Week 1 is nearly in the books, so what did we learn from the first 14 games of the 2022 NFL season that can help us make better fantasy choices in Week 2 and into the future? Well, folks, we learned a lot. Like Aaron Rodgers misses Davante Adams. And Patrick Mahomes is still damn good even without Tyreek Hill at his disposal.
Those are among what I believe are the top 10 fantasy football storylines from this week that will no doubt affect your starting lineup decisions moving forward.
Justin Jefferson is an absolute fantasy football machine. How productive was the third year wideout in Week 1? Well, he outscored Cooper Kupp’s 31.8 fantasy point total (Thursday night) in the first half against Green Bay (33.8). That’s insane. He finished with nine receptions, 184 yards, two touchdowns and 39.4 points. A top-five pick in many drafts, Jefferson could be this year’s 2021 Kupp in the stat sheets.
Najee Harris sees 12 touches, leaves with an injured foot. This is not the news you wanted to hear if you have Harris. He had a 2.3 yards per rush average in his 10 touts, and his stat line would have been a complete disaster if not for a short scoring catch. He left the game late with a bum foot, the same one that has a Lisfranc ailment. Jaylen Warren would be a popular waiver wire add if Harris misses time.
Christian McCaffrey sees just 14 touches vs. Cleveland. In his first game since last November, McCaffrey touched the ball just 14 times. It was only the fifth time in his last 43 games that he’s seen 14 or fewer touches. CMC was also targeted just four times, which is tied for the sixth fewest he’s seen in a game since 2018. I’m not going to overreact (he still scored 15.7 fantasy points), but he’ll need to see way more usage to meet the high expectations of being a top-two overall pick in drafts.
Saquon Barkley looked like his old self in Tennessee. Barkley, whose fantasy stock rose as we got deeper into draft season, looked the part in the opener. He put up a bananas 164 rushing yards on just 18 carries, including runs of 68 and 33 yards, and his 33.4 points led all running backs heading into the Sunday night game. Barkley’s six catches also led the G-Men. It’s a great start under coach Brian Daboll.
Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill shine with their new teams. Adams and his college pal Derek Carr picked up right where they left off back at Fresno State, connecting 10 times for 141 yards with one touchdown and 30.1 fantasy points against the L.A. Chargers. Hill wasn’t as productive, but he still had a strong performance with eight catches, 94 yards and 18 points on a team-high 12 targets. I admittedly don’t think Hill will be as good in Miami as he was in Kansas City, but it was a good start.
Aaron Rodgers looked lost without Adams in the offense. Rodgers totals were brutal in his first game without Adams, posting no touchdowns with one interception while averaging just 5.7 yards per attempt. His 3.7 fantasy points were his lowest total since he had 1.3 points in Week 1 of last season. He had a sure touchdown in the first half, but rookie Christian Watson flat out dropped the ball. It’s way too soon to panic, but this was a terrible start for the veteran against an NFC North rival.
Patrick Mahomes doesn’t need Hill to thrive in the offense. No Hill? No problem. Mahomes completed 77% of his passes and threw for 360 yards with five scoring strikes, including connections with Travis Kelce, Clyde Edwards-Helaire (2), Mecole Hardman and Jody Fortson. JuJu Smith-Schuster led his wideouts with eight targets, but he also fumbled twice (lost one). Regardless, Mahomes showed this week that fantasy managers shouldn’t be too concerned about his numbers with the Cheetah.
Ja’Marr Chase has picked up where he left off as a rookie. Chase posted 10 catches (16 targets) for 129 yards and one touchdown in what was a crazy loss to the Steelers. He also had an insane catch in the end zone where he didn’t get his second foot in bounds and might have scored another touchdown, but the Bengals didn’t challenge that he crossed the goal line. His rookie season was no fluke.
James Robinson leads the Jaguars backfield in touches. We were all on the Travis Etienne bandwagon in the preseason, but Robinson had something to say about that. He led Etienne in carries (11 to 4), touches (12 to 6) and fantasy points (19.9 to 8.5), and the two split snaps almost evenly (Etienne led 35 to 32). Coming off a torn Achilles, Robinson looked no worse for wear. This looks like a committee.
The tight end position is going to be a nightmare … again. Kelce is the top scoring tight end on the week, which is no surprise. What was a surprise was that O.J. Howard, Taysom Hill and Gerald Everett were also in the top five heading into the Sunday night game. Oh, and Tyler Conklin and Hayden Hurst were both in the top 10. If you don’t have a top-end tight end, get ready for plenty of headaches.
- Michael Thomas did next to nothing against the Falcons in the first half, but he went off in the second with two touchdowns. The veteran finished with a solid 22.7 fantasy points (five catches on eight targets) in a 27-26 win.
- Darrell Henderson saw 18 touches and played 82.1% of the offensive snaps on Thursday night. That’s 15 more touches than Cam Akers, who played just 6.4% of the snaps. For now, Henderson is the back to start in Los Angeles.
- Dameon Pierce saw just 12 touches (11 carries) for the Texans and was second in both categories behind Rex Burkhead (19 touches, 14 carries).
- Antonio Gibson led the Commanders backfield in touches (21), yards (130) and snaps (45). He’ll see a nice workload until Brian Robinson can return.
- Michael Carter looks like the top running back for the Jets, at least for now. He saw 17 touches against the Ravens compared to Breece Hall’s 12, though both were highly targeted (Hall – 10, Carter – 9) in the team’s offensive attack.
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Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for your late-breaking fantasy news and the best analysis in the business!