The Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicked off the NFL season with a 31-29 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. We witnessed an excellent throwing display for fantasy managers, as most of the wide receivers in the game surpassed expectations.
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- Amari Cooper: 17 targets, 13 receptions, 139 yards, 2 TD (29.3% threat rate)
- Rob Gronkowski: 9 targets, 8 receptions, 90 yards, 2 TD (3 for 4 on contested catches)
Start Antonio Brown every week: Mike Evans and Chris Godwin were already in starting lineups for almost every league, which should remain true despite Evans’ quiet game. Brown didn’t play in 12 personnel, but that didn’t matter much with how much Tampa Bay was willing to pass. Brown is unlikely to put up these numbers every week, especially in blowouts where Tampa Bay runs more in the second half, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from starting him.
Rob Gronkowski is a must-start tight end: The future Hall of Famer was TE8 last season but expected to be part of a committee at tight end this season. Cameron Brate was seeing more time late in the season for Tampa Bay while O.J. Howard returned from injury. Instead, Gronkowski saw playing time reminiscent of his best seasons in New England. There is a chance either backup sees more playing time as the season goes on but until then, Gronkowski is a clear top-10 tight end each week.
The Cowboys receivers are who we thought they were: Throughout the offseason, excitement built for the Dallas receivers due to Dak Prescott‘s return and the promise of CeeDee Lamb moving all over the place. Lamb played significantly both outside and in the slot, where Amari Cooper also saw significant time there, too. Michael Gallup was the only wide receiver not to see double-digit slot snaps. Lamb’s movement around the formation and target share are promising, but his snap share was discouraging. The Cowboys didn’t use him in a lot of run situations, which also cost him some pass routes compared to the other receivers, which will make it hard for Lamb’s production to exceed his ADP.
Monitor Gallup's injury: Gallup suffered an ankle injury late in the game and was questionable to return. Throughout the game, Cedrick Wilson was the backup for all three receivers and saw extended playing time after the injury occurred. Wilson should be a waiver wire target if Gallup is forced to miss a few games to the season.
Avoid the Buccaneers backfield: Leonard Fournette started the game instead of Ronald Jones and stayed on the field more often as Tampa Bay stuck with the pass. Jones fumbled in the second quarter and was benched for the rest of the game. In future weeks, he will see a higher share of the snaps and carries. Giovani Bernard was held to just third downs and a two-minute drill. At the moment, Fournette is the best option for a fantasy manager, but it also wouldn’t be surprising for Bernard to eat into that playing time as the season goes on. Unfortunately, all three backs should remain on rosters but out of starting lineups.
Get a little nervous but don’t panic with Ezekiel Elliott: Elliott’s stat line wasn’t impressive. This was due to the Cowboys' game plan, Buccaneers' run defense and Elliott not being at his peak. On the bright side, he played plenty of snaps. They used him and Tony Pollard on the field more in this game than any other of their career, which helped both see a decent snap share. The third-year back played better as a receiver, which will likely prevent the former All-Pro from living up to his ADP. Despite this, he remains a must-start each week and, if anything, is a buy-low candidate after this game if some fantasy managers are panicking.
Drop the Cowboys tight end: If you combine the Cowboys tight ends' fantasy production, you have a player worth starting. Unfortunately, Dallas split playing time between Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin, as they played interchangeably regardless of the situation. There will be some weeks throughout the season where one of these tight ends will have a top-12 week, but we’ll have no way of predicting which one it will be.