Week One 1PM Game Reviews
The first NFL Sunday is now in the books, and it sure was a crazy day. From the Bills almost knocking off the Patriots to the Jets stunning victory over Tampa Bay, the day provided for some scintillating football. I am going to do a brief review of each game and the fantasy implications over the course of the next few days. Today, I will discuss the 1PM games and tomorrow I will review the 4PM games, Sunday night game, and both Monday Night Football games.
Titans @ Steelers
Not much to like here from a fantasy perspective. The Steelers lost Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey to a torn ACL and the offense was anemic. That was partially due to a stellar performance by the Titans D, but also because of ineptitude. Big Ben salvaged what would have been a terrible day by throwing a garbage time touchdown pass. The Pitt running game was non-existent, and Isaac Redman posted negative fantasy points in most scoring formats. It was so bad that the Steelers have re-signed Jonathan Dwyer. The top receiver was Antonio Brown with 5 catches for 71 yards. Not a bad day, but he won’t be having huge games this year I don’t think. For the Titans, Jake Locker had a forgettable game, which seems par for the course these days. Chris Johnson had a respectable 70 yards on 25 carries, but goal line vulture Jackie Battle poached a TD from him, which has to infuriate his owners. I still like CJ2K, but it seems like unless he breaks at least one huge run a game, his lack of goal line work severely limits his value. The Titans passing game was poor, as Nate Washington led everyone with 46 yards receiving. Stay away from any of these guys in the passing game until Locker shows he is an NFL caliber QB.
Patriots @ Bills
This game was almost the upset special of the day and surely would have ended numerous survivor pools around the country. The Pats held on for the last-second win behind a Gostowski field goal. Tom Brady had a decent game, but it is a little worrisome that he didn’t destroy a vastly depleted Bills secondary. Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman led the way in receiving. It was surprising to see Amendola so effective after reinjuring his groin. I still don’t trust him to last over the season, but he definitely delivered yesterday. Groin injuries can be tough to shake, so I think this will be bothering him for awhile. Shane Vereen also did well after taking over for the benched Stevan Ridley. Ridley’s fumble earned him a seat on the bench, which surely disappointed his owners. Buy low on him if you can because he will end up with 10+ TDs. Preseason hype machines Kenbrell Thompkins and Zach Sudfeld were pretty much busts, and Sudfeld didn’t even catch a pass. I would definitely drop him, I don’t see him being a difference maker. Thompkins still has time to improve and at least had 14 targets.
The Bills offense was fairly ineffective and was lucky to be able to capitalize on some uncharacteristic New England turnovers. CJ Spiller was invisible, and Stevie Johnson was able to salvage his day with a TD grab. Those are the only two guys on that offense I would own right now. Spiller should be fine, but Stevie could be hit or miss going forward.
Falcons @ Saints
This game was widely expected to be an absolute shootout, so the low scoring was fairly surprising. The Saints D played quite well and kept the Falcons in check for most of the game. It certainly helped that Roddy White was basically a decoy and couldn’t cut due to a high ankle sprain. Matt Ryan had his typical solid game. He is a matchup proof safe play each week. Steven Jackson had one big run, but was otherwise held in check in the running game. However, he offered much more in the passing game compared to Michael Turner, so that’s a good sign for owners. Tony Gonzalez only had 3 receptions, but one was for a TD, so it’s obvious that missing training camp doesn’t matter to him. I still don’t think he will be a top level TE this season, but he certainly gave his owners a decent outing this week. Shockingly, Julio Jones was the most targeted Atlanta WR. Even when Roddy White is 100%, Julio is the star of the passing game and should be started every week no matter what.
For the Saints, Drew Brees had a fairly good game, although some may consider it a down performance because he threw for only two TDs. He did throw for just over 350 yards, but I’m sure owners would have preferred another TD or two. Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham caught the receiving TDs, and without those scores, both had fairly quiet days. Graham was on his way to a single digit performance until that TD, and owners are surely expecting more from him since he was a top pick. Colston is very consistent and can be started without hesitation. I expect both of them to have huge games in the next few weeks. Aside from Darren Sproles, every other Saints option in the passing game had quiet days. The Saints rushing attack was not very good, but that isn’t a huge surprise since they are a pass first team. I would avoid owning any Saints RB aside from Sproles in a PPR league.
Bucs @ Jets
Talk about a wild ending to a very sloppy game. A bone-headed personal foul penalty basically gifted the Jets this win in a game both teams seemed to try to give away. Josh Freeman looked terrible and most of his passing yards came from Vincent Jackson being unstoppable after the catch. For owners who benched him due to matching up with Cromartie, please just start him. Even with poor QB play, he is an absolute monster and I would start him each week no matter who the opponent is. Doug Martin was bottled up for most of the game, and if he didn’t have that one TD, he would have had a very poor outing. Part of that is because of the lack of respect the Jets showed to the passing game with Josh Freeman, but in reality, the Jets have a very good defensive line and will cause headaches for many running backs this year. Martin was bottled up for a lot of his rookie year last season, so owners who spent their top pick on him hope he can break through soon against easier matchups. Mike Williams had a receiving touchdown and is a good flex option as well.
The Jets started off the Geno Smith era with a win. Smith wasn’t great, but I didn’t expect him to light it up. His top receiving option was Kellen Winslow, who should be a fantasy option for as long as his knees hold up. However, I don’t expect that to last more than a few weeks because of the numerous injuries that have stalled his career. The rest of the receiving options weren’t notable, and the Jets rushing attach was also non-existent aside from a few scrambles by Smith. I still wouldn’t own any Jets for the time being, although the D could end up being a fantasy force.
Chiefs @ Jaguars
The Jaguars again showed why Blaine Gabbert is not a starting quarterback. Their offense is comically bad and the numbers would have looked even worse if it wasn’t for garbage time. Even MJD was held in check, although the Jags were so far behind so early that the running game couldn’t be a focal point anymore. Cecil Shorts was invisible for much of the game and it’s hard to like him with Gabbert under center. For the team’s sake, I hope Gabbert is benched soon.
The Chiefs really took it to Jacksonville and Alex Smith had one of his typically efficient days. He threw two TDs, one to Donnie Avery and one to Junior Hemingway. Shockingly, Dwayne Bowe had a very quiet day, as I expected him to have at least one TD. I’m sure his owners aren’t too happy at the ball being spread around so much, but he will definitely rebound. Jamaal Charles had a great game with 100 all purpose yards and a TD. He did scare fantasy owners everywhere when he had a thigh injury later in the game, but he appears to be fine.
Seahawks @ Panthers
I expected this game to be a low-scoring affair, and that certainly ended up being the case. Both offenses were held in check for most of the day, as each QB was able to throw for one TD apiece. Russell Wilson was better though, as he topped 300 yards passing while Cam Newton only had 125 yards through the air. Marshawn Lynch was held under 50 yards rushing, which was a little surprising. DeAngelo Williams had a decent day that is marred by his costly fumble in the red zone late in the fourth quarter. This turnover allowed Seattle to run the clock out. There wasn’t much else to like from this game from a fantasy perspective aside from Doug Baldwin’s good day. This game was your typical battle of attrition from two stout defenses with solid front 7’s. The difference in these teams is that the Seattle secondary is perhaps the best in the league, whereas the Carolina secondary is average. This helped Wilson move the ball down the field and ultimately lead his team to victory.
Dolphins @ Browns
Like the Jets-Bucs game, this was another eyesore. The Browns, aside from TE Jordan Cameron, were not fantasy relevant in this game. Brandon Weeden was awful for the most part, and it’s time to wonder how much longer he will be holding on to the starting job. Trent Richardson had a quiet game with less than 50 yards rushing. Better days are coming for him for sure. The Dolphins rushing attack was laughably bad, with Lamar Miller gaining three yards on TEN carries. Yes, you read that correctly, it took him ten carries to get three whole yards. However, I would buy low on him in a heartbeat because I would think he bounces back with a huge game in the next few weeks. Daniel Thomas wasn’t much better, but he poached a goal line TD to salvage some fantasy relevance. Ryan Tannehill had a fairly solid day, as he was throwing to Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson all game. Conspicuous by his absence was prized free agent acquisition Mike Wallace, as he was held to one catch for 15 yards. He obviously wasn’t happy about this as he was testy with the media after the game and is already grumbling about his role in the offense, even though his team just opened up the season with a win. I’m sure he will have a few big games this year, but it’s tough to like him these days. I own him in my keeper league and will try to trade him once he has a big game or two.
Vikings @ Lions
Wow, this game was an absolute fantasy gold mine. I’ll start off with the Vikings, well I should probably call them the Petersons. Adrian Peterson started off the season with a bang, as his first carry went for a 77 yard TD. He also scored on a 4 yard run and a 4 yard pass from Christian Ponder to have a monster debut game. Aside from that big run, he was actually held in check and had 17 carries for 15 yards after that. Jerome Simpson had 7 catches for 140 yards, so I’m sure he will be a hot waiver wire pickup this week. He has the talent to be a force, so it will be interesting to see if he keeps it up. Greg Jennings and Kyle Rudolph had quiet games, and I don’t anticipate either of them living up to their draft status this year. Peterson is the only Vikings skill player I would own, unless Simpson starts having great games.
The Lions could have easily scored over 55 points in this game, as they had numerous TDs over-turned via replay. If you started Reggie Bush, you surely reaped the rewards as he had 100 yards receiving and a score to go along with 90 yards rushing. He ended the game a little banged up with a wrap on his hand and a groin issue, so it should be interesting to see how he rebounds. I also don’t expect him to get as many touches each game because I don’t think he can hold up to that type of workload over the course of an entire season. Joique Bell had two rushing TDs, so it looks like he is the goal line back. If you are in a deep league, he is certainly worth a look for the TD potential, but I don’t expect him to get a large volume of work. Mikel Leshore was a surprising healthy scratch, so I wonder if/when he suits up, as he was a decent starter last year. Matthew Stafford threw for over 350 yards, which seems automatic these days. He threw for two TDs and one interception. One TD was to Bush and the other was to Joseph Fauria. Notice that Calvin Johnson is not mentioned-he had a TD over-turned by replay and ended up having a relatively quiet day. Don’t expect that to be the norm, he will be back to his Megatron ways next week. Brandon Pettigrew had a forgettable day and I wouldn’t consider him as a useful fantasy option at this point. Nate Burleson is clearly higher on the pecking order than him, so bench him if you have better options. I expect the Lions to continue this scoring onslaught, so they should be the source of a ton of fantasy points over the course of the season.
Raiders @ Colts
I thought we had an upset brewing in this one, but the Colts prevailed. Andrew Luck was outstanding, even if his yardage was lower than expected. He threw for two TDs and rushed for another. Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw had relatively quiet days running the ball. Bradshaw should get better as long as he stays healthy, as he is just rounding into shape after not playing in the preseason. Reggie Wayne had his typically efficient game and had a TD to boot. If he keeps having games like this, he will definitely prove me wrong, as I figured Father Time would finally catch up to him this year. T.Y. Hilton had a very quiet game, and he’s a little too hit or miss to start with confidence. He could catch 8 balls for 100 yards one week and have 2 catches for 10 yards the next week. Start him at your own risk.
The story for the Raiders was the surprising play of Terrelle Pryor. While he isn’t very accurate throwing the ball just yet, his athletic ability is off the charts, as evidenced by his 112 yards on the ground on only 13 carries. He almost willed the Raiders into a win single-handedly and I think he will only get better as he gets more experience. He was one of my deep sleepers last week and I think the secret is out on him. Pick him up now if you can, even if it’s just to stash on your bench. Darren McFadden had a fairly productive day, as his 48 yards rushing were helped by his rushing TD. He also had 3 receptions for an added boost in a PPR league.
Bengals @ Bears
I expected the Bengals to pull this game out, but that wasn’t the case. The Bears scored the last 14 points of the game to pull out the win. Jay Cutler and Andy Dalton had very similar stat lines, as both had two TDs passes, although Dalton threw 2 interceptions while Cutler threw one. Both leading WRs had monster games, as Brandon Marshall had 8 catches for 104 yards and a score, while AJ Green had 9 catches for 162 yards and two scores. Green is quickly catching up to Calvin Johnson as the best WR in the NFL, and games like this one are exactly why. He was completely unstoppable all game. While it will be hard to maintain such a torrid pace, I think he is a lock to finish in the top 3 in WR scoring by the end of the year. Marshall certainly is no slouch, and games like this one are fairly common for him. These are two WRs I would never consider benching unless they were like Roddy White and injured to the point of being a decoy. Even then, it would still be hard to bench them because of the TD potential. The Bengals running game was ineffective, although plodder BenJarvus Green-Ellis did manage a touchdown to go with his 25 yards on 14 carries. Rookie Giovani Bernard had a quiet day, but also only had 4 carries. Expect his usage to increase during the season as it becomes clear that BJGE just isn’t that good anymore. On the other side, Matt Forte had fairly low yardage as well, with only 50 yards rushing. However, the biggest takeaway was his one yard TD run, which shows he is getting some goal line work. The lack of goal line work was perhaps the most frustrating part of owning Forte in recent years, so if he is line to finally get these touches, his value will increase by a good amount. He also was a solid factor in the passing game with 4 catches for 41 yards. Expect more of the same from Forte each week and start him with confidence. The rest of the Bears receiving options had quiet games, although Martellus Bennett was able to haul in a TD catch that gave him a solid fantasy day.