So, that was fun. Tom Brady began a season-long journey of hateful revenge on the NFL with a four-touchdown barrage at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Patriots got their title defense started off on the right foot with a 28-21 win.
We learned a lot from this game, specifically in fantasy football. Let’s break everything down that matters:
Gronk Til Ya Die
Holy balls was it fun to own Rob Gronkowski last night. Whether you spent a 1-2 round pick and he IMMEDIATELY paid off, or you paid up for his rights for one week in DFS, The Gronk did not fail to meet expectations. He kind of surpassed them.
Gronkowski started off super slow in the first half, but his second catch went for a score and all was right with the world. On his second touchdown of the night, however, you felt something special and you couldn’t deny it. It may have even caught you off guard like this:
If that wasn’t enough, Gronk repaid your investment in full by scoring a third touchdown. That was even before he tossed his body on a fumble for a would-be score that got overturned. One way or another, Rob Gronkowski was getting you that third touchdown, damnit. He just wasn’t sure exactly how. In the end, it was a beautiful night for Thursday night’s highest scoring fantasy option.
Dion Lewis is a Thing
I wrote before this game that Lewis was absolutely a guy to watch in PPR formats, but I really had no idea. I imagined Brandon Bolden would eat most of the early down work and then Lewis would rotate with the likes of James White and Travaris Cadet. Instead, Lewis was pretty much a feature back, en route to 20 total touches and 120 total yards. The best part was he looked fully competent and capable during the onslaught, as he found holes that barely existed, looked rather spry and often twisted and contorted his body to fight for extra yardage.
He was Houdini rolled up into a little ball, and it was kind of awesome. He did almost lose a fumble a yard away from scoring and didn’t get a touchdown on the night, but this was his first major action ever. Hats off to ya, kid.
Antonio Gonna Antonio
Nothing to see here, folks. Antonio Brown was involved as ever, as he got in solid work despite a decent job by New England cover man Malcolm Butler. Brown ended the night as a heavy-targeted machine, bringing in 9 of 11 balls for 133 yards. He even added a touchdown with two seconds left. What a hero.
Big Ben Was Meh
The Steelers actually moved the ball really well all game long. They just couldn’t punch the dang thing in. Ben Roethlisberger was partially to blame for that, as he hung onto the ball waaaay too long far too often, took some unnecessary sacks and passed up some easy plays. He also flat out missed a couple throws. Then again, he got burned by his wide receiver and pass protection a few times. Still, besides coming out kind of average, he got a garbage touchdown to help make up for a pick, while also torching the Pats for a hefty 351 yards.
That’s not “meh” by traditional standards, but his only score came at the very last second and he almost gave his owners an ugly goose egg. Overall, it wasn’t his best effort. That being said, it’s clear this offense should be special when Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant return, as the Steelers clearly missed Bell as a dump off option and they lacked a down field threat to stretch things out in this one.
Brady is Mad
On to the quarterback that didn’t let you down: Tomithy Brady. The Braids made it happen all night and at one point completed a million passes in a row. Truly, he was ablaze, as he only had two actually bad throws all night (he missed a wide the hell open Danny Amendola) whilst putting up four touchdowns, no picks and 288 passing yards. You’re probably a cheating bastard, but we love you, Tom.
Markus Wheaton is a Spare
I bet you were expecting big things from Wheaton. I warned that he’s a classic spare who just happens to be fast and he got forced into a bigger role. Truth is, when Martavis Bryant returns, Wheaton needs to be this team’s #3 guy. He just lacks consistency, is the thing. He still got you about 9 points in PPR leagues, but that’s not good enough. He had three drops by my count and didn’t really catch on until late when the Steelers were throwing most of the time. Overall, he was a disappointment.
DHB Doesn’t Belong
Darrius Heyward-Bey just needs to go. He still has some speed but he just has no awareness. Like at all.
How does that even happen? DHB had the smarts to drop down into that nice little pocket in the coverage, yet he ends up looking like a 12-year old gently sitting down to hear a story. This was just bad. That would have been a huge play and whatever sorry sacks used DHB would have been vindicated. Instead, DHB goes vintage DHB on us and the world spins on.
This is part of fantasy football, too, no? Well, in a sense, not anymore. The Steelers and Patriots both looked dreadful on defense. Both defenses looked like they were routinely just backpedaling into an abyss of not having any of the cares. It showed, as Tom Brady feasted and DeAngelo Williams had one jackass somewhere saying “D-Will for president” or something. These are two extremely potent offenses, but this wasn’t a good showing for either defense. I think the Pats are a little better than we saw (they did hold Pittsburgh to two touchdowns, after all), but the Steelers will undoubtedly be a fantasy defense to target all year long. New England is still streamable in the right situation, but they seem unreliable at the moment. Defensive tackle Dominique Easley went down yet again, too. Classic.
D-Will Can Still Ball
Let’s end this on a high note. DeAngelo Williams was jettisoned into the sun by the Panthers and he latched on as a backup with the Steelers. Oh, we all had a laugh. He’s 32 and has to be done, right? God, you gotta hope that wasn’t the case, or the Pats are beyond screwed against the run in 2015. He ripped off an 18-yard jaunt on his first touch and was fighting for extra yards and stuff. It was crazy. He ended up piling on over 20 carries and 127 rushing yards. He couldn’t punch it in the end-zone and wasn’t very active as a receiver (surprisingly), but overall that’s a good day for what was at best your Flex option. Consider the respect earned, sir. D-Will shall march into next week as a competent RB2 and at worst a high-end Flex play again.