What We Saw: Week 1

QB List staff catches you up on everything you missed during the opening weekend of the 2020 NFL season.

Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars

 

Coming into this game the consensus was that the Colts would get out to an early lead and then roll through the Jaguars, as Jacksonville seemed destined for the first overall pick after trading more of their defensive talent and cutting Leonard Fournette in the offseason. The Colts did get out to that early lead, but they were unable to create any separation as the Jaguars hung around. Aided by some mistakes by Philip Rivers, and a strong debut from rookie cornerback C.J. Henderson, the Jacksonville defense was able to keep the game close. A late busted coverage by the Colts paired with a bad interception from Rivers that set up an easy Jacksonville field goal led to the Jaguars upsetting the Colts with a 27-20 victory.

 

Indianapolis Colts

 

Quarterback

 

Philip Rivers: 36/46, 363  yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 1 sack| 1 carry, 3 yards

 

After struggling behind a bad offensive line for the Chargers the last few seasons it seemed like Indianapolis would be a great fit for Philip Rivers. He looked sharp early, leading three scoring drive and another that stalled out on 4th-and-short in the red-zone in the first half. He did have a bad interception on the third drive of the game for the Colts, a poorly thrown ball into coverage that never had a chance, but otherwise, Rivers seemed to have a good connection with his receivers and looked comfortable.

He wasn’t awful in the second half, leading two long drives that resulted in the Colts kicker going one-for-two on field goals, but Rivers also made some truly awful throws. He was fortunate to have an interception thrown to a defensive end on an attempted screen pass called back because of defensive offsides and threw a telegraphed pass into coverage that was intercepted and allowed the Jaguars to kick a field goal to extend their lead to seven late. His lone touchdown pass came on a screen pass to Nyheim Hines, and while the total yards Rivers threw for is nice it seems fair to say that he disappointed a bit in what looked to be a fantastic matchup. Rivers is good enough to keep the Colts offense running and to keep his teammates’ fantasy value steady, but there are probably better fantasy options at quarterback available in most leagues. Also worth noting is that Jacoby Brissett took a goal-line snap to run a read-option play, it failed pretty badly but it’s something to keep an eye on going forward as adding another player to potentially touch the ball in the most important part of the field would be bad for everyone else’s fantasy value.

 

Running Backs

 

Marlon Mack: 4 carries, 26 yards | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 30 yards

Jonathan Taylor: 9 carries, 22 yards | 6 targets, 6 receptions, 67 yards

Nyheim Hines: 7 carries, 28 yards, 1 TD | 8 targets, 8 receptions, 45 yards, 1 TD

 

The big story from this game was Marlon Mack’s injury. Mack was off to a strong start, including a bigger role in the passing game than expected, before going down awkwardly and eventually being carted off the field.

 

 

Early in the game, the Colts featured both Mack and Nyheim Hines, with Jonathan Taylor not seeing the field for the first two drives and not really getting involved in the offense until after Mack went down with an injury. Hines was getting involved on more than just passing downs, coming in for red-zone work in the first half and scoring two short touchdowns, and looked good running the ball. We know he can be a factor in the passing game, but his usage as a runner today went beyond just giving him a few carries to keep the defense honest when he’s on the field. Hines should be a priority waiver add and will be a strong fantasy play especially in matchups where the Colts fall behind, as Rivers loves to target his running backs. Taylor looked good once he got on the field, and if Mack does end up missing significant time Taylor will be the main beneficiary. He was comfortable catching the ball out of the backfield and looked good once he got into space. It’s a concern that he was losing red-zone work to Hines, but that may have been a product of the Colts wanting to ease him into action. For as long as Mack is out Taylor should be started with confidence, but it looks like this will be a committee approach between him and Hines for the time being. There is enough usage, particularly in the passing game, to support both running backs having fantasy value going forward.

 

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Parris Campbell: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 71 yards

T.Y. Hilton: 9 targets, 4 receptions, 53 yards

Michael Pittman: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 10 yards

Jack Doyle: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 49 yards

 

Parris Campbell got off to a great start to his sophomore season, connecting with Rivers early on a few crossing routes and establishing himself as one of the top options in this passing offense. Campbell is fast and when he runs across the formation it will be difficult for any defensive backs to cover him man-to-man. T.Y. Hilton was targeted often, but he had a drop that ended the Colts would-be tying drive and looked a little out of synch with Rivers. The targets are what matter here, and both Hilton and Campbell are clearly ahead of the rest of the pass-catchers in this offense (aside from maybe the running backs). Rookie Michael Pittman didn’t quite emerge as the big-bodied downfield target we’ve come to associate with a Rivers-led offense, and tight end Jack Doyle was quiet for most of the game.

Campbell should be added in all leagues, as his combination of potential target share and speed make him a flex play going forward. Hilton should remain in starting lineups for similar reasons, but the rest of this receiving group can be ignored for fantasy for now.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

 

Quarterback

 

Gardner Minshew: 19/20, 173 yards, 3 TD’s, 0 INT, 4 Sacks | 5 carries, 19 yards

 

While everyone else seems to have penciled in the Jaguars to take a quarterback in the upcoming draft Gardner Minshew had another impressive start. Minshew was accurate, although he probably should have avoided at least two of the sacks by throwing the ball away, and looked good moving outside the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield. His touchdown to D.J. Chark was a beautiful lob over two defenders into the corner of the end zone, and while Minshew’s other touchdowns weren’t necessarily impressive throws they were good reads where he delivered the ball on time and on target to open receivers. He did a good job avoiding pressure and picking up a few yards with his legs, but the most important thing for Minshew to have success in this offense is to continue throwing with the accuracy he displayed today.

 

Running Backs

 

James Robinson: 16 carries, 62 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 28 yards

Chris Thompson: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 6 yards

 

Maybe Jacksonville did know what it was doing when they moved on from Leonard Fournette shortly before the season, as undrafted rookie James Robinson looked solid in his debut. The tackling from the Colts was a little suspect, as with most teams to start the season after a shortened camp, but Robinson was decisive getting up the field and did a good job fighting through the first contact. His most impressive play came on his lone reception where he caught a quick swing pass out of the backfield and then hurdler over a defender before landing on his feet and continuing to run on his way to a 28-yard gain. I still think there’s a chance that the Jaguars add a veteran now that we’re through the first week of the season, but Robinson looked good enough to have a role going forward regardless. Chris Thompson was basically a non-factor in the offense as Jacksonville remained competitive all game. Thompson figures to have a bigger role in games where the Jaguars are trailing, but his upside will always be limited as a strictly passing-down back.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Keelan Cole: 5 targets, 5 receptions, 47 yards, 1 TD

D.J. Chark: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 25 yards, 1 TD

Laviska Shenault Jr.: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 37 yards, 1 TD | 2 carries, 10 yards

Chris Conley: 1 target, 1 reception, 6 yards

Tyler Eifert: 1 target, 1 reception, 8 yards

 

The Jaguars spread the ball around on offense which led to no receiver having a standout game. Keelan Cole led the way in targets, a bit of a surprise after it seemed like he had fallen out of the offense last season, and scored a touchdown on a play where the defense had a miscommunication leading to a blown coverage. D.J. Chark had a quiet day aside from a nice route to get open in the corner of the end zone as the Colts were clearly paying attention to where he went on the field. Chark also drew a deep defensive pass interference call and should have better days going forward, especially in games where the Jaguars are forced to pass more than 20 times. Leviska Shenault Jr. caught a short pass on a drag route and turned upfield on his way to beating the defense to the end zone on a 15-yard touchdown. The Jaguars also got him involved in two handoffs, and his role should only grow as he gets more experience. Cole and Shenault may be worth speculative adds to see what this offense looks like when another team forces them to throw more than the Colts did, and Chark can continue to be trusted as an every-week start.

 

-Dan Adams (@Dadams0323 on Twitter)

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