30 Interesting Facts For Week 1 (2020 Fantasy Football)
You read, listened to and watched as much fantasy football draft strategy and advice possible – and now, it’s time to take the team you’ve built and make it into a champion.
Fortunately, the advice doesn’t stop with the end of draft season; here are 30 of the most interesting facts from around the fantasy football world entering Week 1 (this edition features a mix of week-specific and season-relevant info, while future submissions will focus primarily on the week prior – and the week ahead):
1. So how does Week 1 scoring usually pan out? Good luck trying to find a pattern here; this is a list of the top-10 scoring finishes in Week 1 over the past five seasons (using 1/2 PPR scoring):
|1||Carlos Hyde||Andrew Luck||Kareem Hunt||Ryan Fitzpatrick||Sammy Watkins|
|2||Julio Jones||DeAngelo Williams||Alex Smith||Alvin Kamara||Christian McCaffrey|
|3||Rob Gronkowski||Drew Brees||Jaguars D/ST||Tyreek Hill||Austin Ekeler|
|4||DeAndre Hopkins||Brandin Cooks||Rams D/ST||James Conner||Lamar Jackson|
|5||Tom Brady||A.J. Green||Matthew Stafford||Drew Brees||Dak Prescott|
|6||Tyler Eifert||Spencer Ware||Sam Bradford||Michael Thomas||Deshaun Watson|
|7||Carson Palmer||Antonio Brown||Ravens D/ST||DeSean Jackson||DeSean Jackson|
|8||Travis Kelce||Alex Smith||Stefon Diggs||Philip Rivers||John Ross|
|9||Austin Seferian-Jenkins||C.J. Anderson||Antonio Brown||Patrick Mahomes||Marquise Brown|
|10||Matt Forte||Willie Snead||Tyreek Hill||Aaron Rodgers||Derrick Henry|
There’s a lot of fun stuff to unpack here, so let’s get started.
2. The positional breakdown isn’t far off from what you might expect it to look like; of the 50 players listed, there are 16 quarterbacks, 11 running backs (which seems a tad low), 16 wide receivers, four tight ends (strangely all in the same year) and three D/STs (also contained within the same strange 2019 campaign). Running backs might be on par with WRs in terms of season scoring, but when it comes to Week 1, you’re more likely to get a huge game from a receiver.
3. There have been just five players to post top-10 Week 1 results in multiple seasons over the past five years: Alex Smith, Drew Brees, Antonio Brown, Tyreek Hill and DeSean Jackson. In the case of the three receivers, it’s no surprise that they’re all known for being intermediate or deep threats capable of breaking an 80-yard play without breaking a sweat. Brees makes sense, too, given his consistently high ceiling. Alex Smith? That’s … interesting.
4. There are no shortage of future waiver wire darlings on the list – we’re looking at you, ASJ – but for the most part, the highest-scoring players in Week 1 are notable names drafted in the majority of fantasy leagues. So while it might just seem like someone leaves a 40-burger on the bench in the opening week of every fantasy football season, it’s more likely than not that the biggest performances are coming from starters.
5. Don’t get too excited about the chances of your star tight end putting up a big game in the opening week; it hasn’t happened since 2015. Additionally, here are the overall finishes by the TE1 in Week 1 since then:
2016: Jack Doyle, 40th overall
2017: Austin Hooper, 18th overall
2018: Jared Cook, 19th overall
2019: Evan Engram: 25th overall
Those of you with Kelce, George Kittle, Mark Andrews and other top-shelf TEs might want to temper expectations in the opening week – unless, of course, we get a repeat of 2015 (which would be rather bonkers).
6. How about those first overall picks? How has the consensus No. 1 player taken in fantasy drafts fared in Week 1?
|YEAR||PLAYER||PTS (1/2 PPR)||RANK (POS)||RANK (OVERALL)|
Context and circumstances count for a lot, obviously, but it’s clear that having the No. 1 overall pick in your lineup doesn’t guarantee immediate or automatic success from that slot once the season starts. Far from it, in fact.
7. Focusing on running backs, how often do the true workhorses see a big carry load in Week 1? Here’s a look at the top 10 RBs in terms of rush attempts in the opening week of the past five seasons:
In short, teams have traditionally been not so shy about letting their RB1s eat right from the start – though it’s interesting to note that only three of these results have come in the past two seasons, with only one from 2019.
8. What about wide receivers in Week 1? Here are the target leaders over the past five seasons:
|7||Odell Beckham Jr.||2018||15||11||111||0|
Similar to running backs, you’ll see plenty of big names with huge workloads at wide receiver this weekend (though it’s interesting to note that no receiver in the top 10 in Week 1 targets scored more than one touchdown).
James Conner was RB9 in Fantasy thru Week 8 last year while playing in one of the NFL’s worst offensive environments without Big Ben.
When healthy over the past two seasons, his 16-game pace is 277 carries, 87 targets, and 356 PPR points (would have been RB2 last year) https://t.co/kZRDjY41vR
– Jacob Gibbs (@jagibbs_23) September 8, 2020
Those of you who snagged Conner as your RB2 should be elated, particularly when you consider that the Steelers have the second-easiest strength of schedule for running backs based on our SOS report.
Bruce Arians HC situation-neutral pace rankings
ARZ: 16th, 17th, 22nd, 16th, 15th
Patriots situation-neutral pace rankings since 2010:
1st, 1st, 2nd, 6th, 2nd, 2nd, 4th, 1st, 1st, 3rd
Is that NE’s pace or Tom Brady’s — and if it’s mostly Brady’s, will Arians speed up?
– Pat Thorman (@Pat_Thorman) September 8, 2020
Brady will be an interesting player to watch this season – not only for his own fantasy value, but for what his presence will mean for a handful of widely-owned players (including wide receiver threats Mike Evans and Chris Godwin).
11. From David Zach in a January 2020 article on Best & Worst Running Backs at Creating Yards in 2019:
Derrick Henry obliterated the yards created profile in 2019. He’s second-most in Yards After Contact Per Carry, first in YAC per reception (although it’s a small sample size), and has a staggering 35% stacked boxed rate, which means the defense knew he was coming and he ran through them anyway.
Henry gets a lot of grief for not being an elite pass catcher, and that’s fair when you consider how deft many of the other elite RBs are in the passing game. But he should see more work there with Dion Lewis out of town – and let’s face it. The guy is the best pure rusher in the NFL. He should return value even at his lofty draft slot.
12. Another guy who saw plenty of stacked boxes: New Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette, who saw 8+ defenders on more than 31 percent of his attempts in 2019. The Bucs’ top two options last year (Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber) finished in the top 14 in that category last year, but life should still be easier on Fournette in Tampa.
Last one of these for a while, but it’s a doozy:
Sam Darnold threw 77 passes against the Bills last year. 35%(!) of them went to Jamison Crowder. Crowder scored 44.5 PPR points in those two games.
— Heath Cummings (@heathcummingssr) September 7, 2020
With the Jets and Bills doing battle Sunday afternoon, does this nugget make Crowder a sneaky DFS play and potential sell-high candidate in Week 2? Yes, it does.
14. The name “Mitchell Trubisky” has generated a lot of snickers (the laughs, not the candy bar) in the fantasy football community for a while, but if you’re looking for a Week 1 streamer, look no further. Trubisky threw six touchdown passes against one interception vs. Detroit last season, accounting for more than 35 percent of his season total. He has top-10 potential Sunday at Ford Field.
Kyler Murray‘s rookie season.
As a passer, he ranked 9th in dropbacks, and:
10th in completions
15th in passing yards
21st in touchdowns
17th in passing 1st downs
15th in net passing yards
– Football Perspective (@fbgchase) September 8, 2020
Sobering numbers, to be sure – and while Murray is sure to see a great deal of improvement in Year 2, he was drafted near the top end of his potential. If his growth is anything less than dramatic, he won’t return draft value.
16. Is it time to put to rest the notion that Ben Roethlisberger is a fantasy stud at home, and virtually unrosterable on the road? Roethlisberger actually had more road passing yards (2,734) in his last full season in 2018, while his TD rate at home (19:7) wasn’t significantly better than his away mark (15:9). You have a lot to worry about with Big Ben – namely, his bounce back from a serious injury at age 38 – but don’t fade him just because he isn’t in Pittsburgh.
17. Let’s talk contracts over the next few items – starting with DeAndre Hopkins’ two-year extension that will make him the highest-paid non-quarterback in the league. For everyone who has him on their fantasy roster, know that a team doesn’t give a dude that much lettuce unless they’re planning to use him extensively. Hopkins has seen 150+ targets in five straight seasons, and should extend that streak in 2020 despite some experts’ trepidation.
18. The next contract signing isn’t quite so rosy for fantasy owners – at least, those with Nick Chubb in the fold. The Cleveland Browns signed Kareem Hunt to a two-year extension worth $13.25 million, which immediately brings us back to the above point about investment and utility. Don’t expect to see Chubb handle nearly the same workload he had last season; in fact, this could be a lot closer to a full-on time share depending on prevailing game script.
19. Alvin Kamara is up next, reportedly close to signing a mega-deal that effectively eliminates any worry about him sitting out the start of the season. Kamara is the centerpiece of an elite offense, averages 5.0 YPC for his career, has recorded 81 catches in each of his first three NFL seasons and attributes last year’s relative struggles to battling an injury for most of the season. He might not get enough carries to be the RB1, but he’s a top-3 lock if healthy.
20. If you’re facing Michael Thomas in a PPR league this week, you’re probably going to need a little extra scoring boost. Thomas has been one of the best Week 1 players in the NFL, racking up 31 catches for 348 yards and a touchdown on 38 targets. And with Sunday’s encounter between the Saints and Buccaneers expected to be a close one, Thomas should see more than his share of passes.
21. On the flip side, Tyler Lockett is one of the more interesting fantasy-relevant Week 1 players. Lockett has seen just nine targets in his past three season-opening games, but has turned that limited attention into five catches for 111 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Lockett might be one of the toughest fantasy players to handicap in 2020, but he’s one of the league’s most dangerous home-run threats and might only need a handful of targets to strike.
22. His name should come up frequently in streaming QB discussions – and with good reason. Matthew Stafford has the second-most Week 1 passing yards over the past three seasons (963), second only to Brees (1,100). He was on a 5,000-yard, 38-touchdown pace last season before a back injury knocked him out of commission. And with a pair of dangerous receiving threats in Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr., Stafford has big upside this season.
RB Adrian Peterson, even at age 35, can bring something the #Lions haven’t had in the backfield in years
Missed Tackles forced on rushes since 2018:
– PFF DET Lions (@PFF_Lions) September 8, 2020
Peterson’s best days are well in the rearview mirror, but he might have some early-season value while the Lions figure out exactly what the heck they’re doing with a crowded backfield that now includes Peterson, incumbent Kerryon Johnson and rookie D’Andre Swift.
24. We’ve got another streaming QB option for you – and this guy might actually wind up playing more than the guy you drafted as your QB1. Not only is Philip Rivers expected to be rejuvenated in his first season in Indianapolis, he’ll play behind an offensive line that has four of five starters ranked inside the top 10 in their position per Pro Football Focus. Rivers has been sacked 84 times the past three seasons; he should spent a lot less time on the turf in 2020.
25. The average age of the last 10 wide receivers to win the yardage title: 26.4. And there isn’t a lot of variety in the list from an age perspective; five of the 10 yardage champions were exactly 26. No player aged 30 or higher has won the receiving title since Muhsin Muhammad in 2004, while only one player under age 25 (Josh Gordon, 22, 2013) has been the yardage leader since 2002. So scoop up as many mid-20s receivers as you can get your hands on.
26. Rushing champions skew a little younger – or at least, they have over the past decade. The league has seen four rushing champs under age 25 since 2010, with 25-year-old Derrick Henry topping the NFL last season. The average age of the rushing leader in that span is 24.9, an average pushed higher by 30-year-old Peterson’s rushing title in 2015. So if you’re looking for a shot at a rushing yards leader, aim for the 24-to-26-year-old age group.
27. What about passing yard leaders, you ask? Welp, you won’t find many 20-somethings on this list. Of the last 10 quarterbacks to lead the league in passing yards, six were age 35 or older (including three titles for Drew Brees at ages 35, 36 and 37). In fact, Winston’s win last season marked the first time a QB younger than 27 has led the league in passing yards since 2000. So don’t fade those greybeards; they just might lift you to a fantasy title.
28. Ah, the golden age of tight ends. Those were the days, weren’t they? Here’s a look at the total number of tight end touchdowns produced in Week 1 of the past 10 seasons:
The past four years have seen a serious dearth of tight end scoring in the opening week (and the rest of the season, for that matter) – so for those of you hoping to get off to a good start in your daily fantasy contests, your best course of action might be to pay up for an established TE and take your lineup risks elsewhere.
29. There is, however, one tight end you just might be able to trust in the opener (and who likely won’t break your DFS budget). Not only does Rob Gronkowski lead all tight ends in Week 1 receiving touchdowns since 2010, he leads all receivers period. There might be a little rust, but Gronk is heading into a perfect situation as Tom Brady’s all-time favorite target – and if they both stay healthy, they could return massive value relative to their draft slots.
30. We finish this up with someone who is either a hard-luck Week 1 start or might be due for a breakout depending on how you view things. Odell Beckham has 27 catches for 299 yards in the opening week over his career, but has yet to score a Week 1 touchdown; only Cole Beasley has more Week 1 catches (31) without a touchdown among active players. If Odell is going to enjoy a bounce-back 2020, it might be nice for him to break his opening week goose egg.
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