Soared and Floored: NFL Week 5 Fantasy Recap

Welcome to PFP’s weekly studs and duds fantasy recap for the 2021 football season! Here we take a look at some of the standout performances, both and good and bad, from Thursday’s and Sunday’s contests. These are more instant reactions rather than in-depth analyses, with things to keep in mind as the season progresses. Let’s see who took to the skies and who bottomed out in Week 5! You can check out Week 4 here.

Players Who Soared

Credit: CBS Sports

Quarterbacks

Justin Herbert: 26/43, 398 passing yards, 4 pass TDs, 4 rushes, 29 rushing yards, 1 rush TD

Herbert showed out in the bonafide shootout against the Browns today. The second-year quarterback kept pace with ease for the entire game against Cleveland’s respectable defense. He commanded a magnificent offensive performance, leading to equally impressive days from Austin Ekeler (17 for 66 and 2 TDs rushing, 5 for 53 and 1 TD receiving) and Mike Williams (8 for 165 and 2 TDs receiving). Having thrown for 901 yards and 11 TDs with no INTs in the last three weeks, continue to trust Herbert as he heads to Baltimore next week.

Davis Mills: 21/29, 312 passing yards, 3 pass TDs, 1 rush, 2 rushing yards

Arguably the biggest surprise of the week, Mills very nearly conquered the rookie QB stigma against Bill Belichick‘s Patriots. He connected with Chris Moore (5 for 109 receiving) and Chris Conley (3 for 84 and 1 TD receiving, 1 fumble lost) on some very nice deep balls and managed the game well by minimizing his own mistakes. The biggest assist, however, was from the putrid efforts put forth by the Patriots’ defense early in the game. It was a promising effort from the rookie, though, who took a big step towards being in the streaming conversation for the rest of the season.

Jalen Hurts: 22/37, 198 passing yards, 1 INT, 9 rushes, 30 rushing yards, 2 rush TDs

Thank the lord for Hurts’ legs, otherwise, this would have been an ugly fantasy outing for the Eagles starting QB. The lone INT on the day was a horrible overthrow, highlighting a very sloppy game from both teams in this contest. Hurts’ struggles as a passer were on full display today against a respectable defense and should cause some major concerns going into the Buccaneers matchup next week.

Others of Note
  • Tom Brady: 30/41, 411 passing yards, 5 pass TDs, 1 rush, 13 rushing yards
  • Josh Allen: 15/26, 315 passing yards, 3 pass TDs, 11 rushes, 59 rushing yards, 1 rush TD
  • Jameis Winston: 15/30, 279 passing yards, 4 pass TDs, 1 INT, 6 rushes, 26 rushing yards

Running Backs

Credit: USA Today
Myles Gaskin: 5 rushes, 25 rushing yards, 10 receptions, 74 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs

In a move that was a long time coming for fantasy owners, Gaskin established himself as the clear lead back in Miami’s backfield. He out-touched Salvon Ahmed 15-4 and looked dangerous catching passes out of the backfield. This was to be expected against the vaunted Tampa Bay rushing defense, but the passing game usage was very relieving to see as Miami expects to be in many negative game scripts moving forward. He gets a juicy matchup against Jacksonville next week to flex those rushing muscles too.

Alvin Kamara: 16 rushes, 71 rushing yards, 1 rush TD, 5 receptions, 51 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

After inexplicably being excluded from the passing game last week, Kamara posted his first true boom of a game in Washington. He saw his highest target share of the season yet (8) and looked just as good as ever gaining yards after the catch. What’s most encouraging is Winston’s attempts keep creeping back up, which will hopefully lead to more touches for Kamara moving forward as well if and when this team is trailing. Kamara gets a bye week before a matchup against the Seahawks in week 7.

Alexander Mattison: 25 rushes, 113 rushing yards, 7 receptions, 40 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD, 1 fumble lost

This standout game is courtesy of a late scratch for Dalvin Cook as he was just too hurt to play this week. Mattison took advantage of the delectable matchup against Detroit and was featured all over the place in Minnesota’s offense. This is his second game answering the call in a big way in the wake of Cook being too hurt to play. Mattison may have now carved out a Tony Pollard-style role in this offense, especially if Cook needs more rest on game days.

Others of Note
  • Derrick Henry: 29 rushes, 130 rushing yards, 3 rush TDs
  • Ezekiel Elliott: 21 rushes, 110 rushing yards, 1 rush TD, 2 receptions, 2 receiving yards
  • Nick Chubb: 21 rushes, 161 rushing yards, 1 rush TD, 1 reception, 9 receiving yards

Wide receivers

Credit: PFF
Davante Adams: 11 receptions, 206 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

I’m not sure what’s more terrifying about Adams at this point. It could be the fact that he’s been averaging 12 targets a game this season, and 15 targets per game over the last three weeks. But it could also be the fact that he only has two touchdowns on the season so far. For context; Adams had 2 touchdowns after five weeks last season as well while missing two weeks for injury and being on bye. The star Packers wideout is disgustingly good, with positive TD regression on its way. He’s a locked-in WR1 even in a tough divisional matchup at Chicago on the docket.

Antonio Brown: 7 receptions, 124 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs

Brown continues to prove he is a valuable target for Brady in the nigh-unstoppable Buccaneers offense. This is the third game where Brown has garnered at least seven targets in a game as the presumptive WR3 on the depth chart. The high-powered nature of this offense means that upside is to be found all over the place every week. While Mike Evans (6 for 113 and 2 TDs receiving) appears to still be operating as the WR1 with Chris Godwin (7 for 70 receiving) providing a safe floor, Brown still has WR2/3 potential every single week with the occasional explosive stat line.

Kadarius Toney: 10 receptions, 189 receiving yards

Toney has looked electric for a Giants offense desperate for weapons. Injuries continue to ravage this team as both Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones went down in this game. This team was missing seven of its 11 starters from week one against a surprisingly stingy Cowboys defense. Toney became Mr. Necessary for this team and showed beautiful body control and after-the-catch potential. His day was cut short after throwing a punch at Damontae Kazee and getting ejected with 6 minutes left in the game. Even with Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton eyeing returns next week, Tony has made his mark on this offense moving forward.

Others of Note

Tight Ends

Credit: CBS Sports
David Njoku: 7 receptions, 149 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

Njoku finished the game as the yardage leader for the Cleveland passing game. He more than doubled the next closest receiver in that offense in a game that demanded a massive stat line to stay interesting. The Browns have been running Njoku and Austin Hooper (1 for 11 receiving) about as often, but this is the first game that either of them has shown up for. Njoku is a more interesting flyer as the better athlete, but neither can be relied on for week-to-week production at this time.

Kyle Pitts: 9 receptions, 119 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

All it took was a matchup against the Jets with Calvin Ridley and Russel Gage out due to injury to finally get Pitts to break out. The freak athlete out of Florida finally came down with his first professional touchdown and made a mockery of the pitiful Jets secondary. Going into the bye week you have to imagine Arthur Smith realizes he needs to find more ways to keep Pitts involved. The good news is that he’s seen at least eight targets in three of the first five weeks, so they’re already headed in the right direction.

Others of Note
  • Dawson Knox: 3 receptions, 117 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
  • Hunter Henry: 6 receptions, 75 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
  • Donald Parham: 2 receptions, 29 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

Players That Got Floored

Quarterbacks

Credit: Yahoo! Sports
Jared Goff: 21/35, 203 passing yards, 1 INT

There’s a lot to be said about the heartbreaking losses the Lions have been victimized by this year on last-second field goals. There’s also a lot to be said about how uninspiring Goff’s play has been. Gone are the 50+ pass attempt days of the Los Angeles Rams, and with it goes Goff’s fantasy ceiling, having yet to eclipse 18 points in a 4-point TD format. With no rushing ability to help the bottom line, Goff will continue to be a matchup-dependant streaming option on a struggling team.

Justin Fields: 12/20, 111 passing yards, 1 pass TD, 3 rushes, 4 rushing yards

Fields finds himself in the Floored category for the third week in a row, and with good reason. He’s only amassed 388 total passing yards through his first three starts, and the rushing upside just hasn’t materialized yet. However, the Bears are in no rush to let their rookie air it out. They have remained competitive relying on their running game and defense alone. The offense will need to open it up to keep up with the formidable Packers offense next week. Keep an eye on Fields from your bench and waivers for now.

Others of Note
  • Derek Carr: 22/25, 206 passing yards, 1 INT, 3 rushes, 10 rushing yards
  • Zach Wilson: 19/32, 192 passing yards, 1 INT, 1 rush, 3 rushing yards
  • Sam Darnold: 21/37, 177 passing yards, 1 pass TD, 3 INTs, 2 rushes, 10 rushing yards

Running Backs

Credit: DraftKings
Chase Edmonds: 6 rushes, 15 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 19 receiving yards

This dud of a game was brought to you by a nagging hamstring issue and a tough 49ers matchup. Edmonds was fighting through the injury all week in practice and was questionable coming into this week. Neither he nor James Conner (10 for 29 and 1 TD rushing, 1 for 8 receiving) could get much going as this matchup was focused on the defensive efforts for both teams. Hopefully, Edmonds has some additional time to heal before another respectable matchup against Clevland next week.

Melvin Gordon: 9 rushes, 34 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 9 receiving yards

The veteran Broncos running back continues to hold a solid floor with very limited upside. While the backfield continues to be a near 50/50 split, it’s becoming more apparent that Javonte Williams (8 for 61 rushing, 3 for 25 receiving) shows more promise than Gordon. There’s a good chance both backs end up with great games against a soft Raiders defense next week. If that happens, it may be time to sell high on Gordon as Williams continues to find work.

Others of Note
  • Elijah Mitchell: 9 rushes, 43 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 19 receiving yards
  • Miles Sanders: 11 rushes, 45 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 6 receiving yards
  • Alex Collins: 15 rushes, 47 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 25 receiving yards

Wide receivers

Credit: ESPN
Odell Beckham: 2 receptions, 20 receiving yards

It’s inexplicable at this point how the most talented wide receiver on the Browns is a total afterthought in a game where the team puts up 500+ total yards of offense. Beckham and Baker Mayfield (23/32 for 305 and 2 TDs passing, 2 for 8 rushing) have struggled to get anything going the last two weeks. It’s been a disappointing result after a promising week three performance for the Cleveland duo. You have to hope that they can figure something out heading into another high-scoring affair against Arizona next week.

Adam Thielen: 2 receptions, 40 receiving yards

This was a disappointing result for Thielen, but not a very surprising one. He took a back seat to Mattison and Justin Jefferson (7 for 124 receiving) as the Vikings fought to close out a sloppy game against the Lions. Thielen is showing that he is very touchdown-dependent, which was expected coming into the season. The good news is he’s still involved enough in the offense to sustain that touchdown upside on a week-to-week basis.

Others of Note

Tight Ends

Credit: Green Bay Packers
Robert Tonyan: 1 reception, 8 receiving yards

It’s been an incredibly disappointing start to the season for someone considered to be a sleeper during draft season. He’s seen three or fewer targets in three games while siphoning away red-zone targets to Adams. Tonyan has been droppable for two weeks now and should stay that way until further notice.

Cameron Brate: 1 reception, 12 receiving yards

It’s become very apparent that Brate is not the Rob Gronkowski replacement fantasy owners hoped he’d be. Brady has instead started leaning more on the wide receivers and Leonard Fournette (12 for 67 and 1 TD rushing, 4 for 43 receiving) rather than the veteran tight end. Even in this stellar offense, the upside just isn’t there for Brate, who can be dropped even before Gronk gets healthy.

Others of Note

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Soared and Floored: NFL Week 2 Fantasy Recap

Welcome to PFP’s weekly studs and duds fantasy recap for the 2021 football season! Here we take a look at some of the standout performances, both and good and bad, from Thursday’s and Sunday’s contests. These are more instant reactions rather than in-depth analysis, with things to keep in mind as the season progresses. Let’s see who took to the skies and who bottomed out in Week 2! You can check out Week 1 here.

Players Who Soared

Credit: USA Today

Quarterbacks

Kyler Murray: 29/36, 400 passing yards, 3 pass TDs, 2 INTs, 5 rushes, 31 rushing yards, 1 rush TD

We expected this to happen after Murray’s coming out party last week. Even with some additional mistakes, Murray is one of the most electric players in the NFL today. His ability to scramble and extend plays, sometimes rushing forward for his yardage, is an irreplaceable skill to have for your QB1.

Daniel Jones: 22/32, 249 passing yards, 1 pass TD, 9 rushes, 95 rushing yards, 1 rush TD

For once, Jones’s play under center was not a key factor in the Giants losing on Thursday night. His throws looked more on target and had more zip to them, and he was able to take advantage of the read-option and use his legs for yardage. He’ll need more reliable hands from his receivers, but this is a noticeable step forward for the 3rd year QB.

Derek Carr: 28/37, 382 passing yards, 2 pass TDs, 4 rushes, 9 rushing yards

A pleasant surprise in the early fantasy season, Derek Carr has now thrown for over 800 yards in his first two contests. What’s important from this week is that Darren Waller wasn’t the commanding target leader this time around. With his running game providing no help, Carr has shown he can air it out to keep his team in games. This makes him a great streaming option moving forward.

Others of Note
  • Lamar Jackson: 18/26, 239 passing yards, 1 pass TDs, 2 INTs, 16 rushs, 107 rushing yards, 2 rush TDs
  • Tom Brady: 24/36, 276 passing yards, 5 pass TDs, 1 rush, 6 rushing yards
  • Patrick Mahomes: 24/31, 343 passing ayrds, 3 pass TDs, 1 INT, 1 rush, 3 rushing yards

Running Back

Credit: DraftKings
Derrick Henry: 35 rushes, 182 rushing yards, 3 rush TDs. 6 receptions, 55 receiving yards

This was a much-needed get-right game for Henry. The physically imposing back was able to take advantage of his usual M.O. in this game. 30+ rushing attempts wore the Seahawks’ defense down until they just couldn’t stop him. It was a nice glimpse from last year that his owners will hope to continue to see.

Christian McCaffrey: 24 rushes, 72 rushing yards, 1 rush TD, 5 receptions, 65 receiving yards

Speaking of returning to form, McCaffrey provides yet another typical top-5 performance. Nothing will stop McCaffrey from being the centerpiece of this offense as long as he remains healthy.

Cowboys Running Backs

In a high-powered matchup against the Chargers, both Ezekiel Elliot (16 for 71 rushing, 1 rush TD, 2 for 26 receiving) and Tony Pollard (13 for 109 rushing, 1 rush TD, 3 for 31 receiving) proved they could make efficient use of the touches they receive. Unfortunately, the other side of this coin is that tougher matchups mean fewer opportunities for each player. The schedule is pretty kind for the next couple of weeks, so you can afford to hope for the upside to continue.

J.D. McKissic: 4 rushes, 10 rushing yards, 1 rush TD, 5 receptions, 43 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

The two-minute drill and passing down work, at least for now, belongs to McKissic. What was surprising is that he even got a goal-line carry and one or two short-yardage carries while in the up-tempo offense. Antonio Gibson owners need to temper expectations and hope for more positive game scripts for this shaky offense, otherwise, McKissic will continue to be a thorn in their side.

Others of Note:
  • Cordarrelle Patterson: 7 rushes, 11 rushing yards, 1 rush TD, 5 receptions, 58 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
  • Austin Ekeler: 9 rushes, 54 rushing yards, 9 receptions, 61 receiving yards
  • Najee Harris: 10 rushes, 38 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 43 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

Wide Receivers

Credit: NFL.com
Cooper Kupp: 9 receptions, 163 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs, 1 rush, -5 rushing yards

Congrats to all Kupp owners on winning your matchups this week! The Rams wide receiver exploded, commanding double-digit targets from new best friend Matthew Stafford. He is by far the safest receiving option in this passing attack moving forward.

Tyler Lockett: 8 receptions, 178 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

The projected 1b to D.K. Metcalf‘s (6 receptions for 53 yards) 1a has been significantly more efficient with his opportunities through the first two weeks. With back-to-back 100-yard performances, and being tied with Metcalf to lead the team in targets, Lockett’s usage should not be questioned at all. Look for him to continue his hot streak season opening against Minnesota next week.

Terry McLaurin: 11 receptions, 107 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

When Ryan Fitzpatrick went down in week one, questions were asked about how effective McLaurin could be with an inferior signal-caller. The rapport that McLaurin has built with Taylor Heinicke, however, should alleviate those concerns. Being able to show out against a corner in James Bradberry that gave him significant trouble last year shows his progress as a receiver. The polished second-year player should have no problem producing regardless of who’s at quarterback.

Courtland Sutton: 9 receptions, 159 receiving yards

With Sutton now fully healthy, the injury to Jerry Jeudy freed up a significant amount of targets that found their way to him. Sutton commanded a greater than 33% target share against the Jaguars and looked good converting those targets into chunk gains. With the Jets slated in the week 3 matchup, Sutton should continue to dominate the passing work from Teddy Bridgewater.

Others of Note:
  • Mike Evans: 5 receptions, 75 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs
  • Marquise Brown: 6 receptions, 113 receiving ayrds, 1 receiving TD
  • Henry Ruggs: 5 receptions, 113 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD, 1 rush, 2 rushing yards
  • Rondale Moore: 7 receptions, 114 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

Tight Ends

Credit: USA Today
Rob Gronkowski: 4 receptions, 39 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs

Gronkowski continues to ignore father time along with his favorite QB. The legendary pair have now linked up for four touchdowns in two weeks, creating massive upside at the tight end position. Gronk will continue to flirt with locked-in top-5 TE production for the rest of the season.

Maxx Williams: 7 receptions, 94 receiving yards

In an absolute barn-burner, Williams was able to carve himself a nice role in keeping the up-tempo Arizona offense moving. These are points that I would not chase, however, as there are too many weapons already sharing all of these passing opportunities. Williams is a wait-and-see type tight end; make sure to keep an eye on his target share to see if any level of consistency develops.

Noah Fant: 4 receptions, 33 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

Another beneficiary of Jeudy’s injury, Teddy Bridgewater‘s security blanket was able to find the endzone this week. 14 targets over two weeks are not something to stick your nose up at for the tight end position, making Fant one of the most consistent options as the season continues.

Kyle Pitts: 5 receptions, 73 receiving yards

While not hitting full breakout yet, Pitts has continued to show improvement in the Falcon’s offense. Similar to Fant above, he is solidly involved in this offense with 14 targets of his own to his name. The conditions are right for a full breakout game against a Giants defense that is allergic to covering the middle of the field.

Others of Note:
  • Travis Kelce: 7 receptions, 109 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
  • Darren Waller: 5 receptions, 65 receiving yards
  • Jack Doyle: 5 receptions, 64 receiving yards
  • Foster Moreau: 2 receptions, 34 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

Players That Got Floored

Quarterbacks

Credit: USA Today
Zach Wilson: 19/33, 210 passing yards, 4 INTs, 3 rushes, 19 rushing yards

The Patriots’ defense lives up to their reputation once again. Bill Belichick eats rookie QBs for breakfast, and this poor showing from the promising Jets quarterback is no different. You avoided starting him if you could anyway, just hope for a slightly better bounce-back week against Denver.

Justin Fields: 6/13, 60 passing yards, 1 INT, 10 rushes, 31 rushing yards

Fields came in for an injured Andy Dalton and looked like a quarterback in relief out there. Some small mistakes for a rookie but nothing that he can’t recover from. His rushing ability gives him significant fantasy upside and will look to take advantage of that if Dalton misses time.

Jameis Winston: 11/22, 111 passing yards, 2 INTs, 3 rushes, 19 rushing yards, 1 rush TD

This is the downside of the low volume stat line after the ceiling of last week’s performance. Winston is a gunslinger by nature, so being limited to less than 25 attempts per game will make the bad games stick out more. What’s worse is that they didn’t attempt more throws while being down most of the game. This is a scary precedent to set with New England on tap for next week.

Others of Note:
  • Dak Prescott: 23/27, 237 passing yards, 1 INT
  • Trevor Lawrence: 14/33, 118 passing yards, 1 pass TD, 2 INTs, 2 rushes, 21 rushing yards
  • Joe Burrow: 19/30, 207 passing yards, 2 pass TDs, 3 INTs

Running Backs

Credit: DraftKings
The entire 49ers backfield

Shoutouts to Trenton Cannon as the last surviving member of the 49ers backfield. Elijah Mitchell (shoulder), Trey Sermon (concussion), and JaMycal Hasty (high-ankle sprain) all suffered injuries during the matchup against the Eagles on Sunday. The team is bringing in free agents to sign off the streets, both for depth and potential lack of trust in Cannon who’s primarily a special teams player.

Peyton Barber: 13 rushes, 32 rushing yards

This was a situation to avoid entirely after Josh Jacobs was downgraded to out. Both Barber and Kenyan Drake (7 rushes for 9 yards, 5 receptions for 46 yards) looked like significant downgrades, but at least Drake was effective in the passing game so he didn’t kill you. Hopefully, this will convince Jon Gruden to give Drake more touches if Jacobs misses more time.

Alvin Kamara: 8 rushes, 5 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 17 receiving yards

The Panthers completely sold out to stop Kamara this week and it worked beautifully. Unfortunately, that means that your stud running back completely let you down, which was disappointing to see against a decent matchup. The good news here is that Kamara led the team in targets, which bodes well for his usage further down the line if Winston opens up the offense more.

Others of Note:

Wide Receivers

Credit: CBS Sports
Brandon Aiyuk: 1 reception, 6 receiving yards

Aiyuk has been completely usurped by Deedo Samuel (6 receptions for 93 yards) for the #1 wide receiver spot. His snap counts went up from the previous week but only saw two targets all game. It remains to be seen if Aiyuk is still recovering from his hamstring issue or if they are just content with phasing him out of the offense, but you cannot start him until improvement is shown.

Corey Davis: 2 receptions, 8 receiving yards

Davis was a victim of the crimes Belichick commits against rookie QBs as mentioned earlier. He has shown enough throughout preseason and week 1 that he can be relied on for solid production when Wilson can minimize his mistakes.

D.J. Chark: 1 reception, 19 receiving yards

Both Chark and Laviska Shenault (2 receptions for -3 yards) were overshadowed by Marvin Jones (6 receptions for 55 yards and 1 TD) on the outside. Even after Shenault got hurt the targets just weren’t coming Chark’s way. He may see an uptick in targets if Shenault misses significant time, but he’s a risky WR2 play at best right now.

Others of Note:

Tight Ends

Credit: 247 Sports
Cole Kmet: 0 receptions

After Dalton was injured the game plan shifted away significantly from Kmet compared to the previous week. It’ll be a situation to watch if Fields takes over as the starter, as a tight end can become a rookie QB’s best friend. He’s worth watching from the waiver wire for now though.

Gerald Everett: 1 reception, 3 receiving yards

The Seahawks have played two high-scoring matchups so far where Everett has not been involved, at least not in the passing game. He’s significantly outpacing Will Dissly in snap counts and Dissly did not get a target, so there’s not any major concern here from that perspective. He’s best used as a waiver wire flyer at this point based on matchup.

Zach Ertz: 1 reception, 6 receiving yards

It’s pretty clear at this point that the Eagles are now Dallas Goedert‘s team. a total of four targets in the first two games is not sustainable when there is a significantly more productive tight end being used in the offense. Now that he’s COVID-19 positive, Ertz cannot be started in any capacity at this point even after he recovers.

Others of Note:

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Soared and Floored: NFL Week 1 Fantasy Recap

Welcome to PFP’s new weekly studs and duds fantasy recap for the 2021 football season! Here we take a look at some of the standout performances, both and good and bad, from Thursday’s and Sunday’s contests. These are more instant reactions than in-depth analysis, with things to keep in mind as the season progresses. Let’s see who took to the skies and who bottomed out in Week 1!

Players Who Soared

Kyler Murray soared in week 1
Credit: NFL.com

Quarterbacks

Kyler Murray: 21/32, 289 passing yards, 4 pass TDs, 1 1NT, 5 rushes, 20 rushing yards, 1 rush TD

The #2 overall quarterback from 2020 showed absolutely no signs of slowing down. He looked just as mobile as ever and threw some absolute gems while picking apart the unprepared Titans defense. He looks to be worth every bit of draft capital you had to spend to get him. With a couple of relatively easy matchups in Minnesota and Jacksonville in the next couple of weeks, look for Murray to get on a nice early-season hot streak.

Jared Goff: 38/57, 338 passing yards, 3 pass TDs, 1 INT, 3 rushes, 14 rushing yards

Goff exceeded expectations this week against a solid 49ers defense looking to make a statement on opening weekend. While decidedly not Matthew Stafford, he showed enough command of the offense to keep the defense honest during the game. A lot of the damage was done while playing catch-up in the second half, however, which is a reasonable expectation for this Lions team for the remainder of the season.

Jameis Winston: 14/20, 148 passing yards, 5 pass TDs, 6 rushes, 37 rushing yards

This was a major blow-up week for the new Saints starting QB. Low passing volume compensated by an explosion of TDs hides a game plan focused on ball control and minimizing mistakes. After passing this initial test, expect to see Winston let loose a little more against a less-respected team next week. Considering his history as a fantasy asset, that may not be a good thing.

Dak Prescott: 42/58, 403 passing yards, 3 pass TDs, 1 INT, 4 rushes, 13 rushing yards

Welcome back, Dak! After a slow start Thursday Night, Prescott took over the game and got right back on the historic pace he was on last season. Don’t expect nearly 60 passing attempts every week, though, as they were clearly avoiding the menacing Buccaneers rushing defense all night.

Others of Note:
  • Patrick Mahomes: 27/36, 337 passing yards, 3 pass TDs, 5 rushes, 18 rushing yards, 1 rush TD
  • Tom Brady: 32/50, 379 passing yards, 4 pass TDs, 2 INTs
  • Jalen Hurts: 27/35, 264 passing yards, 3 pass TDs, 7 rushes, 62 rushing yards
Christian McCaffery soared in week 1
Credit: Charlotte Observer

Running Backs

Christian McCaffrey: 21 rushes, 98 rushing yards, 9 receptions, 89 receiving yards

Some things never change. No matter how hard you try to break him, a healthy McCaffrey will always retain his dominance at the running back position. He led the Panthers in both rushing and receiving yards as the security blanket Sam Darnold needs to begin to shake off his ghosts. The Saints should be a much better test for the dynamic runner next week.

Joe Mixon: 29 rushes, 127 rushing yards, 1 rush TD. 4 receptions, 23 receiving yards

The biggest thing to say about Mixon’s efforts on Sunday is that he looks fully healthy. The Bengals needed an electric option coming out of the backfield to help Joe Burrow get comfortable coming off of his own injuries. The improvements to the offensive line should also get some of the credit here. Mixon needs to keep this momentum going against some tougher matchups in the coming weeks.

Jamaal Williams: 9 rushes, 54 rushing yards, 1 rush TD, 8 receptions, 56 receiving yards

Raise your hand if you saw this one coming. Expected to retain a similar role to what he had in Green Bay, Williams ended up as the most targeted Lion on the week. He was barely out-touched by D’Andre Swift (11 for 39 rushing, 8 for 65 receiving with 1 TD), who produced in his own right while shaking off some injury rust. I expect this timeshare to favor Swift more in the future, but Williams will be a priority waiver add over the next few days.

Melvin Gordon: 11 rushes, 101 rushing yards, 1 rush TD, 3 receptions, 17 receiving yards

This one is a bit of a trap. The majority of Gordon’s rushing came off of a 70-yard rushing TD late in the 4th quarter with the game locked up. Javonte Williams actually had more rushing attempts (14) and was just as “efficient” with his touches as Gordon if you take out the TD run. This backfield will be a timeshare mess for at least the next couple of weeks.

Elijah Mitchell: 19 rushes, 104 rushing yards, 1 rush TD

Mitchell is the biggest winner from this weekend. The injury to Raheem Mostert, along with Trey Sermon being a healthy scratch, opens the door for the 23-year-old rookie to command this backfield. Keep an eye out for news about Sermon’s availability for next week, as the 49ers only have three healthy running backs on the roster if Mostert misses significant time.

Others of Note:
  • Nick Chubb: 15 rushes, 83 rushing yards, 2 rush TDs, 2 receptions, 18 receiving yards
  • David Montgomery: 16 rushes, 108 rushing yards, 1 rush TD, 1 reception, 10 receiving yards
  • Alvin Kamara: 20 rushes, 83 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 8 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
  • Dalvin Cook: 20 rushes, 61 rushing yards, 1 rush TD, 6 receptions, 43 receiving yards, 1 lost fumble
Amari Cooper soared in week 1
Credit: USA Today

Wide Receivers

Amari Cooper: 13 receptions, 139 receiving yards, 2 reciving TDs

Cooper took it personally when CeeDee Lamb (7 for 104 with 1 TD) was drafted ahead of him in fantasy this year. These types of blow-up games are what we come to expect out of Cooper. With Prescott returning to form, you should feel safer plugging him into your lineups moving forward. It’s also mandatory that you pray that his disappearing acts are finally behind him.

Deebo Samuel: 9 receptions, 189 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD, 1 fumble lost

Don’t let the fumble dissuade you from celebrating this excellent game out of Samuel. Samuel was the clear target leader for the 49ers on Sunday afternoon. What’s even more telling is Brandon Aiyuk was held to zero receptions against a terrible Lions defense. Samuel’s value should remain relatively high going against an exploitable Eagles defense next week.

Adam Thielen: 9 receptions, 92 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs

Justin Jefferson (5 for 71) may be the new hotness on the Vikings, but Thielen continues to prove his value. He lives for red-zone targets, and has for quite some time, becoming a favorite of Kirk Cousins on a very consistent basis. Those expecting a value drop should be comforted by this performance moving forward.

Corey Davis: 5 receptions, 97 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs

With Jamison Crowder out, Davis took full advantage of the chemistry he built with Zach Wilson during the preseason. Fantasy owners should see this as an affirmation of the type of floor we were expecting from Davis this year. However, targets may be harder to come by in future matchups against tougher defenses.

Others of Note:

Tight Ends

Credit: USA Today
Rob Gronkowski: 8 receptions, 90 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs

It’s starting to look like Brady spilled his fountain of youth secret to his favorite target. Gronkowski hasn’t lost a step coming off a stellar comeback season in 2020. The chemistry between the two Patriot legends is palpable, as the pair now accounts for 100 career TDs together. He’ll be a locked-in TE1 moving forward barring any significant setbacks.

T.J. Hockenson: 8 receptions, 97 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs

Like Williams and Swift mentioned above, Hockenson was a true focal point of the passing game. All three players finished with eight receptions when no other receiver had more than three total. Hockenson was used early and often in this game, a trend I fully expect to continue against Green Bay next week.

Juwan Johnson: 3 receptions, 21 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs

The key to Johnson’s success this week was red-zone usage. He finished with fewer total targets than fellow TE Adam Trautman but was utilized as the short-yardage, big-bodied catcher. There was talk during the preseason that this role could prove fruitful for Johnson as he transitions from WR. He may be a plug-and-play TE2 if this trend continues.

Others of Note:

Players That Got Floored

Quarterbacks

Credit: Boston Globe
Aaron Rodgers: 15/28, 133 passing yards, 2 INTs

What an awful start to the 2021 season for one of the most talked-about quarterbacks in the league. Rodgers looked out of sync all game before being benched with 11 minutes left in the 4th quarter. No reason to panic yet, but certainly something to be concerned about. Hopefully, the lack of preseason snaps had more to do with this performance than Rodgers finally hitting the cliff. Look for an angry bounce-back game against Detroit next week.

Matt Ryan: 21/35, 164 passing yards, 2 rushes, 8 rushing yards

A very ho-hum game for Matty Ice. Ryan spent most of this game under duress thanks to an inexperienced offensive line that allowed three sacks. Even when he had time to throw, it was clear he didn’t have his best stuff. The Falcons have the weapons to facilitate a bounce-back against Tampa Bay next week, which Ryan played average against in both contests last year.

Ben Roethlisberger: 18/32, 188 passing yards, 1 pass TD, 4 rushes, 5 rushing yards

Continuing the theme from the previous entry, the Steelers offensive line suffered some heavy losses themselves this offseason. This combined with playing a respectable defense in Buffalo speaks to the unimpressive and concerning start to the season for Pittsburgh as a whole. Roethlisberger also continues to show his age in his 39-year-old season. This team will need to get creative to hide its exploitable flaws.

Others of Note:
  • Andy Dalton: 27/38, 206 passing yards, 1 INT, 2 rushes, 13 rushing yards, 1 fumble lost
  • Ryan Tannehill: 21/35, 212 passing yards, 1 pass TD, 2 rushes, 17 rushing yards, 1 rush TD, 2 fumbles lost
  • Justin Herbert: 31/47, 337 passing yards, 1 pas TD, 1 INT, 1 fumble lost

Running Backs

Credit: USA Today
The entire Jets backfield

Woah boy, we expected this running game to be a quagmire but it’s so much worse than anticipated. Tevin Coleman (9 for 24 rushing), Michael Carter (4 for 6 rushing, 1 for 14 receiving), and Ty Johnson (4 for 15 rushing, 1 for 11 receiving) all looked positively terrible in an offense struggling to find its feet. Avoid this backfield at all costs, even if one of these players starts to stand out.

Aaron Jones: 5 rushes, 9 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 13 receiving yards

Green Bay struggled to get anything going in the running game, abandoning it completely by the second half. Jones out-touched AJ Dillon, but put up fewer total yards (4 for 19 rushing, 1 for 7 receiving) which isn’t saying much in a game like this. Snap breakdowns will tell the real story here, but like Rodgers before, I don’t see this as a reason to panic yet.

Saquon Barkley: 10 rushes, 26 rushing yards, 1 reception, 1 receiving yard

This one was less of a surprise for those paying attention. Coming off his ACL injury from last year it was reported Barkley would get less significant work in his first game back. Unsurprisingly against a formidable Broncos defense, those limited touches resulted in barely any fantasy value. On a short week against the Football Team on Thursday, I wouldn’t expect anything better than one broken play from Barkley.

Others of Note:
  • Ezekiel Elliott: 11 rushes, 33 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 6 receiving yards
  • Najee Harris: 16 rushes, 45 rushing yards, 1 reception, 4 receiving yards
  • James Robinson: 5 rushes, 25 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 29 receiving yards

Wide Receivers

Credit: USA Today
Courtland Sutton: 1 reception, 14 receiving yards

Similar to his Giants counterpart in this game, Sutton took it easy coming off his own ACL injury. This one is a bit more disappointing for those who were ready to see his breakout year unfold. In reality, he just wasn’t needed at all, as they were in the driver’s seat for almost all of this game. With Jerry Jeudy suffering a high ankle sprain and a juicy matchup against Jacksonville, I expect Sutton to be in the other segment this time next week.

Mike Evans: 3 receptions, 24 receiving yards

This one hurts, with Evans being the odd man out in a plus matchup. His rapport with Brady was evident all last season, though, so I don’t expect this to trend any worse than normal. Evans is one of those players who will disappear from time to time, especially with this much competition for targets. You’re going to play him every week anyway and with good reason.

Julio Jones: 3 receptions, 29 receiving yards

Everything about this matchup looks great on paper for Jones, but the Tennessee offense got absolutely overwhelmed by the Cardinals pass rush. Tannehill had no room to breathe on Sunday getting sacked five times by Chandler Jones (who is now the front runner for a record I predicted might fall relatively soon). If the Titans can’t fix their offensive line problems quickly, I’d be very cautious about starting your Tennessee playmakers in the next couple of weeks.

Others of Note:

Tight Ends

Credit: Madison.com
Robert Tonyan: 2 receptions, 8 receiving yards

The woes of the Packers offense are well documented above, but it’s worth pointing out Tonyan was identified as a late-round gem in this year’s draft. His touchdown upside from last year hasn’t gone anywhere, so he’s still worth a hold in most formats.

The Steelers tight ends

The unfortunate part here is that both Eric Ebron (1 for 19 receiving) and Pat Freiermuth (1 for 24 receiving) have apparently cemented roles in the Steelers offense. What makes this unfortunate is they’ll compete for a small portion of the pie after JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and Harris are done eating from it. Neither of these tight ends can be considered playable until one starts to separate from the other.

Others of Note:

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EDGE Rusher Prospects for 2022 NFL Draft

Kayvon Thibodaux (Oregon)
6’5 249

kayvon thibodaux edge

In his short career, Thibodaux has been a dominant player off the edge. Thibodaux has long arms that help him quickly get to the opposing offensive linemen and win the leverage battle. He also has an extremely fast get-off, within the tier of Brian Burns. Presently, Thibodaux is expected to be the best EDGE prospect in the draft and a top 4-10 pick.

George Karlaftis (Purdue)
6’4 275

Karlaftis is one of the strongest prospects in the draft this year. His only move is a bull rush but it is very effective. Thus far Karlaftis has not shown much bend. With his level of athleticism, he is likely going to be mostly a Calais Campbell type of prospect where teams mostly play him at 3-tech but can move him inside and out. Overall he will be best suited as a 3-4 DE.

Zach Harrison (Ohio State)
6’6 269

Zach Harrison edge

Harrison has not produced much just yet but he has elite athleticism and body frame. Harrison is expected to be the next great EDGE rusher to be developed by Larry Johnson and Ohio State. He has long arms and has the strength to bull rush from the outside or inside as a 3-tech. He has clocked in at 4.47 40 yard dash and you can see the explosiveness on tape.

Drake Jackson (USC)
6’4 255

Drake Jackson edge

Jackson brings great size, explosion, agility, and versatility to the table. He has an amazing wingspan that should help him greatly to win the leverage battle in the NFL. Jackson is the type of defensive linemen that you can play in any system and should be able to play inside or out effectively. Furthermore, He is a fluid enough athlete to drop in zone coverage and not cause problems. This April you can expect Drake Jackson to be in contention for a high draft pick.

Aiden Hutchinson (Michigan)
6’6 269

Hutchinson is a freak athlete off the EDGE and has a lot of promise to be an elite edge rusher. Due to injuries, Hutchinson was not able to make any type of impact last season and decided to return to Michigan. As long as Hutchinson is healthy he should be expected to be an impact player. He has shown great hand technique already and explosiveness already. Also already an established run-stopper, hence he should already be able to come in as a three-down edge rusher.

Zion Tupuola-Fetui (Washington)
6’3 280

Even though will not be playing this year because of a ruptured Achilles, he will still be in contention for a top draft spot because of his 2020 season. Tupuola-Fetui is a really fluid mover for such a big man. He is great at using the dip and rip move. Tupuola-Fetui has a great leveraging ability and a strong initial punch. With what we have witnessed from Tupuola-Fetui already he should be a first-round prospect. No doubt, Tupuola-Fetui will be a three-down player.

Brenton Cox (Florida)
6’3 250

Cox is another former five-star recruit but has not totally lived up to his billing yet. He does have athleticism and great size. He is not an amazing run stopper but he is good enough to be a three-down player. Cox also has a plethora of moves but favors a spin move. This year he should be able to show polish in his technique and ability. In conclusion, Cox Should have himself in the conversation for a first-round pick.

Nolan Smith (Georgia)
6’3 235

Smith has a great frame and agility so far. He will certainly need to gain 10 to 15 pounds to be a three-down player in the NFL. Nevertheless, Smith is best suited to be a 3-4 outside linebacker. For now, he just wins with get-off or is stuck. This season he will need to gain that mass, show a rush plan, and some type of specialty move. Overall he has potential but has not shown enough flashes to put him higher than a day 3 pick at this point.

Adam Anderson (Georgia)
6’5 230

Anderson is an amazing pass rusher, but he lacks any showing of being able to stop the run. He could definitely be drafted as a rotational pass rusher. Anderson needs to show in this upcoming season that he can be a three-down player.

Ali Gaye (LSU)
6’6 250

Ali Gaye

Gaye is a JUCO transfer that was an impressive pass rusher last year in the jump to SEC. He had a great start to the season but eventually, his production fell off as the season went on. He did not show much in the way of being a run stopper but with his athletic traits, he should be able to improve in that aspect.

Nik Bonitto (Oklahoma)
6’3 240

Bonitto is one of the edge rushers that has a smaller frame and on the field, he looks like a linebacker. He will need to add size to become a consistent contributor in the NFL. However, Bonito shows the ability to be a highly productive speed rusher. Due to his lack of weight, he lacks any type of power moves. In essence, Bonitto will come into the NFL at least a productive pass rusher.

Xavier Thomas (Clemson)
6’2 270

Thomas is a five-star player that came in and made an immediate impact as a true freshman. He has all the athletic traits to be a dominant outside and inside threat, but did not make the jump his sophomore in a full-time starter role. Then, he was injured for his junior year. Thomas is expected to redeem himself this year with a breakout season as the guy on Clemson’s defensive line.

Kingsley Enagbare (South Carolina)
6’4 270

Kingsley Enagbare

Enagbare is a monster of a man. He has a really initial strong punch but does not have a plan of attack afterward. He has really fluent movements for a man his size. Enagbare has also shown the versatility and strength to play on the outside and inside. Although you do not want him doing it often, Enagbare has shown the ability to drop in coverage well. He also has shown an extremely high motor; no matter where the ball is heading you will see him chasing the ball.

Myjai Sanders (Cincinnati)
6’5 258

Myjai Sanders

Sanders has the prototypical size and length scouts are searching for. He is definitely the best EDGE rusher that the group of 4 conferences will offer this year. For now, Enagbare does not show much technique and just wins off his size and athleticism. He did get a chance to play against Georgia in the peach bowl, and he looked great in that outing. He will absolutely need to improve his hand placement and move repertoire to be a top draft pick, but he is at a great point in his development so far.

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