One Big Thing – AFC – Week 1

Updated: September 17th 2020

Every week we learn a little bit more about how a team sees each player as a part of their offense allowing fantasy footballers to react (positively or negatively) to those actions. Each week I will look to capture the “One Big Thing” that should have an impact on each team going forward and how you, the savvy fantasy player, can use that to your advantage.

AFC EAST

 NY Jets

The Jets looked terrible from start to finish in week 1 against the Bills. If not for a blown coverage on Jamison Crowder for a 69 yard TD there would not be much worth rostering on this team in fantasy. The news of Le’Veon Bell now being out for at least a couple of weeks makes the team even less fantasy relevant. I imagine ownership is already talking about what the rest of this season means for both Head Coach Adam Gase and third-year quarterback Sam Darnold’s future with the Jets after 2020.

Buffalo

Josh Allen had himself quite a strong day in fantasy with over 300 yards in the air and another 57 on the ground, along with three (3) total scores. The team is clearly more well-rounded with a talent like Stefon Diggs available to take pressure off of the two returning receivers, John Brown and Cole Beasley. We will have to wait and see how this offense fairs against a stronger opponent that could have taken advantage of Allen’s two (2) lost fumbles and wildly overthrown red zone pass before putting more stock into their viability. For one week though, the team looked excellent and provided a lot of optimism as being a more pass-friendly offense.

 Miami

A lot of hype around the receiving core for Miami with DeVante Parker and Preston Williams but week 1 was a dud. Parker left the game early with a leg injury and Williams only caught two (2) receptions on seven (7) targets. This was against one of the top defenses in 2019 but still if Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t find his magic in game two after throwing three (3) interceptions on Sunday we could see the rookie, Tua Tagovailoa earlier than expected this season.

 New England

It expected to be quite the philosophical change going from the immobile Tom Brady to the linebacker playing quarterback Cam Newton but no one really knew how health Newton was heading into the season. Newton had fifteen (15) carries signalling that he is fully back and ready to pick up where he left off before getting injured in 2018. Seattle will be a much tougher matchup for him and Josh McDaniels to game plan for but if he can be as strong a runner as he was in his New England debut he will be back to an every week QB1 again.

 

AFC NORTH

 Cleveland

It is almost poetic that the only thing that did not seem to change in 2020 is the Cleveland Browns and our expectations for their success. After being a hot-ticket to be a Super Bowl contender the team fell on its face and didn’t even make the playoffs. It was being labeled as inexperience with one another and with a full season now under their belt and another strong piece added to their offense at the tight end position the team was going to challenge the Ravens for the division. Sunday showed that these teams are not even in the same stratosphere of expectation and ironically it all comes down to the quarterback that was picked 1st and the one that was picked 32nd. Baker Mayfield just has not looked as good as he showed at the end of the his rookie season and a player only gets so many Head Coach and General Manager do-overs until it becomes apparent that the it’s not the supporting cast holding him back, it’s the other way around.

 Baltimore

At least for the first game the adage of “teams will figure out Lamar Jackson with a full offseason to prepare” is busted. The Ravens picked up where they left off in 2019, even adding a newer, younger model of running back in J.K. Dobbins who had two (2) touchdowns in his debut game. Marquise Brown seems to have taken a solid step forward in his sophomore year and Mark Andrews is a locked-in top 3 fantasy tight end. There should be no concern starting any of these four in fantasy and Lamar Jackson continues to improve his passing ability, bolstering his long term value to rival that of only Patrick Mahomes.

 Cincinnati

Joe Burrow had an up and down debut for the Bengals but he gave them a chance to win it late, and should have if not for a missed field goal with time expiring. He still had some rookie mistakes, the pass where he shovelled it directly into the lineman’s hand comes to mind, but he showed his athletic ability on the QB draw touchdown and spread the ball around well enough to show you why he was the first overall pick. A.J. Green also looked good despite some health concerns coming into the game and would have had a better stat line if not for an OPI touchdown called back at the end. If Burrow can continue to develop, along with the return of a healthy A.J. Green this Bengals offense will feature a number of fantasy flex options as the season moves along.

 Pittsburgh

Man, the difference between having a HoF quarterback versus the two JAGs the Steelers were stuck with last year makes this offense night and day for fantasy. Juju Smith-Schuster showed in his first game back with Ben Roethlisberger that anyone who didn’t pick-up his fifth-option made a big mistake and anyone who bought low on him in the offseason is grinning ear-to-ear. He is already looking like a shoe-in for fantasy comeback player of the year. If Roethlisberger can stay healthy (big if) this may be the only other team to challenge the Ravens and Chiefs for the AFC crown in January.

 

AFC SOUTH

 Houston

For how mediocre the Texans ended up looking once the game was over they surprisingly looked strong on their opening drives in the first quarter capped off with a David Johnson touchdown. Whether the Chiefs are going to be just that dominant against everyone this year remains to be seen but how the Texans looked the other three quarters must be scaring DeShaun Watson owners for the upcoming season. Other than David Johnson looking like a revitalized 2016 version of himself and Will Fuller catching passes after the game was already out of hand, the Texans had absolutely no threat for the defense to have to focus on. It is clear that Bill O’Brien did not want his whole offense to run through one player, and instead wants to focus on spreading the ball around to keep his options open. At least for one game that seems to have backfired on him.

 Indianapolis

The heartbreaking losses seem to follow Philip Rivers wherever he goes. Another late game interception gave the Jaguars the opportunity to score a late touchdown and to compound the misery the team found out Monday that Marlon Mack will be out the rest of the season with an Achilles injury. In his absence the Colts look like they will use a lot of Nyhiem Hines to complement Jonathan Taylor out of backfield in what might be a win-win scenario for both running backs and Hines especially could be a waiver wire steal for some fantasy team moving forward. Those who held on to Parris Campbell through his lost rookie season might finally see their investment pay off this season as he co-lead the team in targets with nine (9) and seemed to have a connection early with Philip Rivers. The Colts expect to be in tight games like this all season long so Campbell may be another breakout second-year receiver to watch.

 Jacksonville

He may not have put up a stellar stat line but running back James Robinson recorded 100 percent of the carries for Jacksonville in week 1. This is a huge boost to his value going forward as the fantasy community didn’t know what to do with this team after they unexpectantly cut Leonard Fournette right before the start of the season. It remains to be seen how many scoring opportunities the Jags will have in 2020 but until we see otherwise James Robinson should be considered an RB3.

Tennessee

The fantasy community may be panicking over what they saw from A.J. Brown in the Monday night closer but for those who didn’t stay up to watch the whole game you should go back and watch it all. He may have had a quiet first half but he was on the field the most of any wide receiver and the team was clearly trying to get him involved in the second half. The emergence of Corey Davis can hopefully be more than just a one-game fling as the Titans could use another receiver to help out Brown and Ryan Tannehill. When Brown goes off for 7-110-2 against the Jaguars in week 2 it will be like nothing ever happened.

AFC WEST

Kansas City

This team looks like they should be able to run it back to the Super Bowl, or at least a strong AFC Championship matchup with Baltimore, after how they thoroughly dominated on Thursday night. The one piece of the offense that people may have been “meh” about the last couple years, the running game, may actually be the new best thing about this team. In the past it was always worrying that the offense likely could not slow down when ahead and were prone to having to keep passing the ball. Now with Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the Chiefs can get up big and stay up on most of the league.

Las Vegas

The talk all offseason was how improved the passing game should be for the Raiders with new talent being added at the receiver position. Everyone seemed to forget Josh Jacobs could also take a leap forward in the passing game too as he finished second on the team in targets with six (6). His three (3) rushing touchdowns also showed how underrated this team’s offensive line is. If not for the craze still surrounding Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jacobs might have been the biggest running back news this weekend. He is shaping up to be a league winner if the Raiders keep feeding him the ball the way they did in week 1.

LA Chargers

It wasn’t a pretty win but unlike their former quarterback’s debut game, Tyrod Taylor was consistent enough and most importantly turnover free in his debut as the Chargers starter. The Chargers have been a top offensive and defensive team over recent years but they always seemed to be plagued by bad decisions at critical moments in games that would leave them on the short end of games. While Taylor might not bring as much fantasy output as Rivers does, Chargers fans will be happier with wins than big stats.

Denver

Drew Lock looked a lot like Daniel Jones in that he showed flashes of what could be a great franchise quarterback but still had some of the expected young QB flaws that hopefully can be worked sooner rather than later. I want to see what this offense will look like when Courtland Sutton and K.J. Hamler are healthy because with Lock’s development and the full complement of receivers this team has at their disposal, this could be the next fantasy offense we want all parts of. Noah Fant especially looked like everything that the fantasy community wanted Evan Engram to become. He might be the closest thing we have to the New Orleans Saints version of Jimmy Graham in that he is a tight end that is too fast for linebackers to move with and too big for safeties to cover. He could join the big three at the top of the tight end draft board by season’s end.

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