Vikings 28 - Falcons 12
The Vikings’ defense caused three times Falcons’ turnovers on their way to a dominating win. New offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski orchestrated a nice outing for Dalvin Cook as he rumbled for 120 total yards and two scores on 23 touches. Rookie Alexander Mattison even got some run later in the game, collecting just shy of 50 yards himself.
Minnesota showed off a new look offensively as they rushed the ball on 77% of their offensive snaps, with Kirk Cousins putting the ball in the air just ten times. The commitment to the ground was partially due to Minnesota jumping out to a quick 21-0 lead by halftime; therefore, do not expect this level of imbalance to continue over the long term. However, all receivers in this offense take a slight hit as the Vikings appear to have an improved offensive line and are all-in on #EstablishTheRun.
While the running game prospered, the pass catchers were dismal fantasy-wise. Apart from an Adam Thielen touchdown, the star duo of Thielen and Stefon Diggs combined for 80 yards receiving and left a question mark of their fantasy value moving forward. The Vikings will have worse game scripts in future contests which will lead to better receiving numbers for Theilen and Diggs as well as tight end Kyle Rudolph who didn’t get a single catch on Sunday. Rudolph is a shaky option at tight end in any given week given the passing volume and his placement for targets behind Thielen, Diggs, and Cook.
Matt Ryan managed to salvage a rough day with two fourth quarter touchdowns to Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones. Being down early forced Ryan to throw a lot in this game as he tossed 33 completions for 304 yards and two scores. Austin Hooper improved his fantasy stock by catching all nine of his targets and impressed against a tough linebacker group and secondary. Mohammed Sanu actually played the most snaps of any Falcons wide receiver and finished with five receptions for 57 yards. Sanu is a target to keep on the watchlist. He is an instant plug-and-play if either Jones or Ridley were to miss time.
Devonta Freeman is finally healthy from a sports hernia which sidelined him for nearly the entire 2018 campaign. He struggled against a good rushing defense (19 yards) and split snaps 50-50 with Ito Smith who gained 31 yards on six carries. The Falcons have never exclusively featured Freeman in his past seasons but this split appeared more extreme than with former backup Tevin Coleman. This is a situation to monitor going forward, but the Falcons will have more success on the ground in future weeks.
Ravens 59 - Dolphins 10
This one was over by the end of the first quarter as the Ravens jumped out to a 21-0 lead. The Dolphins' “defense” made Lamar Jackson look like Joe Montana as he slung the ball for 324 yards and five touchdowns. First round rookie Marquise Brown paced Jackson’s receiving group with four receptions for 147 yards, including both 47- and 83-yard touchdowns.
Second year tight end Mark Andrews led the Ravens in targets grabbing all eight of them for 108 yards and a score. Andrews is expected to lead the Ravens in targets this year and is a breakout candidate if Jackson plays even half as well as he did on Sunday. Tight ends Hayden Hurst and Nick Boyle also sprinkled in some receptions but are not on the fantasy radar.
New Raven Mark Ingram had a heyday against the Dolphins as well as he eclipsed the 100-yard mark and added two touchdowns of his own. Both backups Gus Edwards and Justice Hill got some work in this game, although half of their touches came when the first team offense came off the field. Both figure to mix in with Ingram but are not going to challenge him for his lion’s share of the workload.
The Dolphins had little offensive success from a fantasy perspective. While this game was likely an extreme, the outlook for most weapons on this offense aren’t optimistic. Nobody gained more than 12 yards on the ground, only Devante Parker had more than 40 yards receiving, and starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was benched for second year man Josh Rosen. It’s unclear if the Dolphins stick with Rosen, but he managed to throw an interception in just three passes. Don’t be surprised if Miami gives Fitzpatrick another start.
Rookie training camp star Preston Williams flashed briefly with a touchdown in the contest. He was fourth in snaps with 21 behind Jakeem Grant (30), Allen Hurns (35), and Parker (38) but will play his way into more time as the season moves along. Mike Gesicki led all tight ends in snaps which is an improvement on last season. He had six targets in this game - a career high - after only having 32 all of last season.
Chiefs 40 - Jaguars 26
The Chiefs picked up right where they left off last season pouring it on Jacksonville, which was a top-5 defense in 2018, to the tune of 40 points. Patrick Mahomes had 378 passing yards and three scores, which shouldn’t be too surprising. What should be surprising is that 198 of those yards and all three scores went to Sammy Watkins and not Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce. Hill sustained a collarbone injury early in the game but as of this writing has avoided surgery. He is expected to miss multiple weeks, which is good news for Watkins and rookie Mecole Hardman fantasy owners.
Kelce finished with 88 yards but was relatively quiet outside a 42-yard catch he made early in the first quarter. Damien Williams was the final player with more than two targets as he caught all six of his for 39 yards. Williams struggled on the ground in his new role as a co-starter with newly signed LeSean McCoy. McCoy amassed 81 yards on only eight carries to Williams’ 26 yards on 13 carries. This situation likely evolves into a full timeshare with Williams getting an additional bump in PPR leagues for his passing game involvement. Check for McCoy on waiver wires or send a few trades for him as he looked like the McCoy of old.
Jaguars fans were likely prepping for their season to finish before it got started as Nick Foles exited late in the 1st quarter with what would be diagnosed as a broken clavicle. Little did they know that sixth round rookie Gardner Minshew would fill in admirably by tossing two touchdowns to go along with his 275 passing yards. Gardner is a priority pickup in Superflex leagues but you can leave him be in standard leagues.
With the Jaguars playing catchup most of the game, Leonard Fournette wasn’t featured often despite gaining 66 yards on only 13 carries. No other Jaguar got more than one carry on the ground. Second year speedster D.J. Chark went off on Sunday with 146 yards and a score. Despite being listed behind Marquise Lee, Chark played the third most wide receiver snaps after Dede Westbrook and Chris Conley. Westbrook had a quiet game but found the end zone, while Conley had a good revenge game against his old squad snagging six passes for 97 yards and a score. Both James O’Shaughnessy and Geoff Swaim had four receptions each but neither figures to be a major factor in fantasy.
Titans 43 - Browns 13
In what was the upset of the week, the Titans walloped the Browns in every phase of Sunday’s game. Marcus Mariota had a much needed positive performance after an offseason where the Titans brought in Ryan Tannehill as competition. Mariota was able to pass for 248 yards and three scores despite only having 24 attempts. His favorite targets were rookie A.J. Brown who racked up 100 yards in his debut and Delanie Walker who found the end zone twice on 55 yards receiving. Corey Davis was targeted three times but had no receptions. He is a few more bad performances from being droppable in most redraft leagues.
Derrick Henry was an all-around stud as he chewed up the Browns’ defense for 84 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Henry also housed his only reception for a 75-yard touchdown. The team began fading fellow running back Dion Lewis towards the end of 2018 and it continued into 2019, with Lewis only getting six touches for 13 yards. It’s apparent he will only be relevant in game scripts where the Titans are trailing heavily.
Browns fans coming into this game were optimistic for an offense that featured the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. Expectations got tempered as Baker Mayfield threw three interceptions and the Browns offense struggled to move the football consistently. Nick Chubb was able to gain 75 yards on the ground but got vultured on the goal line by backup Dontrell Hilliard.
Both Beckham (7/71) and Jarvis Landry (4/67) failed to find the end zone but will have better weeks ahead. Mayfield’s lone touchdown went to tight end David Njoku who finished with just 37 yards on four catches. Third wide receiver Rashard Higgins had a pair of nice catches but is too far down in the receiving hierarchy to carry much weekly value barring an injury to Beckham or Landry.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of our Fantasy Takeaways from Week 1 series.