Fantasy News & Analysis

Ian Hartitz's fantasy football fallouts: Nullified touchdowns, missed big plays and more

Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) makes a catch in the end zone but was ruled out of bounds during the fourth quarter of a Week 1 NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Week 1 has come and gone. Sixteen NFL games brought joy, laughs and tears so today, we’ll focus on the latter sadness and break down just how close some came to achieving fantasy football glory.

What follows is a breakdown on all the “Sheesh” moments from Week 1. I’ve re-watched every game and used PFF’s backend tools to help determine instances when:

  • Pass-catchers could have scored or picked up big yardage with a more accurate pass
  • Pass-catchers did receive an accurate pass that should have resulted in a score or big gain, but the ball was dropped
  • Ball carriers managed to get inside the three-yard line, but didn’t score
  • Players scored or picked up big yardage, but the play was nullified by penalty
  • Other random shit happened that tilted fantasy football managers of all shapes and sizes
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But first: The Week 1 Sheesh Award for the most-tilting overall performance goes to …

Cincinnati Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase

Yes, Chase caught 10 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown while looking borderline unguardable all afternoon. Also yes, his performance was so close to being much bigger:

  1. Chase had a chance to secure an eight-yard touchdown in the second quarter but failed to get his second foot down as well as secure the ball all the way to the ground.
  2. Chase dropped a slant late in the fourth quarter that sure looked like it had a chance to go for a 29-yard touchdown considering his defender fell down at the catch point.
  3. Chase sure looked like he crossed the goal line while reeling in a 12-yard reception late in the fourth quarter. Instead of challenging, the Bengals rushed to the line and ultimately turned the ball over on downs.
  4. Chase made an absolutely absurd one-handed snag from 17 yards out but couldn’t quite get both feet inbounds. Friendly reminder for any professional receivers reading this: Wear white shoes. Luckily, in this instance, Chase still managed to cap off the drive with a score.

Chase’s fantasy managers likely aren’t too upset about yet another WR1 performance, although this one truly had the makings of a week-winning performance had things gone just a bit less “sheesh-y.”

Pass-catchers could have scored or picked up big yardage with a more accurate pass

The following pass-catchers should have had a much bigger day at the office, but unfortunately, their respective quarterbacks weren’t quite up to the task for at least a moment. The following three misses subjectively sucked the most:

  1. Miami Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill nearly took his first snap with his new employer all the way to the house due to a New England Patriots coverage bust. Alas, the snap was high, and Tua Tagovailoa never had a chance to get off an accurate pass. 
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars RB Travis Etienne ran a wheel route and broke wide open from 15 yards out, but Trevor Lawrence sailed the pass and never gave his former Clemson teammate a chance to reel it in. It was a true sheesh. Don’t feel too bad for Etienne, as we’ll, unfortunately, be talking about him again in the drop section.
  3. Denver Broncos WR K.J. Hamler got open deep from 25 yards out, so much so that he drew a pass-interference penalty. The bad news is that Russell Wilson‘s touch pass lofted just out of reach of both Hamler as well as Albert Okwuegbunam. The ensuing muffed exchange that resulted in a Seahawks fumble recovery digs the knife that much deeper into the sheesh.
  4. Cleveland Browns WR Amari Cooper didn’t impress in the box score with just three receptions for 17-scoreless yards, but that doesn’t come close to telling the whole story. Overall, Cooper broke loose not once, not twice, but on three separate occasions thanks to some truly pristine route-running. A combination of Jacoby Brissett and defensive penalties prevented him from capitalizing on the opportunities.

Also note:

  • Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt lined up out wide and broke open deep before being let down by an ever-erratic Jacoby Brissett. Hunt did draw a penalty on the play, so it’s fair to cut Brissett a little bit of slack for the overthrow. Still, Hunt’s big day could have included a third touchdown with a bit better ball.
  • Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson was a second foot inbounds away from having a trio of scores to start the season. Kirk Cousins gave him a chance from the five-yard line. This “sheesh” was more so just unfortunate than the direct fault of anyone involved.
  • Dallas Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb had a rough Sunday night, to say the least. He had a chance to salvage things after breaking open deep late in the fourth, but Cooper Kupp overthrew what could have potentially been a 74-yard score.
  • Houston Texans WR Brandin Cooks caught a 42-yard flea flicker, although the play had the potential to be a 75-yard house call with a better pass from Davis Mills.
  • Buffalo Bills WR Stefon Diggs had a huge opening night regardless, but it was truly inches away from including a second touchdown. Diggs was happy to show everyone just how close he was to making the catch.
  • New York Jets WR Garrett Wilson ran a nifty whip route at the goal line and certainly gave Joe Flacco somewhere to go with the ball, but the pass was wide and easily fell incomplete.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marvin Jones gained plenty of separation on a nice out-and-up before unfortunately getting overthrown by Trevor Lawrence. Best case, this would have been a 70-yard touchdown, at a minimum it should have been good for 40 or so yards.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars WR Zay Jones was open for a potential three-yard score, but Trevor Lawrence couldn’t quite put the ball on him and the pass went off Jones’ fingertips.
  • Los Angeles Chargers WR Josh Palmer won with a double-move on the 18-yard line; unfortunately, Justin Herbert was hit as he threw and never had a chance to deliver an accurate pass.
  • Tennessee Titans rookie WR Treylon Burks got open deep late in the first quarter against the New York Giants; however, he never really had a chance to rein in the well-thrown pass due to a bad no-call, much to the dismay of Nashville and (especially) head coach Mike Vrabel.
  • Atlanta Falcons WR Olamide Zaccheaus broke open deep from 41 yards out, but Marcus Mariota led him back into the safety, and the duo failed to take advantage of the opportunity. Luckily, Zaccheaus did draw a hold on the play.
  • Kansas City Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman nearly got loose for a 62-yard score; unfortunately, Patrick Mahomes made one of his only mistakes of the afternoon and overthrew the speedy fourth-year receiver. The good news is that Mahomes wound up connecting with Hardman for a two-yard score late on the very same drive.
  • Las Vegas Raiders TE Darren Waller had ample separation for a short score from the five-yard line. The only problem was Derek Carr threw the ball behind Waller, forcing the third-down incompletion and a field goal attempt.
  • San Francisco 49ers TE Tyler Kroft got wide open deep for a potential 32-yard score, but Trey Lance overthrew him while trying to play through a borderline monsoon. Sheesh.

Dropped touchdowns

Sometimes players get open and receive a catchable pass but, unfortunately, drop the ball and cost their team six points. One veteran signal caller had to deal with this on multiple occasions.

Indianapolis Colts QB Matt Ryan had not one, but two touchdowns dropped during his up-and-down debut. The first to rookie Alec Pierce was particularly egregious, and the second to Ashton Dulin was at least punched out. Either way: sheesh.

There were six more pretty egregious drops in Week 1 on passes that should have resulted in six points more times than not:

Other “sheeshes”

  • New York Jets WR Elijah Moore caught a 12-yard touchdown at the end of the fourth quarter before (rightfully) being flagged for offensive pass interference. As a wise coach once said: Let the boys play.
  • Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts nearly had a second rushing touchdown but was taken down just short of the goal line before giving way to his running back.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars WR Christian Kirk managed to dive into the end zone after racking up 13 yards, but he just barely stepped out of bounds at the three-yard line.
  • Green Bay Packers RB  A.J. Dillon couldn’t quite pound the ball in from the one-yard line earlier in the Packers’ loss to the Vikings, although he did eventually get across the goal line later in the game.
  • Houston Texans head coach Lovie Smith punted on fourth-and-3 from midfield with just 26 seconds remaining in overtime. This doesn’t really apply to the article, but it’s still objectively messed up.
  • First Denver Broncos TE Albert Okwuegbunam had to live with Andrew Beck dominating the first portion of the game. Next, he hauled in a goal-line pass from Russell Wilson … only to be stuffed at the half-yard line. Next play: Fumble. Now that's a sheesh.
  • And finally, arguably the “single-sheeshiest” play of the week belongs to Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey, who was rewarded zero points for picking up 28 yards toward the end of the third quarter of the Panthers’ loss to the Browns. Why? Well because Baker Mayfield fumbled the snap, meaning CMC was technically picking up “fumble yards” as opposed to “rushing yards.” Sheesh.

  • Denver Broncos TE Eric Tomlinson added to the party of near touchdowns by snagging a Russell Wilson bullet in the corner of the end zone. Unfortunately, as you can guess by now, it wasn't a score — Tomlinson’s second foot was out of bounds. Why do NFL pass-catchers still wear non-white cleats when it arguably buys them an extra three inches toward being deemed inbounds? The world may never know.

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