Things didn’t go as planned for Deshaun Watson and the Texans, who hoped to avenge their embarrassing AFC Divisional Round implosion against the Chiefs.
Houston scored first by way of a David Johnson touchdown, but things soured soon after that, and Kansas City piled on 31 unanswered points. The contest ended 34-20, with the Texans squandering another early lead against the reigning Super Bowl champions.
Here are five things you need to know for fantasy football:
1. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire crushed his rookie debut
Chiefs running back Damien Williams opted out of the 2020 season and left the Kansas City backfield wide open for this highly-touted first-round pick from LSU, who had taken the fantasy football community by storm prior to his electric debut. Edwards-Helaire looked like a veteran on Thursday evening and tallied 25 carries for 138 yards and a touchdown.
The 21-year-old’s debut was reminiscent of Saquon Barkley’s coming out party in 2018. The Giants stud was the last player to finish with at least 100 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in his first game. Darrel Williams was barely featured and saw nine total touches for 30 scrimmage yards.
In light of head coach Andy Reid’s historical usage of running backs, a lack of viable competition in the backfield and Edwards-Helaire’s raw talent, fantasy managers should expect strong RB1 numbers each week from this exciting rookie.
2. Bill O’Brien featured RB David Johnson heavily after DeAndre Hopkins trade
Based on Johnson’s usage on Thursday evening, it seems like the Texans’ head coach is desperate to prove the haters wrong about his much-ridiculed trade this offseason. The deal sent star wideout Hopkins to the Cardinals in exchange for the oft-injured Johnson and was widely regarded as a misstep on behalf of O’Brien, who also serves as the team’s general manager.
The 2015 third-rounder from Northern Iowa finished the night with 11 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown. He caught three passes for 32 yards. Fantasy managers who drafted Johnson hope they can see production similar to his Pro Bowl season back in 2016. If he can stay healthy, and his Week 1 usage is any indication for the future, managers should expect RB2 with occasional RB1 upside numbers week-to-week.
3. Deshaun Watson-Patrick Mahomes QB duel played out with familiar ending
Watson was outmatched again and completed 20 of 32 attempts for 253 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Meanwhile, Mahomes — who became the NFL’s highest-paid player this offseason — completed 24 of 32 attempts for 211 yards and three touchdowns.
4. Chiefs spread the ball around to Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson
The high-flying Chiefs offense put up numbers all around. Watkins, 27, led the team in targets and may have had his one good game of the season. In Week 1 against the Jaguars last year, Watkins caught nine passes for 198 yards in his three-touchdown debut as a Chief. Unfortunately, the story ends there, and the 2014 first-round pick would not score again all regular season.
In Week 1 this year, Watkins tallied seven catches, 82 yards and a touchdown on nine targets. Don’t fall into this honeypot again.
Kelce, Hill and Robinson were tied for second in targets with six each. Kelce caught six passes for 50 yards and a touchdown and Hill caught five passes for 46 yards and a touchdown. Their performances on Thursday were solid and both should both continue to put up high-end TE1/WR1 numbers, respectively.
Robinson saw six targets as well, and caught three passes for 20 yards. He also had a near-touchdown called back in the first quarter. Fantasy managers may recall that Robinson got off to a very hot start last season, but was barely utilized as the season progressed, which is why it was a bit surprising to see him targeted so often in this game. Second-year receiver Mecole Hardman saw one target all evening.
5. WR Will Fuller had a solid night, but Hopkins’ absence was noticeable
Fuller saw by far the most targets (10) for the Texans on Thursday night and caught eight passes for 112 yards, though Jordan Akins caught Watson’s lone passing touchdown. The veteran tight end reeled in both of his targets for 39 yards and a score.
Brandin Cooks, another recent O’Brien acquisition, had an unremarkable evening in his debut as a Texan and caught two of five targets for 20 yards. He certainly has talent and upside in a relatively shallow receiving corps, but he’s too risky to trust at this point in the season.
Hopkins is a four-time Pro Bowler and was Watson’s favorite target. Hopefully for the Texans (and those that drafted Watson this season), Fuller, Cooks and Randall Cobb can step up in the weeks to come.