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Fantasy Football Week 1 Takeaways: Surprises & Disappointments (2022)

by Andrew Seifter | @andrew_seifter | Featured Writer
Sep 12, 2022
Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas made a triumphant return, scoring two touchdowns in Week 1

For one week at least, Aaron Rodgers missed Davante Adams a lot more than Adams missed Rodgers.

Rodgers’ day began with rookie Christian Watson dropping what should have been an 80-yard touchdown that landed right in — and through — his breadbasket. It only got worse from there, as the future Hall of Famer finished with 195 yards, zero TD, and two turnovers. Rodgers’ failed attempt to block former teammate Za’Darius Smith pretty well summed up his no-good, very-bad Week 1.

Adams, on the other hand, picked up right where he left off in Green Bay, hauling in 10-of-17 targets from Derek Carr for 141 yards and a touchdown — 46 more yards than all Packers wide receivers had combined. Adams’ production came as the Raiders chased points against the Chargers, something that could be a common occurrence for Las Vegas in the high-octane AFC West. He ended up posting a cool 46% target share, easing any lingering concerns over whether he would see reduced usage while playing alongside Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller.

That is just one of the many emerging storylines to cover as we turn the corner on Week 1, which is where this article comes in. Let’s get to it.

Top 5 Surprises

Tyreek Hill, A.J. Brown, and Deebo Samuel undeterred by new QBs

Whether this is truly a “surprise” is debatable since we know all of these guys can ball. But as with Adams, there was at least some question (including from yours truly) as to how this trio of receivers would fare with less accomplished passers. Well, so far, so good.

Hill had the quietest game of this group, but that’s nothing to be ashamed of when you catch eight passes and total 100 yards from scrimmage. His upside will be capped unless Tua Tagovailoa takes a big step forward this season, but his 36.4 percent target share in Week 1 is promising for his chances of returning WR1 value. It’s also encouraging that Miami passed more than expected, despite leading 17-0 at the half.

AJB’s talent has never been in question, but his projected volume certainly was after he was traded to Philadelphia — the only team that was more run-heavy than Tennessee last year. But Brown answered his fantasy critics in a big way in Week 1, posting the second-most targets (13) and catches (10) of his career while tying his career-high of 155 receiving yards. Yes, the Eagles continued their running ways with four rushing TDs, but they are clearly going to make a concerted effort to use their new toy.

Samuel only caught two of his eight targets for 14 yards as he dealt with an inexperienced quarterback playing through a downpour in Chicago. But he had a decent fantasy day anyway, thanks to his eight carries for 52 yards and a score. There was plenty of speculation this summer that Samuel would see far fewer rushing opportunities than last, and that could still prove to be true. Not every 49ers game will be played in a monsoon. But the fact that Kyle Shanahan and Co. were willing to go back to the Deebo RB playbook so quickly is nonetheless a good sign for his fantasy value, and the 49ers may have no choice but to go back to it again for however long Elijah Mitchell‘s knee injury keeps him out.

Saquon Barkley and Michael Thomas make triumphant returns

Remember back in 2019, when MT was the number one receiver in fantasy, and Saquon was the RB6 in fantasy points per game? We were all so much younger then. Sadly, Barkley appeared in only 15 games over the following two seasons, while Thomas played in just five. But on Sunday, they both turned back the clock and reminded us of just how good they can be.

Barkley flashed his trademark explosiveness and garnered the type of bell cow usage in both the running and passing game that can lead to elite fantasy production. He was certainly elite in Week 1, finishing as the top fantasy RB of the week by a good margin.

Thomas and Jameis Winston appeared to be completely out-of-sync early in Sunday’s contest with the Falcons, but that all changed after halftime when they got on the same page with terrific results. Winston tossed two touchdowns to MT in the fourth quarter as New Orleans completed its comeback from a 16-point deficit. We’ll have to see how often the Saints pass in games with a more neutral game script, but it sure looks like Thomas can return WR2 value at worst if he can remain healthy.

James Robinson bounces back better than Cam Akers from Achilles tear

Akers and Robinson have both made remarkably quick recoveries from a torn Achilles, but that is where the comparison ends.

The NFL season kicked off on Thursday night with Akers managers going into full-on panic mode as he barely saw the field behind Darrell Henderson. Akers averaged fewer than 3.7 yards per carry in all five of his appearances in 2021 and failed to gain a single yard on Sunday. Following the game, coach Sean McVay didn’t lay the blame on Akers’ injury, but he did make clear that Akers isn’t playing at a high enough level right now to merit more work.

Robinson had no such issues. Although he played a few fewer snaps than Travis Etienne, Robinson had 12 touches to Etienne’s six and scored two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) while Etienne dropped what would have been a walk-in score. How the Jaguars’ backs are deployed moving forward will be a storyline to watch, as both possess the skill set to play on all three downs.

JuJu and CEH awaken in KC

We knew coming into the season that the Chiefs were going to score a lot of points. Patrick Mahomes wouldn’t have it any other way. But we weren’t so sure who we could trust in this offense beyond Mahomes and Travis Kelce.

JuJu Smith-Schuster and Clyde Edwards-Helaire looked best positioned to take advantage of the opportunity, but both were fairly divisive players in fantasy circles coming off of disappointing 2021 campaigns. Neither player put up massive yardage totals in Week 1, but they both played well and got the kind of usage we were looking for.

Edwards-Helaire’s two touchdowns rewarded his fantasy managers, but the bigger deal for his fantasy prospects going forward was that he dominated backfield touches when the game was still in doubt. Jerick McKinnon plays a niche role in this offense. Isiah Pacheco looks explosive and is well worth stashing for upside, but most of his touches came in garbage time, and there is no reason to expect him to take CEH’s starting job anytime soon.

Juju’s stat line of six catches for 79 yards doesn’t really jump off the page, but with eight targets in a lop-sided affair, he solidified his standing as Mahomes’ second option behind Kelce. As long as that holds, fantasy performances like Sunday’s will be closer to Smith-Schuster’s floor than his ceiling.

Taysom Hill: TE1?

While some waiver wire shoppers will be drawn to O.J. Howard‘s out-of-nowhere two-touchdown game, it is Hill’s stat line that should be taken more seriously by fantasy managers. Saints coach Dennis Allen acknowledged in camp that Hill would still see some snaps at quarterback, which is why I viewed him as an excellent sleeper at tight end coming into the year.

Hill took advantage of the opportunity — and then some — on Sunday, reviving a dormant Saints offense by busting off a 57-yard run midway through the first quarter and scampering into the end zone soon thereafter. Hill’s services weren’t needed in the second half as Winston and Thomas took over the game, but the mere possibility that a tight end-eligible player can be used like this is reason enough to roster him in most formats.

Top 5 Disappointments

Dak Prescott staring at a 6 to 8-week absence

It would have been no great surprise if Prescott struggled in Week 1. He was going up against the Bucs without the services of Amari Cooper, who is now in Cleveland, and Michael Gallup, who is still working his way back from an ACL injury. But Dak didn’t just struggle. He also injured his thumb on his throwing hand and will now miss 6 to 8 weeks following surgery.

Barring a trade (I hear Jimmy Garoppolo is available), the Cowboys will be forced to move forward for up to two months with Cooper Rush at QB. He’ll be a priority pickup in Superflex and 2-QB leagues.

Perhaps Rush will be a pleasant surprise — he did throw for 325 yards and two scores in place of Prescott against the Vikings on Halloween last year. But the more likely outcome is that the Cowboys’ skill players will need to be downgraded across the board.

Tee Higgins, Keenan Allen, Elijah Mitchell, and Najee Harris Make Early Exits

Injuries are the worst part of football, and Prescott wasn’t the only key player to go down in Week 1.

Higgins, Allen, and Mitchell all departed in the second quarter of their respective contests, depriving their fantasy managers of what shaped up to be big statistical performances. Higgins (concussion) and Allen (hamstring) are both looking very iffy for Week 2, while Mitchell left the locker room with a brace on his knee and could be facing a multi-week absence. Tyler Boyd, DeAndre Carter, Josh Palmer, Jeff Wilson, Tyrion Davis-Price, and Jordan Mason will all be names to consider on the waiver wire this week.

Harris left his game in the fourth quarter after failing to get anything going on the ground but saving his fantasy day with a short touchdown catch. Harris entered the season having recently dealt with a Lisfranc sprain — typically a worrisome injury. His ankle injury on Sunday didn’t look great, either, but the Steelers reportedly believe it isn’t serious and are hopeful he’ll be ready for Week 2. Jaylen Warren is still worth picking up.

Mike Williams and Kadarius Toney Go Missing

Open the fridge and take a look at your milk carton. Is Williams or Toney on it? They might as well be after their disappearing acts in Week 1.

With Keenan Allen leaving early with a hamstring injury, you would think that Williams would have been peppered with targets by Justin Herbert. Instead, Williams had just a 13 percent target share despite running a route on 91 percent of Herbert’s dropbacks. Make it make sense! You can’t because it doesn’t. I’d expect Williams to bounce back with a big game against the Chiefs on Thursday, especially if Allen is out.

The Toney case is even more curious. He played just 12 percent of the offensive snaps despite Wan’Dale Robinson leaving with a knee injury. Toney is the most explosive receiver on the Giants’ roster, and he looked the part in his (very) limited opportunities. The Giants won, so it’s hard to argue with their strategy, but you have to think Toney will emerge from the doghouse at some point.

Preseason darling Dameon Pierce plays second fiddle to “Sexy Rexy” Burkhead

Ok, I kind of saw this one coming, but I’m sure it was a surprise to many. Pierce received as much preseason hype as any player in the league, but there were always some sizable roadblocks standing in his way of producing immense fantasy value. The Texans were last in rushing yards and yards-per-carry last season and project to have a bottom-5 offensive line this year. They also gave us plenty of hints that Burkhead would be the team’s main passing down back, something that coach Lovie Smith confirmed after the game.

But the fact that Burkhead out-snapped Pierce 47-to-19 has to be especially galling to Pierce managers given the way this particular game played out. The Texans led the Colts 20-3 into the fourth quarter, a scenario you’d expect to lead to a lot of Pierce carries. Nope!

Damien Williams gets an opportunity, then gets hurt

The Falcons declared rookie Tyler Allgeier inactive on Sunday morning, backing up reports that Damien Williams would “factor heavily” into Atlanta’s running game. Instead, Williams ran the ball twice for two yards and then left with a rib injury. Williams did briefly return to the game, so the injury does not appear to be serious. But it may be a moot point.

In Williams’ absence, Cordarrelle Patterson picked up right where he left off last season, rushing 22 times for 120 yards and a score while also hauling in three catches. As you may recall, Patterson finished as the RB9 in 0.5 PPR leagues last season but came at a massive discount in fantasy drafts this year because he’s 31 years old and was reportedly set for a reduced workload. Maybe the Falcons eventually stop relying so heavily on Patterson, but for now, he looks like a rock-solid RB2.

Key Stats

Amon-Ra St. Brown earned a 30+% target share for the seventh straight game

St. Brown’s Week 1 stat line should help refute the idea that his 2021 output was simply a result of injuries to D’Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson.

David Montgomery had his lowest single-game rush share in two years (65.4%)

Khalil Herbert is definitely making this more of a committee on a low-scoring offense. Not good for Montgomery.

AJ Dillon led the Packers in targets (6), catches (5), receiving Yards (46), and Carries (10)

Week 1 wasn’t a good one for the Packers, but there is still every reason to believe both Dillon and Aaron Jones can be strong weekly fantasy starters.

Both Michael Carter and Breece Hall saw 9+ targets

Nobody loves even backfield committees, but it certainly helps when both backs are used extensively in the passing game. Carter remains supremely underrated as a fantasy asset, and you shouldn’t be panicking about Hall, either.

Top Takeaways

No need to overthink it: Stars are Stars

In the impassioned preseason debate between Cooper Kupp truthers and Justin Jefferson stans, the answer was simply “yes.” In fact, when you zoom out, it only further highlights how bright the biggest stars glowed in Week 1.

The top-five fantasy receivers in Week 1 were Jefferson, Adams, Ja’Marr Chase, Kupp and Stefon Diggs. Not exactly a surprising list. The top tight end was Travis Kelce. Perhaps Barkley finishing as the RB1 for the week is a mild surprise, but Jonathan Taylor was next in line. Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, and Lamar Jackson all finished the week as top-five QBs.

This is a good lesson to remember next year when the draft season comes around. Before you reach for the flavor of the moment because of preseason hype, position scarcity, or anything else, take the guys who are proven, dominant performers. Best. Player. Available. You can’t start your studs if you don’t draft them.

Antonio Gibson is a solid fantasy option – for now

Brian Robinson is making faster progress in his recovery from gunshot wounds than anyone could have thought possible, but he has to miss at least the next three games. J.D. McKissic is still going to be on the field in long down and distances, but Gibson played a healthy 64 percent of the snaps in Week 1 — including 100 percent of the red zone snaps. He ended up with 21 touches for 130 scrimmage yards.

The Commanders won’t get to play the Jaguars every week, but Gibson has legitimate RB2 appeal as long as he’s handling two-thirds of the backfield snaps. He also happens to be a good sell-high candidate if you can find a buyer.

Patriots backfield shaping up as dreaded three-man albatross

Ty Montgomery‘s quick recovery from a preseason ankle injury has quickly turned the Patriots’ backfield into a full-on quagmire. This is an offense that struggled in camp and struggled in Week 1. I was bullish on Rhamondre Stevenson coming into the year, but it is going to be hard for him or Damien Harris to be reliable RB2s while part of a three-man committee for a bad offense. “Patriots RB sadness” is right.

Alright, that’s it for this week. If you like what you see here, you can get more of my thoughts on waiver wire pickups, buy-low/sell-high candidates, rest-of-season player values, and more by subscribing to get on the same page and going to ROSrankings.com. I’m also always happy to talk about anything fantasy-related on Twitter @andrew_seifter.

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Andrew Seifter is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive and follow him @andrew_seifter.

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