Week 1 in the NFL is in the books. From a fantasy perspective, there were definitely some highs and lows. Expectations were matched and exceeded for some, while others left a big old goose egg on the board. It's hard to really know what to expect going into a given week. You may think you have a sure 20-plus points based on a particular matchup and end up with next to nothing.
Who falls into the categories of studs and duds this week? Let's have a look.
Justin Jefferson Tore It Up Against the Packers
It was a good day for the Vikings, who beat AFC North rival Green Bay Packers to kick off their season. A major part of their success was from stud wideout Justin Jefferson. JJ had a career, record-setting day. Of the 23 completions, 277 yards, and two touchdowns thrown by Kirk Cousins, Jefferson accounted for nine catches, a career high 184 yards and both touchdowns. That's a pretty fantastic day at the office. And to start the season to boot. It's quite the win for fantasy managers who would see a 30 point performance, even in non-PPR formats. We probably shouldn't rely on 30 points a week, but this kid is going to continue to get better.
Cam Akers goes 0-for-3
There have been many a great performance coming from the backfield for the Rams over the course of their history. Marshall Faulk and Eric Dickerson were absolute legends. In today's world, many teams are going with a dual-back approach. The game is faster, plays harder, and injuries run rampant. For LA this year, Darrel Henderson and Cam Akers are expected to share duties, but that should still see a decent amount of touches each. I mean, they are the reigning Super Bowl champions, right?
Well, that didn't seem to be the case on opening night against the Buffalo Bills. Cam Akers, who was started by many across fantasy leagues country-wide, carried the ball only three times for a grand total of...zero yards. It's hard enough to get quality points from any running back who wouldn't be a top five fantasy pick. But to put up nothing? He's left a lot of people shaking their heads. While the Rams were simply out-classed by a very good Bills team, only turning to Akers three times out of a team total 17 rushes is not a good sign for fantasy owners. He'll be dropping to the fantasy bench or even cut from teams if week two shows more of the same.
Cooper Scooped Up The Only Positive Performance For The Rams
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Conversely, Cooper Kupp proved to be one of the only positive pieces of the Rams' performance. This guy went from obscurity a few years ago to fighting Justin Jefferson for the right to be the first WR off the board. His 13-catch performance against a very good Buffalo defense should not go unnoticed. It's a fine performance for non-PPR leagues, but it's really dialed up for those who enjoy that point per reception bonus. You can absolutely expect to see high reception performances that hover around 100 yards per game for the whole season from Kupp. There are only a handful of guys you can expect it from, but he certainly leads the pack.
What Happened To Mike Williams?
Last year, Mike Williams was a must-start on my fantasy team for a good chunk of the season. The further the season went on, the see-saw performances started to creep in. 2021 saw a career high in receptions (76) and yards (1,146), and there's a hope that he can carry that over into this season. This Chargers team looks like it could be good enough to make a serious run. While they made their way past the division rival Las Vegas Raiders in Week 1, Williams played a very small role.
The sixth-year wideout had only two receptions for 10 yards. Even though Keenan Allen left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury, Williams wasn't able to capitalize. He'll need to put in a better performance in Week 2 or he's going to find himself dropped or dangling as trade bait.
This Is The Saquon Barkley We've Been Waiting For
After a rookie season that saw Saquon Barkley win Offensive Rookie of the Year and get selected to the Pro Bowl, his fantasy stock has taken quite a bit of a nosedive. After a sophomore season that still saw him rush for 1,000 yards, he has only managed to play 16 games over the last three seasons, and that includes Week 1 of this season. Injuries and underperformance has truly hampered the running back, but my goodness, did he show up to play against the Tennessee Titans.
It remains to be seen whether the Giants will be able to rely on him week in and week out, but a performance of 18 carries for 164 yards and a touchdown, as well as six receptions for 30 yards, is incredibly promising. I'd say I'm cautiously optimistic. But if he can replicate anything close to this performance next week, fantasy owners will rue the fact that they let him fall out of the first round and never took a chance on him.
Amari Cooper Comes Up Short In Cleveland Debut
When healthy, Amari Cooper has proven that he has the capability to be an absolute stud. With five 1,000 yard seasons under his belt, many think that a move to the Cleveland Browns will continue that trend. However, if week one was any indication of performances to come, fantasy owners should sell or drop now. Cooper was targeted six times but only successfully pulled the ball in on three of those occasions for a total of 17 yards. While the Browns were able to eke out a win, if their passing game revolves around Donovan Peoples-Jones instead of Amari, it's going to be a long season.
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