Every year after the Super Bowl, there are almost immediately new takes, and then narratives spun in the offseason for every reason, from keeping the interest up in the game to NFL teams throwing other teams off their scent. With week one of the NFL season here and gone, we got a better idea, if not an answer, to whether some of what we heard on players and teams was real or indeed just a narrative.
It’s been a great first week, with many close finishes and a few Hall of Fame quarterbacks starting their first game after complicated offseasons. Also, the players buried in the offseason in real or fantasy football have been playing well. Even the middle teams have been giving some indication of where they’re headed this year. So there’s a lot to sift through in week one takeaways.
5 Week One Team and Fantasy Takeaways
1. Bucs Look Like Contenders Again
After winning the Super Bowl two years ago, the Bucs were one of the favorites in Vegas to close the season, but the offseason hasn’t been full of what exactly qualifies as “hype.” The Bucs didn’t lose a lot in the way of essential players, considering what they acquired, but they did lose their head coach after conflicts with Brady. On top of all that, Brady is having his weirdest, most tabloid-saturated time in the media. Questions about his commitment to football and now rumored marriage trouble are being discussed.
However, the Bucs took care of business on Sunday, with the defense holding the Cowboys to 3 points and Brady spreading the ball around to various weapons. It wasn’t a mind-blowing win, especially with Dak Prescott being hurt in the second half, but playing so well against him while he was in and watching the offense click should be enough to put worries to bed for now.
2. A Few Running Backs With Fantasy Life
Several running backs reaffirmed their place in the league during week one, even though it is likely a fleeting moment. Cordarrelle Patterson, Antonio Gibson, James Robinson, and Saquan Barkley all had huge weeks after much speculation about their durability and concern about rookies being in camp. Ultimately this has led many to believe their time as number one was coming to a close. However, Saquan delivered for those drafting him for the upside in an awkward part of the draft, and the rest delivered high above their average draft position (ADP).
Robinson may be available as a waiver pick-up for week two and reasonably started, while Gibson and Patterson move up to locks as potentially high-end RB2, and flex plays.
3. Three Defensive Minds Don’t Make an Offense
With the Patriots, the main news of the offseason was the loss of Josh McDaniels to the Raiders and the lack of a new clear-cut offensive coordinator. Instead, the Patriots have a complicated situation between Bill Belichick and coordinators Joe Judge and Matt Patricia. With Patricia having worked mostly defense and some offensive line duties in his career and Judge serving his most successful role as a special teams coach, the Patriots don’t have anyone known for their offensive play calling.
That played out into the second-lowest scoring offense of the week and was probably worse than most expected. If the play-calling can’t compensate for the lack of receiving options, this offense and the Patriots are in for a rough season.
4. AFC South As Bad as Expected (Maybe)
The media didn’t expect much from the division coming into the year, and this weekend seemingly said it all about the AFC South. Considered a slew of bad or mediocre teams, the Colts, Texans, Jaguars, and Titans combined to go 0-2-2 and couldn’t even get a win when two of them were playing each other. Of course, the highly-touted AFC West went defeated as well, but the competition was a little more fierce.
Losing to the Giants and the Commanders, the Titans, and the Jags couldn’t have chosen a much worse combination. On the fantasy side, Dameon Pierce fell far short of expectations in his first game and trailed Rex Burkhead by eight touches. You should put him on your bench while you wait and see if Lovie Smith is easing the rookie into the game.
5. Things Aren’t Cooking Yet in Denver
Russell Wilson didn’t get off to the start he wanted in Denver during the offseason’s most significant signing. While Wilson didn’t play badly, he was outdone by his former backup, Geno Smith. Relying primarily on the tight-ends, running backs, and fumbling twice, Denver moved the ball but couldn’t finish or keep the consistency long enough to take the game. With playoff expectations at least, and more from some Bronco fans, it was far from the fun and explosive team some thought they’d see.
What to Watch in Week Two
With a little more info under our belt, week two will give us even more guidance into who realistically has a shot at the Super Bowl or to have a big season. In a few games of note, watch for a big AFC West game on Thursday Night Football, whether the Giants and Barkley can keep up the best start in years, Curtis Samuel making his Deebo Samuel impression in Washington, and what the AFC West looks like after a tough week one.