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Week 1 Fantasy Football Recap: Surprises, Disappointments, Key Stats & Takeaways (2021)

by Matt Barbato | @realmattbarbato | Featured Writer
Sep 13, 2021
Jameis Winston

Well, Week 1 was a doozy. It’s always tough to adjust to the whirlwind that the first week of the season can be. I feel like all I do is look up and down between the TV and my fantasy apps.

But now that the dust has settled let’s look back and reflect on what we just saw. Here are my top takeaways from Week 1.

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The Surprises

1. Jameis Goes Off While Rodgers Crumbles 

The biggest surprise of Week 1 was New Orleans’ 38-3 beat down of the Packers, during which Aaron Rodgers looked like Jameis Winston, while Winston resembled Rodgers.

It was the reigning MVP who cost his team with two interceptions in his own territory. It was Winston who tossed five touchdowns. Winston only threw for 148 yards, and Green Bay’s implosion certainly helped.  But Winston was efficient and, most importantly, turnover-free.

All summer, we were so curious what the Saints would look like on offense. Specifically, who would be the quarterback now that Drew Brees has retired? We’ve got that answer. It’s Winston. In fact, Taysom Hill only threw one pass and carried the ball just two times all day.

What do we do from here? Winston elevates into high-end QB2 range for me with fear that the stinker is still on the table. In this game, everything went right for New Orleans, and that positive game script certainly prevented Winston from forcing things. As for Rodgers, while he probably killed you this week, you still have to start him until this becomes a consistent problem.

2. Hello, Deebo 

The fantasy community might’ve forgotten about Deebo Samuel this summer after he was riddled with injuries in 2020. Samuel announced his return Sunday, catching nine of 12 targets for 189 yards and a touchdown. It was a remarkable performance that wasn’t out of the question against a lousy Lions secondary, but one fantasy players should take note of nonetheless.

What do we do from here? Deebo is legit. We just had to wait a little longer to see it come together. While San Francisco’s passing game is certainly fluid, I think Deebo offers solid WR2 value with plenty of upside.

3. Jalen Hurts Delivers 

I may need to prepare some crow for supper, as Jalen Hurts delivered a great opening performance. Hurts completed 27-of-35 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns, along with 62 yards on the ground. As someone who has been a non-believer in Hurts all summer, this output definitely has me reconsidering that stance.

What do we do from here? Hurts further secured himself as a top 12 QB, but I still need to see more before fully trusting him. Atlanta’s defense is in the midst of a rebuild, especially in the secondary. Let’s see what Hurts looks like against San Francisco next week.

Honorable mentions: The 49ers running back situation continues to mystify us. First, Trey Sermon was inactive. Then, Raheem Mostert gets hurt (not a big surprise). Then, fellow rookie Elijah Mitchell rushes for 104 yards on 19 carries.

The Lions’ offense wasn’t as bad as everyone assumed, as Jared Goff, T.J. Hockenson, D’Andre Swift, and Jamaal Williams all had strong days.

Mark Ingram, 26 carries, 85 yards, and a touchdown. Huh?

The Disappointments 

1. Brandon Aiyuk, where art thou? 

Brandon Aiyuk came into this season with so much hype. But Week 1 proved that hype means nothing once the helmets are strapped. Aiyuk got… 0 targets and probably gave many of us a crushing goose egg. The 49ers put the game out of hand quickly, so they didn’t need to throw much in the second half. But it’s concerning that Aiyuk couldn’t get involved in the early onslaught.

What do we do from here? I don’t think we can think about starting Aiyuk until we see him produce, or at least get a target or two.

2. Green Bay… gross 

We’ve already discussed Rodgers’ terrible day, but Aaron Jones‘ stat line was worse: five carries for nine yards and two catches for 13 yards. That’s absolutely disastrous. But this isn’t all Jones’ fault. Green Bay’s game plan stunk, and the game was so far out of hand that the Packers were forced to pass. Davante Adams was maybe adequate in PPR formats, but his five catches for 56 yards are well below expectations.

What do we do? Keep starting your main Packers, who play Detroit at home next week and will be looking to get right. This could also serve as a nice buy-low opportunity for Rodgers, Adams, and Jones.

3. Saquon gets squashed 

Ugh. We couldn’t really even tell if Saquon Barkley looked good or was off due to his ACL injury from last season. The Giants rarely gave him opportunities to run in space. Barkley had 10 carries for 26 yards and caught one pass. His offensive line is horrible and couldn’t get a push against Denver’s front seven. And Daniel Jones isn’t enough of a threat to command respect from opponents yet.

What do we do? Honestly, is it premature to consider trading Saquon? It’s hard to sell right now, but I’m really worried. This Giants offense stinks. Jason Garrett is an archaic play-caller. And again, the line is awful. You invested a top pick in him, but don’t feel compelled to use him if the matchup isn’t ideal.

4. Ronald Jones… thanks for nothing, well negative nothing 

Let’s all thank Jones for negative nothing, as his 14 yards and a fumble might’ve netted you negative points, depending on your format. It’s never good when you get benched for Leonard Fournette.

Congrats, Ronald, you’re my first spite player of the season!

What do we do? I’m not really compelled to start any Bucs running back. They’re both bone heads, and they both aren’t very good. Right now, Fournette is the one I’d rather start, but Bruce Arians changes his backs more often than he changes his Kangol hat.

Week 1 By the Numbers 

127: Joe Mixon‘s rushing yards, the most thus far in Week 1. Can he finally be the RB1 we’ve been waiting for? Since I couldn’t bring him back to my main keeper league, I’m sure he will!

101: Ja’Marr Chase‘s receiving yards in his professional debut, the most among Bengals pass catchers. So much for him having trouble catching the ball!

78: The combined yards between A.J. Brown and Julio Jones. What was supposed to be a dynamic duo for fantasy didn’t exactly deliver. A touchdown for Brown rescued his day, but the Titans’ offense was a gigantic letdown.

20: Kyler Murray‘s rushing yards. Why am I bringing this up? Because he finished Sunday as fantasy’s QB1, and he did it mostly without maximizing his legs. Instead, Murray threw for 289 yards and four touchdowns in an awesome Week 1 effort.

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Matt Barbato is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @RealMattBarbato

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