Week 1 of the season featured plenty of fireworks, but upsets were few and far between as almost all of the top teams began their campaign on the right note.
Of course, it’s just one game, and a better test for New England is on the way as they’ll meet the Jacksonville Jaguars – who also won their opener – in a rematch of the AFC Championship Game in Week 2.
With the defeat, the Saints open up lower in our power rankings than they would have otherwise.
Check out where all the teams rank below.
1. New England Patriots
It was business as usual for New England in the opener and their pass rush was particularly encouraging – although that may have been a function of Houston’s shaky offensive line.
2. Philadelphia Eagles
The defending champions looked lacklustre all preseason and they weren’t all that much better in the opener as they won in ugly fashion.
3. Los Angeles Rams
The second half against Oakland showed what this team is capable of and that’s dominant play on both sides of the ball.
4. Minnesota Vikings
Their defence was as advertised against San Francisco while Dalvin Cook looked like a weapon who can take the offence to the next level.
5. Green Bay Packers
The comeback win over Chicago was even more proof that Green Bay are difficult to kill when Aaron Rodgers is on the field.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars
The formula remains the same for Jacksonville, who leaned on their all-world defence to outlast the Giants.
7. Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes mania is here after the Chiefs attack showed signs of being special in their impressive win over San Diego.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh’s defence was firing against Cleveland as they racked up seven sacks, but Ben Roethlisberger had an off day.
9. Atlanta Falcons
There’s no harm in losing to the defending champions on the road, but the Falcons have to get their act together in the red zone.
10. New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay has talented offensive players, but that type of performance by the defence is inexcusable for a Super Bowl contender.
11. Carolina Panthers
They left their win over Dallas banged up as both tight end Greg Olsen and right tackle Darryl Williams exited with serious injuries.
12. Baltimore Ravens
Buffalo could very well be the worst team in the league this season, so it’s hard to read too much into the Ravens’ blowout.
13. Los Angeles Chargers
They keep finding ways to shoot themselves in the foot and they might also have the worst home-field advantage in the league.
14. Houston Texans
Offensive line struggles will hold them back, even if Deshaun Watson can compensate on occasion.
The Alex Smith-Adrian Peterson combination has worked well so far, but stiffer competition than Arizona is on the way.
16. Denver Broncos
Case Keenum made mistakes, but he also injected some life into an offence that has been one-dimensional for some time.
17. San Francisco 49ers
Minnesota will make a lot of teams look bad this season, so the 49ers can take some solace in things getting a little easier.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No one saw that explosion coming from Tampa, especially under Ryan Fitzpatrick who is making Jameis Winston an afterthought.
19. Chicago Bears
Before they collapsed against Rodgers and the Packers, Chicago showed promising signs that they can make a leap this year.
20. Seattle Seahawks
The loss of Doug Baldwin, even if it for a week or two, depletes an offence that was already so reliant on Russell Wilson.
21. New York Jets
Not only was Sam Darnold impressive in his debut, the Jets defence wreaked havoc and took pressure off the offence.
22. New York Giants
Their skills players, against most teams that aren’t Jacksonville, will be too much to handle.
23. Cincinnati Bengals
Their win over Indianapolis was largely uninspiring, but they do have a budding star in running back Joe Mixon.
24: Miami Dolphins
Tennessee was crippled by injuries in their meeting, so the Dolphins still have plenty to prove.
25: Tennessee Titans
If Marcus Mariota misses time, they’ll have a hard time avoiding an 0-2 hole to start the season.
26. Dallas Cowboys
The offence has to be better than it was against Carolina, even if Dak Prescott doesn’t have the best receivers to work with.
27. Detroit Lions
That was an embarrassing coaching debut for Matt Patricia, who has to regroup his side before a tough match-up against the 49ers.
28. Oakland Raiders
Derek Carr may just not be as good of a quarterback as many thought, and they could certainly use Khalil Mack.
29. Cleveland Browns
They can hang their hat on the fact they didn’t lose again and that their defence was encouraging against an explosive Steelers attack.
30. Indianapolis Colts
The good news is Andrew Luck looks like Andrew Luck again, but the rest of the roster is just too barren to compete.
31. Arizona Cardinals
The passing game was nonexistent with Sam Bradford and it doesn’t get any easier with the Rams next on the schedule.
32. Buffalo Bills
They’re in for a long year, but they should at least make a decision on whether or not they want to play Josh Allen and then stick to it.
The Los Angeles Rams may not hit their stride for some time, but their talent and coaching should carry them in the interim, as it did on Monday night.
In their first showing since their offseason makeover, the Rams started slow before eventually blowing the doors off the Oakland Raiders in a 33-13 win.
Los Angeles looked far from convincing on the first drive of the game as the new-look defence allowed Oakland to march down the field and punch the ball into the end zone. From there though, the Rams started to find their rhythm.
After the Raiders held the ball for 21 minutes, 31 seconds in the first half, Los Angeles limited them to just 10:00 after the intermission.
Oakland’s second-half drives resulted in three straight punts, an interception and a pick-six before they ran out the clock.
Derek Carr, who completed 20-of-24 passes for 199 yards in the first half, connected on 9-of-15 throws for 104 yards in the third and fourth quarters to finish with a passer rating of 62.8.
Only nine of his throws were directed at wide receivers as Rams cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib kept Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson in check, with the Oakland duo combining for four catches and 32 yards.
Peters also had a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown to ice the game, while strong safety John Johnson, the least heralded member of the secondary, picked off Carr in the end zone.
Marcus Peters the ballhawk does it again. Takes it to the 🏠pic.twitter.com/JkRYFWkpNw— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 11, 2018
The Rams’ pass rush got to Carr for just one sack – by Michael Brockers – but the combination of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh often collapsed the pocket and forced Carr to get rid of the ball sooner than he wanted.
As the defence was finding its footing in its first full game together, Los Angeles’ offence picked up where it left off last season.
Todd Gurley did his usual damage as both a runner and receiver, totaling 147 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown, but Sean McVay’s unit also showed some creativity.
Receivers Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods each carried the ball at least once as the Rams used plenty of jet sweeps to catch the Raiders off-guard.
They also dialled up several deep shots, with Jared Goff coming close to connecting with Cooks and Woods.
As long as the Rams attacks stays fresh, they should put up points and in turn, afford the other side of the ball time to gel.
Los Angeles will also face stiffer tests going forward, as Oakland often shot themselves in the foot between Carr’s poor play and the 11 penalties they committed for 155 yards.
The Rams’ true ceiling is still a ways off from being discovered, but Monday was a promising first step to finding out.
Jets soar with Darnold
As much as the New York Jets’ defence stole the show in the 48-17 dismantling of the Detroit Lions on Monday, Sam Darnold’s resilient performance was incredibly encouraging.
The rookie quarterback couldn’t have had a worse start to his NFL career as his very first play was a pick-six, but he bounced back like a veteran and showed exactly why the franchise selected him third overall in the draft and handed him the keys to the offence.
After his first, wayward throw, Darnold went 16-of-20 for 198 yards and two touchdowns.
His poise was particularly on display on third downs, on which he was a perfect 4-for-4, including a 41-yard hook-up with Robby Anderson for a score at the end of the first half.
Thanks to the Jets’ defence and special teams, which forced five turnovers and produced three touchdowns, Darnold wasn’t required to do much in the second half.
But he showed more than enough up to that point for the Jets to not only feel excited about what he can become, but what he possibly could be this season.
Week 1 of the season is in the books, which means it’s the first time fantasy owners will flock to the waiver wire to snatch up those who stood out in the openers.
Fortunately, injuries have yet to decimate the landscape, but there were still some players who suffered various knocks, which could clear the road for others to flourish.
Here are five names to target this week if they’re on your league’s waiver wire.
Leonard Fournette exited Week 1 with a hamstring injury, and although head coach Doug Marrone is optimistic he’ll be okay going forward, Yeldon would be a three-down option if the starting running back misses any time. Yeldon had 17 touches for 69 yards and a touchdown in the opener, and with how determined Jacksonville are to lean on the ground game, he could shoulder a significant workload.
Once a star receiver, Marshall has faded into obscurity in recent years, but he again holds fantasy value now, especially with Doug Baldwin nursing injuries to both knees. The Seattle Seahawks parted ways with Jimmy Graham in the offseason, which left a void for a big target like Marshall to fill as a red zone threat. He’s not going to post WR1 numbers again, but you could do worse with your third WR or flex spot.
Fantasy football isn’t rocket science. Sometimes, it’s as simple as wanting players in really good situations, which certainly applies to Geronimo Allison as a receiver in Aaron Rodgers’ offence. Davante Adams is the top target and Randall Cobb is still a reliable option, but there’s enough fantasy goodness to go around for Allison to soak up. His 69 yards and a touchdown in the opener could be just the start.
Royce Freeman was touted as the top Denver Broncos running back to own all preseason, but fellow rookie Phillip Lindsay has come out of nowhere to earn touches. In Week 1, Freeman saw 29 snaps while Lindsay played 26, with Devontae Booker trailing both with 19. Booker was considered the preferred option on passing downs, so if Lindsay is taking over that role, he offers some upside, particularly in PPR leagues.
This is a bit of a deep cut, but if you don’t have a must-start tight end on your roster, Smith is worth taking a flyer on. Delanie Walker is done for the season after suffering a serious ankle injury in the opener, which opens the door for Smith to take on a significant role in the passing game. Marcus Mariota has leaned on Walker over the years, so the quick-footed Smith should have opportunities to work with. Buyers beware: Mariota also appears banged up.