This version of Sammy Watkins makes fantasy football dreams come true. Looking like a new man, Watkins 2.0 exploded for a career game against the Jaguars by catching 9 of 11 passes for 198 yards and three TDs. He earned the No. 1 overall fantasy performance, and it marked the first time he caught three TDs in a game and eclipsed 170 receiving yards. Watkins also led the team in targets (11), finishing with two more than Travis Kelce.
Part of Watkins’ success stems from the absence of Tyreek Hill, who was sidelined for most of the game with an injury. But Watkins looked healthy, elusive and explosive, showing off his 4.43 speed. Considering he out-targeted Kelce, who saw 95 more targets than Watkins last season, it’s a big boost to his stock going forward. Reports peg Hill (shoulder) to miss at least several games.
Rookie Mecole Hardman also figures to see an uptick in work with Hill out. Both receivers sport a similar build: Hardman is 5-11, 187-pounds; Hill goes 5-10, 185-pounds. Hardman also possesses the same blazing speed that Hill does. Hardman runs a 4.33 40-yard dash; Hill clocked in at 4.34. Don’t expect Hardman to play up to Hill’s level, but do expect the Chiefs to get him more involved. He saw one target in Week 1 and did not catch it, but he did play over 70-percent of the snaps, which is encouraging for his usage.
♦ Tampa Bay escaped from Carolina with a win, but the Bucs left fantasy gamers wanting more. While Peyton Barber (15.90) and Chris Godwin (26.10) put up solid performances, Jameis Winston (14.22) and Mike Evans (11.10) delivered duds.
♦ It marks the second week in a row that Winston failed to reach 15 fantasy points.
♦ Godwin also outperformed Evans for the second straight week and now has 40.4 fantasy points to Evans’ 15.9.
♦ Ronald Jones, who was supposed to be in line for a bigger workload, earned four touches while Barber got 24. Jones can’t be trusted in any format.
Just the Facts
♦ Sammy Watkins (46.8) and Christian McCaffrey (42.9) posted the only 40-plus point PPR performances of Week 1.
♦ Out of the top-12 fantasy finishers, six were wide receivers, three were running backs and three were quarterbacks.
♦ The only rookie to finish in that range? Marquise Brown (30.7 fantasy points).
♦ That Brown tallied 4-147-2 despite playing 14 snaps, running eight routes and seeing five targets makes him extremely volatile going forward. Gamers adding him off waivers should proceed with caution.
♦ Corey Davis, meanwhile, didn’t record a catch or a target. He did play 84-percent of the snaps, however, he was covered by Denzell Ward who finished 2018 ranked No. 12 in PlayerProfiler’s coverage rating (+31.3). Davis draws an easier matchup this week against Kenny Ward (No. 43).
♦ Jacksonville rookie Gardner Minshew entered in relief of Nick Foles (broken clavicle, IR) and looked capable, completing 22 of 25 passes for 275 yards, one TD and one INT.
♦ Minshew played the final three quarters and finished with 18.6 fantasy points, good for QB15. Despite the team trading for QB Josh Dobbs, Minshew, the sixth-round pick from Washington State, should keep the starting job.
♦ Jameis Winston opened the Bruce Arians era with a complete dud in Week 1. Like he’s wont to do, Winston threw three picks to one TD and struggled to an embarrassing 45.5 passer rating.
♦ Another Week 1 rookie sensation, T.J. Hockenson boasted a record-setting debut. According to RotoBaller, Hockenson recorded the highest receiving total (6-131-1) by a TE in his first NFL game since the 1970 merger.
Establish the Damn Run
♦ If early usage reflects Minnesota’s game plan for this season, then Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs face an uphill battle to fantasy relevance. Kirk Cousins attempted 10 passes, throwing to Thielen three times (3-43-1) and Diggs twice (2-37-0). Meanwhile, the team rushed 38 times – second-most in the league – and scored three rushing TDs.
♦ Those 10 pass attempts by Minnesota marked the lowest number in the league. For parity, the Cardinals threw 54 passes.
♦ Malcolm Brown earned a near-even split of carries with Todd Gurley (11 to 14 for Gurley) and made the most of it, averaging 4.8 YPC and scoring two TDs. He holds standalone weekly value and is the Gurley handcuff.
♦ Rams rookie Darrell Henderson carried once for zero yards and didn’t see a target.
♦ Speaking of timeshares, Denver’s Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay also saw similar usage. “Lead back” Lindsay rushed 11 times for 43 yards (3.9 YPC) and Freeman carried 10 times for 56 yards (5.6 YPC). Lindsay was targeted six times and caught four passes for 23 yards while Freeman caught his one target for five yards.
♦ Gamers concerned about Derrick Henry’s passing game usage should delight in his 75-yard receiving TD. He caught one of two targets. Backfield mate Dion Lewis faltered, gaining 13 total yards on six touches.
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