Is there anything better than Week 1 of the NFL season? The excitement, the anticipation, the fantasy leagues! It is like a dawning of a new day. However, once the first set of games are played, there is a whole new level of anxiety as you don’t know who will make your roster better from free agency. Who is a one week wonder and who can help you all season. Well, below you will find my observations from Week 1 and how I feel they will help you (or not help you going forward). These opinions are not just for now, they are for the entire 2012 fantasy football season. So before you do something to ruin your team, take a look at the article below.
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Matt Forte vs. Michael Bush. The Chicago running situation worked a lot how I thought it might in Week 1. I still think that Matt Forte will be a huge part of the Bears’ running attack, but I was concerned about Bush taking touchdowns away from him. Actually, I’m worried about Bush cutting into his workload enough to be a viable bye week replacement in twelve team leagues. I think Forte is still going to be a solid RB1, especially in PPR leagues, but Bush is going to be a part of the offense too and is going to put up . So if you have Forte don’t panic too much, and if Bush happens to be available, he should find a place on your bench!
There are a bunch of guys who had subpar first weeks that I expect to bounce back and Victor Cruz is one of those players. I know that the Bucs kept the Panthers’ offense in check last week, but I don’t expect that to happen again. The Giants have had a week and a half to prepare for this game, and I don’t believe that Tampa’s defense will be that good. Even though they only scored ten points, a few Panther receivers actually had good games. Look for Cruz to salsa dance in the end zone at least once on Sunday and I think he has a good chance of surpassing 100 yards as well.
I expect that the Jacksonville offense will be better than we thought they would be coming into the season. Blaine Gabbert is far from a Pro Bowl quarterback but he showed some poise on Sunday and he actually has a few weapons to throw the ball to. Justin Blackmon wasn’t nearly as involved as we thought, but Laurent Robinson and Cecil Shorts both contributed to the passing game, and Maurice Jones-Drew didn’t show nearly the rust I thought he would after his holdout. I believe it is possible to roster Blackmon and Robinson right now, but I need to see more from Shorts before I put him on my team. However, I don’t think the Jags offense is going to be quite the hot mess we thought it would be three weeks ago. I believe that they will consistently put 20+ points on the board and at least one of them will be fantasy relevant.
One of the biggest surprises of Week 1 was the play of the New York Jets offense. Mark Sanchez looked like John Elway, Shonn Greene ran his ass off, and Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley both had touchdowns. Is this anything like what we could expect again ever again for the team that didn’t score a touchdown the entire preseason? I don’t see Sanchez as a QB1 no matter what he did the first game and I still think eventually the pressure of Tebow will hurt him. Shonn Greene is a decent running back, but he’s a low end RB2, or perhaps only a flex option. I like Hill as a guy that you can have on your bench, but I think that might be Kerley’s best game of the season. I know the Jets looked great, but I think the Bills couldn’t have played a worse game, but I do think the Jets’ offense will be better than we thought coming into the season.
For those of you who drafted Andre Johnson you are probably feeling pretty good about yourselves right now as he broke the 100 yard mark and scored. I have always felt that Johnson was overrated for a couple of reasons. First, there are too many games where he disappears and has four catches for 32 yards. He has some great games, but he just lacks consistency. Second, is he misses games every single year with injury. His ankles are about the most fragile bones in any person in history. I will guarantee he will miss between three to six games. When he starts out and has such a great first game like he did, I would be shopping him all over your league and I would be looking for one of the top three or four receives in the game. I would take Julio Jones for Andre Johnson every day of the week.
I wanted to talk a little about the New England Patriots offense. Stevan Ridley is for real people. I know you like to think that the Pats do nothing but throw, but even the Law Firm had double digit touchdowns for them last season. Ridley is a great runner and a receiver out of the backfield, and his dynamic first game is a sign of things to come, not a fluke. If you have him, please don’t think about selling high. People are also disappointed with Brandon Lloyd and especially Wes Welker. Lloyd and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels have a history together and I have no doubt that they will be using him more in the near future. Welker didn’t even play his normal amount of snaps and could be taking a small step back. McDaniels tried to explain it away as a matchup thing, but Welker is no spring chicken and the Patriots obviously favor their big tight ends now. I’m not saying that Welker falls off of the fantasy map,but maybe instead of 110 catches, he racks up just 90 this season with five touchdowns. In PPR leagues he is still someone you definitely want, but he could be a notch less than he has been recently
As always, the Washington Redskins running back situation is a topic of conversation in fantasy circles. The ‘Skins surprisingly started Alfred Morris at running back and the dude responded in a big way with 96 yards and two touchdowns. Obviously, he has already been named the starter for Week 2, but how long do we expect this to last? Ever since Mike Shanahan has come along, the Redskins have become a total cluster to try to figure out and who will be carrying the ball the most. Morris is going to be the starter for now, and you should grab him if you need running back help, but I can’t endorse that he will be the starter for the entire season, and you should add him or bid on him accordingly. Carefully. Oh, and also, I think that was a one week explosion for Pierre Garcon. I think he will be a viable WR2, possibly WR3, but I can’t imagine we will see that consistently.
Like the Packers, the New Orleans Saints running game is a very small part of their offense. On Opening Day though, the Saints runners were particular pathetic. Pierre Thomas carried the ball four times, Mark Ingram six times, and that is IT! Darren Sproles didn’t even have a carry. Is this what we can expect this season? Zero production out of the Saints’ backfield? No, I think part of it was the Redskins were putting up points in bunches and the Saints were forced to throw (not that it bothers them). But they just couldn’t get the running game going. I would continue to keep Sproles and Ingram on my roster although I’m not sure that I would have them in my starting lineup until bye weeks start and you need to take someone off of your bench. I don’t see anyone in the Saints backfield being a consistent fantasy contributor and if you can trade any of them I would right away.
It seems like the past few years at this point, people are intrigued by Dexter McCluster, as he generally starts out well and we get excited about his potential. 2012 was no different as he had six catches for 82 yards, but did not have a carry. The other reason that McCluster is always liked is because he tends to have dual eligibility at RB and WR. This is the first year that I am starting to buy into McCluster. I believe that the Chiefs will make him a bigger part of the offense this year, and I think it PPR leagues he will have value. I’m not making the move on him yet in 12 team leagues until I see him have another good week, but McCluster is certainly on my radar. Also, I like Jon Baldwin to bounce back from the chicken egg he put up.
Cedric Benson disappointed fantasy players horrifically in the opening game against the Niners as he ran just nine times for 18 yards for a whopping two yards a carry. However, there are two reasons not to freak out completely yet. First, the 49ers defense could be the best in football, and excel even more against the run. There aren’t going to be too many running backs that put up good numbers against them. Second, no other running back even carried the ball outside of Benson. The Packers play the Bears on Thursday who probably will also keep the running game in check, but I think over the season that Benson will succeed. The Packers are never going to run the ball 35 times in a game, but I think Benson will touch the ball enough to be worthy of flex spot. He’s not going to light the world on fire, but he has a place in your lineup most weeks.
The Cincinnati Bengals are going to need another receiver outside of A.J. Green to be successful if they are going to win games. I was hoping that former first round pick Brandon Tate would step up, but in Week 1 it was Andrew Hawkins had eight receptions for 85 yards and looked very impressive as the Ravens tried to take away Green. I’m not sure that I would make the move on Hawkins just yet, but if he has one more good game, Hawkins could be a hot pickup after Week 2.
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