So NFL Week 1 has come and gone. 16 fanbases are happy, while 16 fanbases are despondent.
Life is a bit more complicated in the fantasy football world. You’ve probably got players who did great and some who did awful. Many of you’ve probably entered enough leagues that some player news is a double-edged sword.
In the daily fantasy sports world, you probably one some 50/50 contests and lost big in the Millionaire Maker-type events on FanDuel and DraftKings. You’re left to wonder how the winners knew Tyler Eifert would be such a stud, while picking Keenan Allen out of a list of 50 solid wide receiver options. You might wonder at the randomness of it all.
Whatever your DFS and local league looks like, take heart.
I have an old saying in fantasy football: “Half of what happens in Week 1 means something, while half of what happens means nothing.”
What I mean is, half of the players who did great in Week 1 are going to keep doing great. The other half are going to come back down to Earth. Meanwhile, a good half of those (supposed) studs who sucked in Week 1 are going to bounce back in Week 2. The other half will continue to do awful.
The same trends are going to continue into Week 3. After three weeks, a clear pattern begins to form and the true fantasy football studs of 2015 will have emerged. The duds also will become evident, contrary to popular opinion among experts in the 2015 offseason.
All that being said, lots of DFS information was provided to us in Week 1 of the 2015 NFL regular season. Here are 101 thoughts and observations on what we saw, divided into notes on the 16 games.
In no particular order.
Denver Broncos Beat Baltimore Ravens: 19-13
The Broncos beat the Ravens in a surprising defensive struggle.
- We Learned Something’s Wrong with Peyton Manning: The funk Peyton Manning fell into in December 2015 and the playoffs has continued. Add Week 1’s lousy showing and this is going on half-a-season. Peyton Manning owners, be afraid.
2. Manning’s Weapons Aren’t What They Were – Yes, Demaryius Thomas is an elite weapon. Yes, Emmanual Sanders should be good. But what made the Broncos such a juggernaut these past couple of years was the whole package: good outside receivers, good 3rd receiver, good tigth end. That doesn’t exist anymore.
3. CJ Anderson Comes with Question Marks – I always warn about relying on backup running backs who had a big second half of the previous year. C.J. Anderson came in midway, when defenses were worn out. He was fresh and may have looked better than he (maybe) is.
4. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders Could Fluctuate More – Thomas and Sanders were awesome last year, just as Thomas and Decker were awesome the year before. But people should be aware that any decline in Peyton Manning’s performance is going to seriously affect Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Don’t get me wrong: these guys are going to have big moments this year. What I’m talking about is the kind of consistant, fantasy-legend type of production people have come to expect from the Broncos since Manning came to town. They’ll still have their moments, but I wonder if the Broncos will be the difference makers their owners expect them to be.
5. Joe Flacco’s Inconsistency Is a Constant – We all know by now Joe Flacco is inconsistent. He had a bad fantasy day, despite nearly leading the team on a game-winning drive. Flacco had a bad real-world NFL day, because he threw a pick-6 interception which was the difference in the game. Nothing new to see here…a fantasy football team is in trouble if it depends on Joe Flacco (even as a backup).
6. Terrell Suggs Is Gone for 2015 – Terrell Suggs ruptured his Achilles tendon and is done for the 2015 season. Downgrade the Ravens Defense in Team Defense leagues, while add Courtney Upshaw as the primary backup and keep an eye on Za’Darius Smith, the rookie 4th-round pick who was the only outside linebacker on the team active on Sunday besides Suggs, Upshaw, and Elvis Dumervil.
St. Louis Rams Edge Seattle Seahawks: 34-31
The Rams staged a big upset, but the teams always play close games.
7. The Rams Defensive Line Is Elite – The St. Louis Rams defensive line is very good. This is a unit which has jelled. Robert Quinn has been an elite pass rusher for 3 years. Chris Long is solid. But Aaron Donald is a superior player in his second season, which appears to have taken the Rams over the top.
8. Nick Foles Can Run a 2-Minute Offense – Taken off the Philadelphia Eagles, Nick Foles can still run a hurry-up offense. Foles led the Rams to 34 points against a defense most people consider the best in the NFL.
9. Benny Cunningham Was the Workhorse – When Todd Gurley was drafted, the rookie talent got the lion’s share of the talk. Tre Mason was the star of the show in 2014. Not a lot was said in the offseason about Benny Cunningham. But with Gurley and Mason out with injuries, Cunningham was the closest thing the Rams had to a workhorse. Benny Cunningham had 16 carries for 45 yards on the ground (not good) and 4 receptions for 77 yards, thus accounting for 122 of the Rams’ 373 yards–over 30% of the offense. It’s amazing the Rams got 34 points, scraping together rushing touchdowns by the quarterback and a receiver. You can’t say there was much in the way of a star for the Rams; it was a collaborative effort.
10. Jared Cook and Lance Kendricks – In the end, it was the tight ends who did the main damage. Jared Cook led the team with 5 receptions for 85 yards, while Lance Kendricks scored the tying touchdown late in the 4th quarter. He ended with 2 catches for 42 yards and a TD. None of this is much help to a fantasy football owner, except to say the Rams might not help you much in the FF sphere this year. Still, they scored 34 against a much-vaunted defense.
11. The Seahawks Miss Kam Chancellor – Surprise, surprise, but Seattle misses its All-Pro safety. Kam Chancellor is holding out to get a bonus moved up from 2016 to 2015. The Seahawks won’t budge and it cost them in Week 1. You can’t tell me those two tight ends would have roamed so freely if the team’s star safety was on the field.
12. Kearse and Baldwin Got Major Work – The Seahawks receivers got a lot of targets, though I can’t say they showed much big play ability. Jermaine Kearse got 8 receptions for 76 yards, but that was less than 10 yards per catch. Doug Baldwin was even worse, getting 7 catches for 35 yards–a measly 5 yards per catch. Yikes.
13. Jimmy Graham Was Merely Good – Jimmy Graham had 6 receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown, which amounts to good fantasy stats. He wasn’t Gronk, though. And Aaron Donald wrecked the middle of the Seahawks offensive line, which makes one wonder if Max Ungar wouldn’t have helped on that front. The Seahawks blocking got a lot worse in that trade, which could be a factor moving forward.
14. Marshawn Lynch Got Stuffed – Marshawn Lynch got a lot of work, with 18 carries and 5 receptions. None of it made much of a difference, though. Beast Mode got stuffed on that 4th-and-1 play which sealed the game for the Rams.
Buffalo Bills Roll the Indianapolis Colts: 27-14
15. The Bills Defense Is Good! – The Buffalo Bills Defense was good in 2014. It might be even better in 2015. This is a good unit, shutting down the #1 offense in the NFL (last year) to 14 points. Andrew Luck was held to average numbers. While some of that was the rain and the injury to T.Y. Hilton, that wouldn’t have mattered last year. Be prepared for the Bills to be a Top 5 defense. I can’t wait to see their showdown with the Patriots this week.
16. LeSean McCoy Isn’ t Fully Healthy– LeSean McCoy was not his old self in Week 1. He ran 17 times for only 41 yards, which is a perfect indication he’s not right. McCoy added 3 receptions for 46 yards, but did not look like much of a factor. He should improve.
17. Karlos Williams Looked NFL-Ready – Karlos Williams looked like the stronger runner. In only 6 carries, he added 55 yards and 1 touchdown. His 26-yard touchdown run was impressive. The 230-lb back could produce a nice thunder-and-lightning combination for the Bills moving forward, though expect Williams to be spotty, because McCoy cost so much and the team is going to want to use him.
18. Tyrod Taylor Looked Like a Starter – While no one is going to confuse Tyrod Taylor’s 195 yards passing with elite numbers, he looked like a competent NFL passer. The additional 41 yards on 9 rushes might do him harm in the long term sense, those were important for setting the tone.
19. T.Y. Hilton Is the Go-To Guy – I recently wrote a post about who Andrew Luck’s #1 receiver would be in 2016. For 2015, the answer is T.Y. Hilton, who finished with 7 catches for 88 yards. Who the go-to receiver might be in Week 2 is anybody’s guess, because Hilton is out for multiple weeks with a knee injury.
20. Andre Johnson Looked Old – Andre Johnson looked old and unable to gain separation. Meanwhile, Donte Moncrief was more of a factor. He had 6 receptions for 48 yards and a touchdown. If T.Y. Hilton is out, then Donte Moncrief might be the key factor in the passing game in Week 2.
21. Frank Gore Was a Non-Factor – Frank Gore didn’t exactly look old, because he had a 3.9 yards per carry average. He was a non-factor with only 8 rushes. That should change in Week 2, if the team isn’t down early.
22. Andrew Luck is Only Human – Given his 2014 campaign, people expect Andrew Luck to look like Johnny Unitas every time he takes the field. He didn’t against the Rex Ryan Defense. Expect different results on Week 2. This was an aberration, I’m betting.
Arizona Cardinals Defeated New Orleans Saints: 31-19
23. We Learned Drew Brees Struggles in the Red Zone – The New Orleans Saints seemed to lack big play ability in Week 1. Drew Brees racked up a lot of yards (355) and moved the team, but only scored 19 points. The team struggled in the red zone, scoring 1 touchdown in 4 visits into scoring territory. Those are natural places to throw to Jimmy Graham, so the 6’7″ tight end was missed sorely in the loss.
24. Brees’s Weapons Need to Improve – In a way, Brees’s decline goes back a year. The team has not been as solid as it once was. Last year’s poorer showings were covered up somewhat by the emergence of Mark Ingram as a real rushing threat. But the passing game is the Saints bread-and-butter. Whoever the next star in New Orleans is going to be, they need to emerge soon. A lot has been discussed about Brandin Cooks, but he needs to take charge. Brandon Coleman might be the go-to guy in the red zone later in the year, but the team needs to get him in the game.
25. No Replacement for Jimmy Graham Exists – People speculated in the offseason Josh Hill might be in store for big fantasy numbers. Then Benjamin Watson won the starting job and was touted, though less so, since he is more of a known commodity. The truth is, no one exists on the Saints roster to make up the difference.
26. Darren Fells Is a Fantasy Factor – Speaking of tight ends, if you whiffed in your fantasy drafts (or you’re looking for a Week 2 DFS starter), take a look at Darren Fells. The 29-year old 4-year veteran out of UC Irvine had 4 receptions for 82 yards and 1 touchdown. While Fells is a career blocking tight end who probably falls on his fantasy face in Week 2, he is officially a fantasy football factor…for now.
27. Carson Palmer Looked Good – Carson Palmer was solid in his return from an ACL injury. He passed for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns and spread the ball all over the field. For a player who’s gone through retirements and season-ending injuries and a Raiders stint in the last few years, he looked remarkably spry.
28. Andre Ellington Is Still Brittle – No surprise here, but you should not depend on Andre Ellington in fantasy football. It’s funny…I play in a fantasy football league where you get to keep one player, simply slotting them into the round they originally were drafted in. Last year, we talked about the remarkable value an owner has in drafting Andre Ellington as a 20th rounder each year. But now, he’s tied to starting an injury-prone player who isn’t that productive when he is healthy. Value only exists if a player stays healthy and puts up numbers.
Green Bay Packers win over Chicago Bears: 31-23
29. Aaron Rodgers Had an Uncharacteristic Week – I’m not hitting a panic button by any means, but Week 1 was an uncharacteristic week in terms of production for Aaron Rodgers. He usually gets 189 yards in a half, especially against the Chicago Bears Defense these past few years. With Jordy Nelson out, you have to wonder how long it will take to click with the younger receivers. One shouldn’t get too concerned, because he still showed the killer instinct with 3 touchdown passes. But the passing game was not itself.
30. Randall Cobb is Still Troubled with the Injury – Randall Cobb either was still dealing with lingering effects of his injury, or he couldn’t deal with double-coverage. Cobb had 5 catches for 38 yards, though he did add a touchdown. That is not what we’ve come to expect. He should improve when the injury improves. People were originally talking about this as a longer injury, so take a wait-and-see approach in daily fantasy. Let Cobb’s value fall a bit (if he doesn’t break out), then play him when you hear stories that he’s finally over his injury.
31. James Jones is the Third Receiver – James Jones appeared to be the #3 receiver, just 5 days after being signed off the street. It makes sense, given the loss of Nelson, Jones’s first stint in Green Bay, and the youth of the other backups. But it doesn’t say good things for Jeff Janis and Ty Montgomery moving forward. Both got a lot of talk in the offseason, but it’s still just talk. Also, Davante Adams was a favorite pick in daily fantasy drafts. I saw his usage rate was 20% to 30% on FanDuel and DraftKings this week. I bet that goes down in Week 2, when Adams might be a good rebound pick. If he stinks in Week 2, then I’d tap the break on picking the young talent.
32. Matt Forte is Still a Fantasy Force – Matt Forte is one of the surest things in fantasy football, and has been for years. I’ve written several times that Matt Forte is primed for a career year, because John Fox leans on his veterans like few other coaches. See how Peyton Manning looks burned out from his overuse by John Fox. This bodes ill for Matt Forte in 2016, perhaps, because he’ll be 30 and overworked. For now, he looks as quick as he ever did, bursting into the line with abandon and force. Forte had 24 carries for 141 yards and 1 touchdown, while he added 5 receptions for 55 yards and 1 touchdown in the passing game. It was a top effort of the week, and no doubt helped many DFS players. Matt Forte seems to like the new coaching staff, too. After the game, Matt Forte was also highly critical of previous head coach Mark Trestman’s offense. Mark Poteat quoted him saying, “The mentality of this offense, which I’m proud of, is nobody had that stupid look on their face [when down 31-16] like before” and “Had this been the past, we would have packed it in. That just goes to show the mentality this staff is instilling in us.”
33. Alshon Jeffrey Should Be Okay – Alshon Jeffrey played and was the #1 receiver for the team, finishing with 5 catches for 78 yards. There was speculation that he would be a late scratch and Eddie Royal (1 for 8 yards) would be a factor. That did not materialize. Early reports are Jeffrey came through just fine and should be good to go in Week 2.
34. Martellus Bennett Should Be Productive – The Bears under John Fox also went to Martellus Bennett early and often. John Fox has gotten used to leaning on his tight end, so this should be a productive year for Bennett. His TE numbers were very solid, with 5 receptions for 55 yards and 1 touchdown.
San Diego Chargers Beat Detroit Lions: 33-28
35. Ameer Abdullah Is Really Good – Ameer Abdullah is an excellent NFL runner, it would seem. He already made highlight reel plays in the game versus the Chargers, despite the loss. His 24-yard touchdown run was a thing of beauty. If you play in a league where kicking yardage is tallied, upgrade the rookie. Even in daily fantasy sports leagues, Abdullah gives the kind of big play ability which is great for Millionaire Maker events.
36. Matthew Stafford Continues to Be Average – It’s nice to say Matthew Stafford is an average fantasy quarterback. Going back through the 2014 season, he was an albatross to fantasy owners. He put up 250 and 2 touchdowns, which is an average fantasy week–solid enough, but not a decision maker. In fact, the last touchdown was a trash time TD. He’ll get a lot of plays next week due to the matchup versus the Vikings, but a two-year trend says Matthew Stafford is not elite.
37. Calvin Johnson Is the Same – Two years ago, Calvin Johnson had one of the best years ever for a receiving. Like Stafford, he has been only solid since 2013. On Sunday, Megatron was worst than that: 2 catches for 39 yards. If his fantasy value goes down, I’d still add Calvin to my lineup. But he’s not a no-brainer anymore. His fate is tied to Stafford, and I’d only stack them in certain situations. Since Jim Caldwell has come to town, their offense is not built to click like it once did.
38. Philip Rivers Is Still in His Prime – Philip Rivers was rated 15th or lower on many fantasy football draft boards, but he’s still an elite fantasy QB. In fact, I wondered all summer why he was rated so low. In my rather normal (scoring system) dynasty league on MyFantasyLeague, Rivers and Brady had the exact same point total last year (365). His receiving corps got better in the offseason, as did his weapons in the running game. The Chargers Offense looked fine, and should be fine. If Rivers continues to be cheaper than the elite QBs in one-day contests, he’s a good play.
39. Danny Woodhead Is a Sneaky Starter – Consider Danny Woodhead to be the RB equivalent of Philip Rivers–they are often overlooked. Don’t overlook Danny Woodhead when filling out lineups. The situation has to be right–the Chargers need to be behind or in a shootout–but Woodhead should get plenty of targets. In fact, with Rivers and Woodhead, you can get a special kind of stacking going between a QB and an RB. Again, this isn’t an every-week type of combo, but in spot starts, they should be deadly. Rivers had over 400 yards in bringing the team back from a 21-3 halftime deficit.
40. Keenan Allen Is a Fantasy Stud Again – Keenan Allen put in a huge effort with 15 receptions for 166 yards. Most experts suggest playing guys who get a lot of targets. Keenan Allen is the walking embodiment of targets. He had a sophomore slump, as teams saw tape on him. Some guys rebound from the sophomore slump by adapting and improving. Looks like Keenan Allen is in for a big year.
41. Melvin Gordon Had a Decent Start – Melvin Gordon was not a key factor in Week 1, mainly because the team got down. Faced with a comeback, the team leaned on veteran Danny Woodhead and the passing offense. Melvin Gorden ended up with 14 rushes for 51 yards. He also got 3 receptions for 16 yards. None of that’s great, but it also isn’t terrible. He got half-a-hundred and got more receptions than I’d have hoped-for.
Cincinnati Bengals Crush Oakland Raiders: 33-13
42. Tyler Eifert Is Ready to Dominate – Notice how often Tyler Eifert was a starter on the list of FanDuel and DraftKings big weekly “Millionaire” Week 1 event winners. Many fantasy owners are going to look at Eifert as “just another guy”, because he was injured 6 weeks into 2014. Look back at his numbers before the injury and Tyler Eifert was breaking out last year. The breakout continues in 2015. While the Andy Dalton-led offense is going to make any player somewhat inconsistent, the Bengals tight end should be the steadiest of the producers.
43. A.J. Green Is Back – Week 2 Starter Candidate – A.J. Green caught 5 balls for 63 yards, which is only solid for an elite wide receiver. But the good news is, AJ Green is back. His start would have looked a whole lot nicer had he caught the ball on a potential 30-yard touchdown pass when he had Travis Carrie beaten. Put those numbers together and he’d have had 6 receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown. I list AJ Green as a starter for Week 2, because the Bengals play the Chargers and he’ll be needed more in that offensive showdown.
44. Jeremy Hill Remains the Key RB – Jeremy Hill remains the workhorse for the Bengals at running back. He got 19 carries for 63 yards and 2 touchdowns. It was not a spectacular day, but his TDs were compelling.
45. Giovani Bernard Is Dangerous – Meanwhile, Giovani Bernard showed explosion. He is a key factor in making the Bengals a more dangerous team, though his opportunities are too limited to make him a reliable fantasy option. Bernard had 8 carries for 64 yards (one more than Hill), along with 6 receptions. Giovani Bernard is a danger for opponents, but also for Jeremy Hill owners. He takes away all receiving stats for Hill, which means Jeremy Hill either racks up touchdowns or produces a low total–even when he’s productive in the running game (in an NFL sense).
46. The Raiders Still Suck – Because Derek Carr had a good rookie season and the Raiders had another good draft, people talked them up in NFL circles in the offseason. That did not translate to the field, as the got blown out by 20 points and it could have been worse. Maybe the Raiders pull it together as the season goes on–losing a QB midgame is tough–but Week 1 opened like most of the past 10 years or so have gone.
47. Latavius Murray Is the Pass-Catching Back, Too – A lot FF media sources discussed Roy Helu as the Raiders’ #2 runner, third-down receiving back, and pass-catching option. That was not the case, as Helu was a healthy scratch. Instead, Latavius Murray had 7 catches for 36 yards. While the Raiders’ offense might destroy his fantasy value, and his own fragile nature might not help much, Latavius Murray could be a fantasy factor for RB-starved teams, so long as his body holds up.
48. Amari Cooper Looked Solid – Amari Cooper looked like he would be a solid receiving option, if he ever gets good quarterback play. Cooper finished with 5 receptions for 47 yards, including a nice 24-yard catch in which he turned the defender around with his route-running. I would not start Amari Cooper anytime soon, though, because of the team around him. For the time being, he remains a dynasty stud and not a 2015 option.
Tennessee Titans Roll the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 42-14
49. Jameis Winston is Likely to Struggle in 2015 – this was not an elite defense he played in Week 1, yet Jameis Winston threw a “pick 6” interception on his first attempt. Even Bucs players admitted after the game that play had the team in a shambles the rest of the game. While that says a lot about the Buccaneers’ roster, it also says a lot about Jameis Winston’s leadership abilities. It sounds like the Bucs roster had their confidence in the rookie shaken by one play. Who shaky must their belief in the rookie be? I’ve said for a while that Tampa Bay made a mistake drafting Winston high and giving him a $40 million contract. It has nothing to do with ability, but more to do with maturity. When a guy has shown he’s consistently immature, you don’t give him tens of millions of dollars and expect that to change. I look at Jameis Winston and I think Ryan Leaf. I hope he proves me wrong. Winston has a big arm, so it all comes down to whether he can be a consistently accurate passer.
50. Austin Seferian-Jenkins Has Stud Potential – Despite the drubbing, Austin Seferian-Jenkins showed why he was talked-up in the NFL Draft last year. He is a huge, fast, athletic tight end. At the time he was drafted, scouts compared his various measurables to those of Aaron Hernandez. While that’s a dubious comparison, it gives FF owners an indication of where the bar is with ASJ. Despite the loss, he had 5 receptions for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns. Those are numbers few tight ends can produce.
51. Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans Could Struggle – Let’s add this up. Jameis Winston might be inconsistent this year. Austin Seferian-Jenkins could become the rookie’s security blanket. All that adds up to inconsistency for Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, who flourished with Luke McCown under center. It didn’t help that Mike Evans was a scratch with a hamstring injury. This could be unsteady in 2015.
52. Shame on Us for Believing in Doug Martin – Okay, I fell for it, too. Doug Martin was given high praise in the offseason by the Bucs’ new offensive coordinator, Dirk Koettner. We were told Koettner looked at the old tape and decided Martin was pretty good, after all. Now, I’m wondering whether Koettner is much of a scout. Once Doug Martin was on the regular season field, it was like the Doug Martin of 2013 and 2014. The Bucs offensive line still needs tons of improvement, it’s obvious. But more than that, the team went to Bobby Rainey (and not Charles Sims) as the pass-catching back, once the game got out of hand. Don’t trust Doug Martin at all.
53. Marcus Mariota Is Really Good – Marcus Mariota looks like he may be the real deal. Mariota had a couple of red flags coming into the NFL. One, could he take the snap from under center. The Titans coaches said in the offseason it was never a problem–Mariota picked things up quickly–and that appeared to be the case. Two, Marcus Mariota might not have the arm strength for the NFL. While a minimal level of arm strength is essential in the NFL, I still contend that quarterbacks with robot-like efficiency when it comes to accuracy are far more important than having a gun for an arm. From Jeff George to Michael Vick and Kyle Boller to Jamarcus Russell, guys who have a ton of arm strength but less accuracy have struggled at times (or all the time, in some cases). But players who didn’t have the measurables and thus fell in the draft, from Kurt Warner to Tony Romo to Tom Brady, have excelled due to accuracy. It’s the difference in Greg Maddux and John Rocker in baseball (among other things)–consistency is huge. On Sunday, Mariota showed how dangerous he could be by hitting his targets 9 out of 10 times.
54. Bishop Sankey Looked Okay – Bishop Sankey posted a career high 72 yards, while adding a touchdown on the ground AND through the air. Against a bad Bucs Defense, he looked pretty darned okay. Since Sankey’s been persona non grata in the fantasy world in 2015, but he came to life on Sunday. Don’t get ahead of yourself; he has a key dropped pass and a fumble. But he looked like a serviceable real world and DFS player.
55. Kendall Wright Looked like a WR2 – Kendall Wright had a solid day with 4 receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown. He looked to be on the same page as Marcus Mariota and racked up 87 yards in the first half, before the team switched to a more ball-control offense. Several sources have him listed as a WR2 in fantasy formats. While I’d prefer someone else in that position, I can see the argument. He only had 4 catches, but that’s an impressive season debut. He plays the Browns in Week 2, so he has to be on the radar for some owners.
New England Patriots Romp over Pittsburgh Steelers: 28-21
56. Gronk Has Entered His Prime – Rob Gronkowski is a physical beast and he is entering his prime. It’s always been whether Gronk could stay healthy. When he does, he’s unstoppable. Stacking Brady and Gronkowski is going to be popular this year, if fantasy owners can afford it.
57. Tom Brady Is Angry – Tom Brady is going to rack up the fantasy points this season. In Week 1, it took him a little bit of time to get started. When he did, the Patriots Offense romped. As always, the Patriots’ receiving corps looks less than stellar. It doesn’t matter. Julian Edelman is solid. Brandon LaFell should help when he returns. Tom Brady is angry and he’ll make a lot of teams pay for Roger Goodell’s deviltry.
58. Dion Lewis Is a Factor – Dion Lewis was the key factor for the Patriots on the ground. He ran the ball 15 times and added 4 carries for 51 yards. If he holds up, Dion Lewis could be a nice sleeper pick. People should remember Lewis was on his way to establishing hismelf as the Browns starting runner when he went on IR a couple of years ago. In fact, those are recurring themes: talent and injuries. The Patriots running back situation is always fluid, but as long as he’s healthy, Dion Lewis should be a factor.
59. Antonio Brown Is Still Awesome – Okay, he got a lot of his production in trash time. It doesn’t matter to fantasy owners. 9 receptions for 133 yards and a TD is always welcome. Antonio Brown is going to get his this season, but the team needs Le’Veon Bell to give them balance.
60. Deangelo Williams Is a Pro – That being said, Deangelo Williams is a professional who still can generate yards. That wasn’t always the case the last two years, but he churned out 127 yards on 21 carries in Week 1. He wouldn’t be able to do that a whole season anymore, but for one week, Deangelo Williams was a solid performer.
61. Heath Miller Is Good in Losses – When the Steelers lose, Heath Miller is a good fantasy target. He can be up-and-down, because the Steelers go away from their passing game at times. Ben Roethlisberger still has it when he needs it, to the tune of 351 yards. Miller had 8 for 84, which is approaching elite numbers for a tight end.
New York Jets Beat Down the Cleveland Browns: 31-10
62. This Ain’t Your Older Brother’s New York Jets – The Jets looked like a different team than the Rex Ryan Era Jets. Their offense looked crisp, doing it in the traditional fashion: 2 passing TDs and 2 rushing TDs. Ryan Fitzpatrick looked to have added a veteran stability to the offense, throwing touchdown passes to two other veterans: Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Chris Ivory ran with force and purpose, adding two scores himself. In fact, let’s talk more about Ivory’s day.
63. Chris Ivory was Solid – Chris Ivory was not spectacular, but he ran with force against the Cleveland Browns Defense. He ended up with 91 yards on 20 carries and 2 touchdowns. The touchdown runs were 10 and 3 yards apiece, so these were not 1-yard plunges. Ivory didn’t add much in the passing game (1 reception and 9 yards), but he gave the Jets a much-needed balance on offense. Chris Ivory has always ran with abandon, but he couldn’t stay healthy. Maybe now, he’ll put that behind him. Of course, this was the Cleveland Browns.
64. Correction: It Should Be “Johnny College Football” – More and more, Johnny Manziel is looking like one of those players who was great in NCAA football, but just doesn’t have the skill and temperament to be an NFL star. When Josh McCown went out of the game with a concussion, Manziel came out and threw a long touchdown pass Travis Benjamin. It was downhill from there. The Browns were outscored 31-3 after that point. Manziel’s interception and 2 fumbles were a big part of the problem. Also, in post-game interviews, Johnny Football said he would be “prepared” next week. After a year in which it was rumored he didn’t prepare properly when he wasn’t expecting to play, that sounds suspiciously like he was excusing the loss on the fact he didn’t seriously prepare for the game (as the backup). If that’s the case, it’s a bad, bad sign for Johnny Manziel. I hope I’m wrong, because I got a little excited when he threw the TD after just coming off the bench.
65. The Browns Running Game is Nonexistent – People wondered all summer who the Browns starting running back was. It didn’t matter who it was–nobody was going to do anything, anyway. Johnny Manziel and Josh McCown were the team’s two leading rushers, which should tell you all you need to know. Duke Johnson led the RBs with 22 yards on 7 carries (bad). Isaiah Crowell was next with 20 yards on 10 carries (awful). Shaun Draughn was the only other back with a carry (1-for-4). This unit is bad and don’t expect startable production from it.
66. Travis Benjamin Will Be a Star…In Free Agency – Don’t listen to the tout services when they suggest you add Travis Benjamin through the waiver wire. You’ll be chasing points–not projecting future value. He had one big play and sort of disappeared after that flourish. Take out the 54-yard touchdown and Benjamin had 2 receptions for 35 yards. He won’t receive enough targets to make him a compelling fantasy football starter.
Carolina Panthers Defeat Jacksonville Jaguars: 20-7
67. Bortles Is Not Yet Ready for Prime Time – Blake Bortles was supposed to have improved in preseason, but he is still not ready for prime time. Bortles is still a work in progress and I’m guessing the real progress comes next year. For 2015, you won’t be able to depend much on Bortles, Yeldon, Robinson, and Hurns. And when Julius Thomas comes back from injury, it imagine it’s the same for him.
68. Jags & Panthers: Avoid in Fantasy Football – In a wide-angle view, we realized that the Jags and Panthers are mainly fantasy factors on defense. You don’t want to rely on either offense. Look over the game and you won’t find many positives to discuss in either offense.
69. Cam Newton Needs Help – Cam Newton appears devoid of any real threats at the wide receiver position. Jerricho Cotchery, the #3 or #4 receiver coming into the game, was the only productive player in the passing game. Even Cotchery had average numbers, with 4 for 45 and a touchdown. When Jerricho Cotchery and Ted Ginn Jr. are your main targets, it’s trouble. I wrote last week that Corey Brown was the likeliest big play threat for Cam Newton. I stand by those remarks, though Brown contributed little in Week 1. After seeing the play totals, I’m not as confident as I was in Week 1. Of course, the Panthers were ahead and didn’t really have to throw the ball.
70. Jonathan Stewart Is Pedestrian – Jonathan Stewart finally gets his chance to start with Deangelo Williams gone, but he is likely past any prime he might have had. Stewart had 18 rushes for 56 yards against the lowly Jaguars Defense. Enough said.
71. A.J. Klein Is a One-Week IDP Target – If I can break from the offensive flow for a moment, I’ll note that AJ Klein is a one-week potential IPD add in yearly fantasy football leagues. Klein filled in for all-world IDP linebacker Luke Kuechly and finished with 6 solo tackles (Kuechly had 7). Kuechly has entered the concussion protocol, so if he can’t go in Week 2, A.J. Klein becomes an emergency starter. If you already need an emergency starter in Week 2, that’s bad. That being said, it happens.
Miami Dolphins Defeat Washington Redskins 17-10
72. Alfred Morris is Still Solid – Alfred Morris had a solid day in fantasy football, adding 121 yards on 25 carries. He had no touchdowns or pass receptions, which is likely to be his downfall in 2015. A running back needs to be consistent at one or the other to be a true difference maker.
73. Jordan Reed is Back – Jordan Reed was Kirk Cousins’s best receiver on Sunday, collecting 7 catches for 63 yards and 1 touchdown. When he’s healthy, Jordan Reed is a solid fantasy tight end. He’s healthy right now, so duly note that.
74. Jarvis Landry is a Major Threat – Jarvis Landry was more workmanlike in the passing game, with 8 catches for 53 yards. He showed he was a major threat in the kicking game, where Landry returned a punt for the game-winning touchdown. Given time and good QB play, Jarvis Landry should establish himself as a top receiving threat in the NFL. He’ll continue to be hampered by the Dolphins lackluster offense, but that should make him cheap in DFS leagues.
75. Jordan Cameron Appears Healthy – Jordan Cameron appears to be healthy again, which is a good sign. His 73 yards on 4 catches are telling, because Cameron’s top catch was 27 yards. That means he had a couple of big plays.
76. Tannehill and Miller are Still Average – Ryan Tannehill was the winning quarterback, so it’s hard to complain, but his 226 passing yards and 1 touchdown were average at best. Lamar Miller continued to look average, too, adding 51 yards on the ground againt a lousy Redskins’s offense.
Kansas City Chiefs Beat Houston Texans: 27-20
77. Travis Kelce is Elite – Travis Kelce had 103 yards and 2 touchdowns in a quarter, it seemed. Though his day was a little more spread-out over the game than that, he had a great day in the 1st quarter. If he hadn’t have gotten hurt early in the 2nd quarter and the Texans had put up more fight, Kelse could have had 50 fantasy points.
78. Jamaal Charles is the New “Shady” – Jamaal Charles is the closest thing to LeSean McCoy these days (moreso than LeSean McCoy). Andy Reed uses him as a deadly weapon out of the backfield. PPR formats make him a particularly good start, because Alex Smith likes the safe dump-off to his shifty running back.
79. Deandre Hopkins is Special – Even mixing between Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett, Deandre Hopkins put up special fantasy numbers. In most leagues, his 9 reception, 98 yard, 2 touchdown performance would have been worth 30 fantasy points.
80. Without Foster, It’s RBBC in Houston – The Texans used a full “running back by committee” approach without Arian Foster. If you are a Foster owner in a local league and you handcuffed him to Alfred Blue, it’s a useless move. Jim O’Brien mixed and matched all day, and none of them were too good. In daily fantasy contests, DO NOT use a Texans runner until Arian Foster returns.
81. Nate Washington is Worth a Roster Spot – The reports for months was that Nate Washington was the 2nd receiver in Houston. Despite that, he went unrostered in many deep-deep leagues. He posted 6 catches for 102 yards in Week 1. The Texans are going to be behind a lot this season, so add him off the waiver wire as an emergency starter. While I wouldn’t want to use him too much, he could be serviceable.
Dallas Cowboys Squeak by New York Giants 27-26
82. Tony Romo Looked Excellent…Only When He Had To Be – I was at this game, which is why this article is a little later than I would have hoped. Tony Romo checked down for 3 & 1/2 quarters and it drove me crazy. When he finally started slinging the ball around, Romo looked excellent. It was a mixed performance, due to a couple of passes. A couple of those turnovers were due to him throwing behind the receiver. The throw to Witten was tipped because it was so far behind the tight end. If Jason Garrett can get in his head the Cowboys no longer have Demarco Murray and might need some big plays in the passing game, they might do some damage this year.
83. Dez Bryant’s 2015 Started Badly – Dez Bryant was getting an IV for dehydration on the 2nd series of the game. The second series? Local radio was discussing Dez’s gameday preparations and whether the team needed to have a person make sure he got hydrated before the game. Probably a good idea, but good grief, it shouldn’t be an issue. Once he was back on the field, the Giants bottled up the Cowboys’ top weapon. Then midway through the 4th Quarter, Dez Bryant broke his foot and is out 4 to 6 weeks. He had surgery on that foot today.
84. Joseph Randall Was Effective – After months of speculation, Joseph Randall got the start and looked pretty effective. He left some meat on the bone on a couple of plays, but was largely a solid contributor. Darren McFadden was an afterthought. Stephen Jones told ESPN Dallas radio today that the 22 carries were not where the team wanted to be, but they lost 5 to 6 carries because they were behind in the 4th Quarter. He expects 25-30 carries for the running game each week, with Randall getting the bulk of them (until he robs a department store again).
85. Lance Dunbar Was a Factor – Lance Dunbar had 8 receptions for 70 yards. He was a big part of the offense–bigger than advertised. People talked that he might be a third down back, but Dunbar was in the game on 2nd-and-8 on a couple of occasions. Those wanting a cheap fill-in should get Lance Dunbar. He’s a third down back with a big of pop on a top offense. Think Dion Lewis.
86. Jason Witten Still Lives – The demise of Jason Witten was greatly exaggerated. It has been noted that Jason Witten no longer has the speed and athleticism he had when he came into the league as a 3rd round pick out of Tennessee. Gone are the days he’ll run the ball in from the 40 to 45 yard line. Still, he knows how to find his spot and to sit down in the middle of a defense. He also knows how to present himself to the quarterback, which is why Tony Romo could throw the ball over the middle with seconds left in the game. The risk on the TD throw was Witten could be tackled at the one-inch line and lose, because they would not have gotten the ball snapped again. Instead, Witten made sure to get just far enough to score.
87. Eli Manning Still Makes Rookie Mistakes – Eli Manning made two rookie mistakes on that final series which gave the Cowboys this win. First, he admitted to telling Rashad Jennings not to score against the Cowboys, because he wanted more time off the clock. This would have been smart, except that would have put the team up 9 points–essentially ending the game. Second, Eli Manning then made the cardinal error of throwing the ball away on 3rd down, when he could have taken a knee and cost the Cowboys 30 to 40 seconds. That second gaff gave Tony Romo the time he needed.
88. ODB Was DOA – Odell Beckham Jr. was a non-factor most of the night. He was dealing with hamstring issues which affected his production. That’s a bad sign for a young receiver. The local media compared him to Miles Austin, which is a stark comparison when it comes to hamstrings. I’ll compare him to Isaac Bruce, who once claimed his early-career hamstring issues were tied to his partying lifestyle. After about 5 years in the league, he began to take care of his body and the hamstring issues went away. Make what you will out of that, but ODB in 2015 may not be the fantasy god he was for the last half of 2014.
89. The Giants Offense Sputtered Greatly – Take out the defensive touchdown and the two other scores off turnovers (after drives of 1 yard and 14 yards) and you’ll understand how bad the Giants were on offense last night. They got almost nothing going. It wasn’t as if the Cowboys defensive line dominated, as they only had 1 sack and 4 hurries. But Eli Manning was awful. Besides the last half of last year, this is a multi-year trend for Eli Manning–it goes back 4 seasons now. I’m telling you: this offense is not as good as people make them out to be.
Atlanta Falcons Beat Philadelphia Eagles 26-24
90. Julio Jones is a World Class Fantasy Receiver – Demaryius Thomas is getting drafted higher than Julio Jones in most formats, but I think Julio Jones is better-positioned to be the top fantasy receiver in the league. Demaryius Thomas is dealing with a quarterback in decline, while Matt Ryan is in his prime. This is an offense which needs Jones’s pick plays, too. He should be undervalued for another week or two, so take advantage.
91. Tevin Coleman had a Solid Night – Tevin Coleman won’t receive much attention, because he didn’t add the flash numbers like receptions and touchdowns. He had 80 yards on 20 carries and looked to be a solid ground-gainer. With his speed, the touchdowns and long runs will come eventually. The team also worked him into the passing game a bit, though it didn’t show in the stats line. Tevin Coleman should be a low-cost starting runner in coming weeks.
92. Demarco Murray is Still a Fantasy Stud – Demarco Murray should be a fantasy stud, so long as he remains healthy this year. On Monday, he had 1 rushing touchdown and 1 receiving touchdown, and he easily could have had a third touchdown (at Chip Kelly’s whim). I’ve written about this before. One, Demarco Murray is facing “The Curse of 370”, where running backs who got massive numbers of touches the year before end up hurt or ineffective the next season. Two, Chip Kelly is motivated to show he was right about trading LeSean McCoy and signing Demarco Murray. I’ve written about my own personal theories about Chip Kelly’s psychological motivations before, and if I’m close to right, the coach is going to be extra-motivated to prove he was right by feeding the ball to Murray near the goal line. Unfortunately, if that theory is right, he won’t want Murray getting too much credit, so he might throttle production at a certain point.
93. Darren Sproles Still Has “It” – Darren Sproles was a key factor in the offense, being productive both in the passing game and the running game. He had an efficient 50 yards on 5 rushes, while adding 76 yards on 7 receptions. Sproles got more production than he might in the average week, because the Iggles were down and needed to get into a hurry-up mode. Still, Philly uses the hurry-up offense in regular situations, so Darren Sproles should get plenty of opportunities to produce in 2015. As my mom always says (about non-football topics), he’s an oldie, but a goodie.
94. Sam Bradford Still Loses – Despite a pretty good second half, I’m still not convinced about Sam Bradford. Frankly, he’ll have to put up big numbers for a long stretch of the season (while staying healthy) to erase my doubts. In the end, Bradford continues to lose. He still has young receivers, so the Eagles offensive unit should gel with time.
95. Zack Ertz is Excellent – In the early part of the season, expect to see Zack Ertz become Sam Bradford’s favorite target. We all know Sam Bradford was the king of the checkdown in St. Louis. The team wants to keep Bradford upright for once, so they’re likely to want him to keep throwing underneath. Ertz is catching everything these days. Until Nelson Agholor clicks as a starter, Zach Ertz is going to be a huge weekly factor. Note that.
San Francisco 49ers Defeat Minnesota Vikings: 20-3
96. Carlos Hyde is for Real – A lot of offseason talk had the Niners Front Office doubting Carlos Hyde. Jim Tomsula doesn’t seem to doubt Hyde, who received a huge part of the offense in Week 1. Carlos Hyde rushed 26 times for 168 yards and two touchdowns versus the Vikings. Both of those TDs were for 10 yards or more. His contribution in the passing game was minimal (2 for 14), but he totaled nearly 200 yards from the line of scrimmage. Sure, the Vikings Defense is bad, but Carlos Hyde showed the 49ers are not as dead as some thought they might be.
97. Colin Kaepernick is Limited – Despite a nice win to start the season, the limitations of Colin Kaepernick remain evident. No receiver on the team exceeded 47 yards. It’s hard to imagine the Niners beating too many teams without better production in the passing game. The receiving corps seems either really old or really young. Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis can’t keep producing forever. Garrett Celek had more opportunities than Torrey Smith. When Kaepernick runs for almost as much money as the top receiver gets in receiving yards, you know it’s a bad thing. This isn’t college football from the 1970s; NFL teams need to pass the ball these days.
98. Reggie Bush is Still an Injury Waiting-to-Happen – Reggie Bush went out with a calf injury in the 1st Quarter. Bush was supposed to be a big part of the offense, but it’s hard to know how much, when he was injured so early on. This should not have taken the Niners by surprise.
99. Jarryd Hayne is the Primary Backup – It’s hard to know whether Reggie Bush would see a major uptick in usage if Carlos Hyde got injured, but Jarryd Hayne was the primary backup when Bush got injured. Mike Davis was a healthy inactive, so the coaches seem to view Hayne as the main to take the reins if Carlos Hyde can’t make it through the game. While Hyde looked strong and healthy, it’s the NFL and attrition can happen. Jarryd Hayne looked good on his 4 runs for 13 yards. In the blocking scheme on passing downs, I thought he looked skittish. That’s going to have to improve, if he’s going to be the primary backup. If Reggie Bush is out next week, Mike Davis is likely to be active. It will be interesting to see how the players are used in that situation.
100. Adrian Peterson was Only Human – I expected an angry Adrian Peterson to rip apart a defense which was missing Patrick Willis (and Chris Borland), Ahmad Brooks, Justin Smith, and Aldon Smith. Instead, he got 31 yards on 10 carries. Sure, that’s not enough touches to really show what he has, but at 30 years of age and coming off a season of inactivity, one has to wonder if the game hasn’t passed Peterson by. I’m certain he’ll be just fine, but it’s still a little worrisome.
101. Teddy Bridgewater is Bad – One reason to worry is that Teddy Bridgewater still has a lot to learn. All-Day has put up sensational numbers with lousy quarterbacks in the past, but he was in his prime back then. Now, he’s old for an NFL running back and dealing with a young passer who scares few defenses. Bridgewater’s numbers don’t look so bad: 23-for-32 is a high completion percentage. The trouble is, he had no big plays to change the flow of the game, while adding an interception. That’s a bad combination, and it makes for bad quarterback play.
So that’s the upshot after Week 1 of the NFL season. I’ll be posting Week 2 daily fantasy football hints and tips in a day or two. I’m putting all these notes into my super-computer and should have everything figured out in a day or two. Stay tuned for more DFS analysis.