What We Saw: Week 1

Houston Texans vs New Orleans Saints

 

Houston Texans

 

Quarterback

 

  • Deshaun Watson: 20/30, 268 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT | 4 carries, 40 yards, 1 TD

 

Deshaun Watson did his best to carry the Texans to a win tonight, including taking only 13 seconds and two passes to score a touchdown and put Houston up by one with less than a minute remaining. On a fourth and short early in the second quarter, Watson scored a 21-yard touchdown on a quarterback keeper, leaping over a defender and into the end zone. He landed hard and had to visit the medical tent several times, but he did not miss a snap and continued to play well the rest of the game. Watson was sacked six times and hit hard on several other plays, which is concerning for a quarterback that has battled through injuries in the past. Undeterred by the beating he took, he looked great tonight and remains one of the elite fantasy quarterbacks for however long he stays healthy.

 

Running Backs

 

  • Duke Johnson: 9 carries, 57 yards | 5 targets, 4 receptions, 33 yards
  • Carlos Hyde: 10 carries, 83 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 2 yards

 

Carlos Hyde started this game, but Duke Johnson led the way in touches. Johnson was in for every clear passing situation and was also mixed in on some early downs. Hyde seems to still have something in the tank after being cut by the Kansas City Chiefs, but without getting any receiving work he’ll need more than a timeshare on early downs to be a consistent producer. Johnson is interesting, and the Texans should find more creative ways to use him as he gets more comfortable with the playbook.

 

Wide Receivers / Tight Ends

 

  • DeAndre Hopkins: 13 targets, 8 receptions, 111 yards, 2 TDs
  • Will Fuller: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 69 yards
  • Kenny Stills: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 37 yards, 1 TD
  • Jordan Akins: 2 targets, 1 reception, 17 yards

 

In a game where he missed several catchable balls, DeAndre Hopkins still looked like the best receiver in football. The top cornerback for the Saints, Marshon Lattimore, shadowed Hopkins but it did not slow him down at all. Hopkins was the receiver Watson looked to the most on critical plays, and the result was three third-down conversions and two touchdowns. Kenny Stills didn’t get involved much in his first game with the Texans, but he had the biggest catch of the game on a long touchdown reception that tied the game and set up the go-ahead extra point attempt. Will Fuller accumulated most of his yards on one play, a 54-yard reception where he overpowered the defensive back for a spectacular catch. Keke Coutee missed tonight with an injury, so we still don’t know how the targets will be distributed behind Hopkins once everyone is healthy.  

 

New Orleans Saints

 

Quarterbacks

 

  • Drew Brees: 32/43, 370 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
  • Taysom Hill: 2 carries, 8 yards | 2 targets, 1 reception, 9 yards, 1 TD

 

Drew Brees started slow, but he had a fantastic second half that included leading a game-winning drive with under a minute left. His interception was ugly, coming on a pass in the red zone where Latavius Murray had a step on the linebacker but Brees couldn’t put any air under the ball while throwing on the run and ended up placing the ball right in the hands of the defender. Brees also did not throw the ball deep until late in the fourth quarter, connecting with Ted Ginn Jr. to convert a third down that seemed to just about put the game away. After the Texans took the lead late, Brees calmly led the Saints down the field to set up the game-winning field goal. Taysom Hill got on to the field a lot tonight, including taking a snap at quarterback when the Saints were in the red zone. Hill’s versatility is valuable, but it did seem like the Saints overused him a bit. His fantasy impact is currently limited to hurting the production of Brees, particularly if Brees continues to lose red-zone work to him.

 

Running Backs

 

  • Alvin Kamara: 13 carries, 97 yards | 8 targets, 7 receptions, 72 yards
  • Latavius Murray: 6 carries, 43 yards, 1 TD | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 4 yards

 

Alvin Kamara looked great tonight, and the Saints’ second-half surge coincided with the team making more of an effort to get him involved. Kamara accelerates so quickly that he was often past the defensive line before the defense seemed ready for him, and he’s an absolute mismatch as a receiver coming out of the backfield for any defender that tries to cover him. He did have a few runs where he tried to be more patient behind the offensive line tonight, with those runs yielding more mixed results. Latavius Murray did not get quite as many touches as were vacated by the departure of Mark Ingram, but he was involved and looked solid as a runner. His touchdown run came on a play that was very well blocked where Murray was able to get to the second level of the defense before making a nice cut and outrunning everyone to the endzone. The Saints trailed for most of this game, which probably depressed Murray’s carries tonight, but it does seem like his role will be at least a little smaller than Ingram’s was.

 

Wide Receivers / Tight Ends

 

  • Michael Thomas: 13 targets, 10 receptions, 123 yards
  • Ted Ginn Jr. 7 targets, 7 receptions, 101 yards
  • Tre’Quan Smith: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 26 yards, 1 TD
  • Jared Cook: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 37 yards

 

Michael Thomas had no problem getting open tonight, beating both man and zone coverages easily. He remains an elite option, both for Drew Brees and for fantasy owners. Ted Ginn Jr. also had a big night, and surprisingly did a lot of his work on shorter routes. His lone deep reception came with the Saints facing a short third down late in the game with the lead, and it looked as if the Texans secondary was caught off guard by the aggressive play call. Ginn was relied on by Brees to pick up a few critical first downs and was the receiver Brees looked to on the last play the Saints ran before kicking the go-ahead field goal. Ginn’s ability to break a big play makes him an interesting fantasy asset, and if this target volume holds up going forward he could become a strong flex play for fantasy. Jared Cook had a disappointing debut and appears to be fourth in line in the passing game. 

 

 — Dan Adams

 

 

 

Denver Broncos vs Oakland Raiders

 

The final installment of week one in the NFL season wasn’t as exciting as the game before it, but it still had plenty of storylines. The past couple of weeks were all about Antonio Brown, but the Raiders showed up to play in this game and showed why they did not need him to be successful. Since this game was a little late for people on the east coast take a look at what happened in the final installment of week 1 what we saw:

 

Denver Broncos

 

Quarterback

 

 

  • Joe Flacco: 21/31, 268 yards, 1 TD

 

 

The Raiders shut out the Broncos in the first half of this game. Joe Flacco looked like the same Flacco that lost his job to Lamar Jackson last year as he was unable to get anything going on offense outside of a few deep plays to Courtland Sutton. In the second half, the Broncos did a great job of controlling the ball but were unable to convert a TD until the final quarter of the game. Flacco was pressured all night by a much improved Raiders defense that totaled four QB hits and three sacks on Flacco. At the end of the third quarter, Gareon Conley left the game on a stretcher after a neck injury and all of a sudden the offense was able to move it down the field. Look for Flacco to be a back end QB2 the rest of the way but at least Drew Lock isn’t breathing down his neck.

 

Running Backs

 

 

  • Phillip Lindsay: 11 carries, 43 yards | 6 targets, 4 catches, 23 yards
  • Royce Freeman: 10 carries, 56 yards | 1 target, 1 catch, 5 yards

 

 

 

This was a tough game for the running backs in this one as the Raiders defensive front stuffed the run for about two and a half quarters. Phillip Lindsay started at running back but from what I saw it looked to be a near-even split in playing time between him and Royce Freeman. Lindsay was consistent all night finishing with a 3.9-yard per carry average and hauling in 4 catches on 6 targets. Based on the split, Lindsay looks to be more of a flex option until we get a better look at how this offense will split up the usage. Freeman had a little bit of burst that we rarely saw last year and he even broke off a 25-yard run outside of the right tackle where he made a few guys miss. Freeman looks to be a flex option in a standard league but both running backs could eat into each other’s stats this year.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

 

  • Courtland Sutton: 8 targets, 7 catches, 120 yards
  • Emmanuel Sanders: 7 targets, 5 catches, 86 yards, 1 TD
  • Noah Fant: 5 targets, 2 catches, 29 yards
  • DeSean Hamilton: 4 targets, 2 catches, 5 yards

 

 

 

I was impressed with Courtland Sutton in this game. He looks to be the clear number one option on this offense based on the separation on a few deep balls that Flacco threw to him–as well as his crisp route running. I’ll be honest, I was fading the receivers on this team but Sutton might be a nice option for your flex or WR3 spot moving forward. Emmanuel Sanders looked good coming off of the devastating Achilles tear late last season but Gareon Conley held him in check most of the game. On their lone touchdown drive, without Conley on the field, Sanders caught 2 passes for 23 yards including a stop route in the end zone for the score. It’s hard to trust any other option outside of Sanders and Sutton with Flacco at QB as they both have limited upside with Flacco. Noah Fant should be a stash for now but it was encouraging to see him get a lot of playing time as a rookie.

 

Oakland Raiders

 

Quarterbacks

 

  • Derek Carr: 22/26, 259 yards, 1 TD

 

What an impressive first game for Derek Carr in this one. This is only the second time in Carr’s career that he goes into a season with the same offense under his belt from the year before. The last time you ask? That was his near MVP season when he lead the Raiders to the playoffs before breaking his fibula. In this game, Carr looked comfortable, efficient, and confident in his playmakers. The highly touted Broncos defense was unable to lay a finger on Carr all night registering 0 pressures and 0 sacks. When Carr is given time in the pocket, this is what he can do. The Raiders were also missing both of their starting offensive guards so this offensive line could get even better as the season continues. Carr doesn’t have a lot of upside as a fantasy QB but he could be a decent streaming option or a safe QB2 in two-QB leagues.

 

Running Backs

 

  • Josh Jacobs: 23 carries, 85 yards, 2 TDs | 1 target, 1 catch, 28 yards
  • Jalen Richard: 1 carry, 3 yards | no targets

 

What a coming-out party for Josh Jacobs in this game. Jacobs controlled the tempo and dominated the carries for the Raiders in this one as they ran him early and often. His yards per carry average wasn’t the best, but he looked explosive and he knew how to finish off his runs. Jacobs was able to plow in a 4-yard and a 2-yard touchdown to register his first two scores in the NFL. Jacobs also looked impressive on his lone catch of the night as he ran an out route out of the backfield and made 3 guys miss en route to a 28-yard gain. Based on his usage and the fact that he was almost the only running back to get carries in this game, I would say he’s a safe RB2 in both standard and PPR leagues.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

  • Darren Waller: 8 targets, 7 catches, 70 yards
  • Tyrell Williams: 7 targets, 6 catches, 105 yards, 1 TDs
  • Ryan Grant: 4 targets, 3 catches, 16 yards
  • Hunter Renfrow: 3 targets, 2 catches, 13 yards
  • Foster Moreau: 2 targets, 2 catches, 20 yards

 

As for the position with the most turmoil this preseason. The pass catchers were very impressive tonight as Darren Waller lived up to the preseason hype–catching more passes in this game than he did all season last year. Waller looked great on the first drive, hauling in 2 of his 7 catches for 36 yards. He looks like a matchup nightmare for defenses which could make him a viable starting TE week in and week out for the Raiders. Tyrell Williams became the de facto number 1 WR over the weekend with the release of Antonio Brown and he looked just as good as he did last year with the Chargers. Williams caught an 8-yard out route from Carr on the opening drive to start the scoring. He later added a 43-yard catch on a deep post that Carr hit in stride. Williams looks like he should get a lot of targets which could make him a safe WR3 in most leagues. Given the draft capital you had to spend on him, I’d say that’s a steal. Outside of those two, I still believe that Hunter Renfrow will make contributions throughout the season but he is more of a stash or watch list player for now.

 

  • Colin Weatherwax

 

Michael Miklius

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

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