The 2015 NFL season is underway with a pretty bizarre Week 1 officially in the books.
Once again, it feels like there were more big injuries this week than in previous opening weekends with Dez Bryant, DeSean Jackson, T.Y. Hilton, Delanie Walker and Andre Ellington headlining the list. Of course, I also seem to remember saying the same thing last season … and the one before that.
We now have to adjust our sails and continue to navigate the choppy waters of the fantasy football realm. That’s what the waiver wire and potential trade partners are for folks.
Also, keep in mind that it is very early and while some players are stumbling out of the gate (I’m looking at the Manning brothers) there is still plenty of time to right the ship.
Let’s do this.
Marcus Mariota, TENNESSEE at Cleveland: Well, hello there Mr. Mariota. A four-touchdown debut on the road is certainly a nice beginning to a career. Tennessee rolled over Tampa Bay and Mariota was nearly perfect, completing 13-of-16 passes and tossing those previously mentioned four scores. This week Mariota gets to face a Cleveland defense that just allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to put up a pair of passing touchdowns. Tennessee has also installed read-option looks that keep defenses on their toes and Mariota comfortable. Yes, we like the kid’s matchup in Week 2.
Andy Dalton, CINCINNATI vs. San Diego: It’s pretty well known that Dalton can be a bit streaky and we like to ride him when that streak is trending upwards. Well, this looks to be the case as Cincinnati moved the ball at will against Oakland and Dalton finished with 270 total yards from scrimmage with a pair of touchdowns and zero turnovers. San Diego will be traversing cross country and is coming off a week in which it allowed Detroit to post 246 passing yards and two scores. Look for Dalton to utilize play-action to carve up the San Diego defense and flirt with top-10 numbers this week.
Carson Palmer, ARIZONA at Chicago: It’s pretty simple, really. As long as Palmer stays upright and healthy he is going to produce. In the last seven games he has played, Palmer has thrown 14 touchdowns (including the three last weekend) and only three interceptions. Chicago hung tough with Green Bay last week but failed to notch a sack and gave up three passing touchdowns. It’s going to be more of the same this week as Palmer feeds Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown the ball plenty.
Alex Smith, KANSAS CITY vs. Denver: Call him a game manager if you like, but Smith looked darn good in Week 1, tossing three touchdowns and completing 66 percent of his passes. The Denver defense was awesome last week, picking off Joe Flacco twice and returning one for a score. It did suffer some secondary injuries with both Omar Bolden and David Bruton Jr. going down and will be facing Smith on a quick turnaround Thursday night. Look for Smith to ‘game manage’ his way to another big week utilizing Travis Kelce and Jeremy Maclin extensively.
Tyrod Taylor, BUFFALO vs. New England: Taylor had an excellent Week 1 leading Buffalo over Indianapolis with 236 total yards from scrimmage and one touchdown pass. The 51-yard hook-up with Percy Harvin was a thing of beauty and Taylor is off to a great start. It’s the matchup with New England and coach Bill Belichick that worries me, as young quarterbacks seem to struggle against Belichick. Look for Buffalo to try and get the running game on track to keep the ball away from Tom Brady and that will cap Taylor’s fantasy potential this week.
Matthew Stafford, DETROIT at Minnesota: Stafford has not thrown for more than 250 yards since Week 14 of last season. In the two games against Minnesota last year, he didn’t even reach 200 passing yards and threw one score in each game. Stafford also struggles in games played outdoors, which this one will be. Oh yeah, Stafford is also nursing an elbow injury but insists he’ll play. An angry Minnesota defense playing at home is going to harass Stafford all day long. Avoid him.
Colin Kaepernick, SAN FRANCISCO at Pittsburgh: After watching Tom Brady shred the Pittsburgh secondary for 288 yards and four touchdowns, folks may want to roll any old quarterback out against this defense. Slow down. San Francisco will be heading cross-country for this game, which is also the home opener for Pittsburgh. Kaepernick led his team to a win but totaled only 206 yards from scrimmage and failed to post a score. He’ll be handing off to Carlos Hyde plenty but not throwing enough to be a starting option this week.
Cam Newton, CAROLINA vs. Houston: Newton is the first repeat offender to make the bench list as he faces the J.J. Watt–led Houston defense this week. Last week confirmed what a lot of folks were worried about with Newton. The lack of receiving options in Carolina will cap Newton’s fantasy potential through the air (he finished with 175 passing yards) and force him to run more (he had 14 carries). That’s a tough road to hoe against the likes of Watt and it’s going to be a long day.