What We Saw: Week 1 (Monday Night Edition)
Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire
Each week throughout the NFL season, our staff at QB List will be watching and reviewing all the games from every week and offering up our takes on the fantasy-relevant things that happened. Here’s what we saw in Week 1’s Monday night games. Be sure to check out our thoughts on the rest of Week 1’s games.
Jets vs. Lions
If you told me yesterday morning that the final score would be 48-17, I would have for sure believed all things went horribly wrong for Sam Darnold and the New York Jets. Well, on the very first play of the game for Darnold, things appeared to be headed in that direction. But then the script was flipped, and the Jets went on to tame the Lions in such unexpected fashion. All facets of the ball – offense, defense & special teams – saw stellar play from the first quarter on to the final whistle.
From a career opening pick-6, to a 16/21, 198 yard and 2 touchdown performance, Darnold looked the part that won him the starting job this summer. You could have thought the opening blunder would have rattled the rookie, but he truly held his own the rest of the way. There were quite a few third down plays where Darnold used his legs to create more space and find the open man to move the chains. He relied heavily on Quincy Enunwa, who went on to score in a 6 reception, 10 target campaign; fantasy outlook! Robby Anderson was targeted just one time, and he hauled in a 41 yard touchdown in the process, Darnold’s career first.
The run game was solid as well. Isaiah Crowell ran for 102 yards on just 10 carries, with two touchdowns to boot. Bilal Powell averaged 5 yards per carry in a 12 rush effort. Look for these two to build on this game, as long as the O-line can get them the protection.
Where to start. With a whopping 5 interceptions – one of which went for a pick-6 of their own courtesy of Darron Lee – the Jets defense was a wrecking crew. While they didn’t sack Matthew Stafford, the pressure was surely on. Tons of hurry-ups forced Stafford and backup Matt Cassel into the interceptions; Lee (2), Claiborne (1), Jamal Adams (1) & Trumaine Johnson (1). Not to mention the fact that both Lee & Adams openly made post-game remarks that they knew what playcalls were coming as they lined up.
From a fantasy standpoint, I think the Jets are in the streaming discussion for their home opener this Sunday against the Dolphins. Notoriously in the past, the team has come out flat after big wins, so Todd Bowles needs to prepare his troops all week leading up to the game to keep the momentum going.
Have a day Andre Roberts. An eight-year vet of the league, Roberts put on a clinic in Detroit. The Jets return game has been fairly ghost over the years, so last night’s showing was warmly welcomed. Roberts had three punt returns go for 137 yards, and took one to the house, a 78 yarder down the sidelines. Here’s to hoping Roberts and the rest of the ST unit can continue to set up the offense with nice returns, or even spell them some extra rest time with scores of their own.
For a team that has been talked down upon all summer as one of the league’s worst, they surely silenced some haters (on the national stage of Monday Night Football no less). As I mentioned earlier, the worst thing that can happen this coming Sunday is a flat gameplan in front of what will be a lively home crowd. The Jets need to take the Motor City momentum they earned, and keep it going in MetLife Stadium against Miami.
The Lions fans of the world are sitting together in mourning. If there is a small chance that the New York Jets knew the plays ahead of time, fans reach out and grasp at those straws, begging for any excuse or reason for how horrid the showing was at Ford Field. Any reason other than incompetence to explains the ravaging and pure exploitation of that Lions team. Last night, the New York Jets slowly drove down the throat of the Lions franchise as Chopin’s haunting piano dirge traipsed its way across the loudspeakers and the Lions, collectively and in all things, were put down.
Matthew Stafford led the new and yet somehow still old team through the offense under coach Matt Patricia and returning offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and the results were reminiscent of a Salvador Dali painting left out too long in the sun. The play calling was uninspired, the offensive line was offensive to the definition of a line, and the run game turned into a crawl game as quickly as the first whistle blew. But, among the ashes of a broken and battered machine, dripping with rust and iniquity and rotten oil, there was one thing that stood proudly.
Sure, Golden Tate surpassed him in targets with 15, as well as scoring the lone offensive touchdown, but it is Golladay who truly tries to carry the spirit of the Lion throughout these troubled times. Golladay was a man amongst children, romping his way through the Jets’ coverage to hammer them with short catches and YAC, long catches and YAC, but mostly just catches in general.
The wide receiver line for Golladay was 12 targets for 7 catches and 114 yards, but it felt even more potent than that. Tate’s line of 15 targets for 7 catches, 79 yards, and 1 TD was the only other receiving line worth looking at. Marvin Jones came crawling in with 8 targets, 4 catches, and 54 yards, but it was not exciting nor was it enjoyable.
It is worth noting, however, that Jones enjoyed multiple deep bombs in or around the end zone. He dropped both, but the attempts were there.
In the area of rushing, “they are who we thought they were!” The Lions could not make it through their own offensive line, despite spending either incredible free agent dollars or a top round pick on that same line every year in this decade. It remains to be seen if Jim Bob Cooter knows that running the ball is a thing that teams do in football, and, judging from how the defense dealt with rushing attempts, it is doubtful that anyone else in the coaching staff is aware of it enough to inform him.
If you’ve come here to find out how Kerryon Johnson looked, I have no words for you. You will continue to wait patiently as was explained in the pre-season and the preview for Week One. It is entirely plausible that you will be waiting the entirety of 2018 and then some for a Lions running back to be startable. LeGarrette Blount certainly was not. Theo Riddick looks like he’ll continue to be a high floor play in PPR contests, but purely due to volume as opposed to the offense being any good.
So how does one view this offense moving forward? If we hope, and you must trust that we truly, truly hope, that the Jets had the Lions’ play calls on Monday night, then the quality of the play in Week One is less important than the scheme and target decisions. Golladay, who saw the field more often than not, looks to be a near must-start moving forward. The lack of defense and run game will continue to push Stafford to throw constantly, and Golladay is there. Other than that, I don’t know what to say. Tate’s 15 targets are encouraging, but it remains to be seen if that was a product of this absurd game script or a trend worth counting on.
If you, like many others, were convinced to stream the Lions defense and special teams at home against a Jets team that was expected to falter immediately out of the gate, then you were very happy on the first play of the game and very much less happy for the rest of it. Do not disparage those who touted the Lions as a streaming defense, however. It is only through Lions fandom that we can see the faults in any train of logic that places the Lions as ‘good’ or ‘acceptable’ or ‘a football team of any kind or nature’. The utter destruction of Sam Darnold that he rained upon the field was something that only the true pessimists of us Lions fans could have predicted, the way I predicted Aaron Rodgers to return in the second half of Sunday Night Football and throw multiple touchdowns, or the way I predicted that the Lions could somehow lose three times in one weekend as the Packers got a win, the Vikings and Bears both looked heavily competent if not elite in some facets of the game, and the Lions failed to exist on national television.
However, it is not all bad for the Lions D/ST. They still have… No, I can’t even come up with anything. It is all bad for the Lions D/ST.
I apologize, as the resident kicking expert, for my assumption that Matt Prater would continue to do the same thing he has every game for the entirety of his career as a Lion. It is truly strange to see him miss multiple times in a single game, and I hope I never have to see it again.
The Jets had all the takeaways in this game so I have none left to give.
Rams vs. Raiders
The final quarter and final score were what I thought would happen going into this weekend. Rewind a couple hours prior; that’s not what I was expecting- the Raiders marched right down “Main Street” on their first possession of the game for six plus one. I was very stunned, seeing as the hype for this Rams’ defense has been out of this world, as it should be. As the game wore on, Jared Goff was not really in synch with his team, there were bad penalties and stalled drive after stalled drive. And then Greg Zuerlein missed a field goal. It’s true. The first half was one to forget for the Rams. But, that’s why there’s a halftime and two more quarters – plenty of time to put 23 unanswered points on the board and make it look like a dominating performance.
Like I mentioned before, Jared Goff was off to a very slow start, completing just four passes halfway through the second quarter. He ended the night 18/33 for 233 yards and two touchdowns. It would have been a lot more if he had hit Robert Woods on the few deep shots he attempted. He easily would have hit the 300-yard mark had they been completed. He looked great in my opinion, as he was hitting timing routes, small window throws and had a pretty good rapport with newcomer Brandin Cooks. One interesting note is that he did not complete a single pass to a tight end, but it could have been a schematic situation. Digression aside, Goff should be starting every week if you own him or he should be added if you own the likes of Matt Ryan or Matt Stafford.
The Running Game
Reigning Player of the year, Todd Gurley II started of his defense of the accolade with a 108-yard performance, adding 39 yards and a score receiving. Nothing crazy, but he showed his efficiency, grinding for 5+ yards per carry. Having to keep him in check on the ground while also worrying about him on passing situations must be a nightmare. He’ll continue to dominate as he faces the Cardinals this coming Sunday.
Jared Goff seems to always be distributing targets and yardage. This was no exception as four players had at least three catches and that number could have been higher had those deep throws been hauled in. I wouldn’t be worried about those, seeing as it was the first game. Goff will always challenge a defense multiple times per game and now he has three legitimate targets for those type of throws. Brandin Cooks led the way with 5 catches for 87 yards, Cooper Kupp had a terrible drop early on, but rallied for 5 grabs for 52 yards and a score and Robert Woods finished with 37 yards (could have had 100 yards with the long attempts). In fantasy PPR leagues, Cooks and Kupp are borderline must-starts, while Robert Woods is a good piece to stash for insurance.
The Rams’ 2017 defense was pretty good and serviceable in fantasy. The 2018 Rams defense is a top-five unit with room to improve. Adding Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters and Aquib Talib highlighted their offseason. They went on to pick Derek Carr off three times, one going for six. All in all a fearsome group that will continue to be a hassle for all opponents.
Marshawn Lynch is still BEAST Mode
Marshawn Lynch came out of the gates running hard, highlighted by a mind-blowing touchdown run through a half dozen Rams defenders. If you haven’t seen it, google it and count how many guys he carries in. It was ridiculous. Lynch finished with 11 carries for 41 yards and a touchdown, as well as seeing 2 targets in the passing game (2 catches for 8 yards). Doug Martin saw some action as well, totaling 4 carries for 20 yards and 2 catches as well. The one worry I have is that Lynch and Martin were both eventually pulled for Jalen Richard once the Raiders fell behind. Richard gorged on targets totaling 8 catches for 47 yards in addition to 24 yards on his 4 carries. I will continue to start Lynch, and I am curious to see what becomes of Richard. Martin isn’t worth rostering at the moment.
But Amari Cooper might deserve the name “Least Mode”
Before watching the Raiders play the Rams, I would have guessed Amari Cooper would gorge on targets. I would expect at least a half dozen looks his way, and 10+ would have been no surprise. Cooper had 1 catch for 9 yards on 3 targets. It’s only week one, but this is definitely troubling to me. For most of the game, it didn’t even look like they were trying to involve Cooper. I would still start him in week 2, but another dud might mean time to move on. We saw this happen last year, and I don’t want to get back on that ride. If you could trade Cooper for close to his draft prize, I’d honestly consider it right now.
And how did the other pass catchers fare?
Jordy Nelson finished with 4 targets for 3 catches and 23 yards. I put little value in Nelson as a reliable weapon before the season, and this came to fruition today. I’m curious, though, to see what happens when the Raiders have more red zone opportunities. Outside of Cooper and Nelson, no other wide receiver was relevant. However, there is this tight end named Jared Cook. Cook has jumped in and out of fantasy relevance over the last couple years, and he is currently back in. Cook saw 12 targets, caught 9 of them, and tallied 181 yards. It was an amazing performance, and Cook looked athletic after running after the catch. Cook might have just become the biggest waiver wire add following Week 1, and I have to admit I’m tempted to get on board. Just don’t expect a repeat of this stat line.
And what about Derek Carr?
Derek Carr was asked to throw early and often, and this bodes well for his fantasy value if it continues. I expect the Raiders to be playing from behind this year, and this should create plenty of passing opportunities. Carr’s stat line was 27/38 for 288 yards and 3 picks, and at least two of the interceptions were legitimately bad decisions on Carr’s part. I would consider Carr a streaming option in the right matchups, but I don’t expect him to be consistent this year in an offense that only mustered 13 points in week one. Still, I think he can only go up from here.