Oh boy, was that a thumping. The season finally arrived and with it came all of the hype surrounding the Browns. And all of a sudden, before we even realized, Cleveland was in the losers column hanging the L. And it is not that they were even close to flip the script. Looking at the raw numbers the game yielded, Marcus Mariota looked like a stud. He threw 24 passes and completed 14 of them (not great), but amassed 248 yards for three touchdowns and was able to add 24 yards on three rushing attempts. He avoided interceptions and didn’t turn the ball over in any of the four sacks he suffered. All of that for a waiver wire quarterback facing the coolest kid on the block!
Reality might not be that bright, though. Of his 14 completions and 248 yards, one pass was thrown to Derrick Henry and accounted for 75 yards in which the tailback did all of the work after catching the ball in the backfield. If you take that one away, passing for 173 yards wouldn’t have looked that good, right? And it is not that you can expect your running back to hand you such yardage every day on receiving plays. Mariota still holds some value, even if he’s not a clear QB1. After all, the Titans have quite a toolbox on offense. Henry will keep defenders honest, Delanie Walker fell in the fountain of youth, A.J. Brown looked incredible in his debut, and Adam Humphries and Corey Davis should bounce back and be key sooner than later.
Fantasy Impact: The Colts, still processing Andrew Luck’s retirement, conceded 333 passing yards to Phillip Rivers and 125 to the Chargers’ backfield unit in Week 1. That could have been a fluke, though, as Indianapolis fielded an above-average defense last season by DVOA, although the Colts were better against the rush than the pass. It is still early in the season so Mariota has not had enough playing time for sacks to pile over him yet. He’s healthy, can pass, and has the legs to run when needed. The doubts I have with Mariota this week all come from the same place: what if the Titans had one of their best games of the season in Week 1 and will only regress from that point on? Every receiver except Corey Davis caught at least one pass and had a 50+ percent catch rate, Walker was as efficient as ever, Henry gave Mariota’s numbers quite a bump up. I will need to see if everything clicks again or if this was just a peak right before a valley. If you don’t have any other option available and have to stream the position he might be worth a flier, if not, you’re better keeping at distance.