What We Saw: Week 1

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

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New York Giants

 

As Ben Roethlisberger got his legs back under him and got more comfortable playing in an NFL game again, the Steelers started to put together good drives and become that offense we expected to see with Roethlisberger at the helm, even with the early injury to James Conner. For the Giants, with the Steelers defense containing Saquon Barkley and keeping him very quiet on the ground, the game was placed in the hands of Daniel Jones. Jones looked pretty solid at times facing the pressure of this Pittsburgh defense but did make some mistakes that we expect from a young quarterback. All of this added up to a victory for the Steelers by a score of 26-16.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

 

Quarterback

 

Ben Roethlisberger: 21/32, 229 yards, 3 TD’s, 0 INT’s, 2 Sacks | 3 carries, 9 yards

 

The biggest thing fantasy football players were looking at in this game was how Ben Roethlisberger would look in his first game in almost a year, coming back from serious elbow surgery. Early on, Roethlisberger was much more conservative, dumping passes off to the backfield and throwing the ball much shorter than we are used to seeing. As the game went on through and he got more comfortable being back, Roethlisberger opened up the field more taking shots downfield and building back up the chemistry he has with Juju Smith-Schuster, including two touchdown passes where Roethlisberger threw the ball exactly where he knew Schuster would end up. While the other touchdown was more of James Washington fighting for extra yards than something Roethlisberger did, consider this game a real good first step back for Big Ben and this Steelers offense.

 

Running Backs

 

James Conner: 6 carries,9 yards | 4 targets, 2 receptions, 8 yards

Benny Snell Jr.: 19 carries, 113 yards | 1 target, 0 receptions

 

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, James Conner left the game with an injury. Before the injury, he could not get much going on the ground, picking up a few yards each carry and getting a few early dump-off passes to get himself and Roethlisberger comfortable in the passing game. Once Benny Snell Jr. took over, the ground game opened up a bit more. While most of the carries were similar stops after a few yards to Conner, he was able to break away for a few larger chunked runs, including a big 30 yard gain later in the game. Snell did not find himself as involved in the passing game as Conner would have, ceding the passing-down work to Jaylen Samuels who finished with 1 reception on one target.

 

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Juju Smith-Schuster: 6 targets, 6 receptions, 69 yards, 2 TD’s

Dionate Johnson: 10 targets, 6 receptions, 57 yards

James Washington: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 34 yards, 1 TD

Chase Claypool: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 28 yards

Eric Ebron: 2 targets, 1 reception, 18 yards

 

It was clear once Roethlisberger started to open up the field a bit more that he and Juju Smith-Schuster still had strong chemistry with each other, completing each of the six targets between the two. As mentioned earlier, the two touchdowns were great routes ran by Smith-Schuster and great passes by Roethlisbesberger, placing the ball exactly where he knew Smith-Schuster would be. While Smith-Schuster and Roethlisberger continued the chemistry the two already had, Diontae Johnson was actually the receiver Roethlisberger targeted the most. That continued after an early muffed punt by Johnson and some early drops. Johnson was on the field just as often as Smith-Schuster and clearly established himself as the #2 receiver over James Washington, who was impressive in his own front, fighting for extra yards to extend himself into the end zone for his touchdown reception.

There were talks during training camp about how impressed Roethlisberger was with Chase Claypool, and though the targets were a bit quieter than we may have expected, he did make some nice receptions as the big-bodied receiver in this offense, with a 28-yard reception along the sideline early. Along with those talks, were talks about Eric Ebron being involved down in the red zone, and the one catch he did make helped to get the Steelers into the red zone in the first quarter.

 

 

New York Giants

 

Quarterback

 

Daniel Jones: 26/41, 279 yards, 2 TD’s, 2 INT’s, 3 Sacks | 4 carries, 22 yards

 

Considering this matchup was against one of the top defenses in the league, Daniel Jones was pretty impressive especially when faced with pressure from the Pittsburgh defense. One of the two picks was a tough one down at the goal line where he faced pressure, and threw the ball up, maybe trying to throw it away but into the arms of Cameron Heyward. The other interception was just a read route by T.J. Watt who jumped up at the line of scrimmage to pick off that attempt. On a more positive note, the first touchdown pass was a beautiful dime to Darius Slayton streaking down the field, while the second was another nice slant route though somewhat in garbage time. All in all, there are positives to take away from this start by Jones especially when the ball was put in his hands due to the struggles of the running game.

 

Running Backs

 

Saquon Barkley: 15 carries, 6 yards | 9 targets, 6 receptions, 60 yards

 

The New York Giants offensive line failed to open up any gaps to allow the team to establish the run. For fantasy owners, you at least got some production from Saquon Barkley, as he was very active in the passing game, and displaying the speed and athleticism we’ve come to expect with Barkley, hurdling over multiple defenders on his receptions, breaking one of those receptions off for 38 yards. Give a lot of credit where credit is due to that Steelers defense, this disappointing week on the ground was more to do with the opponent and the offensive line struggles than it did Barkley. No other running back made any sort of impact as there was one attempt and one reception by a back not named Barkley.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Darius Slayton: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 102 yards, 2 TDs

Sterling Shepard.: 6 targets, 6 receptions, 47 yards

Evan Engram: 7 targets, 2 receptions,9 yards

 

With no Golden Tate this week, the question remained as to who would be the number one receiver in Week 1. For this week, that number one target was second-year receiver Darius Slayton. Daniel Jones looked his way most of the time, including in many crucial moments in the red zone and the deep ball for his two touchdowns. Though Slayton was the best receiver in this game, Jones did not leave Sterling Shepard and EvanEngram hanging out to dry. Jones established a connection with Shepard early and looked his way as well in crucial moments. Though Engram did not have the best day statistically, he was frequently targeted during attempted third-down conversions, making better days likely ahead.

 

 

Overall, though the final score wasn’t what you want for the Giants, considering the defense they were going up against there are many positive takeaways you can have from the Giants offense for fantasy purposes coming up.

 

-Callen Elslager (@callen_elslager on Twitter)

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