What We Saw: Week 1

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

Tennessee Titans @ Denver Broncos

 

This is your late-night feed where we watch the return of reinvigorated Ryan Tannehill travel with his squad to Mile High City and face off against Drew Lock, so don your nightcaps, crack a Moxie, and check out this game with me to see if anything interested finds you for your Monday morning waiver claims.

 

Denver Broncos

 

Quarterback:

 

Drew Lock: 21/31, 198 Yards, 1 TD, 0 INT| 3 rushes, 5 yards

 

Drew Lock is currently in the bottom half of NFL quarterbacks, in terms of both fantasy and actual real-life football, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some intrigue. Lock was a second-round pick by the Broncos so there’s some potential here. Buoyed with other offensive talents of recent note (Jerry JeudyNoah FantCourtland Sutton), sneaky upside awaits you here if he figures the pro game out. Lock doesn’t make many mistake type plays, instead of focusing on “win” plays, and began to build some rapport with Noah Fant in this one.  He also didn’t make many “win the game” plays, and ultimately put the onus on the Broncos defense to win the game. He looked good when outside the pocket and on the move, but still has some growing to do. His receiving corps was somewhat lacking with Sutton and K.J. Hamler both missing the game due to injury, so there could be more explosive games out of Lock in the future.

 

Running Backs:

 

Melvin Gordon: 15 carries, 78 yards, 1 TD | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 8 yards

Phillip Lindsay: 7 carries, 24 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 11 yards

Royce Freeman: 1 carry, 0 yards

 

If you were looking for something to show you which back the Broncos preferred, this isn’t going to help you much. Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay basically split the backfield entirely, to much chagrin for the watcher and fantasy owners. No one really outdid the other, until early on in the fourth quarter, when Lindsay was declared out for the remainder of the game, and Gordon shortly thereafter took a bounce out to the left side of a block at the line and scored on a short-yardage play. Gordon certainly has more upside, but Lindsay has shown a touch more consistency when on the field, but now we have to worry about an ailment putting Gordon further ahead of the feeding chain. Gordon likely will further the carry lead more and more as Lindsay is hampered, so be sure to keep an eye on this for next week. If Gordon is the only one of the two available, his upside is that of a mid top tier back.

 

 

Wide Receiver/Tight Ends:

 

Tim Patrick: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 29 yards

Jerry Jeudy: 8 targets, 4 receptions, 56 yards

Noah Fant: 5 targets, 5 receptions, 81 yards, 1 TD

Tyrie Cleveland: 1 target, 1 reception, 7 yards

Nick Vannett: 2 targets, 1 reception, – 6 yards

Jake Butt: 2 targets, 1 reception, 0 yards

DaeSean Hamilton:  1 target, 0 receptions, 0 yards

 

There is a TON of opportunity awaiting the blooming talent in Denver, and this week showcased just a bit of it. Noah Fant is a big body in the passing game, ready to get open and find himself some opportunities. Reminding me a bit of Jimmy Graham, his game seems to be predicated on those “make myself open” opportunities and that may just be what Denver needs, as they attempt to find what their offense will be built around. Spreading the ball around immensely without his young, highly valuable wide receiving threats in Courtland Sutton and K.J. Hamler, Lock did his best to find playmaking options, thus no one truly shone in this game, aside from Fant. Fant was available in the middle of the field, and took some early hits, while also taking in a contested touchdown in the middle of the field. Fant is showcasing that he could be a future top 5 tight end in the league, sooner rather than later. It was encouraging to see Jerry Jeudy leave the team in targets with Sutton inactive, and he showed flashes of why he will be a player in the league for years with his footwork. While his line was a bit disappointing for fantasy purposes, he showed plenty to leave fantasy owners encourages. The rest of the receiving corps looked like players that will take a backseat when the healthy starters return.

 

 

Tennessee Titans

 

Quarterback:

 

Ryan Tannehill: 28/41, 243 Yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT, 1 sack | 3 rushes, 14 yards

 

Ryan Tannehill basically ripped that starting role from Marcus Mariota with vigor last year and is looking to show that all of his progress wasn’t a fluke last year. Mike Vrabel is open to showcasing some of Tannehill’s gunslinger mentality, but it isn’t always the safest and most effective offering. Tannehill, whose game is predicated on the play-action pass, was often rolling out of pocket and making some bluntly put “bad throws”, and he produced at least a handful of throws lucky he didn’t actually give the ball away. Tannehill can potentially build back into a low-end QB1 option, but he needs to be smarter on how he handles the ball, especially to end out long drives. His value was saved very late in the game, as he attempted to remedy what ailed Tennessee, as Stephen Gostkowski was looking to the sky for someone to save him from his miserable kicking performance tonight. With the Titans happy to ground and pound with Derrick Henry, Tannehill will need to be more efficient with his opportunities than he was today, though 41 attempts are certainly encouraging.

Running Backs:

 

Derrick Henry: 29 carries, 107 yards | 2 receptions, 9 yards

Jeremy McNichols: 1 target, 0 receptions

Khari Blasingame: 1 target, 1 reception, 5 yards

 

Derrick Henry stayed healthy throughout this game and almost broke the edge on a red zone play to score a touchdown early on in the first half, only to have a short conversion play completed by MyCole Pruitt. Either way, Henry didn’t truly unleash his talent level but did showcase a bit of what enticed us to take him, running into defensive lines with his head up and ready to face contact that’s initiated. We didn’t see a massive passing game increase with the departure of Dion Lewis and the injury to Darrynton Evans, but it is hard to complain about 29 carries and 100+ rushing yards. Henry will have some mildly disappointing weeks when he doesn’t find the end zone, but those weeks will likely be few and far between.

 

Wide Reciever/Tight Ends:

 

Corey Davis: 8 targets, 7 receptions, 101 yards

A.J. Brown: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 39 yards

Jonnu Smith: 7 targets, 4 receptions, 36 yards, 1 TD

MyCole Pruitt: 1 target, 1 reception, 1 TD

Adam Humphries: 7 targets, 6 receptions, 47 yards

Kalif Raymond: 2 targets, 0 receptions

Anthony Firsker: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 5 yards

 

There was a bit of a confusion point to settle in when this game picked up, as the wide receiver that Tannehill felt most at ease with was not A.J. Brown, but Corey Davis. Davis flashed some of the things that made him so enticing coming out of college, and quickly showed some rapport with Tannehill. Unfortunately for those with fantasy shares here, the showcase was mostly for naught, as Tennesse never truly gained much consistency to any one real receiver.  Both of their touchdowns went in not so glorious fashion to tight ends within the ten-yard line, after some ground and pound offense. The really interesting part was how willing Tannehill was to attempt to unlock and bring Davis back into the fold. Davis was open on some crossers early on in the play-action game, and there could be more opportunities for Davis as teams focus on the talented Brown. Brown still holds plenty of promise and has the ability to make plays after the catch at any moment, but it is a bit discouraging to see just seven targets in a game with 41 attempts from Tannehill. Still, this is a solid Broncos defense, so expect better days from Brown. Jonnu Smith is in the mold of Brown, a physical specimen that displayed good run after the catch skills in this one. His seven targets are encouraging, as his volume will ultimately determine his ceiling. So far, so good.

 

-Matthew Bevins

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