Tom Brady and the New England Patriots had a huge night against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday to get the NFL season underway. The Patriots won, 28-21, as the season kicked off. It was the Patriots way of putting to rest all of the offseason drama concerning the team and picking up right where they left off: as Super Bowl champions.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski received for three of the team’s touchdowns. Tom Brady was great, too. He went 25 for 32 with his completions to targets for a completion rate of 78.1, had 288 yards, and threw all four of New England’s touchdowns. His QB Rating now stands at 143.8. It’s very early in the season, but these are great numbers from a returning champ.
The Steelers played a good game, too, even if the final score had them on the losing side of things. Ben Roethlisberger had a QB Rating of 95.4, and beat Brady when it came to total yards thrown by a sizeable margin. In fact, in some leagues, like those offered at DraftKings, there is a bonus in fantasy points once a QB hits 300+ yards. Brady did not earn this bonus, but Roethlisberger did. He threw for 351 yards, while Brady only had 288. The biggest difference in fantasy points was that Brady had more touchdowns and a better completion rate.
In other areas of the offensive game, fantasy points were split up a little bit differently than the final score shows, too. Yes, Gronkowski cleaned up big with his three TDs, but it was a Pittsburgh player that had the most yards rushing (DeAngelo Williams with 127), and a Pittsburgh player that had the most yards receiving (Antonio Brown with 133). Daily leagues place a big emphasis on wide receivers most of the time, but there weren’t many touchdowns scored by them this game. Brown was the only WR that scored a touchdown Thursday, and that made him one of the better fantasy picks of the game. In hindsight, Gronkowski was the best pick, but in a league like what DraftKings offers, you do not need to have a TE, and this led to many people not selecting him. FanDuel does force you to select a TE, but because of the price tag associated with Gronk, he was overlooked in a lot of contests. So, while the Patriots won, many of the best fantasy choices were actually on the Steelers, creating a weird dichotomy. These things do happen once in a while, so it’s a good reminder of something to keep your eyes open for throughout the season. A team can dominate, yet still not have the best fantasy picks of the game.
Week #2 for Brady will be a bit different for both the Patriots and the Steelers. New England plays the Buffalo Bills. And while the Bills are not well known for winning games lately, they do have a very good defense. Last year, they ranked among the top four in the NFL when it came to fewest points allowed, and they were number one in number of sacks. The Steelers did not have anywhere near the numbers that the Bills did last year. If they have anywhere near that talent this year, the Patriots will not fare as well as they did this weekend. Brady, however, outperformed what was expected in Week #1, and there’s a chance that he could do it again next week.
The Steelers are facing the San Francisco 49ers in Pittsburgh. Last year, the 49ers ranked a little worse than the Patriots when it came to defense, which means that the Steelers may have more scoring opportunities. Also, 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick ranked far below Roethlisberger in QB Rating rankings. Big Ben came in at #3 on the list, while Kaepernick didn’t make the top 15. He’s a bit older and more experienced this year, but Roethlisberger still has the edge. And with the home team advantage, the Steelers should post better numbers than they did Thursday. This means that Roethlisberger will be an even better pick next week than he was Thursday, and his supporting teammates, mainly WR Brown, will be hot draft items as well.