What We Saw: Week 1

The What We Saw team recaps everything you missed from this week's action

Cardinals @ Commanders

Final Score: Commanders 20, Cardinals 16

Writer: Brett Ford (@FadeThatMan on Twitter)


About 60% of Survivor Pool players took a very large sigh of relief as this one wrapped up, as the heavily-favored Washington Commanders edged out the pesky Arizona Cardinals, 20-16, in Landover, Md. on Sunday afternoon.

There wasn’t much to brag about in this one as both offenses were rendered mostly useless for much of the game. Stalled drives, turnovers and poor execution plagued both squads, but in the end the Commanders did just enough to come away with the win.

A handful of dicey throws and a porous offensive line plagued Washington quarterback Sam Howell as he looked to earn the win in his first career start. Howell was sacked six times at the Arizona pass rush got home on several occasions. The Cardinals defense was solid, but the offense did next to nothing β€” which I think we all expected β€” as Dobbs, Conner and the Cardinals’ ragtag crew struggled to generate much production.

Let’s dig in…


Tw0 Up

  • Zach ErtzΒ – A game-high 10 targets, Ertz was Dobbs’ favorite safety valve
  • Logan Thomas – Returned from a long-term injury to lead the Commanders in targets

Three Down

  • Terry McLaurin– Made just two catches on four targets
  • Commanders O-Line – Allowed six sacks against a middling Cardinals’ defensive front
  • Antonio Gibson – Back to limited usage after showing promise in the preseason


Arizona Cardinals




Joshua Dobbs: 21/30, 132 Yards | 3 Carries, -3 Yards, 2 Fumble (Lost), 1 Fumble (Recovered)


Joshua Dobbs was exactly what we expected him to be – a bad quarterback on a bad team that has little to no desire to win football games. However, he was even more limited than most thought, with only two pass attempts more than 10 yards down the field (going 1-for-2 on those throws). It’s going to be a long season for Arizona.


  • Dobbs only threw two passes more than 10 yards downfield, peppering the flats and short middle.
  • The playbook was clearly limited. Maybe the Cardinals will broaden his opportunities as he has more time to prepare week-to-week.

Missed Opportunities

  • Dobbs fumbled on a fourth-quarter drive with his team trailing, 17-16. It looked like a botched snap.
  • Conservative play-calling yielded precious few opportunities.


Running Back

James Conner: 14 Carries, 62 Yards | 5 Targets, 5 Receptions, 8 Yards


Despite a quarterback that hardly attempted a pass farther than the sticks, Conner had a relatively productive game. Conner chipped in with five receptions, but his 62 yards on the ground were most impressive, all things considered.


  • Conner’s longest rush was 12 yards, coming in the third quarter off the left end.
  • Conner caught all five of his targets, but aside from one 11-yard gain, went backwards, finishing with eight receiving yards.

Missed Opportunities

  • The play-calling was so conservative that there really were no good opportunities to miss.


Keaontay Ingram: 5 Carries


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Marquise Brown: 1 Carry, 29 Yards | 5 Targets, 3 Receptions, 28 Yards


Hollywood’s best play of the game, and the longest rushing gain for the Cardinals’ offense all day, was an end-around. Despite being the most explosive player in this offense, Brown was targeted just five times with most of them on short routes. The conservative nature of the playbook stunted him.


  • The end around was the team’s longest rushing play of the day, and it helped the squad to a field goal on the drive.

Missed Opportunities

  • Eventually the Cardinals are going to let their horses run at least a little wild. Until then, it’s going to be tough sledding.


Rondale Moore: 2 Carries, 12 Yards | 3 Targets, 3 Receptions, 33 Yards


Moore’s highlight of the day came on a wheel route, sprinting out of the backfield and up the sideline for a 12-yard completion and nearly 20 extra yards after the catch. Lining Moore up in the backfield allowed him to match up with a linebacker on this play. If the Cardinals can continue to generate mismatches like that, Moore could see more chunk plays like this one. He also carried the ball twice, likely trying to setup this receiving look out of the gun.



Zach Ertz: 10 Targets, 6 Receptions, 21 Yards


Ertz was Dobbs’ favorite target, pulling in six catches on 10 chances. In a PPR league, Ertz was relatively effective, but outside of that his role was not exciting.


Michael Wilson: 4 Targets, 2 Receptions, 19 Yards


Wilson was on the receiving end of both of Dobbs’ only attempts longer than 15 yards. He caught one of them.


Trey McBride: 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 23 Yards

Zach Pascal: 1 Target


Washington Commanders





Sam Howell: 19/31, 202 Yards, TD, INT | 2 Carries, 11 Yards, TD, 1 Fumble (Lost)


It wasn’t the barnburning performance he was looking for against Arizona out of the gate, but Howell did enough to win the game. He orchestrated a go-ahead touchdown drive in the fourth quarter and did enough as a game manager to bring home the victory in front of the home crowd. His one interception was tipped at the line of scrimmage, one of two turnovers on the day.


Howell’s biggest gaffe came when he coughed up a fumble for a score, giving the Cardinals a big lead before the half, though the fact he only had the one egregious mistake while often running for his life is a testament to his composure. The added bonus of a rushing touchdown at the end of the game was nice for fantasy managers, who likely didn’t draft him for his mobility.


  • Regardless of how mediocre he played, he was better than Carson Wentz or Taylor Heinecke.
  • He still seems to need work on the deep ball, though the Commanders didn’t take too many shots downfield.
  • It doesn’t appear he has the same type of chemistry with McLaurin as he does with his other receivers, possibly due to the lack of reps together since McLaurin missed time in the preseason.
  • The rushing score at the end of the game was a nice bonus. He has some sneaky mobility, but don’t count on a ton of rushing fantasy points moving forward.

Missed Opportunities

  • If his offensive line could have been more effective, he would have spent less time on his back.


Running Back


Brian Robinson Jr.: 19 Carries, 59 Yards | 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 7 Yards, TD


Brian Robinson CAUGHT a touchdown.



This is notable considering Robinson caught just nine passes all of last season. It would feel more significant if it was a designed look for Robinson, but the fact that he was on the field and ran a route is good enough for most fantasy managers.


  • Robinson out-carried Gibson, 19-3, which was to be expected. However, the fact that he had more targets than his backfield counterpart is a little shocking.


Antonio Gibson: 3 Carries, 9 Yards | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 10 Yards | 1 Fumble (Lost)

Oh man, he’s back in the doghouse. Gibson lost a fumble in the second quarter and got just one touch the entire rest of the game, a short reception in the first half two-minute drill.



Chris Rodriguez Jr.: 3 Carries, 7 Yards


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Jahan Dotson: Β 7 Targets, 5 Receptions, 40 Yards


Should this be enough to convince us that Jahan Dotson has officially overtaken Terry McLaurin as WR1 in Washington? Let’s not get carried away. Dotson did out-target McLaurin, 7-4, but the sample size is still too small to outright declare Dotson the top dog in this offense. That said, it does seem that he’s gained Howell’s trust in a way that McLaurin may not have yet, which makes sense considering that Howell and Dotson were drafted together and likely worked together extensively in the early parts of last season in addition to this year. It’s speculative, I know, but something to watch as the season progresses.


  • Caught the first pass of the game as Howell’s primary read, a quick eight-yard hook. He caught the second pass of the game too, but Howell worked through a progression to get to him on an intermediate route.

Missed Opportunities

  • Dotson was WIDE OPEN on the play that Robinson caught his touchdown pass if Howell had stayed in the pocket just a second longer.

Dotson wide open


Terry McLaurin: 4 Targets, 2 Receptions, 31 Yards


McLaurin looked healthy and didn’t seem to be bothered by the toe injury that he nursed throughout the preseason, but he was only targeted four times by Howell. McLaurin did just miss out on a massive gain, instead drawing a DPI call for 37 yards to set up the Commanders’ first touchdown of the day.


Curtis Samuel: 1 Carry, 6 Yards | 5 Targets, 5 Receptions, 54 Yards


Samuel was one of Howell’s top safety valves, checking down to the veteran receiver on several occasions. Samuel was heavily utilized in the two-minute drill, hauling in an 18-yard reception and a 32-yard reception to set up a field goal before the half. He even got a gadget play carry and posted a team-high 27 yards after the catch, showing that the wily veteran still has a lot of versatility.


Logan Thomas: 8 Targets, 4 Receptions, 43 Yards


Easily the most surprising line of the day, Thomas was the starting tight end for the Commanders as they worked him into the offense for a whopping eight targets. Thomas missed a large chunk of the 2021 season and didn’t see any field time at all in the preseason, so to see him so heavily involved was a little unexpected. He led the Commanders in targets and might be a solid waiver wire target at tight end this week.


Cole Turner: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 17 Yards


The second-year tight end out of Nevada is firmly behind Thomas on the depth chart; he’ll remain the TE2 as long as Thomas stays healthy.

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