Stars of Week 1

QB: Patrick Mahomes: 30-39, 360 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs     

RB: Jonathan Taylor, IND: 31 carries, 161 yards, 1 TD

WR: Justin Jefferson, MIN: 9 catches, 184 yards, 2 TDs

TE: Travis Kelce, KC: 8 catches, 121 yards, 1 TD

No Tyreek Hill, no problem! Chiefs’ QB Patrick Mahomes barely broke a sweat against the Cardinals’ secondary, throwing for 360 yards and 5 TDs. Mahomes remains a top-3 fantasy QB, even with the speedy wideout having departed.

Another player picking up where he left off from 2021, Colts’ RB Jonathan Taylor rushed for 161 yards and a TD against the Texans. Taylor, and not Christian McCaffrey, is fantasy football’s top overall running back. Taylor should be viewed as the number one overall player, unless…

You prefer Vikings WR Justin Jefferson! The top WR in my draft guide, Jefferson showed yet again how special of a player he is versus ta tough Packers’ secondary, hauling in nine passes for 184 yards and 2 TDs. Jefferson runs precise routs, has sure hands and gets open on every pass route. He’s special.

While Tyreek Hill now plays in South Beach, Mahomes still has his other top weapon…tight end Travis Kelce. The Cardinals had no answer for Kelce (they’re not alone!), who carved them up for 121 receiving yards and 8 catches, including a TD. Kelce remains a top 2 fantasy tight end for the 2022 season, with only Mark Andrews residing in the same neighborhood.

Week 1 Takeaways – A Closer Look

Each week we’ll take a closer look at a handful of performances and sort out what such performances mean going forward.

- Cam Akers, RB - LAR: 3 carries, 0 yards, 0 TDs

- Darrell Henderson, RB - LAR: 13 carries, 47 yards, 0 TDs

Analysis: We didn’t have to wait long for our first depth chart surprise, as presumed Rams’ backup RB Darrell Henderson came out there on the team’s opening series and continued to dominate the snaps over Cam Akers throughout the game to the tune of 55 to 12. As for what Akers accomplished with his snaps, well, absolutely nothing. Meanwhile, Henderson had far from a great day, but he did rush for 47 yards, to go along with 5 catches for 26 receiving yards. After the game, Rams’ coach Sean McVay subtly critiqued Akers by noting that he has to make the best of his opportunities. From a scouting standpoint, Akers flashed minimal juice, while Henderson displayed wiggle even with Bills’ blue jerseys swarming around him. Folks, Darrell Henderson and not Cam Akers will be the Rams’ starting RB for the foreseeable future. Akers sits squarely in the coach’s dog house, and it will take weeks (at a minimum) for Akers to rise up to fantasy relevancy. So if you have Akers on your roster, hold onto him but park him on your bench indefinitely. On the flip side, Henderson becomes a weekly must start, lining up as a RB2 next week versus the Atlanta Falcons.

- Breece Hall, RB – NYJ: 6 carries, 23 yards, 0 TDs (6 catches, 38 yards, 0 TDs)

- Michael Carter, RB – NYJ: 10 carries, 60 yards, 0 TDs (7 catches, 40 yards, 0 TDs)

Analysis: Jets’ RB Breece Hall entered the league as the rookie with the highest fantasy expectations for 2022. Hall has a complete profile as a RB, featuring good hands in the passing game, plus solid blocking skills to go with his rushing prowess. As Week 1 teaches us every year though, breakout performances usually aren’t instantaneous. Second year RB Michael Carter outrushed Hall by a considerable margin, while both backs made roughly equal impacts in the passing game. Taking a deeper look under the hood, Carter outsnapped Hall 50 to 38, while also looking to be the team’s primary back in near the goal line. If you drafted Hall, it’s way too early to panic. The Jets took Hall in the second round for a reason…likely to provide Hall every opportunity to eventually become the team’s lead back. But this doesn’t often happen overnight. Hall likely will produce more value than Carter for the entirety of the season, but you should keep Hall on your bench for the time being. Meanwhile, Carter’s owners should feel comfortable deploying him as a flex option in the near term, while looking to sell high if someone in your league trusts Carter as a season long option.

- Saquon Barkley, RB - NYG: 18 carries, 164 yards, 1 TD (6 catches, 30 yards, 0 TDs)

Analysis: Saquon Barkley enters year 5 of his NFL career, having largely disappointed thus far against the backdrop of being a number 2 overall pick. Injuries have played a key role in Barkley’s last two subpar seasons, as did being subject to a non-equipped coaching staff. With Brian Daboll now calling the shots in Gotham, could we finally see a return to the player we saw in Barkley’s rookie season? Week 1 looked quite encouraging on that front, as Barkley rushed for 9 yards per carry, amassing 164 yards on the ground to go along with a TD. As the focal point of the offense, Barkley looked electric versus the Titans, with quick bursts to go along with great reads of his rushing lanes. Not insignificant, Barkley also hauled in 6 passes for 30 yards, showing that he’ll be a factor in the passing game in Daboll’s offense. As one of the few remaining bell cow RBs in the league, the signs and data point to the 2022 version of Barkley returning RB1 value to his owners. Value him accordingly, and be ready to enjoy the ride if you drafted Barkley onto your team…or if you can snag him for under market value in a trade.

- Michael Thomas, WR – NO: 5 catches, 57 yards, 2 TDs

Analysis: After two consecutive injury marred seasons, including missing the entirety of the 2021 season, Saints’ wide receiver Michael Thomas made his return felt loud and clear, catching two TD passes from QB Jameis Winston against the Atlanta Falcons. The Saints proceeded with some caution, only deploying Thomas in 37 snaps. Within those 37 snaps, Winston targeted Thomas 8 times, with only Jarvis Landry receiving more attention (9 targets) for the game. Also very encouraging about Thomas versus the Falcons…he repeatedly beat stalwart cornerback AJ Terrell. Thomas looked very much like the Thomas of old, serving as a big target with sticky hands. As Thomas continues to get his legs under him, expect the Saints’ star WR to deliver weekly starting numbers. His days as a fantasy WR1 are likely in the past, but WR2 should be his landing spot. Start Thomas with confidence moving forward, even with a tough matchup versus the Tampa Bay Bucs awaiting in Week 2.

- Devin Duvernay, WR – BAL: 4 catches, 54 yards, 2 TDs

Analysis: The Baltimore Ravens traded WR Marquise Brown to the Arizona Cardinals in the offseason, leaving a bevy of targets up for grabs. Could wide receiver Devin Duvernay be largest benefactor of Brown’s departure? The third year player has had a quiet start to his career, coming into the season with 2 TDs and less than 500 total receiving yards. While Duverney started game one of his third season with a bang, scoring two TDs, there are reasons to remain skeptical of a third year statistical breakout. First off, QB Lamar Jackson only targeted Duvernay 4 times, so we’ve got a sustainability problem unless Duvernay’s targets increase. And from a macro level, the Ravens don’t run a voluminous passing offense, and both TE Mark Andrews and WR Rashod Bateman sit clearly ahead of Duvernay in the pecking order. So Duvernay’s got an uphill battle to be a trusted player in your lineups without a consistent increase of targets.. So the recommendation here is to consider Duvernay as no more than a WR4 for your fantasy leagues, and generally to avoid as a flex play unless you play in very deep leagues (in this case, meaning 16 plus teams).

* All snap count information is referenced through statistics provided by Pro Football Focus.

Rapid Fire Pickups

Each week we’ll throw out potential free agent pickups from each position for deeper leagues, in each case a player 1) who has NOT been featured above, and 2) remains available in more than 50% of leagues.

QB: Matt Ryan, ATL (@ JAC)

RB: Jeff Wilson, Jr., SF (vs SEA)

RB: Khalil Herbert, CHI (@ GB)

WR: Robbie Anderson, CAR (@ NYG)

WR: Josh Palmer, LAC (@ KC)   *with Keenan Allen likely out for TNF

TE: Gerald Everett, LAC (@ KC)

Personal Note

Thank you for reading my articles on RealGM! I have a request of you – if you enjoy my work, I kindly ask that you consider following me on Twitter if you aren’t already. My Twitter handle is @NeemaHodjatNFL. Your support is very much appreciated.