NFL Nation Fantasy Fallout: Jets lose Aaron Rodgers; Rams WRs step up

ByEric Moody and NFL Nation ESPN logo
Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Week 1 is in the books, and there is no shortage offantasy footballnews to digest.

Each Tuesday and Saturday during the season, ESPN fantasy analyst Eric Moody will ask our NFL Nation reporters the most pressing questions heading into the weekend and what to make of the fallout after games are played. Who is primed for a big performance, who is impacted by injuries and what roles might change? Here's what our crew had to say about some of the biggest storylines followingWeek 1 and heading into the weekend of Week 2.

More conservative and more vanilla. Not only is Zach Wilson relatively inexperienced as a QB, but he's a neophyte in this offensive system. The coaches will dial it back, making him a game manager. There will be fewer explosive plays for the wideouts. The running backs might get more checkdowns than they would've with Rodgers at the helm. From a fantasy perspective, every player's receiving numbers will be significantly impacted, but Breece Hall and Dalvin Cook should see their opportunities grow in the running game. -- Rich Cimini

The sense I got was the Eagles wanted to lean on the familiar in Week 1. Gainwell earned their trust down the stretch last season, and that trust was rewarded via 18 touches against the Patriots. He'll continue to be a big part of the running back attack, but look for Swift's role to grow starting Thursday against the Minnesota Vikings. Two touches is way too low for a playmaker like Swift, and the coaches know it. Penny will have to show more in practice to work his way into the running back rotation. For now, Boston Scott is ahead of him as RB3. -- Tim McManus

The performances are to be believed, but the target share could even out more in the coming weeks. Sean McVay said after the game that Van Jefferson (4 catches for 24 yards) "is going to continue to be a big part of this as well," so Nacua might not get 15 targets -- seven more than the next pass-catcher -- every game. McVay and the Rams coaching staff are high on Williams, but Cam Akers is still likely to get plenty of opportunities, as he did Sunday in Seattle. -- Sarah Barshop

Ekeler is never going to be a volume runner. In fact, he has never had 20 carries in any of his 90 career NFL games, so there is going to be a role for Kelley as a complementary back. But how often is Kelley going to see an equal number of carries as Ekeler or, more importantly, deliver a robust 5.7 yards per attempt with them? This was just the third time Kelley topped 3.5 yards per carry in eight games with 10 or more rushes. Treat Kelley as a fantasy spot-starter or flex option in the most favorable matchups for now, especially since he can always pick off touchdowns at the goal line for a powerful Chargers offense. -- Daniel Greenspan

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the team will replace Dobbins with a committee, with the main workload expected to be split between Edwards and Hill. Judging by how Baltimore handled its backfield after Dobbins got hurt, Edwards should get most of the snaps early in the drives, and Hill will receive most of the red zone touches. Gordon brings plenty of experience, but he was running behind Edwards and Hill throughout training camp. It will be interesting how much the Ravens use impressive rookie Keaton Mitchell when he comes off injured reserve. -- Jamison Hensley

Gibbs was solid in his NFL debut, gaining 60 yards from scrimmage while averaging 6.0 yards per rush. His versatility and explosion were certainly on display at Kansas City, but Lions coach Dan Campbell said prior to kickoff that he wouldn't overload Gibbs during his first game. Although fantasy managers may have expected more from the No. 12 overall pick, the plan is for Gibbs to get more touches now that he has a game under his belt. Gibbs and Montgomery will get used how the New Orleans Saints used Mark Ingram II and Alvin Kamara as a two-headed monster out of the backfield. Gibbs' opportunities could depend on the matchup or whoever has the hot hand that game. -- Eric Woodyard

Johnson left early in the second half with a hamstring injury after his longest play of the day and was ruled out pretty quickly. Johnson is expected to be sidelined "a few weeks" because of the hamstring injury he suffered, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Tuesday. The wide receiver has a history of soft tissue injuries, particularly early in the season, and those types of injuries are especially tricky to manage. Look for Allen Robinson II to have an expanded role in the offense as he did in the second half of Sunday's loss to the 49ers. -- Brooke Pryor

You won't like this answer, but it's going to be a unknown. That's due to many, many factors -- from Arthur Smith's week-to-week playcalling to game scripts to the eventual return of Cordarrelle Patterson, who was an effective goal-line rusher last season, too. What is clear is that both Robinson and Allgeier will have continued large roles: Robinson as a do-it-all player who can line up anywhere in an offense and Allgeier as a power rusher who can be effective on screens and short passes. Throughout his three years in Atlanta, Smith has been very clear he doesn't worry about fantasy production, only real-life wins, so his game plans are going to reflect that on a weekly basis. -- Michael Rothstein

It's difficult to picture them going with seven for all 17 games. It's quite possible they do for the time being because they have specific roles for all seven based on their particular skills. But at some point the most inexperienced of their wideouts, Rashee Rice and Justyn Ross, will be able to expand their roles, and it seems likely the Chiefs would pare this group on game day to a more manageable number. -- Adam Teicher

Sure, the easy answer is All-Pro Davante Adams, but he's always going to get his. So, hello, Hunter Renfrow. Forgotten in the Raiders' game plan during their 17-16 win at Denver -- the former Pro Bowl slot receiver was not targeted a single time against the Broncos -- Renfrow figures to be more of an emphasis anyway. But if Meyers is out, it only makes sense for new QB Jimmy Garoppolo to look for the shifty Renfrow underneath. It was the first time in Renfrow's 57-game career he was not targeted, let alone shut out on the stat sheet, so a big rebound is expected after he played a career-low-tying 13 snaps. -- Paul Gutierrez

The Titans got away from their tradition of feeding Henry the ball in the fourth quarter in close games last week. Henry only had three carries for two yards in the fourth quarter. The more surprising part of it all is rookie Tyjae Spears played 33 snaps in the game while Henry only had 28. Titans coach Mike Vrabel said the limited touches for Henry in New Orleans was an outlier and vowed to make him a big part of the offense. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly said he'd "be a fool to get away from what the Titans do best," when asked about Henry being the focal point of the offense during training camp. Expect Henry to get the bulk of the carries, but Spears will be used in the passing game. --Turron Davenport

Yes, and that was the plan all along. Last season Kirk ran 73% of his routes from the slot (per NFL Next Gen Stats), but coach Doug Pederson said he wanted to have Kirk work primarily out of the slot and have Calvin Ridley work on the outside in 2023. That played out in the opener -- 20 of Kirk's 22 routes were run from the slot -- and should be the case, barring injuries, for the rest of the season. -- Michael DiRocco

There is a mild level of concern. Some of Cincinnati's struggles can be attributed to a slew of unique factors to Week 1: a terrible matchup against the Browns, a very wet day that limited a passing attack and a slippery field that could be treacherous for a quarterback dealing with a calf issue. But the last point is why the concern exists. After the game, quarterback Joe Burrow said his right calf was "good enough." A dry game and field could give a better indicator of Burrow's health. But the calf strain that forced him to miss nearly six weeks could be an issue moving forward.-- Ben Baby

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