After an offseason filled with intrigue, drama and controversy (and that’s just Antonio Brown’s offseason), Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season has finally been and gone.
After an opening night defensive battle between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers, the rest of the league discovered the joys of scoring points. This was most evident in the clash between the Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars, that ended in a 40-26 victory for the Chiefs. The first week of the NFL’s 100th season produced a whole host of notable statistical landmarks.
Here are five stats to know – both traditional and from advanced analysis – from the season’s opening week.
Davante Adams Scores 7.6 PPR Points
Last season, Packers wide receiver Davante Adams amassed at least 80 yards or a touchdown in every game he played. This feat is already beyond him for the 2019 campaign.
Adams saw a team-high eight targets against the Bears but was only able to secure four of them for 36 yards. He was also kept out of the end zone. Adams deeds earned him the grand total of 7.6 PPR points. It was the third time in five seasons that Adams has failed to crack 10 PPR points in Week 1. Indeed, it was Adams lowest PPR haul since he scored 7.7 points against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1 of 2017.
It was obviously not what Adams owners in fantasy football were after, especially after taking him on average with the seventh pick in PPR drafts. But people shouldn’t be quick to cash out on Adams, even with a Week 2 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings looming. Adams averaged 22.2 PPR points in the two games against the Vikings in 2018.
Lamar Jackson was the QB1
Adams may have endured a slow start to his season, but at the other end of the scale, Lamar Jackson had a game to remember in Week 1. The Baltimore Ravens second-year quarterback racked up 324 yards on 17 completions, with five passing touchdowns sprinkled in, against the Miami Dolphins on his way to 33.6 fantasy points. No other quarterback scored more points in Week 1 than Jackson.
Amazingly, for some, he did all his damage as a passer. Jackson rushed only three times for six yards. His five touchdowns tied a franchise record. Jackson is the first quarterback since Peyton Manning in 2013 to toss five or more touchdown passes in Week 1. Ironically, Manning tossed seven scores against the Ravens.
It was far and away a career day for Jackson, both in terms of counting stats and efficiency. Jackson posted 1.41 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back on Sunday, the best among all quarterbacks with at least 10 pass attempts. In his seven starts in 2018, Jackson never managed more than 0.15 NEP in a single game.
Jackson’s fantasy owners will no doubt be hoping his form can continue into Week 2, as the Ravens take on the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals allowed 385 yards and three touchdowns through the air against Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions in Week 1. He’s our number two ranked quarterback heading into the weekend.
Sammy Watkins was the WR1
If you missed the Week 1 action, and someone told you that a Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver went bonkers and scored 46.8 PPR points against the Jacksonville Jaguars, most people would safely assume that Tyreek Hill would be that player. Those people would be incorrect, as it was Sammy Watkins who dropped the hammer on the hapless Jags.
Watkins was targeted 11 times in Week 1 and reeled in nine of his looks for 198 yards and three touchdowns. The yards and touchdowns were both career highs. Watkins became the first Chiefs player to catch three or more touchdowns in a victory since Jamaal Charles in 2013. Charles reeled in four scoring grabs against the Oakland Raiders. Hill had three touchdown receptions in Week 6 of 2018, but the Chiefs were beaten by the New England Patriots.
Watkins is a player that should find his way into many lineups in Week 2 when the Chiefs take on the Raiders. He is unlikely to repeat his first week’s heroics, of course. But with Hill set to miss significant playing time, Watkins sits atop the Chiefs wide receiver depth chart in what looks to be a tasty spot. We project him to have a WR1 outing against the Raiders.
DeSean Jackson Produced the Third-Best PPR Game of his Career
DeSean Jackson was last seen in a Philadelphia Eagles uniform during a playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints following the 2013 season. Eagles fans have seen him play against them six times since then, and in those games, Jackson has averaged 23.71 yards per reception whilst scoring three times. Jackson was back in midnight green on Sunday following his trade from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and it was like he’d never left.
Jackson converted his 10 targets into eight receptions, 154 yards and two touchdowns against another of his former teams, namely Washington, in Week 1. This haul gave him 35.4 PPR points, trailing only Watkins among all wide receivers. It was the third-best fantasy game of Jackson’s career, and the most by an Eagles wide receiver since Jeremy Maclin posted 42.7 against the Cardinals in Week 8 of 2014.
Sunday also marked the second season in a row in which Jackson had at least 100 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1 of a season. Jackson caught five passes for 140 yards and two scores for the Buccaneers against the Saints in Week 1 of 2018.
Jackson now has 17 games for the Eagles in which he has eclipsed 100 yards receiving whilst scoring a touchdown, and 26 in his career. Mike Quick is the only Eagles player with more such games with 19.
Eagles fans and Jackson owners would love for him to replicate this production every week, but let’s be realistic. Jackson remains a player who will have boom weeks, but also have games where he is unusable in fantasy. This volatility makes him an ideal WR3/Flex option.
Debuts to Remember
The 2014 wide receiver class is still spoken of in reverential terms, even though most of the “stars” taken in that draft have already worn out their welcomes with at least one team. It’s too early to say how good the 2019 rookies will be throughout their careers, but some of them have made a pretty good start.
Three rookie wide receivers and one tight end amassed more than 100 yards in their NFL debuts in Week 1, the first time in NFL history this many players eclipsed the century mark in their first career games. Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown managed exactly 100 yards against the Cleveland Browns. Marquise Brown of the Ravens caught four passes (two touchdowns) for 147 yards against the Dolphins. Terry McLaurin had 125 yards for Washington against the Eagles, while tight end T.J. Hockenson took 131 yards off the Cardinals for the Lions.
Hockenson’s feat is probably the most impressive of the group. No tight end in the Super Bowl era has more yards in their professional debut than Hockenson. He finished as the TE2 in PPR scoring in Week 1, as he finished second on the Lions with nine targets. Given the volatility of the tight end position in fantasy, if this type of usage continues Hockenson will be propelled into the weekly starter stratosphere. Even as a rookie.