Blake Bortles kept it in bounds. This time, it was Allen Robinson’s body that betrayed him. Making a catch he’s probably made 1,000 times before, Robinson’s leg gave way, untouched by anything except the ground. Unable to make it across the field to the Jaguars’ sideline, Robinson’s season — a contract year — ended on the NRG Stadium turf, one minute and 26 seconds after it began.
A torn ACL is a brutal blow for any player. For Robinson, it compounds questions he can no longer answer in 2017. Is he the 80/1,400/14 receiver he was in 2015 — someone who averages 17.5 yards per catch and scores a touchdown almost every week — or the more pedestrian talent who showed up in 2016? A bright young player who nevertheless needs Cadillac quarterback play to succeed and wears his frustration on his sleeve? By the time teams, including the Jaguars, are evaluating Robinson in free agency, it will have been over two years since he did anything truly notable on an NFL field.
There are also plenty of questions for the 2017 Jaguars, but perhaps a few more answers. Robinson is the best player on the offense, but his loss won’t fundamentally change it. The Jags are committed to their running game, something they proved by shoveling 29 touches into Leonard Fournette’s mitts against the Texans. The receiver corps has been thinned but not hollowed out. Marqise Lee is a former second-rounder coming off a breakout season. Allen Hurns is still only 25, and just one year removed from a 10-touchdown campaign. Impressive rookie Dede Westbrook (core, injured reserve) looms as a potential mid-season replacement.
The Jags are worse off than they were yesterday, but haven’t been knocked out. That’s cold comfort for Robinson, who has gone from a sure thing to another uncertainty. NFL life has come at him fast.
Five Week 1 Storylines
David Johnson’s wrist injury. Not David Johnson. Anyone but David Johnson … this is where the Cardinals and fantasy owners are at with the summer’s consensus No. 1 overall player. Johnson is irreplaceable, someone the Cardinals have talked about leading the team in receiving in addition to rushing. The reports have been conflicting, but the takeaway is not: Arizona will be finished if Johnson misses anything more than 1-2 games. An offense formerly overflowing with impact talent now has precious little. Without Johnson, it has almost none. If Johnson is sidelined for Week 2, expect Kerwynn Williams and Andre Ellington to form a committee.
The Seahawks’ no-show in Green Bay. By most measures, the Seahawks had the league’s worst offensive line last season. So it was concerning when their biggest offseason addition was mega-bust Luke Joeckel, a player they promptly stuck at guard, a position where he had made four career starts. The early results, both for Joeckel and the rest of the Seahawks’ line, were disastrous. Mike Daniels nearly singlehandedly torpedoed the Seahawks’ offense, breaking through at will. Good player though he is, Mike Daniels should not be a one-man wrecking crew. It was an ominous harbinger of things to come if the Seahawks can’t adjust up front. At this point, it’s hard to see what the adjustment could be. Russell Wilson has made his name with durability. Even last year, he managed to stay upright. That will be an impossibility if the rest of his starts go anything like Sunday’s.
Ty Montgomery’s bell-cow day against the Seahawks. Maybe you didn’t have any questions about Montgomery’s projected Week 1 workload. I did. You could say they were answered. The Packers seemed hesitant to go all in on Montgomery, a former receiver dealing with sickle-cell issues, last season. There were no such qualms Sunday, as Montgomery was fed a new career-high 23 touches and played 74-of-82 snaps. It was very nearly 82-of-82, but Montgomery missed a few plays with an ankle tweak. Montgomery’s yardage wasn’t impressive, but he was facing one of the league’s premier run defenses. His upside is considerably higher for Sunday night’s battle with the Falcons. Montgomery’s workload and explosiveness have him squarely in the RB1 conversation.
Joe Mixon finding his floor. Throughout the summer hype, there was acknowledgment of Mixon’s downside. Namely, getting off to a slow start as the Bengals made him “earn” starting duties. Well the slow start is here. Mixon actually led the backfield in touches, but his 11 looks were just three more than Giovani Bernard and four more than Jeremy Hill. Mixon found neither rhythm nor running lanes against the Ravens’ stout defense, generating nine yards on eight carries. Things may not brighten much against the Texans on Thursday, leaving the first two weeks of Mixon’s fantasy career as mostly a waste. Keep him stashed — there’s almost certainly a payoff coming — but the uncertainty is here along with the upside.
Leonard Fournette’s usage against the Texans. We can’t say we didn’t see it coming. All summer, the Jags promised their offense would run through Fournette. All Sunday, it did. Fournette gobbled up 29 touches, turning them into 124 yards and a touchdown. He is who we thought he was, and officially on the RB1 map. He has a solid Week 2 matchup in a Titans defense that had to resort to gang tackling Oakland’s Marshawn Lynch for most of its Week 1 loss.
Five More Week 1 Storylines
Kevin White’s fractured collarbone. White caught two passes for six yards in his fifth career NFL game. If there’s a sixth, it will come in 2018. White is now 3-for-3 on season-ending injuries, and 2-for-3 on them coming before the calendar even flips to October. (Last year he made it to Oct. 2.) This is a player so besieged by injury he had to re-learn how to run in the offseason. Turning 26 next June, it’s hard to see White’s NFL future, either in Chicago or elsewhere. For 2017, the Bears will trudge forward with Kendall Wright and Markus Wheaton as their “top two receivers.” It’s a dire situation, one that could lead to “team target leader Tarik Cohen.”
Which brings us to the Bears’ backfield. At least for one day, “target leader Tarik Cohen” was a reality. The fourth-round rookie caught eight passes on a ridiculous 12 looks. Perhaps more incredibly, he out-rushed Jordan Howard, turning five carries into 66 yards. Howard could generate only 52 yards on his 13 totes. 46 of Cohen’s yards came on one run, but that’s not likely to discourage the Bears. That’s what “The Human Joystick” is supposed to do, bust big plays. Howard definitely has a situation on his hands. 5-foot-7 Cohen isn’t about to steal away his starting gig, but it’s all but certain he’s eroded Howard’s touch upside. Howard is likely to revert to his pre-draft billing: A two-down back who is targeted in the passing game only when necessary. That would make him an RB2, and not the high-end RB1 he was as a rookie.
Musical chairs in the Ravens’ backfield. What does Danny Woodhead do best? Catch passes. What does he do second best? Get injured, typically in September. Woodhead’s hamstring ailment isn’t as serious as the ankle and knee injuries that ended his 2014 and 2016, respectively, but is still expected to sideline him for “a significant amount of time.” Enter Terrance West and … Buck Allen. Not only is Allen still around, he actually led the Ravens in touches Sunday, closing out a non-competitive, dispiriting affair. 16 of his 21 carries came after halftime. Allen probably isn’t going to take the lead over West on early downs, but he’ll be a factor, and he’ll definitely catch passes. Allen is just two years removed from a 45-reception campaign. Standard leaguers should give West another week. PPRers need to give Allen a look.
Todd Gurley’s struggles on the ground. Gurley’s continued brickwalling was the only negative aspect of the Rams’ savage beatdown of the hapless, helpless Colts. Gurley averaged 2.1 yards on his 19 carries, getting held below 80 yards rushing for the 16th time in 17 games. He hasn’t had a 100-yard day since Dec. 2015. Gurley did find the end zone, and caught five passes for a career-high 56 yards, but it’s hard to see that opening a “sell high” window for fantasy owners. The roto world is hip to Gurley’s struggles. He has a trio of soft matchups in Washington, San Francisco and Dallas before hitting an egregiously difficult and prolonged portion of the schedule.
Zach Ertz leading the Eagles in receiving. Ertz was expecting more looks with target hog Jordan Matthews departed to Buffalo, and Sunday he got them. The notoriously slow starter had the eighth-best yardage effort of his career, trying for the team lead in targets. More comfortable with Carson Wentz than any of his previous quarterbacks, Ertz seems poised to be this year’s Kyle Rudolph, finally hitting on his long-foretold fantasy upside.
2. Is Tom Savage the world’s fastest … melting glacier?
3. If you know where all the Week 1 touchdowns went, please @ us @Rotoworld_FB
Early Waiver Look (Players owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
DEF: Bengals (vs. HOU), Ravens (vs. CLE), Bucs (vs. CHI), Raiders (vs. NYJ), Titans (@JAX),
Stats of the Week
Five. That’s how many tackles Marshawn Lynch broke on his 18 carries. At least for one week, Beast Mode was back.
Jared Goff doubled his 5.31 rookie YPA against the Colts, averaging 10.55 yards every time the ball left his hand.
Empathy of the Week, from @ChrisWesseling: I feel badly for Colts fans. They entered the season with no chance.
Tweet of the Week, from @DrewMagary on Tom Savage: He moves like the play has already been whistled dead.
Debut of the Week: Tony Romo for CBS Sports. Fare thee well, Phil Simms, fare thee well…
Real Person of the Week: Jets TE Eric Tomlinson. You are real, Eric. Time will tell if you’re spectacular.
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