The electric wide receiver saw just two snaps in a 20-7 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
After an exciting first week of the NFL, New England Patriots fans find themselves in disbelief once again. Kendrick Bourne, the Patriots’ leading receiver in 2021, only had a total of two snaps against the Miami Dolphins.
Bourne had one catch for 41 yards against Miami. He had the second most receiving yards out of all of the New England receivers despite being present for only two snaps.
Bourne was signed before the 2021-2022 season on a 3-year, $15,000,000 contract. He recorded 55 catches on 70 targets for 800 total yards receiving. He also posted 15 touchdowns.
After the Patriots signed former Dolphins receiver Devante Parker, the order of the depth chart came into question. During training camp, Bourne had been struggling to maintain the number of targets he saw a season ago. His production in the offense hit a low point when he was kicked out of the joint practice against the Carolina Panthers for his involvement in a fight. In addition, Bourne didn’t receive a single pass in preseason.
Some recent reports claim that Bourne didn’t show up on time for a mandatory meeting before the preseason game against the Panthers. Given head coach Bill Belichick’s attitude towards players missing meetings, Bourne’s absence makes sense. After Bourne was interviewed in the locker room following the game against Miami, he explained how he needed to start gaining the coaches’ trust again. He claimed, “I’m just not giving the coaches what they need to see. I need to get better on my part.”
Whatever the situation might have been, the Patriots will need the production and the reliability Bourne has to offer. After the struggles at offense against the Dolphins, it is clear that they were missing Bourne’s electricity.
The New England Patriots quarterback dealt with back spasms following a loss to the Miami Dolphins.
On its own merits, New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones’ injury itself doesn’t actually seem to be that bad.
The second-year quarterback was spotted walking gingerly towards the X-Ray room at Hard Rock Stadium following the team’s week one loss to the Miami Dolphins. Fortunately, the X-Ray came back negative for any major issues. Reports now point to back spasms as the main culprit in Jones’ post-game limp.
Back spasms are among the most common injuries across sports in general. They involve involuntary muscle contractions (tightening) and can be due to a variety of factors, including overuse, dehydration, and drained electrolytes. Basically, they’re back cramps.
So to put this as simply as possible, Jones had cramps after a hot game down in Miami. As Ian Rapoport put it, this is a “best case scenario.”
The most significant cause for worry with Jones’ injury comes from his back spasms most likely being due to overuse. In his first game of the season, Jones passed 30 times (not a crazy high amount). However, a good chunk (14, by my count) of these were past the line of scrimmage and to the sidelines while under duress — this usually meant that Jones was fading while delivering throws that required more power. Because of this, Jones may have been forced to rotate more explosively with his core, leading to the fatigue-based injury.
Of course, this isn’t really Jones’ fault at all. The Patriots offensive line was horrendous in pass protection. This brings me to the most worrying part of Jones’ injury. With the New England offensive line struggling with communication throughout training camp and preseason, their woes continued into week one. Seven of Miami’s points came as a direct result of this inefficacy. With Jones constantly having to go to the sidelines, the offense felt hard-pressed to find any yardage at all.
Jones is a pocket passer. To a great extent, this is because of necessity and not choice. The offensive line absolutely has to give Jones a clean pocket for the offense to have any kind of success this season. The alternative doesn’t just include offensive failure through the season; there’s a good chance it could mean cascading injuries for the team’s franchise quarterback.
The New England Patriots came out of the gate firing, recording five first downs on their first drive of the season. That was the peak of their performance on Sunday, as the host Dolphins beat the Patriots 20-7.
Although the clunker was a step in the wrong direction for quarterback Mac Jones and Co, there were some (not many) solid outcomes from the season opener. On the flip side, there were some disappointing performances as well. Here are your Week 1 winners and losers.
Winner: S Kyle Dugger
The 2020 second-round pick burst onto the scene last season and continued that on Sunday. Dugger was flying around the field, racking up four tackles and some key stuffs in the run game. Although he went down after a knee to the groin, the former Lenoir-Rhyne product shined in an otherwise touch game to watch.
Loser: CB Myles Bryant
Another member of the 2020 rookie class, Bryant was on the other side of the spectrum than Dugger. Although Bryant contributed a bit in the return game, his missed tackles and dropped interception left a bad taste in the mouth of New England fans. Jumping in front of Devin McCourty, who had an easy INT, was just the nail in the coffin.
Winner: WR Jakobi Meyers
With Kendrick Bourne seemingly in the doghouse, Meyers was able to elevate his game as Mac Jones’ top target. Highlighted by a leaping grab on third-and-long, Meyers racked up 62 total yards on the day and solidified himself as the Patriots’ best pass catcher to start the campaign.
Loser: OT Trent Brown
Jones was completing a number of passes to Meyers, but when he wasn’t, he was often hurried from the left side of the line. Jones was given an average of three seconds to throw, lowest in the NFL. Brown was sluggish all game, struggling with keeping up with either the Dolphins’ speed of the edge or the South Florida heat. Maybe both.
Winner: RB Ty Montgomery
After getting injury and carted off in the preseason finale against Las Vegas, Montgomery’s status for Week 1 was up in the air. He ultimately played and scored the lone touchdown for the Patriots offense. He found himself rolling into the end zone on Sunday and thus, rolling into the James White role this fall.
Loser: DT Carl Davis
Davis was on the field over second-year Christian Barmore for what seemed like a number of crucial snaps. In the first half, coming off a timeout, Davis jumped on a fourth-and-short, extending the Dolphins’ first drive of the day. It was a bad moment for the longtime veteran and led to points for Miami. Not good.
The Patriots will stay on the road and travel to Pittsburgh to face the 1-0 Steelers, who just came off a thrilling overtime win over division rival Cincinnati.
After every tie, the conversation is the same. How does professional football still have ties? Why is the NFL the only level of football to allow such an anti-American concept in the game? Nobody likes ties, get them out of the game. Overtime until someone wins!
Look, I get it. Coaches don’t like ties. Players don’t like ties. Fans loath ties. We all don’t like ties. Football is a game of winners and losers and there isn’t supposed to be an in-between. Despite this, The NFL needs to eliminate overtime (regular season only) and embrace ties, or at least learn to deal with them. Let’s look at why.
NO, ALTERNATIVES TO OVERTIME ARE NOT BETTER
College football implemented overtime in 1996, eliminating ties. Since then, there has been a myriad of attempted changes. Teams had to start going for a two-point conversion after a touchdown in the 3rd overtime. Starting in 2021, that became the second overtime while, starting in the third overtime, teams had to then alternate two-point tries to determine the winner.
This is a poor, and ultimately arbitrary, way to decide who is victorious.
Teams who excel in short-yardage situations are given an advantage in these situations while spread passing offenses are hindered. Ideas for field goal competitions have been proposed. This presents another arbitrary advantage-disadvantage situation. No matter the method, anything short of playing more, standard rules football, will not determine who the better team is, but rather who benefitted more from gimmicky rules.
The NFL has portrayed itself as being pro-player safety-driven since the reports of widespread CTE became national news. Many rules have been changed to lessen the chances of injury to the players. These include a ban on lowering the helmet to initiate contact, protections for defenseless players, and shortening the overtime period from 15 to 10 minutes in 2017.
With each game that goes to overtime, players on the field are required to sacrifice their bodies for an additional 10 potential minutes of game time, on top of the 60 minutes of punishing hits they had already endured. If a primary goal of the NFL is player safety, not extending a game should be a focus.
OVERTIME IS RARE
1,174 regular-season games have been played from the 2017 NFL season through Week 10 of the 2021 season. Of those 1,174, just 62 have reached the end of regulation with the score tied. Five of those games resulted in a tie. That’s less than 12 overtime games each year.
COACHES WILL TRY TO AVOID A TIE AT ALL COSTS
There are other tie-limiting factors to consider as well. In 2018, Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich famously left his offense on the field to attempt a 4th and 4 from their own 43 yard line in overtime against the Houston Texans. With just 27 seconds left in the extra period, the attempt failed. The Texans won on a field goal as time expired. Reich said after the game: “We’re not playing to tie. We’re going for it 10 times out of 10.” While this was more of an exception than the rule, it was not an isolated incident.
Later that season, then Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn attempted a 2-point conversion with four seconds left in regulation. Down one point in Kansas City to the Chiefs, Lynn did not want to take the risk of giving the ball to Patrick Mahomes in overtime. That fear had quality reasoning behind it.
OVERTIME IS RANDOM
Winning the coin toss is random and unpredictable. With each coin flip, the away team has a 50/50 chance of guessing correctly and, because of this, winning a game in overtime is far from random. Since 2017, teams that won the overtime coin toss are 35-22-5 (.605). Football is a game of inches. A 20 percentage point swing is monstrous and outside the bounds of standard variance. In 2021 alone, coin toss winners are 9-4-1. Overtime doesn’t decide who was the better team, it decides which was luckier.
TIES ARE THE ULTIMATE PLAYOFF-SEEDING TIEBREAKER
Entering the final week of the regular season, playoff-clinching scenarios articles are in abundance. Every possible outcome is accounted for including which tiebreakers would be in play. Sporadic ties eliminate the need for those tiebreakers. The 2017 Buffalo Bills punched their postseason ticket on a tiebreaker with the Baltimore Ravens.Had those Bills tied with the Colts in an overtime game they won earlier that season (after winning the overtime coin-toss), and the Ravens tied with the Chicago Bears in a game they lost in overtime (Chicago won the overtime coin-toss) a more deserving Ravens team would have been in the playoffs.
OVERTIME LESSENS QUALITY OF FUTURE GAMES
In Week 9, 2021, The Ravens hosted the Minnesota Vikings. The game lasted 69 minutes, 44 seconds. The Ravens won on a Justin Tucker field goal (after winning the coin toss), beating the Vikings 34-31. Just four short days later, that same Ravens team flew to Miami to take on the lowly 2-7 Dolphins on Thursday Night Football. Hard Rock Stadium was humid, hot, and mucky. Favored by 8.5 points, Baltimore came out flat, eventually losing 22-10 in a game the score did no justice. Thursday Nights are extremely hard on NFL players’ bodies (a case for eliminating those another time). Adding extra wear and tear only worsens the turnaround.
Not every game deserves a winner and a loser. If, after 60 minutes of game action two teams are even, so be it. Players should not have to sacrifice their bodies for additional game minutes without compensation. A loss should not be assigned to a team because the NFL arbitrarily extended their game. A team should not win because they won a 50-50 luck-based proposition. Other sports have recognized this. MLS awards three points for a win and one for a draw. The NHL rewards an overtime loss with one point. MLS plays twice the amount of games as the NFL while the NHL plays nearly five times as many. With NFL teams playing 17 games, and the noted randomness of overtime, too much is at stake to leave even one game riding on chance.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.