What We Saw: Week 1

Tennessee Titans vs. Cleveland Browns


The hype train was chugging along at full speed for the Cleveland Browns heading into the season opener against the Tennesse Titans.  Somebody forgot to tell the Titans that Cleveland was crowned by the general public as playoff locks. As underdogs by nearly a TD, Tennessee’s defense made life miserable for the Browns.  Here is what I saw.


Tennessee Titans




  • Marcus Mariota: 14/24, 248 yards, 3 TDs | 3 carries, 24 yards


Marcus Mariota looked rusty early but put together a nice game by the time things were said and done.  Mariota was harassed throughout the first half by Cleveland’s defensive line, and it seemed he was feeling “phantom pressure” on a couple of incompletions.  Mariota looked for his safety valve Delanie Walker on important plays and that connection could be very fruitful for fantasy owners.  If Tennessee’s O-Line can give Mariota time, he has the tools and weapons to be successful this year.


Running Backs


  • Derrick Henry: 19 carries, 84 yards, 1 TD | 2 targets, 1 reception, 75 yards, 1 TD
  • Dion Lewis: 3 carries, 7 yards | 4 targets, 3 receptions, 6 yards


Derrick Henry got the majority of the RB work for Tennessee and put together a very nice day for fantasy owners.  Henry, like the rest of the offense, had a difficult time early, but showed power on his short TD run over the right guard and some speed on the TD reception as he took a screen pass to the house, outrunning several members of the defense and getting great blocks from his offensive linemen and receivers downfield.

Dion Lewis saw some action in the first half but dropped an early target when he tried to run before securing the football.  Once Tennessee built a lead, Lewis was relegated to the sideline. Lewis seems to be destined for pass-catching duties only, and if Tennessee’s defense continues to play like it did today, the Titans will be ahead in a lot of games and will limit Lewis’s opportunities.


Wide Receivers / Tight Ends


  • Corey Davis: 3 targets, 0 receptions
  • A.J. Brown: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 100 yards
  • Delanie Walker: 6 targets, 5 receptions, 55 yards, 2 TDs
  • Adam Humphries: 1 target, 1 reception, 5 yards


Rookie WR A.J. Brown was the primary beneficiary of Mariota’s passing attempts early, doing a good job finding openings in the secondary, fighting through tackles, and making people miss after the catch.  Brown did most of his damage on two big plays, but that might be concerning for owners of…

Corey Davis.  Davis was targeted three times on the day but was unable to secure any of them.  Granted the targets were not high-quality and Mariota missed Davis high a couple of times, but it’s not good for a team’s perceived #1 WR to be held catch-less in a big win.  It’s too early to panic, but this is a situation that bears watching next week.

Mariota was happy to see Delanie Walker back on the field as Walker was the most targeted receiver for Tennessee.  Despite celebrating his 35th birthday in August, Walker played like a man 10 years younger.  Walker was Mariota’s first read near the end zone and in clutch situations, and Walker came through each time.  Walker could post top-10 numbers if he can stay healthy.


Cleveland Browns




  • Baker Mayfield: 25/38, 285 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs


Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland offense looked like all the hype surrounding the offense would be warranted on the first drive, but it was all downhill from there.  Mayfield missed just one pass on the drive and led the team to a TD, throwing darts all over the field. After that drive, however, Mayfield was pressured frequently by a resurgent Cameron Wake and never really looked comfortable for the rest of the game.  Mayfield and company proved the offense can be dynamic, but we might have to pump the brakes on the “Cleveland: Super Bowl or Bust” bandwagon.


Running Backs


  • Nick Chubb: 16 carries, 74 yards | 4 targets, 3 receptions, 10 yards
  • Dontrell Hilliard: 1 carry, 4 yards, 1 TD | 2 targets, 1 reception, 14 yards
  • D’Ernest Johnson: 2 carries, 14 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 23 yards


Nick Chubb was mostly held in check by Tennessee in this game, but the most concerning issue was his involvement when Cleveland got inside the five-yard line.  On the team’s opening drive, Cleveland faced a first-and-goal from the four and Dontrell Hilliard was the lone RB. Hilliard got the carry and the TD.  Later in the game, Chubb was split out wide in the same area of the field as Mayfield hit David Njoku on a quick slant in the end zone. It was good to see Chubb be involved in 20+ plays, but there has to be a little concern about his usage near the end zone.

Dontrell Hilliard is Cleveland’s primary return man but is also filling the role Duke Johnson held last year and Kareem Hunt will presumably fill later this year.  Hilliard left the game with a concussion, so monitor the news on him this week.  D’Ernest Johnson seems next in line if Hilliard misses time.


Wide Receivers / Tight Ends


  • Odell Beckham Jr: 11 targets, 7 receptions, 71 yards
  • Jarvis Landry: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 67 yards | 1 carry, 10 yards
  • Rashard Higgins: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 46 yards
  • David Njoku: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 37 yards, 1 TD


Not surprisingly, Odell Beckham, Jr was Cleveland’s most targeted receiver.  Mayfield showed incredible trust in Beckham, throwing some 50-50 balls his way.  Beckham was his usual impressive self, making defenders look silly after the catch and pulling down nearly every catchable ball thrown his way.  Beckham sure looks like a WR1, especially if the Browns continue to self-destruct and have to play from behind.

Jarvis Landry reprised his role from his days in Miami as Mayfield looked to him on short and intermediate routes.  Beckham represents the big-play WR in this offense and Landry is the chain-mover. Landry will be a viable target in PPR leagues and should be immune to negative game scripts given his role in this offense.

David Njoku had a scare late in the first half as he took a hard shot and bent awkwardly, but he returned to catch Mayfield’s lone TD on the day.  Njoku was a frequent target as the team tried to claw back into the game late, to no avail. Njoku didn’t provide much in the yardage department as Mayfield was under pressure frequently, but he looks to be a big part of the offense this year and should return TE1 value.


–Bryan Sweet




Michael Miklius

Mike is a lifelong Bears fan who is just about ready to give up on Mitch Trubisky for good... Twitter: @SIRL0INofBEEF


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