2020 Season: Week 1 Recap

(Photo credit: Erik Drost)

Charles Herrmann (@HermsNFL)
The Lateral Chief Editor

Malcolm McMillan (@McLateralFF)
The Lateral Writer

Not much to say here. Let's jump right into our Week 1 recap.

Standout Performers

CH: Cracking 40 PPR points at a skill position is tough to do no matter what, but check out what Davante Adams did. Holy Toledo, that dude was good. Granted this is not the hugest news considering Adams was likely the second WR drafted in most leagues, but props are deserved regardless. 

What I want to talk about is how good Malcolm Brown looked last night against the Cowboys. A pair of TDs helped vault Brown all the way to RB5 on the week. The other thing worth mentioning is that Brown out-snapped Cam Akers 44 to 24, perhaps a bit more than anticipated, and was by most measures the most effective Rams back. Thankfully The Lateral had the foresight to mention this as a possibility in our RB rankings (see tier 9), but to channel my inner Cris Collinsworth, here's a guy I'd be looking at on the waiver wire headed into Week 2. 

MM: So, not to take away from what Davante Adams did yesterday, which was absolutely phenomenal, and frankly could have even been bigger if Green Bay had not taken their foot off the gas, but Josh Jacobs' performance was equally impressive. 
Especially the whopping 6 targets for Josh Jacobs. 

For those keeping score at home, that is the most targets he has had in a single game his entire NFL career. Sure, that has been all of 14 games, but that plus his 25 carries yesterday, confirms the ascendancy of Jacobs into an every-down back. While the three touchdowns in a game are likely to regress, Week 1 was a good sign that the Raiders are going to give Jacobs more opportunities in 2020, and that Jacobs will continue to make the most of them.

Bitter Disappointments

CH: As mentioned in our Week 1 injuries, it is very disappointing to see Colts RB Marlon Mack's season end the way it did. As happy as fantasy players should be to see what Jonathan Taylor do without Mack in his way, there's a way to be happy without cheering someone tearing their Achilles. 

Aside from that, Austin Ekeler's whopping 1 (ONE) target in the passing game was a bummer. I had mentioned in my writeup about the Chargers backfield a while ago that the presence of Tyrod Taylor at QB would lead to less check down work and RB targets across the board, but to have it bump down to this level is ridiculous. I don't see this as likely to continue but boy, that was a bit of a letdown for a guy historically known for his receiving prowess. 

Nick Chubb is a fantasy manager's worst nightmare. Not only did he fail to touch his projected points, he failed to establish himself as the team's lead RB. Kareem Hunt was the leading rusher, and the number two target for Baker Mayfield week one, and given the money that the Browns just gave to Kareem Hunt, I am officially concerned. Especially since Chubb was the more efficient back yesterday, both as a rusher and a receiverEven more concerning? This was also the case in 2019 as well, when Chubb was the more efficient rusher, and an equally efficient receiver. 

Basically, I am no longer sure that there is anything Chubb can do to improve his standing that he is not already doing, and it still is not enough to temper the Brown's infatuation with Kareem Hunt.

Personal Fantasy Highlight/Lowlight

CH: I'm pleased with the fact that I took stabs on Jonathan Taylor, J.K. Dobbins and Zack Moss on a single team. Rookie RBs aren't always sure things, who knows how everything will shake out, but Week 1 showed hope that I might be able to hit on all 3. That's kind of cool.

What I'm not so pleased with is the fact that I dramatically overestimated the role Chris Thompson would have in the Jacksonville backfield. Sure, there's plenty of football left to be played, but that one felt bad.

MM: Playing Chris Herndon instead of Dallas Goedert was a mistake. Even worse? It was a mistake I could have easily avoided. In my TE Rankings, I lauded Goedert, and neglected to even consider Herndon. I even made Twitter posts talking about how I would not let Herndon hurt me again.

So what did I do? I panicked because of matchups.

The logic was with Reagor playing, the Eagles would have an excuse to run less 12 Formation and more 11 Formation. Plus, Herndon seemed to have a rapport with Sam Darnold, and the Bills secondary would mean lots of work for Herndon and slot receiver Jamison Crowder (Fun fact: Getting 1 out of 2 right is not worth much when you had the wrong 1). End result? Dallas Goedert outperforms Zach Ertz and finishes TE1 in ESPN PPR, because the Eagles love their incredibly talented TEs, and Herndon finished TE18 and the 4th best player on what was a really bad Jets team.

Do not panic. Play the people that you rated highly, and trust your initial logic. Once you find out your base assumption was wrong, then adjust.

What We Are Looking Forward to Next Week

CH: I'm very interested in seeing if the Bills can put up numbers against Miami like they did against the Jets. I can't tell if what we saw was more about Josh Allen and the gang being good or the New York Jets defense being bad, but this could be a fun team to follow.

A game in specific I am looking forward to is Cowboys vs Falcons. That screams shootout and I'm so here for it.

MM: We have been pretty high on the Jacksonville Jaguars here at The Lateral. Personally, I have endorsed Laviska Shenault Jr. as a sleeper candidate at WR (check), Gardner Minshew II as a sleeper QB well worth a late round draft pick (check), and even Tyler Eifert as an honorable mention Top-28 TE (whoops). However, I did not see the Jags, seemingly, "Tanking for Trevor," leading the AFC South this morning on the backs of fantasy relevant performances by six of their players!

Will Minshew Mania continue to be the NFL's version of Linsanity? Who knows (insert shrug emoji). But next week's potentially brutal matchup against the Tennessee Titans (we will know more on that after tonight), a run of games against awful defenses in the form of Miami, Cinncinati, Houston, and Detroit leading up to their bye week, should give the Jags plenty of opportunity to provide us with exiciting, and fantasy relevant, football.

What We Are Most Nervous About Going Forward

CH: If I'm a Chubb owner, Kareem Hunt. Malcolm already covered that pretty well and I don't really have much to add aside from pointing out my belief that this backfield may be game script dependent. 

Final note: despite the fact this game isn't over yet, Benny effin' Snell. James Conner better start to ball out if he comes back tonight/next week because Snell is looking far more explosive tonight than he had in all of 2019.

MM: Good stats, bad team guys are a very necessary part of fantasy football. Saquon Barkely and Austin Ekeler were Top-12 RBs last year, despite their teams going a combined 9-23. Same with Kenny Golladay and DeVante Parker at WR, whose teams were an even worse 8-23-1. Every year, people look for players on bad teams that can put up stats through a combination of good talent and constantly being on the field and playing catch-up.

Which makes what is happening in Miami and New York concerning. Between the Dolphins and the Jets, there were basically three relevant fantasy players: Josh Adams (who barely anyone drafted), Myles Gaskin (who nobody drafted), and Jamison Crowder (which was to be expected, but a pleasant surprise nonetheless). Miami may have been simply victim to a bad match-up. After all, the Patriots are no joke, and used a dominant rushing attack and a dominant rushing defense to control the pace of the game. Combined with the absence of Ryan Fitzmagic and the return of alter ego Ryan Picksmagic, there was little chance of a good day from the Dolphins. But the Jets have a bad coach, a back-field that may be led by Frank Gore going forward with Le'Veon Bell going down injured, and despite holding serve in the turnover battle, were even more dominated by the Buffalo Bills defense than the Dolphins were by the Patriots. With Gase running the show in New York, I am not sure that situation improves any time soon.

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