One Big Thing – NFC – Week 1

Updated: September 20th 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.

NFC EAST

Philadelphia

We saw what happens with a team that is banged up on the offensive line and their only outside threat is an injured, rookie wide receiver playing in his first NFL game. The Eagles stormed out to what looked like an easy week 1 win only to watch a team that many thought might be in contention for the first overall pick race back with 24-unanwered points.  Zach Ertz was bailed out by an early game touchdown on what would have otherwise been a disappointing day. He was also outshined by fellow tight end Dallas Goedert who looks like he is going to be coming into his own finally. It won’t matter for either of these guys until they solve their offensive line problems though. The Eagles gave up eight (8) sacks and couldn’t get anything going on the ground. Maybe Miles Sanders can bring a spark to this team’s offense but he too may be sucked into the vortex.

 Washington

Washington was able to pull off a comeback for the ages under the new “Football Team” moniker however; it will be frustrating to use any fantasy players in their offense this season. The community was buzzing for what Antonio Gibson was going to do in with the backfield wide open but Peyton Barber ended with double (17:9) the carries and more importantly most of the goal line work, while scoring two plunge touchdowns. A lot of gifted good field position due to turnovers led to minimal scoring elsewhere. Until someone shows consistent game-over-game results it will be tough to trust any of these players as more than a flyer-flex play on any given Sunday.

 Dallas

The Dallas offense looks like it has three (3) great wide receivers for Dak Prescott to throw to, along with a top five running back in Ezekiel Elliot, but still haven’t been able to put together how to win games. Most of that blame should fall on the defense however. The defensive line looks stout but it is their second level defenders that might be their undoing. If they can’t keep teams from dinking and dunking down the field like the Rams did on Sunday night that might be the only thing that prevents this offense from being as fantasy rich as it should be.

NY Giants

Either the Steel Curtain has been reincarnated or the Giants’ offensive line is made up of traffic cones. It is probably somewhere in the middle. Either way, it was painful to watch Saquon Barkley try and pick up any rushing yards when the initial contact was always coming two yards behind the line of scrimmage. Luckily for him his receiving skills are just as good as his rushing and he was able to save what would have otherwise been a disaster of at stat line. Jason Garrett needs to find better ways to give Daniel Jones some time to throw the ball too as he and Darius Slayton looked like they have a strong connection building. The offense should be better than average this season but they need to figure out the offensive line problems fast.

NFC NORTH

Green Bay

Who says Aaron Rodgers is over the hill? The quarterback put on a classic Aaron Rodgers-type performance putting up over 360 yards passing and four (4) touchdowns to the tune of 30 fantasy points. Davante Adams also planted his flag to be considered the NFL’s top receiver with 14 catches (T-1st), over 150 yards and two (2) touchdowns. Even Aaron Jones showed everyone who doubted last year’s stats by having almost 18 PPR fantasy points and doubling the next running back in carries. This was clearly a statement game against a divisional opponent that has had their number in recent years that the Packers hope kicks off another deep playoff run season.

Minnesota

Fantasy wise the game went about as well as players could hope for with Adam Thielen scoring over 31 PPR fantasy points and Dalvin Cook and Kirk Cousins scoring 20 PPR points. Still, the Vikings were playing catchup the whole game and therefore are unlikely to putting up 34 points weekly moving forward. Alexander Mattison had his moments but what Buffalo gained by adding Stefon Diggs clearly hurts makes this team a two player offense. Unless Justin Jefferson can step up sooner than expected it won’t be hard for teams to zero in on Thielen as the only passing option for Kirk Cousins.

 Chicago

Just when we thought it was going to be same old Mitch Trubisky and the Bears they score three (3) fourth quarter touchdowns for a huge come from behind victory. Now that isn’t to say that he played spectacular but it was at least a respectable game that makes the calls for Nick Foles a little deafer. Anthony Miller finally had the breakout that everyone was waiting for last season, with hopes that he can continue that momentum for the rest of the season. The Bears desperately need another receiving option for whichever quarterback starts games this season.

 Detroit

If any team was going blow a game to Mitch Trubisky it was going to be the Lions. The Lions looked in control of the game and surprisingly newly acquired Adrian Peterson was a big reason why as he nearly had 100 yards rushing in his debut. It will be interesting to see how much his usage is maintained moving forward especially with De’Andre Swift’s big drop at the end of the game. The other interesting note was that of rookie receiver Quintez Cephus leading the team in targets with ten (10!). We will have to see what happens when Kenny Golladay returns after his surprising week 1 absence but as someone who was compared to Anquan Boldin, Cephus is a player to watch as the season moves along for fantasy purposes.

NFC SOUTH

 Carolina

Christian McCaffrey had about as quiet of a 28PPR point fantasy game as one can have, likely overshadowed by the one carry he didn’t get on fourth-and-short with the game on the line at the end. This offense still runs through him although new Head Coach Matt Rule looks like he wants to give Teddy Bridgewater the chance to make plays too. Other than Robby Anderson breaking free on a long 75-yard touchdown Bridgewater kept most throws short and distributed pretty evenly between the three main wide outs. Hopefully, D.J. Moore can have a bounce back game for fantasy players after a disappointing 4-54-0 showing.

 Atlanta

The Falcons looked respectable in the first half keeping the game a close 14-12 through the first two quarters. It was evident after that however that the Seahawks were able to take it to another level that the Falcons just couldn’t match. Matt Ryan had to throw the ball 54 times just to keep up and all three of his receivers went over 100 yards for the game which, while likely unsustainable over the course of the full season, suggests that the team will continue to be throwing the ball a lot. Russell Gage is an intriguing option for some deeper leagues. Similarly lopsided games may result in him being a strong flex option some weeks.

 Tampa Bay

The Bucs looked like the Harlem Globetrotters on their first drive, then the Washington Generals for much of the rest of the game. Tom Brady will become more comfortable with what he can and cannot trust all his receivers to do, his interception targeting Mike Evans was clearly a miscommunication, and as the season moves along this offense should be better than it looked. This was just a tough week 1 matchup to have. It was obvious as the game moved along which coach and quarterback had been together fifteen seasons and which was in their first. Next week’s game against Carolina should be one that the Bucs can work out more of their kinks while getting back to an even record.

 New Orleans

It was great for the Saints to get a win against a team in their division that was getting all the Super Bowl hype that they probably should be receiving but it came at a heavy cost. Losing Michael Thomas for what could be anywhere from a couple games to a month definitely is going to have an effect on this offense. Lucky for them they picked up a veteran like Emmanuel Sanders who can at least help Drew Brees find a reliable target but he’s just not the same size/speed freak that Thomas is both before and after the catch. Guys like Tre’Quan Smith and Jared Cook will also need to step up and should see a bump in their target share in Thomas’ absence.

NFC WEST

Seattle

They finally let the offense run through Russell Wilson! When Wilson is allowed to take full control via his passing prowess we saw what the Seahawks are capable of doing. The offense was able to go up and down the field against a poor Atlanta secondary and both D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett where able to take advantage. Even the screen game was successful with Chris Carson scoring two (2) receiving touchdowns. If this is the Russell Wilson we are going to get game after game we may be looking at the early candidate for NFL and Fantasy MVP.

Arizona

There was no learning curve for DeAndre Hopkins as he stepped right into the Cardinals’ lineup and grabbed a league high fourteen (14) receptions in week 1. Kyler Murray also looks like he should be able to take the next step forward as he went up against the number one defense from a year ago and pulled off an impressive road victory. There is a strong chance that both of these players finish as top 5 fantasy options at their respective positions and may actually be a sneaky team for a playoff spot in the league’s toughest division.

 San Francisco

After what looked like a great start to the season with a long Raheem Mostert touchdown the 49ers really missed having Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders on the field as their passing game was lacking any explosion much after that one big play. George Kittle is now nursing an injury that may hobble him for a couple of weeks which only compounds the pressure on Jimmy Garoppolo to do more. Luckily for the 49ers they have what should be easier games against the Jets and Giants. Look for the running backs, Mostert and Jerrick McKinnon, to be featured heavily throughout the rest of September while the receiving core gets healthy.

LA Rams

The Rams looked like the team that they were a couple years ago with smart play calling that worked heavily off the play action. Malcolm Brown was a surprising lead back over what many had hoped was going to be Cam Akers’ backfield to start. It still may be later in the season but for now it is a true 1-2 punch between him and Brown. Robert Woods looks like he could have a dominant top 10 season without so many mouths to feed in the receiving game finally. Any contract he is on in RSO is probably undervalued.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews