It’s been seven months since the Los Angeles Rams hoisted the Lombardi Trophy on their home field—seven months of anticipating the start of another football season. After what we saw in Week 1, it’s safe to say that it was well worth the wait.
Among the many highlights, a few stuck out. Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson continued their fantasy dominance. The Kansas City Chiefs proved that they are still contenders in the AFC. The Minnesota Vikings defense also shut down perennial MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers. Week 1 is never a perfect indication of how the rest of the season will go, but it’s good to finally have a small sample of what we might see in the coming weeks. I came away from Sunday with even more questions than I had before the season started.
I am confident about three things:
Saquon is Back
With all the chaos that happened in Week 1, there wasn’t a lot of attention on the New York Giants. They were able to steal a victory in Tennessee. This was a gritty game, and the Giants were playing from behind for most of it. While Daniel Jones had a decent game, the reason the Giants were able to pull out this victory was clearly Saquon Barkley. He had 18 carries for 164 yards and a touchdown, along with 6 receptions for 30 yards. This is arguably the best game we’ve seen from Saquon since his rookie season.
Many experts thought this might be the season he returns to his prime form. They just might be right. We haven’t seen a healthy Saquon play in the NFL in years, and it seems people have forgotten just how good he is. Next week, the Giants play at home against the Carolina Panthers, who struggled to stop the run in Week 1. Saquon is poised to have another monster game, and—as long as he’s healthy—he should be considered one of the best running backs in the league.
We Were Wrong about Antonio Gibson
Before the season started, I saw tons of fantasy football enthusiasts give their takes on whom to target in fantasy drafts and whom to avoid. While each analyst had their own unique predictions, there was one common theme: everyone hated Antonio Gibson.
The reports out of training camp were that Gibson was practicing with the punting unit and it looked like the Washington Commanders were ready to move on to Brian Robinson. Just before the season started, Robinson was shot in the leg twice during an attempted robbery. Fortunately, he is okay and is actually targeting a Week 5 comeback. It is uncertain how much of Gibson’s workload the Commanders were planning on handing over to Robinson.
However, after his Week 1 performance, it is clear that Gibson is still very much fantasy-relevant. He had 14 rushes for 58 yards along with 7 receptions (which ties a career-high) for 72 yards. It appears that the Commanders’ transition to Carson Wentz has greatly benefitted Gibson’s fantasy value. He should see more receiving volume than ever before and is finally on an offense that can get consistent red-zone opportunities. The Commanders offense looked great this week, and Gibson is taking down the names of all the fantasy owners who counted him out.
The Jets and Jaguars Lied to Us
The Jets and Jaguars have something in common: they both recently drafted a running back in the early rounds, even though they already have a young starting running back. New York drafted Breece Hall in the second round this year, despite having Michael Carter. Jacksonville drafted Travis Etienne in the first round, even though they had James Robinson. This led me, along with many fantasy owners, to believe that Hall and Etienne were the new premier backs on their respective teams. Unfortunately, the Jets and Jaguars had other plans.
For Jacksonville, Robinson saw 11 carries while Etienne saw only 4. They were both pretty insignificant in terms of receiving. For New York, Carter got 10 carries while Hall only got 6. Hall did have a promising 6 receptions for 38 yards, but Carter was able to one-up him with 7 receptions for 40 yards. It looks like Etienne and Hall are splitting carries at best with their fellow running backs. This doesn’t mean they won’t be able to earn a starting role at some point this season. As of right now, though, they are less valuable than we originally thought. To be fair, this is what we deserve for believing in the competence of the Jets and Jaguars.
This was one of the most eventful opening weeks in recent memory. As a fantasy owner, it is important to not overreact to everything you see in Week 1. That being said, we now have a clearer picture of what the 2022-23 NFL season may hold. It is essential to make proper adjustments to your team. Some of the most important waiver wire pickups come after Week 1, so be sure to keep a close eye on players that are available in your league.
There are a lot of unanswered questions in the NFL moving forward. Based on all the excitement in Week 1, I do know that Week 2 can’t come soon enough.