Every single year we have to battle the urge to overreact to Week 1. In 2020, it's going to be harder than ever. That's because we were doing even more guessing coming into the year than ever before. We had no preseason games and most of the offseason was virtual. Because of that, it's understandable to want to assign more meaning to this year's Week 1 performances. As a rule, I think it would be better if we could avoid that. But in some circumstances we don't have much choice.
With that in mind, let's sort through the biggest storylines from Week 1 in the first installment of Believe It or Not for 2020:
Marlon Mack was carted off early in Sunday's game and there has been speculation that he tore his Achilles and is done for the year. In his place, Taylor and Hines combined for 162 total yards, 14 catches, and two touchdowns. The Colts were always going to be among the league leaders in total running back touches, but without Mack those touches get consolidated between two players rather than three. Those two players are Taylor and Hines, and they're both starters moving forward.
- Verdict: Believe It
Taylor is one of the best running back prospects we've seen in recent years. He was my favorite rookie before the NFL Draft and the only concern I had this offseason was the presence of Mack. Now that he's in line for consistent touches I expect he'll eventually turn into a top-12 Fantasy back. I was stunned the Colts threw it to Taylor six times in his first game, but that's what Philip Rivers does. The sky is the limit if everything clicks for Taylor, few backs have more upside.
Hines looks firmly locked into the Austin Ekeler role. He won't be as good as Ekeler was last year, because he's not as good a player, but he can be 75% of 2019 Ekeler and that's a must-start back in PPR. He waseven given red zone and short yardage work before Taylor. Taylor should eventually take both, but for now the possibility of a share of that role raises Hines' upside.
Believe it or not: Laviska Shenault is must-add and a decent flex against the Titans.
Like many teams, the Jaguars played a rotation at wide receiver in Week 1 but Shenault made a difference when he was on the field. He caught three of his four targets for 37 yards and a score. He also ran the ball twice for 10 yards. He's only rostered in 33% of leagues and should be one of the top priorities on the waiver wire this week.
- Verdict: Believe it
The rotation in Jacksonville includes D.J. Chark, Chris Conley, Keelan Cole, and Collin Johnson. That's perfect for Shenault because Chark will command the defense's attention as the No. 1 option but there's no one in the way of Shenault becoming a full-time player, and Fantasy contributor.
Gardner Minshew looks like he took a step forward this offseason and most weeks he figures to throw more than 20 passes per game. If Shenault can maintain his 20% target share and contribute on the ground he has top-20 upside.
There was much consternation this offseason about the Chargers passing game with Tyrod Taylor under center. For those who drafted Keenan Allen anyway, Week 1 was no consolation. Allen caught four of eight targets for 37 yards as Taylor completed just 16 total passes for 208 yards. Allen was out-targeted by Mike Williams and out-performed by Williams and Hunter Henry. There's just not enough production here to support multiple options.
- Verdict: Don't believe it
Allen saw a 26.7% target share. This was a very consolidated attack and Allen was a major part of it. If anything, managers with Austin Ekeler (1 target) should be concerned. Allen is a still a PPR No. 2 wide receiver and a No. 3 in non in Week 2 against Kansas City. As long as he keeps getting targets I'll start him in Week 3 against Carolina as well. Even with a quarterback change I wouldn't buy a major change in efficiency after one or two games from an elite talent like Allen.
Believe it or not: We should expect full-blown committees moving forward in Cleveland and Baltimore.
They had different results, but the Ravens and Browns both looked fully committed to RBBC in Week 1. For Baltimore, Mark Ingram led the team with 10 carries (33% of the team's rush attempts) while four players ran the ball at least four times. Cleveland was more consolidated, but Kareem hunt actually had more carries than Nick Chubb, which we didn't expect. This is exactly what both teams told us they wanted to do, so we should believe their Week 1 usage.
- Verdict: Believe it
This is what Baltimore did last year, so it shouldn't be a surprise. Nevertheless, it's bad news for Ingram. Because at least last year Ingram got all the short yardage work. On Sunday, J.K. Dobbins scored a pair of short touchdowns and was the only Ravens running back worth starting. Worse, none of them saw any targets. This is an awesome running attack, but if they're maxing out at 10 carries and not involved in the passing game it's really hard to get excited about anyone here as more than a flex.
In Cleveland, we'd been told they wanted to even out the touches. Well, Kareem Hunt saw 17 and Nick Chubb only received 11. While I don't expect Hunt to out-touch Chubb moving forward, this was a very encouraging Week 1 for Hunt. The Browns top two running backs combined for 28 touches in a game they lost by 32. Even better, Hunt and Chubb were both over five yards per carry against a very good Ravens defense. This has all the makings of a very good run offense that will be very balanced. Chubb and Hunt are both No. 2 running backs moving forward.
Believe it or not: There's no one on the Washington Football Team you can trust as a starter.
This shouldn't be particularly shocking. For most of the summer Terry McLaurin was the only Washington player being drafted in the first six rounds. Then they cut Adrian Peterson and Antonio Gibson's ADP skyrocketed. In Week 1 neither Gibson or McLaurin was very useful. Instead Peyton Barber scored two touchdowns and Logan Thomas scored one as well. You're probably not starting Barber and Thomas next year, and it won't be easy to trust anyone else either.
Verdict: Don't believe it
The 11 PPR points you got from McLaurin this week should be close to his floor. He caught five of his seven targets and averaged nearly nine yards per target. Washington figures to throw more than 31 passes most weeks, but even if he gets seven targets per week he'll finish as a top-25 receiver with that type of efficiency. I'm starting him Week 2 against Arizona.
Gibson is a different story. If you'd told me he was getting nine carries this week I'd have been thrilled, but that's because I expected more than two targets. J.D. McKissic saw more targets and Barber saw nearly twice as many carries. That should change at some point, but until it does Gibson needs to stay on your bench.