After what feels like an eternity, the season is finally about to start. It’s been a full-time job keeping abreast of all the storylines, rumors, and news throughout this off-season. Drowning out the noise is crucial to preparing for the season ahead and highlighting intriguing players.
With that said, here are three players that I’m particularly interested in watching going into Week 1.
Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos
Rookie fever is alive and well.
The Denver Broncos traded up into the second round of the 2021 draft to select running back Javonte Williams with the 35th overall pick. The belief around the league is that Willams will eventually take over the starting job ahead of current starter Melvin Gordon. Williams showed great patience, burst, and decisiveness with his opportunities in the preseason, playing in two games and recording 12 carries for 49 yards and one reception. He was considered a “healthy scratch” in Denver’s last game.
The decision to sit Williams is a positive sign they want to save him for the regular season, and he’ll get a tough matchup right at the start against a New York Giants rushing defense ranked 10th in 2020. His performance in Week 1 could determine if the “RB1 takeover” happens sooner rather than later.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Cleveland Browns
Beckham suffered a torn ACL in Week 7 of last year. Before his injury, Beckham was ranked WR19 in points per game. When he played 16 games in 2019, Beckham finished as WR15 in points per game. He was also ranked 3rd in air yards, 12th in targets, and 11th in target share. His role/ target share Week 1 will go a long way in terms of putting out trust in Beckham as a solid WR2.
He’ll need to be efficient with his targets as the Browns were 28th in passing attempts in 2020, but 13th in passing touchdowns. It’s safe to assume the Browns are going to need to throw to keep pace with the Chiefs’ 1st ranked offense in Week 1, so we’ll get an immediate sense of where things stand with OBJ.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami Dolphins
The “Tank for Tua” strategy resulted in many twists and turns during the 2020 season. After coming in halfway through the season, Tagovailoa finished with 11 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and 1,814 passing yards. He was ranked QB21 during the timespan. Even though he finished 6-3 as a starter, he was pulled numerous times for previous starter Ryan Fitzpatrick due to poor play.
Tagovailoa did quiet some of the noise after having a stellar preseason, however. In two games, he was 24 of 32 completions for 282 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
With performance concerns from last season and trade rumors involving Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson, Tagovailoa has little room for error. The additions of wide receivers Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller will help Tagovailoa in terms of separation and making the offense more explosive. In Week 1, he faces off against the New England Patriots with his former teammate, Mac Jones, at the helm. This will be an excellent test to see how much Tagovailoa has improved and if he can become a reliable starter in fantasy.