There’s no replacing a guy like Cooper Kupp, something the Rams learned the hard way last season when he went down with a season-ending injury. But at least after Week 1, they seem a lot more well-suited to survive his latest absence, with how Tutu Atwell and especially Puka Nacua stepped up against the Seahawks.
Nacua, a fifth-round rookie, put together a tremendous NFL debut, catching 10 passes for 119 yards on 15 targets, and it could have been an even bigger line – he had a couple of drops, while Matthew Stafford just barely overthrew him on what could have been a long touchdown in the second half. I liked Nacua as a sleeper coming into the season, but of course I didn’t see this coming – if I did, he’d be on more than just four of my rosters.
Now, Nacua might be myin the leagues where I didn’t already have him stashed. In today’s newsletter, I’ve got the injuries you need to know about coming out of Sunday afternoon’s action, plus my biggest winners and losers from Week 1 so far. But before we get to that, . Here are what I would say are the five highest-priority adds in Fantasy heading into Week 2:
- Puka Nacua, WR, Rams (7%)
- Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Eagles (54%)
- Kyren Williams, RB, Rams (11%)
- Gus Edwards, RB, Ravens (36%)
- Jakobi Meyers, WR, Raiders (65%)
In the rest of tonight’s FFT newsletter, we’ve got the biggest injuries and winners and losers to recap Sunday’s action. Here’s what you need to know:
Week 1 Injury Recap
The biggest injury from Week 1 is a truly unfortunate one, as JK Dobbins suffered a ruptured Achilles, an injury that will certainly end his 2023 season after just 10 touches. It’s unfortunate for a lot of reasons, not least of which because a ruptured Achilles is an incredibly difficult injury to come back from, and Dobbins already lost one of his first three seasons due to a torn ACL. Add in that Dobbins looked like a real breakout candidate this season and it’s a real bummer.
It’s also not clear whether Gus Edwards or Justice Hill is going to need to be a high-priority waiver-wire target in the wake of the injury. Hill got two touchdowns Sunday, but Edwards started three of four drives after Dobbins’ injury, and figures to be the lead rusher here. He should be productive in that role, but even in the 11 games where Edwards has 15 or more carries in his career he’s averaged just 12.6 PPR points per game; his lack of pass-catching really limits his upside, even when Edwards is an efficient runner, as he typically is.
Add in that the Ravens will likely add a veteran RB — starting with Melvin Gordon from the practice squad with the potential to sign someone like Leonard Fournette or Kareem Hunt, and I can’t really recommend adding Edwards or Hill as anything more than just a low-end, touchdown-dependent RB for Fantasy..
Here are the other injuries we’re keeping track of coming out of Sunday’s action:
Aaron Jones (hamstring) – Jones looked like the Packers best playmaker with Christian Watson out, but it was on one of the biggest plays of the game, a 36-yard catch and run for a score where he grabbed at his hamstring and walked straight into the locker room, unable to return. You never want to see a guy leave with a hamstring injury, and Jones’ reaction indicated he knew he wasn’t coming back. Hopefully, it won’t linger much beyond this week, but I’d be preparing for a week without Jones, which should push AJ Dillon into the RB2 range for Week 2 against the Falcons.
Diontae Johnson (hamstring) – Johnson struggled along with the entire Steelers offense, and his injury also came on his biggest play of the game. He went down awkwardly after a 26-yard catch and run and immediately grabbed at his right hamstring and stayed down. He was unable to return, and as with Jones, you should be preparing for an absence next week. Allen Robinson did step up to lead the team with 64 yards, while Calvin Austin led them with six receptions, but I’d have to be pretty desperate to look to either of them outside of a very deep league even if Johnson is out.
Jakobi Meyers (concussion) – Meyers had a terrific game in his Raiders debut, scoring a couple of touchdowns while benefiting from the defensive attention Davante Adams drew. Unfortunately, he took a pretty vicious shot late in the game that drew a flag, and stayed down on the field for several minutes before coming off. He’s being evaluated for a concussion, and that throws his status for Week 2 up in the air. He’s still worth adding, but just note that if you need immediate help, Meyers may not be able to provide it.
Evan Hull (knee) – This one is frustrating because there could have been a real opportunity for Hull to play Sunday if not for the injury, because of how bad Deon Jackson was. I’ll have more thoughts on that shortly, but the good news here is that Hull appears to have avoided a serious injury, per The Indianapolis Star. Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean Hull won’t miss any time, and any absence may mean Zack Moss is back from his injury, which would limit Hull’s path to significant playing time. Hull might even be droppable if you were stashing him, even if he doesn’t miss much time.
Greg Dulcich (hamstring) – Dulcich is set to have an MRI to determine the severity of the injury, and Sean Payton didn’t have any further details after the game. That’s a tough outcome for Dulcich, who already faced an uphill climb to Fantasy relevance in Payton’s new offense. We’ll keep an eye out for the results of any further testing, but I might be inclined to drop Dulcich this week.
Biggest Winners and Losers
Here’s who has the arrow pointing up or down coming out of Sunday’s action:
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Dolphins
Look, Tagovailoa proved he could be a tremendously productive passer in this offense last year, but I think it’s fair to say that he should have eliminated any lingering doubt with this showing. Because the Chargers were really the only team that managed to slow down a healthy Dolphins offense in 2022. They couldn’t repeat that Sunday, as Tagovailoa led the Dolphins to 36 points on 28 for 45 passing for 466 yards and three touchdowns. The Dolphins kept Tagovailoa upright – he wasn’t sacked once Sunday – and he found Tyreek Hill over and over again for chunk plays, as Hill had 11 catches for 215 yards and two touchdowns. There’s still that health question lingering over Tagovailoa, but as long as he’s active, he belongs in your starting lineup for Fantasy.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, 49ers
The 49ers were in control of their game against the Steelers basically from the word “go,” and they led by at least two scores for the entire second half, which was the kind of game script we kind of worried might limit McCaffrey’s appeal for Fantasy. However, even with Elijah Mitchell active Sunday, McCaffrey dominated the work for the 49ers, rushing for 152 yards on 22 carries, while Mitchell had just 10 yards on his five carries. There will come points where the 49ers look to limit McCaffrey’s usage, especially when Mitchell gets going early in games. But Week 1 showed that at least may not be the rule every week, which keeps McCaffrey’s path to a No. 1 overall finish open.
Zay Flowers, WR, Ravens
I kind of stayed away from all of the Ravens receivers in Week 1, even with Mark Andrews sidelined by a quad injury. I just didn’t know how the hierarchy was going to work out in their new offense, but at least for one week, Flowers was the clear top option in the passing game. He earned 10 targets on Lamar Jackson’s 22 passes, catching nine of them for 78, and he added two carries for 9 yards, too. It was a very solid debut for the rookie first-rounder, and while I don’t expect him to dominate targets like that moving forward, it’s clear the Ravens wanted to get the ball in his hands early and often – the two carries show that, too. Obviously, the absence of Andrews impacts how the entire offense looked, and Flowers should still be second on the hierarchy after Andrews. But, at least after one game, that looks like the only guy he’ll be behind. He should be ranked in the WR3 range next week.
Michael Pittman, WR, Colts
The Colts just couldn’t get anything going on the ground Sunday, and rather than doubling down on futility, head coach Shane Steichen trusted rookie Anthony Richardson to put the ball in the air a lot more than I expected, to Pittman’s benefit. He was the clear top option in the passing game, earning 11 targets on 39 pass attempts, catching eight of them for 97 yards and a touchdown. You probably can’t count on a 39-yard touchdown on a screen every week, and it’s worth pointing out that 16 of the Colts’ 39 passes attempts came in the fourth quarter as they tried to come back from what became a two-score deficit. But still, they were on pace for about 30 passes even before that, so this wasn’t a 2022 Bears/Falcons-esque run-first-second-and-third offense even in Richardson’s first ever game. That bodes well for Pittman’s chances of remaining a viable starting Fantasy option, especially with how well Richardson threw the ball.
Michael Thomas, WR, Saints
Just getting through a game without injury is a win for Thomas at this point, but he wasn’t just present for this one. He was second on the team with eight targets (on a very solid 24% target share), catching five of eight passes for 61 yards in this one. Thomas played 51 of 62 snaps and ran a team-high 34 routes on 38 pass attempts, so they really didn’t limit his exposure. That doesn’t mean Thomas is going back to being an elite Fantasy wide receiver again, but I do feel more confident trusting him for Week 2 than I did in Week 1. At this point, that’s the most we can ask.
DJ Moore, WR, Bears
The steady drumbeat out of training camp was that Moore was clearly Justin Fields’ favorite target in the passing game, and while the Bears might not throw much, they’d heavily target Moore, at least. That was decidedly not what we saw in Week 1, as Moore managed just two targets despite Justin Fields throwing the ball 37 times. This was a tough matchup for Moore going against 2022 Pro Bowler Jaire Alexander, but that doesn’t make Moore’s two-catch, 25-yard showing sting any less. Moore has been a consistent enough target earner throughout his career that I can’t really be too concerned here, and if anything, Fields throwing it 37 times might be a positive for the bull case for Moore. But, if you were buying in, this wasn’t what you wanted to see from a guy who was often drafted in the top-15 among WRs.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Browns
In the interest of fairness, it’s worth noting that the Browns were playing in less-than-ideal weather Sunday, and Joe Burrow had arguably the worst game of his career, so Watson wasn’t even the worst QB in his game. Of course, Burrow doesn’t have nearly as much to prove to us as Watson, who was terrible in his return from suspension last season and wasn’t any better Sunday. He completed just 16 of 29 passes for 154 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. It ended up being a not-terrible Fantasy game because he rushed for 45 yards and a touchdown, and if he can continue to be productive as a rusher, it makes his margin for error as a passer much wider. However, the case for Watson as a starting Fantasy QB was that he would bounce back as a passer, and at least at this point, we haven’t seen it yet. I’m not dropping Watson, but I’m not looking for an excuse to trade for him either.
Rachaad White, RB, Buccaneers
The case for White as a must-start Fantasy RB came down to the fact that he was locked in as the starting RB with little competition, and that part of it bore out in Week 1 – White had 17 of the Buccaneers’ 24 RB carries and two of their four RB targets in the game. The workload was there. The problem? Well, White just wasn’t very good, rushing for 39 yards on those 17 carries while adding just 10 yards on his two receptions. This was always my concern here – that he might open the season as the starter, but he might just not be a good enough player to remain the starter. It’s too early to think he’s going to lose his job, but White will have to be better – his -38 yards over expectation Sunday would have been tied for the fourth-worst game by any running back last season, per NFL Next Gen Stats. He’s got some leash right now, but I don’t know how long that leash is. If I have a roster spot to play with, I’m considering adding rookie Sean Tucker with a low-dollar FAB bid this week. Just in case.
Christian Kirk, WR, Jaguars
Based on preseason usage, we had reason to believe the Jaguars would be prioritizing Calvin Ridley and Zay Jones in the passing game, and that is, unfortunately, exactly what we saw in Week 1. Ridley looked the part of a legitimate No. 1 WR in his first game in nearly two years, while Zay Jones was second on the team with seven targets, five catches, and 55 yards – plus a touchdown. Kirk? Well, he produced less. A lot less. Like, he had one catch for 9 yards on three targets. And the bigger concern might be that he was only on the field for 24 of their 35 pass plays, just 69%. Last season, he was out there for 96% of their pass plays, so that’s a gigantic difference and not a good one. I don’t want to bury Kirk, but like I said earlier, this was continuing a trend we saw in the preseason, with Kirk running as the clear No. 3 WR for the Jaguars. I’m not sure I’ll have Kirk ranked in my top 40 at WR for Week 2.
Dameon Pierce, RB, Texans
Sometimes, you’ll end up with teams playing extremely high snap numbers and it can skew the snap share numbers, so I don’t want to overreact to Pierce playing just 47% of the snaps when the Texans played 77 Sunday. But Pierce wasn’t a particularly efficient running back last season, and he really relied on massive volume to be Fantasy relevant – before his injury, only three running backs had a higher share of their team’s RB touches than Pierce’s 77.5% mark in 2022. Sunday’s was a tough matchup and it was C.J. Stroud’s first game, so I want to repeat that I don’t want to overreact. But Pierce is going to need to consolidate snaps and touches a lot more than he did in Week 1 moving forward to be even an RB2.