What a WILD week of NFL and fantasy football action we all witnessed to kick off the 2022 regular season. Some of the biggest stars lived up to high expectations, while others flopped. Some rookies made their presence known while others failed to live up to the hype.
Let’s break it all down with my fantasy football Week 1 takeaways.
Fantasy Football Week 1 Takeaways
- Miles Sanders was quite productive but just snuck over the 50% snap mark against Detroit. That isn’t so much a criticism as it is something to note—and not unexpected. All four of Philadelphia’s primary rushers (Sanders, Kenny Gainwell, Boston Scott, and Jalen Hurts) found the end zone on the ground in Week 1 and will continue to split carries all season long. View Sanders as an RB3 for the rest of the season but a strong flex play next week against a Vikings team that allowed 6.3 yards per carry to Packers running backs in Week 1.
- A.J. Brown assimilated to Philadelphia quite well and was a target hog in Week 1. His 13 targets paced the Eagles and were more than triple the next closest player—he had a nearly 41% target share. That sort of volume is particularly encouraging because that was really the only concern about Brown heading into this year. It came at the expense of DeVonta Smith, who received less than a handful of targets despite leading Philadelphia in snaps and routes run. Smith ranked as a high-end WR4 in my preseason rankings and he shouldn’t be moved down yet.
- D’Andre Swift looked great from the word “go” on Sunday. Although Jamaal Williams finished off the opening drive in the end zone, it was Swift who looked like the star. Although the carry numbers were close to Williams’, Swift played more than twice as many snaps and ran enough routes to be comparable with Detroit’s TE1 and WR3. Swift ranked as my preseason RB11 and has earned the right to stay in must-start territory.
- Secondary receiving options already look like an issue for the Colts, but Michael Pittman Jr. is the real deal. Pittman left the field for a grand total of two snaps in Week 1 and finished with nine catches for 121 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets. Pittman was a popular breakout candidate this year and he showed instant chemistry with new quarterback Matt Ryan. He’s inching closer to the WR1 plateau.
- Ugh. The reality of Week 1 sometimes means a hype train gets derailed. That’s exactly what happened with rookie running back Dameon Pierce. Although Pierce got 11 carries, he played only 20 of Houston’s 68 offensive snaps—Rex Burkhead played 48. Pierce was a non-factor in the passing game, too—a fear fantasy managers had coming in. You should still believe in the talent, but the Texans won’t be winning for large portions of the game going forward like they were on Sunday. If they’re passing a lot from behind, Pierce may not see the field much. Pierce is a bench stash right now.
- So, uh, O.J. Howard happened. Two targets, two catches, two touchdowns… tough to be more efficient than that. However, he ran a grand total of six routes and played only 17.6% of the Texans’ offensive snaps. He can stay on waivers at least another week.
- I really think Donovan Peoples-Jones is going to be a thing this season. Not a “you’ve got to start him weekly” kind of thing, but a bench option who is in second flex/bye week fill-in consideration. Peoples-Jones played just as much as Amari Cooper did and led all Browns in targets (11), routes run (35), receptions (6), and receiving yards (60) in Week 1. Peoples-Jones has grown throughout his time in the NFL and is poised to take another step forward as the unquestioned WR2 in Cleveland. Plus, we heard in the offseason that he and Deshaun Watson developed some chemistry, so that’s something to note for later in the season.
- Let’s play a game of good news, bad news. Good news: Christian McCaffrey finished Week 1 healthy and scored a touchdown. Bad news: It was just the fourth time in his last 23 healthy games that he failed to garner at least five targets. The check down to McCaffrey wasn’t a significant part of Ben McAdoo’s offense in Week 1, so it’s worth monitoring next week against the Giants.
- So much for Deebo Samuel not wanting to play in the backfield. Samuel was used extensively in the backfield (even before the Elijah Mitchell injury), carrying the ball eight times for 52 yards and a touchdown. However, he ran just 20 routes and had two catches for 14 yards as a receiver. While the continued backfield usage is encouraging, it can’t come at the expense of receiving production like it did last year. He’s a must-start, but I’d be lying if I didn’t have some reservations about my top-five WR ranking.
- David Montgomery managers should avert their eyes. The running back did very little with his 20 touches, plodding for 50 total yards. Meanwhile, he started losing a few snaps to Khalil Herbert, who flashed last season and reportedly impressed Chicago’s new coaching staff this preseason. He looked better than Montgomery to the naked eye and to box-score scouters. I’d look at Montgomery as a flex play while exploring the trade market for him if there’s an interested party.
- James Robinson looks healthy, huh? While fantasy managers lamented about Cam Akers’ health/status in his return from an Achilles injury (despite playing in last year’s playoffs), Robinson looked explosive on his 11 carries. He finished with 66 rushing yards and two total touchdowns while dominating early-down work. It’s possible his production could be game-script-dependent because of how much Travis Etienne played on passing downs, but Robinson should be considered a matchup-based flex play moving forward.
- After an offseason overflowing with criticism, Antonio Gibson helped assuage the fears many fantasy managers had against Jacksonville. He led the Commanders in receptions (7) and receiving yards (72) while also gaining 58 yards on 14 rush attempts. However, the causes for concern aren’t gone—fumbles are still an issue and J.D. McKissic is getting plenty of work. When Brian Robinson Jr. returns (maybe in a month), Gibson’s job could be on thin ice. Sell high.
- While Terry McLaurin had a nice play, it was nice to see other Washington pass-catchers get in on the action. Curtis Samuel looked healthy and led the team with 11 targets. Jahan Dotson made an impressive debut himself with a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winner. Both players should remain on your bench for now but add them on waivers if available in your league. Carson Wentz isn’t afraid to spread the ball around and push it downfield.
- Chase Edmonds didn’t have a remarkable day, but there were positive signs for production ahead. He ran a route on a majority of Miami’s passing plays and didn’t yield too many carries to Raheem Mostert. If I have Edmonds on my roster, I’d be encouraged despite the modest production.
- Lost in the hoopla of Joe Burrow’s four picks, Najee Harris’ injury, and the cacophony of missed field goals late in the day were the encouraging workloads for both Diontae Johnson and Pat Freiermuth. Both players received double-digit targets from new QB Mitchell Trubisky. While neither found paydirt, the concerted effort to get both pass-catchers the ball should continue going forward. I continue to like Freiermuth as a TE1 and Johnson as a WR2.
- Speaking of workloads, Joe Mixon’s was enormous—27 carries and 34 total touches. Part of it is because of Tee Higgins’ injury, and part of it was because the Bengals ran a whopping 100 (!) plays in this game. Outside of 2020, Mixon has remained pretty healthy in his NFL career, but that might not be the case in 2022 if Cincinnati needs to give him the ball this much going forward. Still, fantasy managers aren’t complaining right now.
- Devin Duvernay is a player who I was intrigued by in the preseason, ranking him in my top 85 WRs as a dart throw. Well, he looked worthy of a fantasy roster spot on Sunday. He caught all four of his targets, including a pair of touchdowns, and looked like Lamar Jackson’s WR2 of choice early in the game against the Jets. You’re not putting him in your starting lineup yet or spending a ton of FAAB, but he should have a star next to his name.
- As much as people want Breece Hall to be “the guy” as a rookie, he’s clearly behind Michael Carter in the pecking order. Hall will have some flex value along the way, but both backs are going to eat into each other’s potential fantasy ceilings. As long as you manage expectations for the rookie, you’ll be content with the return.
- Michael Thomas is back! No, he’s not going to get the same sort of volume he saw in his prime with Drew Brees, but he’s going to be a major factor in New Orleans’ offense. He beat a darn good corner in A.J. Terrell twice in one-on-ones for touchdowns and you should feel confident starting him going forward.
- As much as fantasy managers seemed to be allergic to him on draft day, Cordarrelle Patterson is going to be a thing again. Sure, Damien Williams got hurt early, but who else is in this backfield? Patterson got 22 carries and 25 touches with only Drake London and Kyle Pitts playing more offensive snaps. He can score you points in a plethora of ways and should be in your weekly flex discussion.
- There shouldn’t have been much doubt, but JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are the top two wide receivers for Kansas City. Smith-Schuster led all non-Travis Kelces in targets with eight and had a solid Chiefs debut despite not finding the end zone. Both are matchup plays for fantasy managers going forward, but you should have no fear about their spot in the offense.
- No one was more out on Saquon Barkley last year than I was, and I carried that skepticism with me into this season. But Barkley looked nothing like his 2021 form in Week 1. His speed, explosion, and power were at pre-injury levels and he dominated his way to a Giants victory. While he’s still an injury risk, I think I’m all the way back in on Barkley as an RB1 contender.
- It sure felt like Dontrell Hilliard played more snaps than he did. He was tracked for only 12 offensive plays, but ran seven routes and was targeted four times for two touchdowns as a receiver. If you have Derrick Henry, Hilliard is worth an add as his handcuff. Otherwise, he’s not someone you’ll likely ever feel comfortable playing absent a Henry injury.
- A.J. Dillon is going to be a player in Green Bay’s passing game—out of necessity. Dillon shockingly led all Packers in targets (6), receptions (5), and receiving yards (46). He ran a route on more than half his snaps and showcased solid hands when called upon. As long as Aaron Rodgers can’t trust his wide receivers, Dillon and Aaron Jones will need to be his safety net.
- Justin Jefferson is a fantasy football monster. The end.
- Despite Keenan Allen’s injury, Mike Williams was invisible in Week 1. With two catches for 10 yards on four targets, you’d be excused if you didn’t know if Williams was even on the field for most of the game. Williams is a boom-or-bust producer and these kinds of weeks aren’t that uncommon—see: Weeks 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 last season. It sucks, but there’s no reason to panic. He still led the Chargers in snaps and routes run.
- I don’t think Davante Adams misses Aaron Rodgers.
- Sunday Night Football was full of injuries, but Leonard Fournette deserves a shoutout for running the ball hard and effectively. He finished with 127 rushing yards on 21 carries and continues to be an underrated fantasy asset. We’ll wait and see on Dak Prescott and Chris Godwin.
- Javonte Williams may not have gotten as many carries as fantasy managers hoped for but he led Denver in targets (12), turning them into 11 receptions for 65 yards in addition to his 43 yards on seven carries. Melvin Gordon will still get plenty of work, but Williams will find a way to be heavily productive one way or another.
If you have any specific fantasy football questions or want to know more about what I think of certain players in my fantasy football rankings this week, follow me on Twitter (@JaimeEisner) or Instagram (@JaimeEisnerTDN). I’d be happy to chat with you!
- Sep 26, 2022
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