumbs down when they saw Fitzpatrick leave the field in just the second quarter. After experiencing a merry-go-around at the quarterback position in the past two seasons, Terry McLaurin was hoping to see plenty of targets from trigger-happy Fitz but the future now looks bleak for the talented wideout. McLaurin saw his production fall off a cliff in the latter part of the year and his chemistry with Heinicke isn’t exactly solid. It will be another waste of his supreme route-running talents if he again fails to see 10+ targets per game. This insane grab today was one of the catches of the weekend, but with only four balls thrown his way, he is not a solid WR1 option with Fitz sidelined. Boo!



After nabbing a touchdown in this one, Logan Thomas has firmly established himself as this team’s number one option in the red zone. That is good news for fantasy managers. Heinicke is never looking anywhere else on this play but for Thomas, using his protection and waiting for the big tight end to get in position for a favorable matchup at the back of the end zone. Thomas is a TE1 option every week.



Forget the stat line for now but rookie Dyami Brown did see the same number of targets as McLaurin, two coming on third down. If this long ball by Fitzpatrick is thrown a little deeper, Brown would have hauled it in for a big score after burning his defender. He is one to watch this year as a potential WR2 in this offense.



Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.