We had some pretty significant injuries Sunday, and the biggest one came in the final game. Dak Prescott suffered a thumb injury that will require surgery, with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones telling reporters after the team’s already dispiriting loss to the Buccaneers, “It’s a significant injury,” and one that is expected to cost Prescott 6-8 weeks, according to ESPN.
Some injuries require us to guess what the impact is going to be, but in the case of Prescott missing time, we know what that looks like, because the Cowboys offense collapsed without him in 2020. They went from averaging 32.6 points to 21.1 without Prescott, and the passing game especially suffered — they averaged over 300 yards per game with Prescott to just 241.3 without him. The combination of Andy Dalton, Ben DiNucci and Garrett Gilbert just wasn’t good enough to keep things moving, especially with the Cowboys line struggling with injuries as well.
Well … the Cowboys line is also struggling with injuries this season, and they could barely move the ball with Prescott healthy Sunday, so it’s fair to say this is a big deal. I’m not saying this offense definitely can’t be good without Prescott, but I’m skeptical that Cooper Rush — a 28-year-old with one career start under his belt — is going to be good enough to keep things rolling while Prescott is out. The question at this point isn’t, “Is Dallas’ offense going to struggle without Prescott?” The question is, “Can Prescott get back from his injury with enough time to save their season?”
I don’t think I’m being too dramatic here. Those are the stakes for a team as top-heavy as the Cowboys, and even if they use their cap space to go get a better backup, it’s likely going to be someone new to the system who will have to get up to speed quickly. In the aftermath of this injury, it’s incredibly hard to be excited about Ezekiel Elliott and CeeDee Lamb, who is really going to struggle to live up to that top-20 pick you probably paid to draft him. At least for the next couple of months.
That’s a tough, tough break for the Cowboys and Fantasy players, and it wasn’t the only injury we’re monitoring come out of Sunday’s games. I wrote about the rest of the injuries in last night’s newsletter, and we’re hoping to get some updates on the likes of Najee Harris and Elijah Mitchell today or tomorrow — before waivers run Tuesday night, at the least. Harris and Mitchell’s potential absences figure to dominate the waiver-wire for Week 2, and I wrote an early look at the likely top targets Sunday as well, with Harris’ running back Jaylen Warren leading the way for me.
We’ll have more in the coming days on these big injuries and whatever else comes out before Week 2, but before we move on for good, take a look back at Week 1 with my recaps for every game Sunday. I’ve got the biggest winners and losers for each game from a Fantasy perspective, plus some notes you might have missed if you weren’t watching the game.
Here’s what you need to know from every game yesterday.
Week 1 recap
Here are all of the injuries you need to know about, plus one winner, one loser, and one more thing to know about every game.
Bears 19-49ers 10
- Injuries: Elijah Mitchell left with a knee injury. Given his history (including offseason knee surgery), this is an obvious concern. Jeff Wilson will be one of the key targets on waivers heading into Week 2, with Jordan Mason likely ahead of Tyrion Davis-Price in the priority list seeing as he was active this week and Davis-Price wasn’t.
- Winner: Deebo Samuel. It’s hard to take too many positives from this game, given how sloppily it was played, but Samuel’s role was a definite positive. He was there in the backfield, getting eight carries for 52 yards, and the 49ers weren’t afraid to go back to him even after an early fumble. He was still getting opportunities in the Green Zone especially, and that led to a touchdown. I feel much more confident in Samuel returning early-round value after seeing that, especially with a 29% target share. I’ll give Trey Lance a mulligan for his inaccuracy given the conditions, so Samuel getting eight targets to Brandon Aiyuk’s two is a good sign.
- Loser: David Montgomery. I don’t want to overstate how concerning this was for Montgomery – you’ll take 17 carries and four targets from him every week. However, Khalil Herbert was quite impressive in helping ice the game, picking up 21 yards on five straight carries on the team’s penultimate drive, starting from the 49ers 21-yard line. Montgomery out-snapped Herbert 37-16, including a 16-4 edge in routes run, so, again, Montgomery’s role was still pretty good. But Herbert was more effective Sunday, and I do worry about him continuing to cut into Montgomery’s opportunities if that continues.
- One more thing: It’s worth repeating, again, that the weather in Chicago was just awful. The two quarterbacks completed just 21 of 45 passes, and Lance especially left a lot of opportunities on the field. You can give him a mulligan for this week, and his 13 carries show there is still a very Fantasy-friendly skill set here. But he’ll definitely need to be better moving forward for this offense to live up to its potential. And he’ll have opportunities.
Saints 27, Falcons 26
- Injuries: Damien Williams (ribs) left the game early and never returned. Avery Williams was the only running back besides Cordarrelle Patterson to get a touch – he had three.
- Winner: Cordarrelle Patterson. Honorable mention to Michael Thomas, who dominated in the fourth quarter with 53 yards on four catches, with two touchdowns. He’s back. But I’m going to call Patterson the biggest winner from this game, and I’m absolutely kicking myself for not drafting him more. The Falcons talked a lot about needing to limit Patterson’s workload to keep him fresh after he faded in the second half of last season, but he had 120 yards on 22 carries with a touchdown and added three catches for 16 yards on five targets in this one, playing 63% of the snaps. Williams’ injury obviously played a role, but if the Falcons don’t trust any of their backups, Patterson is probably going to be pretty valuable yet again this season. Not this valuable, but I’m viewing him as an RB2 at this point, yet again. Hopefully, he can avoid getting worn down like he did last season.
- Loser: Alvin Kamara. Kamara ran the ball nine times for 39 yards and added just three catches for 7 yards, with an 11.8% target share that just isn’t going to get the job done. Jameis Winston targeted Kamara on 21% of his throws last season, but that was with no Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry, or Chris Olave, who combined for 20 of Winston’s 34 throws. I’m not writing Kamara off – this offense is better than the one he was stuck with last season – but this was a concern given the increased competition. 19 routes run on 40 pass plays is especially concerning.
- One more thing: I’d like to watch Kyle Pitts’ routes from this one to see how often he was matched up against Marshon Lattimore – that guy has made a habit of erasing big, physical receivers like Mike Evans in his matchups in the past. Maybe that explains Pitts’ two-catch performance. He still tied with rookie Drake London for a team-high 21% target share, and while that’s a little on the low end, it’s not so low as to be concerning. Chalk it up to a bad matchup, one Pitts struggled with last season, too.
Steelers 23, Bengals 20 (OT)
- Injuries: Najee Harris (foot) left the game early and was spotted in a walking boot after the game. Harris also missed time in camp with a foot injury, so while post-game reports indicated the injury was “not considered a big deal,” I’ll just quote what I wrote in last night’s newsletter: “‘not considered a big deal’ could still mean a multi-week absence if ‘a big deal’ were to be interpreted as a season-ending injury.” I’m viewing Jaylen Warren as the top waiver-wire target for Week 2, and he played every snap after Harris left the game … Tee Higgins (concussion) was also forced from the game early. He’ll have to clear the concussion protocol to be cleared for Week 2, so watch his status throughout the week.
- Winner: Ja’Marr Chase. 10 catches, 129 yards, 16 targets. He played every single snap – all 94 of them, and was clearly the best player on the field. Maybe he gets a few targets fewer if Higgins is healthy, but Chase was just unstoppable. And he could have had more than one touchdown – he probably got into the end zone on one play where he was called out at the 1 and the Bengals probably cost themselves the game by not challenging the call as they ended up turning the ball over on downs.
- Loser: Najee Harris. Even beyond the injury, this game should have set up perfectly for Harris, as the Bengals couldn’t stop turning the ball over and the Steelers held a 17-6 lead at halftime. However, Harris had just 10 carries and two targets, as the Steelers offense looked horrible in the first game of the post-Ben Roethlisberger era. They deserve more time than just one week to judge, but it was not a promising start for Harris, who has the injury concern on top of that. Not ideal.
- One more thing: The Steelers limited Johnson’s reps coming off his shoulder injury, but that mostly came on passing downs, as he still ran a route on 38 of 41 pass plays. And he earned a whopping 32% target share. And his average depth of target was 9.6 yards down the field, higher than any of his three previous seasons, per TruMedia. This was a very promising start, even if the seven-catch, 55-yard line obscures it somewhat.
Eagles 38, Lions 35
- Winner: Miles Sanders. I kinda want to just put the entire Eagles offense here, because that went about as well as you could possibly have hoped. A.J. Brown had 10 catches for 155 yards on a 41% target share with a whopping 70%-plus share of the team’s air yards. They also ran the ball all over the Lions, with four players finding the end zone, though it’s notable that Sanders was actually one of them! In fact, he had three carries from inside the 5-yard line in this game; he had just five all of last season. He’s still in a very crowded backfield, with a QB who will regularly take goal-line touches away – quite literally, in the case of those read-option plays – but this was a promising start for Sanders.
- Loser: Devonta Smith. The Eagles threw the ball 32 times, but Brown was the only player with more than four. Smith’s four targets turned into zero catches. He still ran every route, so I don’t want to panic, but playing next to a target hog like Brown will make life very difficult for Smith, despite his own talents.
- One more thing: I suppose I should say something about the Lions here. D’Andre Swift looked like a superstar, and despite splitting carries with Jamaal Williams, 15-11, he was still heavily involved in the passing game, running 25 routes. He also came up a yard short of a touchdown, which Williams turned into his second of the day. It was a big game that could have been even bigger for Swift, despite trailing basically the entire game. He’s a stud.
Dolphins 20, Patriots 7
- Winner: Tyreek Hill. Hill got the WR1 treatment from his new team, with a 36% target share. There were maybe one or two plays where Tua Tagovailoa’s arm strength probably cost Hill something, but if the Dolphins are going to feature him this much, it won’t matter much. And it’s not like Hill was the WR1 by default; Jaylen Waddle ran a route on 28 of 37 pass plays, compared to 31 for Hill, despite his preseason leg injury. Those were the only two players to run a route on more than 21 pass plays, so this could be a very concentrated passing game, which should continue to benefit Hill.
- Loser: This is another one where I’m inclined to pick an entire unit, this time the Patriots offense. Mac Jones got beat up and had an X-ray taken on his back after the game, while the running game produced just 78 yards on 22 carries. Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson split carries and targets basically evenly, and seeing as this looks like a pretty mediocre offense, that’s not a good sign. No running back ran more than 13 routes, and Ty Montgomery had four of nine targets between them. We didn’t expect much from the receivers in this offense, but the backfield split looks like a headache, one that may not be worth worrying about when everyone is healthy.
- One more thing: Chase Edmonds had 16 touches and was third on the team in routes run, so he looks like the clear lead back here. Raheem Mostert could challenge for more carries – neither ran the ball effectively in this one – but Edmonds’ passing game role is valuable enough to cement him as a rock-solid RB2 moving forward.
Ravens 24, Jets 19
- Winner: Lamar Jackson. This was one of those games where Jackson played a lot better than his Fantasy line leads you to believe. He didn’t do much as a rusher (six carries, 17 yards), and even his passing box score isn’t terribly impressive; 213 yards on 30 attempts, with three touchdowns and one interception. However, the touchdowns were all on throws of at least 15-plus air yards, including a 55-yarder to new No. 1 WR Rashod Bateman. Jackson wasn’t perfect, especially early on, but was more than good enough.
- Loser: Elijah Moore. Joe Flacco missed a couple of early opportunities with Moore, and he never really got going from there. It’s a bit concerning that both Garrett Wilson and Corey Davis out-targeted Moore, but Moore ran 55 routes on 62 pass attempts, compared to 42 for Davis and 35 for Wilson. I’m still viewing Moore as the Jets No. 1, and a likely No. 2 WR for Fantasy, but I’m definitely worried about Flacco dragging this offense down.
- One more thing: The Jets running backs both actually had good games for Fantasy – 100 total yards, seven catches, 17 PPR points for Michael Carter, 61 yards, six catches, 12.1 PPR points for Breece Hall – but I couldn’t in good conscience list them among the winners, because this was such an atypical game. The Jets won’t be throwing nearly 60 times moving forward, and they won’t be facing a defense playing soft coverage with a massive lead every week. (Okay, maybe the “massive lead” part…). It was good to see them produce, but Hall especially was producing in garbage time. Carter was the RB1, but Hall played enough (46% snap share) that it’s likely neither will be more than an RB3 most weeks. Though, Flacco being out there and throwing 30% of his passing to running backs won’t be a bad thing for their value as long as he’s starting.
Commanders 28, Jaguars 22
- Winner: James Robinson. An honorable mention to Curtis Samuel, who was the do-everything gadget guy I hoped he would be, but how could we not celebrate what Robinson did here? In his first game back from a ruptured Achilles, Robinson was incredible, leading the team in carries (11) and rushing yards (66), with two touchdowns, including one in the receiving game. He reduced Travis Etienne to a footnote in his first regular season game, and he drew even in snaps. Robinson was the primary rusher and even had a significant role in the passing game, and while I’m still skeptical that he’ll be able to contribute coming off that specific injury, he looked great and had enough of a role that you have to consider him in the top-40 mix at RB moving forward. For what it’s worth, Etienne did not help himself with a bad drop on what should have been a walk-in touchdown.
- Loser: Terry McLaurin. McLaurin ran a full complement of routes, but was targeted just four times, fewer than Antonio Gibson, Curtis Samuel, Logan Thomas, and Jahan Dotson. He was third among the team’s wide receivers in targets, and if it wasn’t for one long touchdown, there’d be an awful lot of concern about McLaurin right now. I’m still expecting him to be the No. 1, but Dotson and a healthy Samuel are clearly more competition than he’s had ever before, and it could make him more of a boom-or-bust WR3.
- One more thing: For all the consternation about him in the preseason, this honestly might have been the most promising performance of Gibson’s career. He ran the ball reasonably well – 58 yards on 14 carries, and, happily, no fumbles – but it was his work in the passing game that really impressed. The former wide receiver was actually used like one, leading all non-WR on the team in routes run with 26, nine more than J.D. McKissic, the nominal passing downs back. And Gibson earned multiple downfield targets, with his second game ever with more than 20 air yards on targets. The Commanders talked about wanting to give him more opportunities with the ball in space, and his usage in the passing game in Week 1 was incredibly encouraging. Gibson might be a top-15 RB as long as Brian Robinson is out, and even if Robinson comes back to a rushing-downs split, Gibson could remain a viable RB2 if this keeps up.
Browns 26, Panthers 24
- Winner: Kareem Hunt. Hunt won’t score two touchdowns every week, especially when one of them came from 24 years out. However, if he gets 11 carries and four targets every week, Hunt is going to be a pretty valuable Fantasy option, even in a mediocre offense.
- Loser: Amari Cooper. I expected Cooper to struggle with Jacoby Brissett, and that’s exactly what happened. The Panthers surely tilted their coverage toward Cooper, which probably helps explain why Donovan Peoples-Jones had 11 targets to Cooper’s six, but the bigger concern is that Cooper produced just 17 yards on those six targets. It’s going to be rough, and he’s a fringe WR3 with a low weekly floor in this offense.
- One more thing: Christian McCaffrey’s production – 33 yards on 10 carries, 24 yards on four catches – left a lot to be desired, and the weirdest thing about the game was that his longest play of the game didn’t count. He rushed for 28 yards on one second-half play … but it was technically a fumble recovery as Baker Mayfield couldn’t handle the snap. That was a recurring issue they’ll need to figure out because this Panthers offense was too sloppy to win against teams that can actually move the ball.
Colts 20, Texans 20 (OT)
- Winner: Michael Pittman. The Colts added second-rounder Alec Pierce in the draft, but for at least one week, they still needed to lean heavily on Pittman. In a game where Matt Ryan threw 50 times, Pittman had a 26% target share, turning his 13 targets into nine catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. He sure looks like he’s going to have a massive season, and hopefully Ryan brings more consistency to the passing game than Carson Wentz did.
- Loser: Dameon Pierce. I was a Pierce skeptic, and even I’m surprised at what a limited role he played. Rex Burkhead had the passing game work (eight targets to just one for Pierce), as expected, but Burkhead was also the primary runner, with 14 carries for 40 yards compared to 11 for 33 for Pierce. If you’re looking for a reason to be optimistic, it’s that Burkhead remains a caretaker, someone trustworthy enough not to make mistakes, but not someone who will ever make many plays. Pierce just needs to make plays, and that should earn him a bigger role when he does. However, if you were expecting a three-down workhorse in Week 1, you clearly set your sights too high.
- One more thing: The Colts should have won this game. That kind of goes without saying, but they really blew this one. Alec Pierce had two end zone targets, one of which he flat out dropped; they also had balls on consecutive plays batted away from Michael Pittman and Ashton Dulin in the end zone. Add in a bizarre Wildcat formation play on fourth and goal and they simply blew too many opportunities.
Giants 21, Titans 20
- Winner: Saquon Barkley. Barkley had just one play of more than 50 yards between 2020 and 2021, after having 13 between his first two seasons. So, if you were hoping he was back to being himself, his 68-yard run in this one was a very good sign. As was the massive 33% target share. This offense is still held back by Daniel Jones, who had some bad throws in the red zone – including a terrible pick targeting Barkley in the end zone – but they found ways to get Barkley the ball with room to make plays, and he made them. He might just be an elite Fantasy option again.
- Loser: Kadarius Toney. The Giants coaching staff has apparently not been happy with Toney’s work in practice, and he was a non-factor in this one – he played seven snaps total. I still think he’s by far – by far – the best player in this receiving corps, but he clearly has work to do to earn a role. Hopefully he puts the work in, but there’s no way you can use him right now. I’d prefer not to drop him, at least. Honorable mention to Robert Woods, who was targeted just two times. He led Titans WRs in snaps and routes run, but it was a real rotation. It was Woods’ first game back from a torn ACL, so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that his role will grow, but this was a disappointing start.
- One more thing: Speaking of players whose role will grow, Treylon Burks was fourth among Titans WR in routes run at 13, but he was targeted on five of those routes, including once in the end zone. Burks has room to grow, and he’s a good bet to see a bigger role moving forward. Buy now before the breakout comes.
Vikings 23, Packers 7
- Winner: AJ Dillon. The Packers were trailing basically the entire game, so it’s hard to know what the game plan was. However, Dillon got 10 carries to just five for Aaron Jones, and he had six targets to Jones’ five, to boot. As expected, both look like they’ll be used enough to be worth starting in Fantasy, but at least for one week, Dillon was the lead back – though Jones did play six more snaps than Dillon, for what it’s worth.
- Loser: Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers sure looked like someone who didn’t necessarily trust his receivers in this one – it felt like he was holding the ball a half-second too long on those play action plays, as if he wasn’t sure his receivers would be where he needed them to be. That might just be projecting our own concerns onto Rodgers, but there’s no denying his production left a lot to be desired, too. At least for this week, he seemed to miss Davante Adams.
- One more thing: You don’t drop Aaron Rodgers’ passes. He publicly chastised the young wide receivers on the roster during training camp for dropping passes, and Christian Watson dropped a big one early in this game. Watson was open on what would have been a 75-yard touchdown, and he just dropped it. The good news is, Watson did lead the Packers wideouts in routes run with 29, though Sammy Watkins, Randall Cobb, and Romeo Doubs all ran at least 25, so it was definitely a rotation. Watson will need to take advantage of his opportunities if he’s going to emerge. The talent is there.
Chiefs 44, Cardinals 21
- Winner: Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Isiah Pacheco will draw headlines for leading the Chiefs in carries and yards while scoring a rushing touchdown, but that mostly came in garbage time. Edwards-Helaire had two early touchdowns, and the most interesting thing is they came 1) near the goal line, and 2) on pass plays. Edwards-Helaire played 18 of 40 first-half snaps and was basically done mid-way through the third quarter as the Chiefs ran away with it. He’s still in a timeshare, but don’t let the box score fool you – CEH was the lead back here.
- Loser: Skyy Moore. Moore still has a chance to emerge as a viable Fantasy option in the long run, but it’s clear it’s going to require some patience with the second-rounder. He played just six of 40 first-half snaps, fewer than four other wide receivers, two running backs, and three tight ends. If you’re looking for early-season contributions, Moore isn’t going to give it to you.
- One more thing: JuJu Smith-Schuster’s line – six catches for 79 yards on eight targets (second on the team) – looks good enough, but it’s even better when you realize he really didn’t do anything in the second half. He played just 11 of 26 snaps in that second half, but was pretty clearly the top wide receiver before the game got out of hand.
Chargers 24, Raiders 19
- Injuries: Keenan Allen (hamstring) left the game before halftime and didn’t return. He said afterward there is a chance he could play in Week 2, but because the Chargers play Thursday, I’m not expecting him to play. Josh Palmer had 17 PPR points in one game without Allen last season and would be in the WR3/4 discussion if Allen is sidelined.
- Winner: Davante Adams. My Week 1 Bold Prediction on the Fantasy Football in 5 podcast was that Adams would lead the league in targets in Week 1, and his 17 targets are the most by any player heading into Week 1. He turned those 17 targets into 10 catches for 141 yards and a touchdown and looked every bit the part of an elite Fantasy WR, despite the QB downgrade from Rodgers to Derek Carr. He won’t be targeted on 46% of the Raiders’ throws every week, but he’s going to remain a target hog, because … well, he’s always open. I feel very good about keeping Adams as my No. 3 WR throughout the draft process, and I expect him to be as good as just about anyone out there. That’s who he is.
- Loser: Mike Williams. Williams played his usual allotment of snaps, however, with Allen leaving before halftime, Williams couldn’t step up, finishing with just two catches for 10 yards. The Chargers spread the ball around to an almost absurd degree, with seven players combining to lead the team with four targets. Williams’ downfield-oriented role leads to these kinds of down performances, but given his inconsistent track record, coming out like this in Week 1 is always going to lead to more consternation than most players. I’m not too worried, but if he struggles without Allen in Week 2, it’ll be hard to ignore or write off.
- One more thing: In Josh McDaniels’ first game as the Raiders head coach, his running backs combined for just five targets on 37 passes. That’s surprising because McDaniels’ Patriots almost always leaned heavily on their running backs in the passing game. I thought Ameer Abdullah would make for an excellent early-season sleeper in PPR leagues, but he split passing downs snaps with Brandon Bolden and Josh Jacobs, with Jacobs actually leading the way with 18 routes run. This was a bit of a messy backfield in Week 1, but nobody besides Jacobs got enough run to consider a potential Fantasy contributor.
Buccaneers 19, Cowboys 3
- Injuries: Dak Prescott (thumb) banged his hand against a Buccaneers defenders’ head and then got caught against a pass rusher’s hand later on and had to leave the game. The Cowboys offense struggled enough with him healthy, so I shudder to think what they would look like if he had to miss some time … Chris Godwin (hamstring) was more involved early on than I expected him to be, but on one of his three receptions, he tweaked the hamstring. It would be easy to say this is a result of Godwin making his debut without taking contact during practice coming off his torn ACL, but the truth is, soft-tissue injuries are just more common during training camp and early during the season. Let’s just hope the Buccaneers ruled him out because they were up and didn’t want to push it, but this certainly makes it hard to trust you’ll be able to rely on Godwin early this season.
- Winner: Julio Jones. Jones still looked like a potential difference maker in this offense, as he went into halftime with 69 yards on three catches plus two carries for 17 yards. He had just one incomplete target in the second half as the Buccaneers decided to play it easy with their whole offense. Jones was second among the team’s wide receivers in snaps and routes run, and though he played just 32 of 62 snaps overall, that split was 22 out of 34, with a 78% route share in the first half. Godwin exited early and Russell Gage was coming back from a hamstring injury, so you could see them both having a bigger role moving forward. But Jones’ role looks pretty solid, too.
- Loser: This is one we’re giving to the whole Cowboys offense, and it’s hard to see how things are going to get better with Prescott’s injury. The last time Prescott missed significant time was in 2019. The Cowboys went 4-7 without Prescott, with their non-Prescott quarterbacks combining for a 3.8% touchdown rate and 6.4 yards per attempt. We don’t have much reason to think Cooper Rush is going to be much better – he played well in a small sample size last season, but he’s a 28-year-old with one start under his belt, so my expectations are low. We don’t know how long Prescott is going to be out, but it’s going to be hard for CeeDee Lamb to live up to that WR1 price without him. Brutal.
- One more thing: The Buccaneers were weirdly ineffective in the red zone, scoring just once on three trips down there. However, you have to be pretty happy about Leonard Fournette dropping 15.7 PPR points in a game where he barely played in the second half and didn’t get any goal-line opportunities. This remains one of the most valuable situations for any running back, and Rachaad White looks like the clear backup.