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Andy Richardson

Thursday Night Recap

Lions roar in sloppy upset

Football is back, and it was a night that offered both good and bad from a fantasy perspective, depending on your expectations coming into the season. NFL wise, it was an entertaining game with plenty to lament. The highlights and lowlights follow.

QUARTERBACKS

Neither stat line was great, primarily because with miscues by other players factoring in, there weren't as many touchdowns as you'd like. But I came away impressed by both quarterbacks.

Being impressed by Patrick Mahomes is nothing remarkable; he's the best. His critical Pick Six obviously wasn't his fault, clanging off both of Kadarius Toney's hands -- a game-deciding play, ultimately. Mahomes did make a couple of careless throws (one deep in his own end to Noah Gray) which he was lucky weren't intercepted, but my main sense was not only that he'd have won this game with Travis Kelce available, but if any of his wideouts had done their job a little better. What stands out is that at the end of the game when Kansas City was trying to convert 4th-and-20 and 4th-and-25 plays, Mahomes makes you believe it's actually reasonable (he threw a catchable ball that wound up incomplete). His basically 3-play touchdown drive before the half was a thing of beauty.

Jared Goff had one scary-looking play where he doubled back into his own end zone for a near safety, but he also made some really nice throws (including his touchdown) and saved Detroit's bacon on a blown snap and also overcame his own team's miscues that killed a couple of drives. He ain't Mahomes, but the Lions can win with Goff.

RUNNING BACKS

Some Fantasy Index readers no doubt skipped ahead to this section. It was a pretty good night, overall. First, Isiah Pacheco, one of Index's key picks this year (we mentioned him once or twice in August, I think). He was announced as the starter in the little introductions section, so it was surprising that Clyde Edwards-Helaire actually started and got the first two touches of the game. And Jerick McKinnon came in for some obvious passing downs. So the negative, as one reader quickly observed, was this could be an ugly committee backfield.

The positive is that (shocker) Edwards-Helaire looked as forgettable as any reasonable observer might have anticipated. I don't know why Andy Reid decided to lead with him (not sure why Reid did a number of things he did last night), but nothing occurred that suggests CEH will build on it going forward. Seven touches, 29 yards. Pacheco was no better as a runner (8 carries, 23 yards), but -- and I'll allow a possible bias here -- he looked a little more likely to bust through the holes that weren't there than CEH. I think if you were objectively watching the game last night and wondered which back might get more carries going forward, you'd pick Pacheco.

But the great news was that our belief that Pacheco might get more of the receiving work this year than last is off to a good start. Four catches for 31 yards doesn't sound like much, but it salvaged what would have otherwise been a terrible week, including him catching all of his targets, and was more targets, catches and yards than CEH and McKinnon combined. McKinnon was actually the huge disappointment last night, playing in some passing situations but managing just 1 catch and I believe only one other even glance from his quarterback. The fact that McKinnon wasn't a priority re-sign for Kansas City is relevant.

For the Lions, David Montgomery was the main back and Jahmyr Gibbs a speedy change-of-pace. Funniest remark I saw on Twitter last night was Ryan McDowell's "When the Lions said we'd be surprised how Gibbs was used, I thought it would be the fun kind of surprise." Positive for Gibbs (such as it was) was he definitely looked like the fastest guy on the field, someone who's going to deliver some big plays (and was close to a couple last night). That's the lone positive. He had a chance at a touchdown where he slipped to the ground untouched, plus the only reason he was on the field for that play near the goal line was that Montgomery lost a cleat while being tackled on the previous carry and had to come out.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Amon-Ra St. Brown led the way of course, with a nice route on his touchdown and a couple of other nice grabs. Particularly if you bet the over on his 77-yard prop bet, as I did, it was a bit disappointing that his last catch was midway through the third quarter. But he's headed for a big year. For Detroit's other wideouts in the next five games before Jameson Williams returns, looks like Josh Reynolds will be the No. 2. I say this not just because he was last night, but because he actually looked good and Marvin Jones looked how 33-year-old wideouts often do. I don't think anyone drafted Jones anywhere so no big deal, but he's been one of my favorite players for years so it was a little disheartening to see him look kind of washed, including a critical fumble to kill a drive.

Hats off to Marquez Valdes-Scantling for an amazing, body-sacrificing grab over the middle of the field to convert a 3rd and 17 and set up Kansas City's second (and final, ouch) touchdown just before the half. Of course, he saw one other target all game, welcome to the world of MVS. The top performer was rookie Rashee Rice, who got open for a touchdown (which he threw into the stands I think, dude that's your first NFL touchdown!) and Justin Watson, who also had a chance at that 4th-and-25 throw and probably should have caught it. Rice also dropped a pass, but main takeaway is he's a hold in fantasy leagues. Skyy Moore... hey, just one game. But no catches on 3 targets did not augur a larger role going forward.

Kadarius Toney gets his own paragraph. Woof. Three drops that I counted (maybe a fourth), with one going for an interception. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln....

TIGHT ENDS

Brock Wright was also involved, but Sam LaPorta ended up having a serviceable PPR game for those of us who used him, catching all 5 passes thrown his way for 39 yards. Involvement and success with his opportunities, that's what you want out of a rookie tight end. Also threw a nice block on Montgomery's touchdown run, which will win him some points with the coach.

Obviously, Travis Kelce was missed. There were a couple of throws to Noah Gray that served as painful reminders of just how much better Kelce is, than him and everyone, including one which was maybe catchable but Gray didn't seem to want to take a big hit. Gray caught a longer pass late in the game, but he was not a viable fill-in and won't be, if Kelce misses more time. A popular dynasty stash didn't look worth it last night.

MISCELLANEOUS

Coaching showed up last night. Was not surprising that Dan Campbell was notable for his bold decision to convert a fourth down with a fake punt on Detroit's opening touchdown drive. That's the one that will be talked about. With Andy Reid, there were a couple of examples of him getting a little cute with plays (like one goal-line one that didn't work out) and player usage, but it's not like he was the one dropping passes out there. He's got a few extra days to review the film and hopefully he makes some good choices as to which running backs and receivers deserve more, or less, opportunities going forward.

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