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Quick Hits About Week 1 In Fantasy Football

Say hello to the 2012 edition of Tebowing

What was the most important event this weekend in fantasy football?

Well, it’s obviously the fact that I scored the most points in my one and only league, winning my matchup and becoming 1-0 for the first time since the Reagan Administration. I am sure I will now go 16-0.

It’s that kind of overreaction that I’ll try to stay away from in these recap posts, but it’s probably not possible. Through these eyes, blurred by liters of sweat and Malibu, here’s what I saw in Week 1.

Cowboys 24, Giants 17

— Damn, Ahmad Bradshaw looks old and slow. I’m not expecting him to make it through a full season, but he resembled something close to the 2009 and 2010 version of Clinton Portis out there. Not panicking yet.

— Cheer up, David Wilson. It was one bad game, but I still have faith in you over the long haul.

— If you haven’t done so already, you need to pick up Kevin Ogletree. You can’t just let a two-touchdown receiver lie on your waiver wire. But let’s not get carried away. Olgetree played on just 33 of Dallas’ 68 offensive snaps. He might get more playing time following this performance, but everyone who thinks this is 2012’s Laurent Robinson needs to take a step back and breathe. I don’t think he will get enough targets consistently, and he won’t be facing the Giants’ injury-riddled secondary every week.

Bears 41, Colts 21

— I have loved Reggie Wayne all throughout the preseason, and this game showcased why. The Colts’ defense is abysmal. Andrew Luck is going to have to throw it A LOT, and he has shown that he already trusts Wayne. For a rookie QB to have that kind of trust in a veteran wideout is a huge boon for the rook, and I expect a lot more games with 10+ targets for Wayne. And, oh yeah, Reggie Wayne may be 33, but he can still play. He has top-20 upside and a fantastic matchup this week versus Vikings, who couldn’t hinder Blaine Gabbert much.

— If you are a Matt Forte owner, you can’t be discouraged. You knew the deal when you drafted him; Michael Bush is going to be a big-time vulture this year. Forte is still going to be used all over the field as both a runner and passer. He’ll just have to score from outside the 5 (as he did Sunday when he scored from the 6). If you are banking on at least 1,500 total yards with 8-10 touchdowns from Forte, I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

— If you are a Michael Bush owner, be realistic. He’s not going to score twice per week, and touchdowns are generally difficult to project. He got 12 carries in this game, five of which came during the fourth quarter when the game was well in hand. If he doesn’t score, he’s going to really hurt your starting lineup. I would be looking to see if anyone in your league has an elevated opinion on Michael Bush, because now would be a good time to sell.
Eagles 17, Browns 16

— Trent Richardson carried the ball more than he really should have. It was clear that he wasn’t 100 percent as he lacked his usual speed and agility. The good news here is that Richardson got through the game without further damage and Richardson’s power is not up for debate.

The bad news is that Cleveland’s offensive line, which was not exactly the strongest unit to begin with, got caved in time after time by the Eagles’ front. That O-line, especially the interior, got punished and gave Richardson nowhere to go on many runs. Brandon Weeden ain’t helping matters, either. So what’s going to happen when Richardson faces the Steelers (twice), the Ravens (twice) and the Cowboys this season? Yikes. The saving grace here is that he should get better as the season progresses, and he’s clearly going to be a 20-touch, three-down back. But I am very concerned about his surroundings.

— Michael Vick probably turned in what will be his worst performance of the season and still threw for more than 300 yards with a couple of touchdowns. I’m not worried about Vick while he’s healthy. And the fact that he is still healthy after one full game is enough reason to celebrate.

Jeremy Maclin’s hip is all sorts of screwed up right now. Jason Avant could be someone to watch, especially in PPR leagues, if Maclin misses any time.

— Note for offenses facing the Browns in Weeks 2-5: They will be without shutdown corner and probably their best defensive player, Joe Haden, as he serves a four-game suspension. Give A.J. Green, Steve Johnson, Torrey Smith and Hakeem Nicks a little boost in value.

Lions 27, Rams 23

— Matthew Stafford? Not worried. Yes, some of the decisions were rookie-level mistakes. But someone asked me if they should trade Stafford for Robert Griffin III. Stop it.

— I loved Kevin Smith last week and he showed up. Of course, it’s easy to score when the opponent is quintuple-teaming Calvin Johnson. This week, he gets the Niners in San Fran. Uh-oh. My hopes for Smith is that he just makes it out alive. Don’t forget that Mikel Leshoure’s suspension ends after this week.

— I’m still supporting Steven Jackson as an RB2 just because he’ll always get the rock. But in this game, he lost his starting center for the year to a broken foot, and the starting left tackle is out indefinitely due to a neck injury. Jackson has been able to overcome shaky offensive lines before, but this is worth monitoring.

— I thought it was going to be hard enough for Titus Young to have that true breakout season as long as Nate Burleson was still kicking. But Young keeps making it harder on himself. I don’t know if he’ll “get it” this year, and I don’t think it’s crazy to want Burleson more than the youngster.

Texans 30, Dolphins 10

— I’m trying to think about something interesting to say about this one, but this game followed the script. It was nice to see Arian Foster get 27 touches. He didn’t look outstanding, but you’ll always take the 19 fantasy points and move on.

Everyone else pretty much performed as I expected. So yeah, nothing about this game moved the meter for me. You know you should be streaming defenses that play the Dolphins. The Raiders’ D should be added in most leagues this week.

Falcons 40, Chiefs 24

— With those weapons, no wonder the Falcons wanted to move toward a pass-oriented offense. It won’t always be this good for Matt Ryan — KC’s defense was missing four starters due to a mixture of injury and suspension — but I think he has made some room for himself as the No. 6 QB in fantasy right now, trailing only Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Newton and Stafford. It wouldn’t shock me to see Ryan move into that top five. How do you stop this aerial attack?

— Of course, that means Michael Turner doesn’t fit. If the Falcons can score 40 points and win by 16 with Turner getting just 11 carries, I have a hard time thinking that they will change their ways. Expect Turner to end a lot of games with seven or fewer fantasy points this year.

— Dexter McCluster has some interesting appeal to me. Used solely as a receiver, he caught six passes in this game and led the Chiefs with 10 targets and 82 receiving yards. This isn’t brand-new; McCluster was used as a receiver during the preseason and looks comfortable with his role. McCluster is a guy you can think about starting right away in PPR leagues, and he should be owned in 12-team standard leagues. He has basically supplanted Jamaal Charles as the Chiefs’ pass-catching back, and it tells you how Matt Cassel feels about his other receivers (Jon Baldwin) if McCluster is getting looked at that often. As an added bonus, McCluster has wide receiver AND running back eligibility if you play in Yahoo! leagues.

Vikings 26, Jaguars 23 (OT)

— Toby Gerhart and Rashad Jennings, it was fun while it lasted … even though it never really began. They have returned to their previous roles as pure handcuffs. If you don’t own Adrian Peterson or Maurice Jones-Drew, I wouldn’t scold you for dropping them. Jennings should go before Gerhart.

— Speaking of Adrian Peterson, he is just simply better than the rest of us, right? I won’t say he’s back to being the Old Adrian Peterson, but he’s safe to start as an RB1 again. Dude’s a freak. Jones-Drew should be fine going forward, too. Both looked a little heavy-footed, but that’ll wear off with increased activity.

— Remember when Marcedes Lewis scored 10 touchdowns in 2010? Well, he’s off to a good start, and Blaine Gabbert looked like an actual NFL QB in Week 1. Just something to watch as the tight end crop gets even deeper for fantasy owners. I’ll be interested to see if this two touchdown, zero-interception outing by Gabbert was a mirage when he plays Houston on Sunday.

Redskins 40, Saints 32

— The most impressive part of RGIII’s performance was the poise. We knew he had the accuracy, the arm strength, the speed and all that good stuff. But he looked like he had been playing in the league for seven years. He made one risky throw into double coverage. Other than that, he was on point. The yardage totals won’t be that high normally, but I really like him to finish in the top 12 among QBs this year.

— Gotta pick up Alfred Morris and ride him for as long as you can … or as long as Shanahan lets you. Shanahan said Monday that Morris is his starting running back right now. We know that could change after one carry in Week 2, but Morris at least looks like a strong RB2 versus the Rams.

— Pierre Garcon has a sore heel or foot or something. Far be it from Shanahan to make anything clear.

— Saints? Not worried. But do know that if this team is ever trailing, Mark Ingram will not be on the field. He played nine snaps in this game.

— New year, same unstoppable Jimmy Graham.

Jets 48, Bills 28

— Serious question: Did the Bills care to prepare for his game? Did they study any tape, research any of the Jets’ offensive tendencies. I’m guessing the answer is “No.” And Ryan Fitzpatrick was the worst non-rookie QB in Week 1. Just a putrid effort all around.

— With Fred Jackson expected to miss at least a month due to a sprained knee ligament, C.J. Spiller is the main man in this backfield. He torched the Jets and is a must-start, perhaps a top-10 RB, for as long as he’s got the starting gig. Spiller averaged more than 100 yards per game and scored five times in six starts last season while Jackson was out with a broken leg. Don’t be surprised if this is an even timeshare when Jackson returns. Spiller will make it hard to keep himself off the field.

— The Jets’ offense was obviously not going to be as bad as it showed in the preseason — because it couldn’t get any worse. But let’s give this offense some time to prove itself. There were some surprising things in Week 1 that I’m convinced will stay true for most or all of the season; I’m nowhere near ready to believe in Mark Sanchez after one huge game. Let’s see how he does at Pittsburgh. Same goes for rookie Stephen Hill. I know he’s got incredible speed for his size, and you have to stash him because he deserves at least that. But I doubt this team will be consistently productive. One game doesn’t erase three seasons of mediocrity from this passing offense.

Patriots 34, Titans 13

— This is not your brother’s Patriots. This defense looks ferocious (I love them Sunday at home versus the Cardinals), and Stevan Ridley looks to be a dependable every-down back. The improved running game inevitably cut into Wes Welker’s usage — he played 43 of 67 snaps. For right now, I would hang on to Welker. Hell, I bet the Patriots make him a focal point in a game very soon just to shut up all of the scribes who are freaking out about him becoming a rotational player. But as soon as he turns in that big line, put out the trade offers. Ridley’s success has more of an impact on Welker’s fantasy value than Gronkowski, Hernandez and Lloyd, and I think Ridley is the real deal.

— Jake Locker and Nate Washington were injured on the same play, but it sounds like both will be fine for this week. I’m not sure how you can get squashed by two defenders, be obviously unconscious and be diagnosed with just a leg contusion, but that’s the case with Washington. Whatever.

You know that when you lie motionless and your hands go stiff, odds are you’ve got a leg bruise.

— You know it’s gotten bad for Chris Johnson when his head coach is fielding questions about possibly benching him or having him share carries. But Johnson is doing the same exact stuff he did last season; he just doesn’t take what he’s given. He’ll hit the hole and if he doesn’t think he can gain 30 at the end of it, he’ll stutter, spin, try to bounce it outside and lose two yards. It’s as if that 2,000-yard season has changed the way he approaches every carry. For right now, you have to keep starting him unless you have three top-12 RBs. But if you’re already disgusted enough and can find an owner who will take him for 80 or 90 cents on the dollar, I think it’s OK to trade Johnson. His offensive line is still sub-par, and it appears that he has learned nothing for his disappointing 2011.

Cardinals 20, Seahawks 16

— Reason No. 53,491 why you can’t really take anything away from the preseason: Russell Wilson. He’s going to keep the Seahawks in games, but he’s not going to be a transcendent talent. He’s a low-end QB2.

— But at least Marshawn Lynch looked OK. Much like Gerhart and Jennings, Robert Turbin can be forgotten for now. The Cardinals’ running game? Yikes. I prefer Ryan Williams, but I don’t want any part of it this week in New England.

— John Skelton will miss up to a month because of a low ankle sprain. That’s seems to be an extremely conservative timetable given the nature of the injury, but that means Kevin Kolb will be Arizona’s leader in the huddle for the next few weeks. What does that mean for Larry Fitzgerald? Well, it was nice to see that three of Kolb’s first four attempts Sunday headed his way, but Fitzgerald has put up much bigger numbers with Skelton than with Kolb since the open of last season. You’re still starting him, but Kolb has to prove that he has a strong rapport with Fitz. If you’re a Cardinals quarterback, how can you not?

49ers 30, Packers 22

— It’s easy to score if no one covers you. That’s how it went for Randy Moss. It was appropriate that he scored at Lambeau Field, but he played barely one-third of San Fran’s snaps. He’s totally boom or bust.

— The Niners completely shut down Cedric Benson, but that’s what they do. The Niners don’t allow you to run against them. Benson will see better days, and he remains the Packers’ clear-cut starter. Against a Bears defense that allowed more than five yards per carry and a touchdown to Donald Brown on Sunday, I think Benson is a fine RB2 for Thursday.

— Greg Jennings hasn’t practiced this week and is very questionable for tomorrow’s game. Jordy Nelson is an obvious start, but who would you rather want: Randall Cobb or James Jones? Jones will probably move into the starting lineup after a nice Week 1 outing, but I’d rather start Cobb. He’s so explosive and so versatile; the Packers lined him up in the backfield 19 times against San Francisco. Just based on how the Packers put Cobb all over the formation and his excessive game-breaking ability, I think he’s a WR3 versus the Bears. Plus, Jones has a history of having tennis rackets for hands.

Most unforgettable sound from Week 1.

Buccaneers 16, Panthers 10

— The most disappointing player of the opening week? It’s not Chris Johnson. At least he caught six passes and gave you more than 50 yards to salvage his day somewhat. But what the hell, DeAngelo Williams? Jonathan Stewart, who was inactive, rushed for more yards against a team that ranked 32nd against the run last season. Note: There are 32 teams in the NFL. I gotta give credit to the Bucs’ defensive line as they dominated the Panthers throughout.

— Cam Newton looked really flustered in this game. Not worried, but considering how much pressure the Bucs put on him, it’s not going to get any easier this week against the Giants in New York.

— Doug Martin is good. Moving on …

Broncos 31, Steelers 19

— Peyton, Peyton, Peyton. Blah, blah, blah. He looked fine. He looked like he’s back. He’s a fringe QB1. We know this already. But he could crack the top 10 if Demaryius Thomas continues to start his routes by being shot out of a cannon. Personally, I like Eric Decker more for the entire season, but it was nice to see Peyton get everyone involved.

— Jonathan Dwyer averaged nearly than five yards per carry and easily eclipsed Isaac Redman as the Steelers’ most effective rusher. As such, head coach Mike Tomlin said Dwyer will probably get more touches coming up. I don’t think Rashard Mendenhall is going to play this week and versus a Jets defense that allowed more than 160 yards to C.J. Spiller, I think Dwyer is a strong flex play. Granted, Spiller and Dwyer are completely different players, I think Dwyer is going to get 15-20 touches, including all of the goal-line possibilities.

Ravens 44, Bengals 13

— I was not a believer in all of the offseason talk about how Joe Flacco was going to be let off the chain this year and was going throw the ball deep more often this season. I kept shouting that this is Ray Rice’s team. The Ravens went 1-4 during the regular season last year when Rice didn’t get at least 20 touches. It has to go through him. Then what do the Ravens do on the first play of this game? Completed deep shot to Torrey Smith.

I’m not going to say Flacco is elite or that he is a top-12 fantasy QB. Rice is still a stud running back, and I don’t love him any less. But I will admit I was wrong; the Ravens are going to be a passing team this year. Ten carries for Ray Rice was a recipe for losing last season. On Monday, Rice got 10 carries, and Baltimore beat a playoff team by 31. Because Rice is such a good receiver, he’s still a top player. Just don’t expect him to have many games with 25 or more touches.

Dennis Pitta caught a true jump-ball TD in this game. He’s another one of those intriguing, young tight ends, but don’t forget that Ed Dickson is still around. If I had to choose right now, I would rather own Indy’s Coby Fleener or the Giants’ Martellus Bennett because they are talented AND have no competition at their position on their respective teams.

— Bernard Scott picked a bad game to miss. I went into the year thinking that the Bengals’ run game would be a close split, but after a stellar performance against such a stout defense, I think BenJarvus Green-Ellis has separated himself. Scott is expected to play this week with his surgically repaired hand healed, but I like BJG-E as an RB2 against a toothless Browns defense this week.

— PPR alert: Andrew Hawkins. Because someone’s got to be the Bengals’ No. 2 WR, and A.J. Green gets all of the defensive attention.

Chargers 22, Raiders 14

— Too bad a solid weekend of NFL football had to end with this benzodiazepine of a game. I’m not sure what to make of both teams here because I think the Raiders are better, but what happened on three punts decided it.

— In case you didn’t realize it, the Chargers desperately need Ryan Mathews back. They need him just as much as the Raiders need Denarius Moore. Carson Palmer looked downright afraid to throw the ball past 10 yards. While Moore seems to have a good chance to play this week versus Miami, early word on Mathews isn’t as positive. He’ll probably miss Week 2.

— What a strange night for Darren McFadden. He looked very strong on his first few carries. Even better for his fantasy owners such as myself, he was wisely avoiding contact when he was close to the sidelines. But since Palmer chose to throw it to absolutely no one else but McFadden (18 targets!!), he was severely winded by the second quarter. When I saw him on the sidelines, I thought he was already hurt. He can be the league’s best running back, and it’s cool that 118 total yards is basically his floor. But if the Raiders are going to give him the ball 28 times, he is not going to make it out of October.

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  1. Jgro
    September 12, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    I was thinking the same thing about Nate Washington. Makes. No. Sense.

    • September 12, 2012 at 11:56 pm

      But since he’s my WR3, I’ll take the good fortune and move on.

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