If you’re still trying to make sense of the NFL’s opening week, we have a six-pack of stats that will hopefully help fantasy managers out there. Let’s begin by acknowledging an astonishing comeback…
260: That’s how many days passed from the moment James Robinson tore his Achilles last season to when he returned to action in opening week against Washington. Amazing. It’s one of the most remarkable recovery timelines in recent memory, given the severity of the injury. Robinson was phenomenal against the Commanders, gaining 69 total yards on a dozen touches, scoring a pair of touchdowns and playing 49 percent of the offensive snaps. He gained 4.2 yards after contact per attempt according to PFF. Here’s a sample of his work:
Robinson looked exactly like the pre-injury version of himself, the guy who’d averaged 5.0 yards per touch in his first two seasons. Whatever surgeons are doing with tendons these days, it’s incredible. Sterling Shepard made it back from an Achilles tear on a timeline similar to Robinson’s and he also made a house call in the opener.
123: Saquon Barkley rushed for 123 yards after first contact on his 18 carries against the Titans, the highest opening week total for any back in the league. He picked up only 435 yards after contact all of last season in 162 attempts. We should also note that Tennessee’s defense ranked second against the run last year, so it’s not as if Barkley was simply feasting on a friendly matchup. It would appear that Saquon is, in fact, back.
39: Chase Claypool lined up in the slot 39 times on Sunday, claiming a role in Pittsburgh’s offense that previously belonged to JuJu Smith-Schuster. He caught four balls for 18 yards on six targets, plus he did Deebo-ish things, carrying six times for 36 yards. So that was fun. It didn’t add up to much for fantasy purposes, but his usage makes him a very interesting chess piece moving forward. Claypool is a clear trade target exiting Week 1.
13.9: This was Jarvis Landry‘s average air-yards per target on Sunday according to NFL Next Gen Stats and, as you can probably guess, it’s a big number by his career standards. Jameis Winston has been a high-aDOT quarterback his entire career, so it should be no great surprise to see his primary receivers targeted deep downfield. Landry was excellent in the opener, absolutely instrumental in the team’s fourth quarter comeback.
We can start him with confidence in any sort of PPR format. If Landry remains healthy, he’s going to top 1,000 yards for the first time since 2019.
12: Marcus Mariota ran the ball 12 times against the Saints on Sunday, a new career high, gaining 72 yards on the ground and scoring a touchdown. The fumbling was unfortunate and he passed for just 215 scoreless yards, but let’s not pretend he was facing a pushover defense. If Mariota is going to run at this rate (or anything close to it) this season, then he’s going to be exceedingly streamable. There are plenty of friendly matchups ahead on Atlanta’s schedule and eventually Mariota is going to find Drake London and Kyle Pitts in the end zone.
[Week 2 Fantasy Rankings: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | FLEX | DST | Kickers]
5.1: Jalen Hurts finished with an average depth of target of just 5.1 in Sunday’s win, among the lowest in the league in opening week. He was near the top of the leaderboard last year at 9.5 (and 10.1 the season before). All the short-range attempts didn’t do much for his completion percentage as he connected on just 18 of 32 throws. In fact, Hurts was 10-for-13 when targeting A.J. Brown and 8-for-19 targeting anyone else. He attempted only one throw of 20-plus yards, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Last year, Hurts completed deep balls at a rate of only 38.1 percent, producing four TDs and five interceptions.