What We Saw: Week 1

Detroit Lions vs Arizona Cardinals

 

Detroit Lions

 

Quarterback

 

  • Matthew Stafford: 27/45, 385 yards, 3 TDs | 3 carries, 22 yards

 

Matthew Stafford got to take advantage of the depleted Cardinals secondary today and looked fully healthy in doing so, even picking up a few yards on some quarterback scrambles. Stafford connected early and often with new weapons Danny Amendola and T.J. Hockenson and could have had an even bigger day had the Lions not taken their foot off the gas a little bit in the fourth quarter. The Lions utilized a good amount of play action to open up some plays down the field, which plays into Stafford’s arm strength and ability to push the ball downfield accurately. Stafford has the weapons to be a relevant fantasy quarterback, and he showed today he’s more than capable of taking advantage of a good matchup.

 

Running Backs

 

  • Kerryon Johnson: 16 carries, 49 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 13 yards
  • C.J. Anderson: 11 carries, 35 yards
  • Ty Johnson: 1 carry, 6 yards
  • J.D. McKissic: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 24 yards

 

The Lions took a committee approach on the ground and did not target their running backs much in the passing game so none of them had a standout game today. Some of that may have been game plan dependent, as the Cardinals secondary is the weakest part of their team and the passing game was working very well, but the division of carries is concerning for Kerryon Johnson. Johnson is the most talented runner on this team, something that he showed again today on several runs where he fought through contact, but the team clearly intends to use C.J. Anderson a lot more than Kerryon Johnson owners would like. Johnson is talented enough that he can do damage with a similar workload to what he got today, but the lack of receiving work is something to monitor going forward.

 

 

Wide Receivers / Tight Ends

 

  • Kenny Golladay: 9 targets, 4 receptions, 42 yards, 1 TD
  • Marvin Jones: 4 targets, 4 receptions, 56 yards | 1 carry, 4 yards
  • Danny Amendola: 13 targets, 7 receptions, 104 yards, 1 TD
  • T.J. Hockenson: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 131 yards, 1 TD

 

Rookie tight ends are not supposed to contribute the way T.J. Hockenson did today. He consistently got open regardless of if it was a linebacker or safety trying to cover him, and he was able to break several big plays. His touchdown came on a play where he was basically unguarded by the defense, and the Cardinals defense looked bad, but Stafford seems to trust him as a featured part of the offense. If Hockenson can see around six targets a game he should be firmly in the top-ten fantasy tight end range. Danny Amendola also impressed in his debut as the Lions new slot receiver. Amendola led the team in targets, and appeared to be Stafford’s first read on a lot of plays. Amendola is capable of filling the role left behind by Golden Tate, but the primary concern with him has always been is health. As long as he’s healthy he will see enough volume to have good fantasy outings, but I wouldn’t overspend to pick him up. Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones were both fine, but their performance was a little disappointing given the matchup. Jones came up with a huge catch in overtime on an underthrown pass from Stafford to get the Lions into field goal range, and Golladay picked up an easy touchdown on a simple crossing route that got him wide open.

 

Arizona Cardinals

 

Quarterback

 

  • Kyler Murray: 29/54, 308 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT | 3 carries, 13 yards

 

Kyler Murrays debut got off to a rough start, to say the least. He threw an awful interception early in the game by trying to force a pass that was never there, and was only able to lead the Cardinals to six points through the first three quarters. Murray showed up when it mattered though, leading his team to 18 points in the fourth quarter to force overtime before leading another scoring drive to put the Cardinals up by three points in the extra frame. When he was able to get out of the pocket he looked great, using his legs to buy time and making accurate throws downfield on the move. His play in the pocket was less encouraging, with several of his passes getting batted down at the line of scrimmage. Murray showed a lot of toughness in battling through a very tough start, and he looked great on the scoring drive that forced overtime. He found Larry Fitzgerald for a touchdown and Christian Kirk for the two-point conversion, appearing poised on two of the biggest throws of the game. Fantasy wise we’ll need to see more out of his legs, but as this offense gets going it is not hard to see the potential Murray has.

  

Running Backs

 

  • David Johnson: 18 carries, 82 yards | 7 targets, 6 receptions, 55 yards, 1 TD
  • Chase Edmunds: 1 carry, 5 yards | 1 target

 

David Johnson dominated the backfield touches and showed he’s still one of the game’s best pass-catching running backs on a 27-yard touchdown reception. The offensive line wasn’t great tonight, but Johnson did a good job finding the holes that were there and making the most of them. Chase Edmunds got on the field a few times without getting touches, and it’s clear for now that his value is strictly as the handcuff to Johnson. Johnson may struggle to score touchdowns as a runner given the poor offensive line play, but as long as he stays involved in the passing game he is one of the top fantasy running backs.

  

Wide Receivers / Tight Ends

 

  • Larry Fitzgerald: 13 targets, 8 receptions, 113 yards, 1 TD
  • Christian Kirk: 12 targets, 4 receptions, 32 yards | 1 carry, 12 yards
  • KeeSean Johnson: 10 targets, 5 receptions, 46 yards
  • Damiere Byrd: 7 targets, 4 receptions, 42 yards
  • Maxx Williams: 1 target, 1 reception, 15 yards

 

Larry Fitzgerald seemed to almost will the Cardinals back into this game, firing up the team after making a contested-catch and scoring the touchdown that set up the game-tying two-point conversion. Fitzgerald also had a great diving catch, and appears to have plenty left in the tank. Christian Kirk saw a lot of targets but wasn’t able to convert them into much, but he did score on said two-point conversion play. Kirk’s rushing attempt came on a screen pass that traveled backward, and he was able to make several defenders miss on the play to turn it into a positive gain. The volume and the talent are there, Kirk just needs the efficiency to produce like a WR3 for fantasy. The Cardinals ran a lot of plays in this game, so their secondary receiving options like KeeSean Johnson and Damiere Byrd might make useful bye-week fill-ins going forward depending on their matchup just because of how many targets there might be to go around in this offense.

 

 

Michael Miklius

Mike is a lifelong Bears fan and unapologetic Mitch Trubisky homer. Twitter: @SIRL0INofBEEF

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