The Top Three Fantasy Football Storylines From Week 1:
Life without Peyton Manning is [fill in the blank yourself] for the Indianapolis Colts and anyone who owns Indianapolis players. Making his first start since coming out of retirement two weeks ago, Kerry Collins passed for an anemic 187 yards and one touchdown, and lost two fumbles during the Colts’ 34-7 drubbing at the hands of the Houston Texans.
If you drafted any Colts, you probably have five words on your mind: What should I do now? In the short-term, Reggie Wayne (6 receptions, 107 yards, 1 TD) looks like Collins’ favorite target, and maybe Dallas Clark (4 receptions, 39 yards) will come around. Garcon (3 receptions, 39 yards), Collie (0 receptions) and Addai (8 carries, 39 yards; 2 receptions, 13 yards) don’t look safe to start right now. Thinking about trading any of your Colts? Good luck with that. If you toss them into the free agent pool, another owner will scoop them up. You’re stuck with them. Cross your fingers and hope Collins will play better going forward.
2. While many of you were sleeping Monday night, Tom Brady and Chad Henne lit up Dolphin Stadium, combining for a whopping 933 passing yards and six touchdown passes.
There is nothing like a fantasy friendly shootout! Brady threw for a career-high and New England Patriots franchise record 517 yards with four touchdown against just one pick. His four main targets were Wes Welker (8 receptions, 160 yards, 2 TD), Aaron Hernandez (7 receptions, 103 yards, TD), Deion Branch (7 receptions, 93 yards) and Rob Gronkowski (6 receptions, 86 yards, TD)
Henne, who had been the target of trade rumors and Miami Dolphins “Boo Birds” during the preseason, passed for a career-high 416 yards along with two touchdowns against one pick. The former Michigan star also amassed 59 yards and one rushing score. His main targets: Brandon Marshall (7 receptions, 139 yards), Davone Bess (5 receptions, 92 yards) and Reggie Bush (9 receptions, 56 yards, TD).
1. Making his NFL regular-season debut, rookie Cam Newton stunned the fantasy football world with a historic performance, torching the Arizona Cardinals for a mind-blowing 422 passing yards and two touchdown passes against just one interception, and tacking on 18 rushing yards and one rushing score.
Rookie triggermen aren’t supposed to play this well – especially one that did not complete more than 45 percent of his passes during the preseason. Yes, it was a soft Cardinals defense that was stacked to stop DeAngelo Williams (12 carries, 30 yards; 1 reception, 6 yards) and Jonathan Stewart (7 carries, 26 yards; 2 receptions, 14 yards), but Newton still deserves a ton of props. The former Auburn star also propelled Steve Smith (8 receptions, 178 yards, 2 TD) back into the ranks of fantasy relevance.
It’s Time To Celebrate:
– Reggie who? Sproles is going to give new meaning to the “Reggie Bush” role in the New Orleans Saints offense after he amassed seven receptions and 75 receiving yards against the Green Bay Packers. Sproles looks like a great option in point-per-reception leagues.
– It looks like Jennings’ role as Aaron Rodgers’ go-to guy will continue into the 2011 season, despite the return of Jermichael Finley. Jennings led Green Bay with seven receptions, 89 yards and a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints.
– Despite missing a ton of preseason time with a hamstring injury, Britt forged some instant chemistry with veteran Matt Hasselbeck, compiling five receptions, 136 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Now if Britt can just stay out of trouble…
– After struggling and looking lost at times last year, Boldin apparently has turned things around. His solid preseason chemistry with Joe Flacco continued into Week 1 (4 receptions, 74 yards, 1 TD) against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It’s Time For Patience:
– He is just a second-year pro who is learning his second NFL offense. This makes his 213-yard, two-touchdown, one-interception performance against the Cincinnati Bengals look more respectable. McCoy still has No. 2 fantasy quarterback value.
– After watching him compile nine carries for 24 yards and six receptions for 25 yards with his new big-money contract in hand, it looks like Johnson could have used some practice time with the new starting quarterback in the new offense. He’ll bounce back.
– Sure, his 12 carries and 45 yards against the Baltimore Ravens was horrible, but the Steelers trailed early and never recovered from an ‘ol fashioned thumping.
– The second-year pro’s five carries for 15 yards torpedoed quite a few fantasy teams. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were constantly playing from behind against an upstart Detroit Lions defense. Blount has another tough Week 2 matchup (Minnesota Vikings) before facing softer matchups in Week 3 (Atlanta Falcons) and Week 4 (Indianapolis Colts).
– Although he compiled just 13 carries and 40 yards on the ground against the Green Bay Packers and was stopped on a goal-line carry or two, Ingram is the guy that the New Orleans Saints want as their primary first- and second-down runner.
– Just two receptions for 31 yards against the Minnesota Vikings. Mike Tolbert was the guy for the San Diego Chargers in this contest. Jackson should rebound against a New England Patriots secondary that was torched on Monday Night Football.
– He had no receptions against the San Diego Chargers while Donovan McNabb struggled through a nightmarish outing (39 yards, one touchdown, one interception). Both should play better in the games ahead.
It’s Time For Caution:
– He probably deserves a roster spot as a No. 2 fantasy quarterback, but Newton will face a real defense in Week 2 – the Green Bay Packers.
– Cutler (312-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Atlanta Falcons) looked strong, but matchups against the New Orleans Saints (Week 2) and the Green Packers (Week 3) will let us know if Cutler is for real this time. Although Chicago dominated Atlanta, the Falcons did sack Cutler five times.
– The second-year pro has a banged up finger on his throwing hand and a banged up receiving corps.
– His 309-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Carolina Panthers looked great – especially with very little help from Larry Fitzgerald – but tougher matchups are looming.
– The supposedly injury-prone Best touched the rock – gasp – 25 total times versus the Buccaneers (21 carries for 72 yards and four receptions for 42 yards). This heavy workload won’t continue … will it?
– After missing virtually the entire preseason due to a mysterious illness, Maclin returned in Week 1 but notched just one reception for 20 yards. He also looks like a risky start for Week 2. Maclin may need another week or two to get back into the flow.
– His six-reception, 100-yard, one-touchdown outing against the Green Bay Packers has fantasy owners drooling, but Henderson has been historically inconsistent. Even with Marques Colston (collar bone) out of action and Lance Moore (groin) slowed, there are no guarantees that Henderson will produce solid numbers.
– Nelson’s six receptions, 77 yards and one touchdown against the New Orleans Saints looked good, but there are a lot of receiving options in the Green Bay offense. James Jones also has been slowed by a knee injury and could make his presence known soon, cutting into Nelson’s targets.
– This fantasy tease amassed five receptions, 61 yards and one touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys. Keller could easily amass just two receptions for 15 yards in Week 2. Don’t be fooled.
It’s Time To Panic:
– Playing in an offense that is supposed to be built around him, Lynch compiled just 13 carries for 33 yards and two receptions for 14 yards against a tough San Francisco 49ers defense. Hint: Nobody respects the Seahawks passing game with Tarvaris Jackson under center.
– James Starks looked like the more natural runner versus the New Orleans Saints. Let’s see … Starks amassed 12 rushes for 57 yards and one touchdown while Grant compiled just nine rushes for 40 yards.
– He grabbed just one pass for 14 yards against the Miami Dolphins Monday night and gave way to Deion Branch (7 receptions, 93 yards) in the second half. If Tom Brady doesn’t trust Ochocinco, he’ll have a hard time getting on the field.
– No receptions in Week 1. Reggie Wayne is getting most of Kerry Collins’ attention at the moment.
One Final Thought About Week 1:
Fantasy-wise, a number of under-the-radar or little-known players surprised us, and a number of well-known players and studs disappointed us, but this happens in Week 1 each season. It doesn’t matter whether you started 1-0 or 0-1, I will offer you the same advice: relax. There is a ton of football left to play.