Fantasy Football Winners and Losers: Week 1
Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season is in the books. A handful of players impressed while others underachieved in this opening batch of games.
Here are our fantasy football winners and losers at each position for Week 1 of the season.
Winner: Josh Allen (28.18 FPTS)
Allen stood out in the Buffalo Bills’ 27-17 victory over the New York Jets, completing 33 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns. He also led the team in rushing with 14 carries for 57 yards, finding the end zone once more. Allen did lose two fumbles, so this will be a necessary area of improvement for the third-year signal-caller going forward.
Loser: Carson Wentz (13 FPTS)
Everyone knew Washington had a scary pass-rush, but nobody knew it was going to be strong enough to put Wentz near the bottom of the quarterback list this week. He completed just 24 of 42 passes for 270 yards and two scores, getting picked off twice along the way. He was also sacked eight times, which is a terrifying number that can’t continue into future weeks.
Winner: Nyheim Hines (27.3 FPTS)
Hines had an impressive Week 1, leading the Indianapolis Colts in rushing with seven carries for 28 yards and a touchdown. He also caught eight passes for 45 yards, scoring once through the air. While Hines did benefit from the Colts playing from behind, he also showed that he can be relied on in all facets of the offense, as evidenced by him leading the team in rushing and posting a 100 percent completion rate. Now, with Marlon Mack out for the year, Hines gets an opportunity to shine.
Loser: Le’Veon Bell (6.6 FPTS)
Bell finished with two catches for 24 yards plus six carries for just 14 yards. On the ground, he was outproduced by veteran Frank Gore, who had six carries and secured 24 yards. Bell missed some snaps with a hamstring injury, returned to the game, and then exited for good. He’s expected to miss at least a couple weeks, making Sunday’s game against the Bills an incredible disappointment for the former second-round pick.
Winner: Robby Anderson (25 FPTS)
The Carolina Panthers lost, but Robby Anderson shone during his debut with the team. Finishing with six catches for 115 yards (including a 75-yard touchdown), the former Jets wideout proved that he can be a reliable pass option during both short plays and long heaves. Expect him to continue to have a great year in an explosive offense centered around big plays.
Loser: Odell Beckham Jr. (5.2 FPTS)
It’s unclear who is to blame here—Baker Mayfield, the Ravens’ defense, Beckham himself?—but one thing is clear: Odell Beckham Jr. is no longer a reliable receiver. He finished with just three catches for 22 yards, putting him behind Jarvis Landry and David Njoku. He’s not quite at the point where he’s unstartable, but he needs to turn his play around soon.
Winner: Logan Thomas (13.7 FPTS)
Thomas didn’t shatter any records this week, but he did exceed expectations. Hauling in four catches for 37 yards and a touchdown, Thomas commanded eight targets and proved that he can be a central part of the Washington offense and perhaps even a red zone favorite. Thomas also has two highly favorable matchups coming up over the next couple of weeks and will surely be a waiver wire favorite amidst the Week 2 roster shuffle.
Loser: Rob Gronkowski (3.1 FPTS)
There was a general consensus entering the season that Rob Gronkowski wouldn’t return to pre-retirement form, but nobody expected him finish with just two catches for 11 yards. He might be able to bounce back, but it’s hard to imagine he’ll ever return to the reliable, consistent Gronk that we saw in New England.
Winner: Washington Football Team (17 FPTS)
Washington’s defense stood out this week with their eight sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and one recovered fumble. These results came against a Philadelphia offense that is admittedly shaky, but nobody expected such a shutdown game from the Football Team’s defensive unit. With a commanding Week 1 victory, it’s time to see if they can continue at this rate. They take on the Cardinals and Browns over the next two weeks before meeting the Ravens in Week 4.
Loser: Minnesota Vikings (5 FPTS)
Nobody expected the Vikings’ defense to be very good against the Packers, but they still find themselves as the defensive loser of the week after surrendering 43 points. The unit failed to record a sack, interception, or fumble recovery while tallying one tackle for loss and two quarterback hits. This defense needs to reverse their woes and prove they can make stops from time to time if they have any chance of making a deep playoff run later this year.
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Some NFL players impressed this week while others underachieved. Andersen Pickard shares one fantasy football winner and loser at every position with Week 1 in the books.
Week 1 fantasy football winners and losers
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Whether you won or lost, there’s no equal to the excitement of a brand-new fantasy football season.
Much of that is from following how your team gets to its outcome: That fourth-round pick who drops an NFL debut performance for the record books in the Thursday opener, that late-round sleeper whom you had to start in your 16-team league, or that “ironclad lock” you selected No. 2 overall who completely let you down.
Yes, they’ve all happened so far in Week 1, and right here, we’ll recap these winners and losers from a fantasy perspective, complete with applicable game and historical data. Check back after the conclusion of the 1 and 4 p.m. ET (and, when applicable, Sunday Night Football) games for our picks of the week’s best and worst.
Dazzling debuts by rookie running backs were the story of Week 1, as three of them — Kareem Hunt, Tarik Cohen and Leonard Fournette — managed to scale the 20-point PPR (point per reception) fantasy plateau. That makes this only the second week since 1950 during which as many as three running backs managed at least that many PPR fantasy points in their NFL debuts, joining 1980 Week 1 (Billy Sims, 41.7; Earl Cooper, 36.8; and Joe Cribbs, 28.1).
Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: Hunt’s 45.6 PPR and 40.6 non-PPR fantasy points in the NFL Kickoff game on Thursday night set new records for a player in his NFL debut, breaking Sims’ 37-year-old marks of 41.7 and 39.7. Hunt came within one point of setting a new mark in the NFL Kickoff game; he narrowly missed Peyton Manning’s mark of 46.5, set in 2013. Hunt also managed the third-most PPR fantasy points by a running back of any experience level, trailing only Jamaal Charles’ 59.5 (2013 Week 15) and Priest Holmes’ 55.7 (2002 Week 12), and the fourth-most non-PPR fantasy points by a Chiefs running back, trailing Charles (51.5, 2013 Week 15), Holmes (48.7, 2002 Week 12) and Larry Johnson (42.1, 2006 Week 8).
Hunt was being drafted 35th on average (ADP: 36.5) in the seven-day period leading into Thursday’s kickoff, but by Sunday’s kickoff, his ADP for the seven-day period leading into the day had risen to 19.1 and 16th overall.
Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago Bears: Though his 13 total touches were fewer than those of any of the four other running backs with at least 20 PPR fantasy points, Cohen made them count, with 25.3 PPR and 17.3 non-PPR fantasy points. The former earned him a place within the top 20 performances since 1950 in an NFL debut. Cohen had runs of 46 and 15 yards as well as a 19-yard touchdown reception that in the fourth quarter drew the Bears within three points of the visiting Atlanta Falcons, flashing the kind of shiftiness that earned him the nickname “The Human Joystick” during his days at North Carolina A&T. He is available in 97.7 percent of ESPN leagues and will be one of the top adds in PPR formats entering Week 2 — and rightfully so.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: The most familiar name from this year’s rookie class, Fournette was always forecast to be one of the — if not the — top fantasy rookies of 2017, and he made a great first impression on Sunday after missing a large chunk of the preseason recovering from a foot injury. He joined Hunt and Cohen as the 40th, 41st and 42nd running backs since 1950 to score at least 20 PPR fantasy points in an NFL debut, but much more important, Fournette’s 26 rushing attempts easily paced the position (through the 1 p.m. ET games, at least). He also received six rushing attempts in the Jaguars’ eight offensive plays within 10 yards of the goal line, and three of the four carries within three yards of the line, which were great signs in a game during which Chris Ivory was active that Fournette is this team’s every-down back.
Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: More fantasy points! More fantasy points! We fantasy players can be a greedy bunch, especially when we see stat lines like what Brown, the game’s best at his position, put forth in Week 1. For the sixth time in his career, he managed at least 10 receptions and 20 PPR fantasy points despite failing to score a touchdown, and five of them have occurred within the past three calendar years. Brown’s 29.2 PPR fantasy points were his 18th-best performance in his 102 career NFL games, and they were the second-best performance he has had while failing to score a touchdown (45.6 PPR, 28.6 non-PPR in 2015 Week 9).
Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs: Another standout from the Thursday NFL Kickoff, Smith managed 31.0 fantasy points as a visiting player against the New England Patriots, and that was nearly a new personal best for him. In fact, if not for Smith’s three kneels at game’s end — these totaled minus-6 rushing yards — he’d have exceeded the 31.2 fantasy points he scored in 2013 Week 15 at Oakland.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions: His was quite the comeback, as his first pass attempt of the season was a pick-six, returned 82 yards by Arizona Cardinals cornerback Justin Bethel, and he was unable to get anything going while his Lions fell behind by 10 points before he managed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Jones Jr. more than 26 minutes into the game. Stafford completed three more touchdown passes, however, en route to a 27.1 fantasy point performance, his most since Week 6 of last season and his 11th best in 110 career NFL games.
Jesse James, TE, Steelers: Vance who? Clearly sensing competition for targets following Vance McDonald’s acquisition, James made the most of a sizable opening-week opportunity, reeling in six of his eight targets for 22.1 PPR and 16.1 non-PPR fantasy points. Both were easily career highs, and they greatly increase the chance that he should remain the team’s go-to tight end in the Steelers’ passing game, at least for another week.
Mike Gillislee, RB, Patriots: His Patriots debut was an exceptional one, as he managed 22.5 PPR (and non-PPR) fantasy points on Thursday, easily setting new personal bests in both departments. More important, he received all four carries on Patriots plays within three yards of the goal line, cementing his status as the replacement for LeGarrette Blount in that role.
Kenny Golladay, WR, Lions: He was one of the reasons for Stafford’s comeback performance, and Golladay’s 22.9 PPR and 18.9 non-PPR fantasy points were the most by any wide receiver in an NFL debut since Allen Hurns’ 27.0 and 23.0 in 2014 Week 1 and the 19th- and 17th-most by a debuting wideout since 1950. Though there was some chatter that TJ Jones might cut into Golladay’s snaps to begin the season, Golladay squelched those worries, making him a likely top Week 2 pickup in the 95.4 percent of ESPN leagues in which he is available.
Austin Hooper, TE, Falcons: Though more than three-quarters of his fantasy production came on one play, that an 88-yard receiving touchdown on which he was left wide open in the middle of the field, Hooper’s 20.8 PPR (and 18.8 non-PPR) fantasy day was one of note. That lone play earned him more fantasy points than he had in any individual game during his rookie year of 2016, though it’d be nice to see his target total increase from two in the coming weeks.
Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: With Josh Norman causing Alshon Jeffery some headaches on Sunday, Agholor found more room in the Washington Redskins’ secondary, kicking the scoring off with a 58-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter and finishing with 20.6 PPR fantasy points. It helped Agholor set a new career high — his 14.6 non-PPR fantasy points doing the same — and makes him likely to be one of the top pickups in the 98.9 percent of ESPN leagues in which he is available. That’s too low a percentage to make a “sell-high” case, and in fact he’s probably a viable matchup-play pickup, but this was probably a more matchup-driven output than the start of a true breakthrough.
Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams: In one sense, he was a winner, scoring 20.6 PPR fantasy points on Sunday, his best single-game performance since 2016 Week 3 and fifth best in his 30 career NFL contests. In another, he was rather ordinary, averaging 2.1 yards per carry, his third-worst single-game performance in his career, and 4.0 yards per touch, beneath his 4.4 average of 2015-16 combined, in a game that his Rams led handily and played against a mediocre Indianapolis Colts defense. Gurley snuck into the top 10 running backs in terms of ADP earlier in the week (before Ezekiel Elliott was granted his temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that allows him to play and Hunt had his Thursday outburst), so let’s consider this a good start to his season yet not overreact.
Ty Montgomery, RB, Green Bay Packers: He scored 19.3 PPR fantasy points in his season debut, the third-best single-game performance of his career, but the greater takeaway was that he set a new personal best for rushing attempts (19) despite missing a handful of snaps due to a leg injury. Montgomery did return to the game and looked fine, so he’s locked in as a weekly RB2.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams: His debut performance wasn’t quite on par with Golladay’s, and Kupp was in fact started in more leagues than Golladay (1.3 to 0.7 percent), but a 17.6-point PPR fantasy score is still a clear win. That’s doubly so if you consider the vast difference in the reputations of their quarterbacks.
Rams defense: The Indianapolis Colts’ offense was widely expected to struggle through Andrew Luck’s absence, making opposing defenses well worth streaming consideration, but this was a heck of a performance by the Rams even considering the matchup. The Rams scored 29 fantasy points, their most since 2014 Week 13, when they scored the same number, thanks to limiting the Colts to nine points and 225 total yards while notching four interceptions, two sacks and a fumble recovery.
Jaguars defense: They matched the Rams’ 29 fantasy points for the week’s lead, mostly due to racking up the points in the first half while the Houston Texans had Tom Savage under center. In the eight quarters that Savage played in the Texans’ past four regular-season games, their opponents scored 54 fantasy points on defense. Deshaun Watson should give the Texans more of a fighting chance, however.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers: Thirteen touches? Thirteen?! That was the second-lowest total of his 48-game NFL career, trailing only the 12 he had before he tore the MCL in his right knee in 2015 Week 8 — and even in that game, he scored more PPR (7.8) and non-PPR (5.8) fantasy points than he did on Sunday (7.7 and 4.7). This was an awful performance from a seemingly fully healthy player facing what was supposedly a standout matchup, which is sure to raise questions throughout the week about his holdout that lasted the entire preseason. (Hint: Don’t sweat it. He’s still an excellent player and this was just one bad game.)
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: A 10.7-point fantasy performance might not be a catastrophic outcome, but it was supremely disappointing compared to expectations and at best might have difficulty ranking among the week’s 15 top scores. Brady was started in 99.6 percent of ESPN leagues, most at the position. Smith, his opponent, started in just 2.9 percent of leagues, but managed 20.5 more fantasy points than Brady did, making this only the second time in his 236 career NFL starts that Brady’s opponent outscored him on the fantasy ledger.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals: Now this one might’ve been a week-killer, if you were one of those in the 17.8 percent of ESPN leagues in which he was active. Dalton was intercepted four times, matching a career worst (2013 Week 17), and his minus-3.0 fantasy points were easily a new career low. Particularly disappointing was the fact that Dalton never scored fewer than 10.2 fantasy points in a single game in 2016.
Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals: Like Dalton, Palmer wasn’t started in a high percentage of leagues (14.1 percent), but if Palmer was to be hailed a potential bounce-back candidate this season, he sure didn’t make a good first impression. Palmer was intercepted three times on Sunday, one of them a game-sealing pick-six late in the fourth quarter, and finished with 9.0 fantasy points, his lowest score since 2016 Week 3 (3.5). It won’t be easy to make a case for him as a matchup play facing the Indianapolis Colts on the road in Week 2.
Rob Kelley, RB, Redskins: A disappointing preseason by backup Samaje Perine locked Kelley into the Redskins’ starting running back role, but Kelley can’t afford to put up weeks of just 3 PPR/non-PPR fantasy points if he wants to hold off the rookie. That was his worst score in any of the 10 games in which he played double-digit snaps, and it makes it potentially wise to spend one of your Week 2 waiver claims to pick up Perine, available in 31.5 percent of leagues, as insurance.
Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals: Fantasy players were smart about Mixon in Week 1, as despite his 100.0 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, he was started in only 33.1 percent, recognizing that he was likely to be used on a rotational basis in the Bengals’ opener. Still, Mixon’s stat line of 9 yards on eight attempts, resulting in 5.4 PPR and 2.4 non-PPR fantasy points, isn’t going to inch him any closer to a full takeover of the team’s rushing chores, after a preseason of chatter that Jeremy Hill remains this team’s starter.
Jamison Crowder, WR, Redskins: Those who roster Crowder were alerted to the prospect that he’d disappoint on Sunday after he was added to the team’s injury report unexpectedly on Thursday, due to a hip issue that popped up during practice. They weren’t expecting a mere 2.4 PPR (and minus-0.6 non-PPR) output on Crowder’s seven targets. He wasn’t used as much as he should be in his healthier weeks, however, as he was rotated in and out of the game in Week 1. Expect things to improve from here.
Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers: Where Brown shined, Bryant flopped in his return to the NFL, managing just 3.4 PPR and 1.4 non-PPR fantasy points on his six targets. It was only the fifth time in PPR and seventh in non-PPR that he was held beneath five fantasy points in his 22 NFL games, but as he continues to shake the rust off, his more characteristically big performances should return.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals: He’s Dalton’s go-to guy in the red zone, so understandably on a day when Dalton was held quiet, Eifert was held quiet too. Eifert’s 1.4 PPR fantasy points (and 0.4 non-PPR) on his lone target were his second-worst numbers, trailing only 2015 Week 3, when he was shut out in both formats.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Seattle Seahawks: He was started in just 20.7 percent of ESPN leagues, but for a player who is owned in 100 percent, Lacy was a total bust in Week 1. The Seahawks’ starter with Thomas Rawls inactive, Lacy managed just five carries and 0.3 fantasy points despite his team’s being in a competitive spot on the scoreboard for the majority of Sunday’s game. What’s more, Lacy rotated with Chris Carson, who managed 39 yards on his six rushing attempts, a sure sign that Carson and Rawls are a threat to the veteran’s workload come Week 2.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers: He was targeted five times, but managed to catch only one, resulting in 3.5 PPR fantasy points. That was his fourth-lowest output in his 33 career games, though Cam Newton’s mediocre performance as well as the Panthers’ early lead played a large part.
Kareem Hunt, Tarik Cohen and Leonard Fournette wrote all the headlines with standout NFL debuts, while Tom Brady and Le’Veon Bell had disappointing opening games.