2022 Week 1 Game Recap: Buccaneers 19, Cowboys 3 (by Ross Jacobs)
What a dull affair this was. The Cowboys put together a nice first drive coming away with a FG and the wheels fell off from there. The Bucs didn't exactly look like world-beaters either, but they took care of business and never gave Dallas an inch. They are going to walk away with that division again because there's just nobody else to challenge them. They will be in contention for another Super Bowl but I'm struggling to see how anyone from the NFC is going to beat the AFC's best teams.
I'm sure you don't need me to tell you this, but Dallas is done. The issues are obvious. The offensive line has been ignored for a few years now and age and injuries have caught up to them. Losing Tyron Smith was already a bad blow but now multiple other linemen are banged up and as I've been saying all preseason, Tyler Smith and Terrence Steele are not going to get it done. Both of them are not good players anyways but they make things even worse by being penalty machines on top of it.
Throw in the Dak injury and this offense isn't coming anywhere close to what they did last year. Hope you avoided everything Cowboys related in your drafts this year. You won't be able to move off of them now. There's a very good chance Dallas is finishing last in this division now. They are the 2021 Seahawks.
Fantasy Player Notes:
– The Bucs offense is very simple this year. There are two players that really matter and are going to get the lion's share of the work...Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette. Some of the other receivers will have their moments where Brady peppers a good matchup, but the only two you can count on are Mike and Lenny. Both of them are back end top 10 players at their positions.
– Chris Godwin was miraculously back in game 1 and caught a couple of early passes but was already hurt again with a hamstring by halftime. He did look a little stiff early on as well and was definitely not 100% from last year's injury already, so it's probably going to be a few weeks until we see him get going. It's going to be a bumpy ride with him trying to guess if he's healthy enough or not each week.
Julio Jones was getting a ton of praise from Chris Collinsworth and I thought he looked pretty good considering. Definitely better than last year when he dealt with so many nagging injuries (always a concern with Julio). He's maybe 75% of the player he was just a few years ago, which is still pretty good. As long as he's healthy he'll be a decent WR2-2.5 with Godwin out.
Russell Gage, who everyone had high hopes for before we knew Godwin would be back and before they signed Julio, didn't catch his 2nd pass until there was 10 minutes left in thequarter. When Godwin got hurt Gage was still splitting reps with Breshad Perriman who actually had more targets. There's still hope for Gage to step up with the entire WR corps banged up, but I wasn't impressed by what I saw and neither was Brady apparently.
Cameron Brate was almost a complete ghost. No Gronk hopes for him. He's just another cheap TE flyer you hope grabs a TD the week you're streaming him.
– And rookie RB Rachaad White got almost all his work late in the when the game was winding down. As a runner he didn't stand out in any way but his hands look as good as ever. If several of the WRs can't play this week against New Orleans look for White to play more like a quasi-receiver.
Now for this train wreck of a Dallas offense...
– The Dak injury obviously drops everyone significantly. CeeDee Lamb becomes a random WR2-3 at best. He was blanketed by Carlton Davis here, one of the best, most underrated corners in the league. RC is being too hard on him because of the ugly stat line, but a good chunk of those targets were simply uncatchable passes from Dak and Rush. It doesn't matter though because Rush isn't carrying Lamb to WR1 heights.
Noah Brown and rookie UDFA Dennis Houston are both quite solid receivers. Dallas has gotten very good at unearthing these late round picks in the draft. Neither is a star but both are more than capable. Brown is the obvious #2 right now but Houston might have a nice future as a decent #2 guy. He's not impressive physically but has fantastic feet and an ability to get open quickly. He's definitely better than Jalen Tolbert right now which is why Tolbert didn't play. We'll have to see if Tolbert can develop better technical skills over the next year or two.
– Ezekiel Elliott looks pretty much the same as last year. He's fine but is nowhere close to the guy he was his first three years. He just doesn't have that burst anymore. He's completely dead without Dak. I'd rather have Tony Pollard because at least Pollard will have the occasional usable game where he catches 5-6 dump off passes.
Dalton Schultz is the one guy that can stay somewhat close to his value without Dak. He's the obvious security blanket for Rush, the easy pass he can get out quick.
– I know Micah Parsons is a wonderful football player, one of the best young defenders in the league, but I love him a heck of a lot more as an edge rusher than I do as an off-ball linebacker. He's more useful in IDP leagues that reward sacks than ones that are tackle heavy. That's not his game really.
Leighton Vander Esch is the guy if you need tackles. He's manning the middle of the defense and will be the clean up guy. He could flirt with 8-9 tackles a game this year.
– On the other side, Devin White looks like he might have a rebound year after whatever happened last year. He looks as fast and physical as ever.
And Antoine Winfield is a top 10 DB this year no questions asked. That guy is constantly around the ball. He's going to have a pick 6 or two this year, mark my words.
Snap Counts of Interest:
45 = Evans
32 = Julio
26 = Perriman
26 = Gage
19 = Godwin (hurt right before halftime)
47 = Fournette
17 = White
42 = Brate
30 = Otton
67 = Lamb
61 = Brown
39 = Houston
40 = Elliott
38 = Pollard