MIAMI, Sept. 12 (UPI) — Fantasy football players with stock in Saquon Barkley and Michael Thomas are among my winners from Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season. Aaron Rodgers and Dameon Pierce stock owners are Week 1 losers.
I considered average draft position (ADP), Week 1 opportunities and performance and injuries when deciding which players should be winners and losers as we enter the second week of the season.
My 10 winners and losers include two quarterbacks, two running backs, four wide receivers and two tight ends. Some of these players can be dropped, while others should be benched. Some of the players just sustained injuries or provided a poor performance and might soon rebound for your fantasy team.
Barkley is my No. 1 winner this week. The New York Giants star totaled the most points among NFL running backs through Sunday’s slate of games. Barkley gained 194 total yards, scored a touchdown and converted a two-point conversion in the Giants’ 21-20 win over the Tennessee Titans, who allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs last season.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley received 24 touches in a Week 1 win over the Tennessee Titans. File Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
Barkley, who owned a second-round ADP this preseason, produced elite RB1 statistics in his first game of the season and could be a steal for his fantasy football stock owners.
His performance against what was one of the league’s top rushing defenses should give his owners a ton of confidence moving forward. Barkley’s usage — 24 touches — also is another great sign that the Giants plan to keep him heavily involved in their game plan.
Barkley can be plugged back in as an RB1 in Week 2, when the Giants host the Carolina Panthers, who just allowed 194 yards and a score to Nick Chubb and 70 yards and two scores to Kareem Hunt in a loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Barkley will be among my Top 5 running backs this week.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes should stay in fantasy football team lineups for the rest of the season, regardless of his matchups. File Photo by Kyle Rivas/UPI
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
Mahomes played without Tyreek Hill, who was traded this off-season to the Miami Dolphins, on Sunday when the Chiefs faced the Arizona Cardinals in their season opener. While some critics thought Mahomes might struggle without one of the most explosive wide receivers in the league as a teammate, the Chiefs quarterback proved those doubters wrong.
Mahomes completed 30 of 39 passes for 360 yards and five touchdowns in the blowout victory. Six different Chiefs players totaled at least three catches in the 44-21 win. Star tight end Travis Kelce led the way with 121 yards and a score on eight catches.
Mahomes’ ability to spread the ball around and the Chiefs’ maintained dedication to the passing game are a great sign for this quarterback’s fantasy football outlook.
The Chiefs will battle the Los Angeles Chargers in what should be a shootout in Week 2. Look for another elite QB1 performance from Mahomes, who should not leave lineups regardless of matchup.
A.J. Brown, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Brown erupted for 155 yards on 10 catches in the Eagles’ Week 1 win over the Detroit Lions. He already appears to have great rapport with quarterback Jalen Hurts. His 13 targets were more than tied for the second-highest total of his career.
Look for Brown to stay heavily involved in the Eagles plans for the rest of the season. The Eagles’ off-season acquisition was selected in the second or third round of many fantasy drafts and likely was a steal at that ADP. Brown appears to be in the elite WR1 range.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas scored two touchdowns in Week 1. File Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI
Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
Thomas is another player who looks like a steal due to his ADP. The Saints veteran wasn’t among the first 25 receivers selected in most fantasy drafts, but played like a WR1 in Week 1.
Thomas caught five of his eight targets in the Saints’ 27-26 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in Atlanta. He totaled 57 yards and scored twice. Thomas’ touchdowns likely saved an otherwise pedestrian outing, but I believe his value will stay intact due to the excellent body control and size he uses to his advantage when the Saints reach the red zone.
Thomas is a solid WR2/WR3 option.
Gerald Everett, TE, Los Angeles Chargers
Everett was tied for the second-most catches among Chargers pass catchers in a Week 1 win over the Las Vegas Raiders. He totaled three catches for 54 yards and a score.
Most tight ends are touchdown-or-bust options on a weekly basis, but I love the odds for Everett to hold consistent value. The Chargers should be one of the league’s best offenses and Everett should get many chances to find the end zone going forward.
He will be inside my Top 10 options in Week 2, when the Chargers battle the Chiefs.
Honorable mentions: QB: Carson Wentz, Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts; RB: A.J. Dillon, Leonard Fournette, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, D’Andre Swift, Miles Sanders, James Robinson; WR: Justin Jefferson, Michael Pittman Jr., Jaylen Waddle, Robbie Anderson; TE: O.J. Howard, Dalton Schultz, Zach Ertz
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance looks for an open receiver during a game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago. Photo by Mark Black/UPI
Trey Lance, QB, San Francisco 49ers
Lance was listed among my 13 players to avoid in drafts earlier this month. The dynamic quarterback got off to a poor start and those struggles could continue.
Lance completed less than half of his pass attempts (13 of 28) in the 49ers’ Week 1 loss to the Chicago Bears. He also threw an interception and failed to throw a passing touchdown or score a rushing touchdown.
The second-year quarterback salvaged some of his value with a team-high 54 rushing yards, but landed outside the Top 25 for fantasy points at the position through Sunday’s games. Lance is not a viable season-long option and you should look elsewhere if he is on your roster.
I would keep him on your team, but find other options with great matchups to plug in as your starter for Week 2.
Rookie running back Dameon Pierce received just 11 carries in his debut Sunday for the Houston Texans. File Photo by Alex Butler/UPI
Dameon Pierce, RB, Houston Texans
Pierce was considered a sleeper early on in the off-season, but his ADP jumped into RB2 territory as the season approached.
The Texans running back is another player who can’t be counted on for consistent RB2 or flex play production until he delivers on the field. The Texans gave fellow running back Rex Burkhead 19 touches, compared to Pierce’s 12, in Week 1.
Pierce totaled just 39 yards and didn’t find the end zone in his regular-season debut. You should stay away from Texans running backs when looking for fantasy football value.
Los Angeles Chargers receiver Mike Williams (R) totaled just two catches for 10 yards in Week 1. File Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI
Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
Williams was a no-show for fantasy football teams in Week 1, with just two catches for 10 yards in the Chargers’ win over the Raiders. He should stay on fantasy football team rosters and likely in lineups for leagues with at least 12 teams, but he can’t be counted on for consistent production.
The Chargers wide receiver is likely a touchdown-or-bust option and it will be hard to predict when he can help your team win. His fourth-round ADP was likely too high based on his injury history and expected lack of targets. I would look to trade Williams after he has a good game.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens (14) totaled one catch for three yards in Week 1. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
George Pickens, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Pickens was another sleeper targeted by fantasy football team owners in their drafts. The Steelers wide receiver is off to a slow start, with just one catch for three yards in Week 1.
Better days are likely to come for the rookie, but he is a low-end WR3 in deeper leagues until further notice. Tight end Pat Freiermuth led the Steelers with 75 yards on five catches in Week 1. Dionte Johnson, Zach Gentry, Chase Claypool and Najee Harris all totaled more catches than Pickens in the Steelers’ 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Dawson Knox, TE, Buffalo Bills
Knox is on what is expected to be one of the best offenses in the NFL this season, but his usage for Week 1 is a concern. The Bills tight end totaled just one catch for five yards in Week 1, despite quarterback Josh Allen throwing for 297 yards and three touchdowns.
Allen targeted star wide receiver Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Jamison Crowder and the Bills’ running backs more than Knox. Knox is a touchdown-or-bust play, like most tight ends. He isn’t high enough on the target priority list to warrant a consistent Top 5 placement in my Weekly rankings.
Knox should remain on your roster, but he can’t be relied on to give you a weekly advantage at the position. He shouldn’t be started every week in leagues that don’t require starting tight ends.
Honorable mentions: QB: Dak Prescott, Aaron Rodgers; RB: Tony Pollard, Cam Akers, Eli Mitchell, Chase Edmonds, Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara; WR: Chris Godwin, Kadarius Toney, Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, DeVante Parker; TE: Dawson Knox, Cole Kmet, David Njoku, Irv Smith Jr.