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Fantasy Recap: Week 1

Posted Sep 10, 2013


Fantasy football is the worst, isn't it? You're all excited for Week 1, then Calvin Johnson goes out and puts up 37 yards. Or Dez Bryant gets 22 yards. Or Lamar Miller runs for three yards. Or Stevan Ridley fumbles twice. Or David Wilson coughs it up twice. Or Zach Sudfeld is shut out. Or Gio Bernard receives just five touches. Or...

Yeah, it was that kind of Week 1. For all the “he-did-what-he-was-supposed-to-do” performances (Adrian Peterson, A.J. Green, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Forte, Drew Brees, etc.), there were plenty of team-killing duds from normally reliable studs.

You're going to hear the “be patient” cliché a lot this week, and with good reason. You should be patient. There's really no point in talking about Calvin's bad game or even Maurice Jones-Drew's disappointing performance. Sure, the Jaguars looked bad, which could affect Mo-Jo's overall production, but didn't we know that going into the season? He'll be fine.

Instead, we're going to look at specific situations where playing time/targets were an issue this week and could be an issue going forward.

Also, here's a reminder to get your questions in for Friday's fantasy mailbag. Every Friday during the season, we'll tackle the best fantasy questions of the week and help you with roster, trade and strategy decisions. You can submit your questions here by 5:00 p.m. CT every Thursday. Please specify players with common last names (e.g. Davis, Jackson, etc.) and include the relevant scoring parameters of your league (e.g. PPR, passing TDs worth 4 points, etc.).

Quarterback

Peyton Manning was obviously the star of the week after his seven-TD performance on Thursday, but virtually all of the other big-name, early-round QBs put up good stats. Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers didn't miss a beat, while Colin Kaepernick looked almost unstoppable with his run/pass ability. Tom Brady and Tony Romo didn't put up monster numbers, but both were solid and should only get better. Same goes for Russell Wilson, who actually had 320 passing yards against a good Panthers' defense.

One name conspicuously absent from that list is Cam Newton's. Newton had just 125 passing yards, 38 rushing yards and one total TD. Newton started slowly last year, so there's no reason to get too alarmed, especially since he was going against arguably the league's top defense in the Seahawks. Newton actually had a good completion percentage (69.6), so he should wreak his normal havoc soon.

Notable Riser: A lot of fantasy “backups” played like starters, including Sam Bradford, Alex Smith, Philip Rivers, Matt Schaub and Jay Cutler, but Terrelle Pryor probably made the biggest splash. Pryor actually led the NFL in rushing after Sunday, gaining 112 yards with his legs while adding another 217 through the air. He had one TD pass and could have had another if Darren McFadden had kept his toes inbounds. Pryor also had two INTs, but one was essentially on a Hail Mary. It will be interesting to see what Pryor does when he faces a decent defense, but either way, he's worth owning as a high-upside backup.

Notable Faller: Robert Griffin III looked bad on Monday. He added some cosmetic stats in garbage time, but his rustiness was evident. We can accept some growing pains as he gets used to being on the field again, but Griffin made bad decisions and was inaccurate much of the night. For all the talk of his athleticism, accuracy has always been his best attribute. He'll get better, but he could struggle again this Sunday after a short week of practice.

Running Back

The Broncos (Knowshon Moreno, Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman), Dolphins (Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas), Giants (David Wilson and whoever doesn't fumble), Colts (Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw), Jets (Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell), Steelers (Isaac Redman and LaRod Stephens-Howling) and Patriots (Stevan Ridley and whoever doesn't fumble) all have legitimate RB-by-committee situations.

Miller and Ivory are disappointing since both were tabbed as breakout sleepers this preseason, but neither were impressive. Both had tough matchups, and their counterparts also struggled, so they're still in position to gain the job and run with it.

Wilson and Ridley are even more disappointing since they were both likely drafted in the first four rounds. Ridley would probably be out of a job if Shane Vereen, who took over and ran for over 100 yards, didn't injure his wrist. He's expected to miss at least two weeks. LeGarrette Blount is technically next on the depth chart, but Brandon Bolden looms as a sleeper after impressing in spurts last year. Ridley should get another chance on Thursday, but he has to hold onto the ball. Wilson is on thinner ice in New York. The Giants are expected to sign a veteran back this week, but if they don't, Da'Rel Scott will get meaningful touches.

Notable Riser: Reggie Bush was all over the field for Lions, running for 90 yards and adding 101 yards and a TD through the air. He also had two TD runs called back because he was ruled down at the 1-yard line both times. While Bush was even better than expected, backup Joique Bell was nearly as good. He had 92 total yards and scored twice. Mikel Leshoure was a healthy scratch, making Bell the de facto “short-yardage” back. With his receiving ability and TD potential, he's a potential flex every week.

Notable Faller: We didn't list the Bills as a RB-by-committee earlier, but after Fred Jackson had just four fewer carries and one fewer target than C.J. Spiller – and outgained him in both categories – we are putting Spiller on watch. We still think Spiller will go on to have a big year, but clearly Jackson is more valuable than most gave him credit for. And he'll continue to gain value if Spiller keeps fumbling.

Wide Receiver

Receiver is usually the flukiest position from week-to-week, and Week 1 was no different. Anquan Boldin (17 targets, 13 catches, 208 yards and a TD), Brian Hartline (15 targets, 9 catches, 114 yards and a TD) and Julian Edelman (9 targets, 7 catches, 79 yards and 2 TDs) had monster games, and you'll notice each had a high number of targets. As we said last Friday, looking at targets is more important than looking at results, and a few names stand out on the targets list that didn't exactly burn up fantasy leagues.

Kenbrell Thompkins (14 targets, 4 catches, 42 yards), Emmanuel Sanders (12 targets, 7 catches, 57 yards) and Cecil Shorts (11 targets, 3 catches, 40 yards) were among the players who are likely already on fantasy rosters who disappointed, but they shouldn't be given up on. Guys like Andre Roberts (9 targets, 8 catches, 97 yards), Stephen Hill (9 targets, 6 catches 39 yards), Doug Baldwin (8 catches, 7 catches, 91 yards), Alshon Jeffery (8 targets, 5 catches, 42 yards) and Rod Streater (8 targets, 5 catches 70 yards) are at least worth watching next week if they're not picked up.

Notable Riser: As good as some of the players mentioned above were, few players stood out at any position as much as DeSean Jackson. The Eagles as a whole looked fantastic (though it will be interesting to see their offense against a good defense now that there's full-game tape on them), but Jackson was running free all night, partially because Philadelphia's scheme made it easy for him to find open spaces. Again, against better defenses later in the season, we might have a different perspective on Jackson and the Eagles, but he looks like he's going to be a popular target and put up a bunch of yards. If the draft was held today, he'd probably go as a high-end WR2.

Notable Faller: Roddy White's ankle injury was treated as a minor, nothing-to-worry-about preseason ailment all August. Then, on Sunday morning, we find out it's a high-ankle sprain and his availability for Week 1 is in question. White suited up against the Saints, but he clearly wasn't himself, receiving only two targets. High-ankle sprains tend to linger and White, who hasn't missed a game in his NFL career, will clearly try to play through it, but it's tough to know what to expect from week-to-week with him. It's not too reactionary to think about benching him next week.

Tight End

Almost all of the “sleeper” TEs heading into this year's draft paid off in Week 1, with the exception of Zach Sudfeld, who's dealing with a sore hamstring. Jordan Cameron, Julius Thomas, Martellus Bennett and Jared Cook all scored, with Cook getting open virtually all game. He tied for third among all TEs with 10 targets, and he led the position in yards (141).

It's tough to imagine Thomas being consistent with all the weapons in Denver, and we've seen this story before with Bennett, but Cameron (13 targets) and Cook look like the real deals. Cook would even get the nod over Cameron, who padded his stats in garbage time and had the benefit of Cleveland's No. 1 receiver, Josh Gordon, being suspended. Cook did all his damage in the flow of the Rams' offense. It was a favorable matchup for him, but expect him to continue to be heavily involved.

Notable Riser: The Jets have always liked using their TEs in the Rex Ryan Era, and nothing has changed even with Dustin Keller gone. Veteran Kellen Winslow hauled in 7-of-8 targets for 79 yards and a score against the Bucs, and he should continue to be a security blanket for rookie QB Geno Smith. It's tough to use a waiver claim on Winslow in a non-bye week, but he's not a bad free-agent pickup depending on your TE situation.

Notable Faller: Cincinnati's Jermaine Gresham and rookie Tyler Eifert both got five targets (and caught all five), and neither topped 47 yards. They had a tough draw against the Bears, but the fact that they received equal targets has to be worrisome to Gresham owners.  He shouldn't be counted on as a starter next week.

Thursday Preview

Jets at Patriots

Stat to know: The Pats allowed just 2.4 yards per carry to C.J. Spiller last week; the Jets allowed just 2.7 ypc to Doug Martin. Considering both the Pats and Jets are firmly in the RB-by-committee camp, it's tough to recommend either Ridley or Ivory this week.

Sleeper: WR Kenbrell Thompkins (Jets allowed 52 yards and a TD to Tampa's No. 2 WR, Mike Williams, last week.)

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