5 Key Fantasy Football Takeaways From NFL Week 1 Action - Roto Street Journal
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5 Key Fantasy Football Takeaways From NFL Week 1 Action

When analyzing fantasy football, final stat lines always need context. The beginning of the NFL season can have players putting up numbers that we shouldn’t really expect to continue as the season progresses, especially this year.

Let’s take a look at a few numbers from NFL Week 1 and apply context to keep in mind for the weeks ahead:

OBJ’s Lack Of Production Was NOT Due To Offensive Scheme

Browns’ head coach Kevin Stefanski brought an offensive philosophy to Cleveland that emphasized the run. It worked well enough with the Vikings that there was concern that Cleveland’s passing game as a whole would take a fantasy hit.

Odell Beckham‘s final line of 3-22-0 may look like a possible victim of the scheme at first glance, but it was on the back of 10 targets from Baker Mayfield. The Browns faced a fierce Ravens defense, no doubt, but Odell still had opportunities he didn’t cash on.

One catch was negated when he got a facemask penalty while doing a stiff-arm, and he dropped another easy catch that stalled a critical drive deep in Baltimore territory. Hopefully these rookie mistakes are out of Beckham’s system as Cleveland gets presumably better matchups against the Bengals and Washington next.

Nyheim Hines’ Production Was NOT Due To Marlon Mack’s Injury

Here’s another instance where the numbers might be deceiving and leave the wrong impression. Hines was largely considered to be limited to passing game work while Jonathan Taylor and Marlon Mack duke it out for a primary role.

However, before Mack went down in the second quarter, Taylor was watching from the sideline while Hines was receiving the red zone carries, highlighted by a 12-yard touchdown run.

Now, with Mack possibly out for the year, Hines looks like a real threat to Taylor’s rushing load moving forward. Hey, speaking of that Colts-Jags game…

Umm, I Thought Jacksonville Was Tanking…

19-for-20 passing with three touchdowns and no picks is a terrible way to tank your season, but that’s just what Gardner Minshew did against the Colts. That means there may not be as many negative game scripts as most initially thought.

Jacksonville’s aerial pie only needed 173 yards to get the win, making UDFA darling James Robinson a candidate to see 15-plus touches-per-game if he holds on to the starting gig. The Jags offense may have surprised, but not every team mixed things up this week…

Atlanta Falcons: New Year, Same Offensive Shortcomings

Last season saw Atlanta’s offensive line provide its worst support in the Matt Ryan era, according to PFF. This resulted in poor rushing production, forcing reliance on the passing game. The volume was enough to churn out some pass production, but such an unbalanced offense wasn’t sustainable at times. A poor defense made the offense even more predictable, as Atlanta was playing a lot of catch up and padding stat lines in garbage time.

The Falcons fell to the Seattle Seahawks 38-25 in the first game where it wasn’t as close as the final score might suggest. It was hoped that 2019 first-round picks, right guard Chris Lindstrom and right tackle Kaleb McGary, would help boost the O-line in year-two, but the Falcons could only muster 74 yards on the ground.

Yes, Atlanta’s top three wide receivers each had 100-yard games, on the back of Matt Ryan‘s 450 yards passing. However, it shouldn’t be expected for Ryan to throw over 400 yards every week, or that Todd Gurley and Hayden Hurst will remain as uninvolved, combining for only four catches for 39 yards.

The Falcons shouldn’t feel too special in their ability to pad stats in losses, for Week 1 anyway. Apparently, it’s a part of Pete Carroll‘s defensive gameplan…

Something we’re not used to seeing from Carroll’s gameplan though…

Russell Wilson, Did in Fact, Cook

He breaded and deep-fried some Falcons in a game where the Seahawks passed the ball 15 times more than they ran. Now there were four games last season when Seattle passed at least 15 more than they ran it, but this time was noticeably different.

The passing volume wasn’t influenced by negative game script. There was pre-snap motion, early-down passing, and post-game comments from Pete Carroll that indicate it was no anomaly. The Athletic’s Michael-Shawn Dugar detailed further how #LetRussCook looks now to be much more than fan well-wishing.

“After Sunday’s big win, Carroll was asked specifically about letting Wilson ‘cook,’ whether Sunday’s showcase was a sign of things to come,” said Dugar. “He effectively confirmed it, saying that what we witnessed Sunday was a product of the team’s offensive leaders — Wilson included — preparing all offseason to play this brand of football.”

Don’t rule out that the running game will be an afterthought every week, but Wilson’s impressive command of the game dictates that we expect lower overall returns from the Seahawks’ running game, higher returns for the passing game, and brace for a top-five fantasy QB finish from Russ if he can cook all year long.

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