Every week we review what happened in the NFL. Random happenings, fantasy football focused fodder and at times, just weirdness we feel you should be privy to.
Week In Review - Week 1 of the 2012 NFL Season
The real Sunday funday is back! by d-Rx®
-I wasn't really a big fan of Andy Dalton until last night's game against the Ravens… he showed me that he is a tough son of a bitch and isn't going to stand down. He got nailed a number of times and always came back for more… a wince is all you'll get from him. My kind of leader. He didn't play particularly well, but the Bengals will be ok. Who dey fans shouldn't worry too much, you have a good team on your hands. Their week 1 matchups was against one of the 3 serious contenders to win at all in the AFC. They are years away from really being ready to compete at the highest level, but where they are now is better than you've had in ages.
-A.J. Green & Julio Jones will go down as the greatest one/two WR draft picks in the same draft - probably ever. These guys are just remarkable, me and my Pyro® partners have been super high on both of them, way higher than anyone else. We had Julio Jones as our #2 WR and A.J. Green was our #4. Relish in watching these kids and their careers, because it's going to be so fun to watch.
-In Chicago, there is a prostate cancer center that is buying way to much local advertisement. I mean by the 8th time I hear it in the first quarter of a game, I think I have prostate cancer and a higher power is trying to tell me something. We need to put a limit on how many drab commercials that are about illnesses and medicine are allowed per NFL game. We watch these games to escape such topics. Give me beer and Victoria's Secret commercials please.
-Jonathan Dwyer is going to score a lot of fantasy points for the Steelers this year. He just seems like the guy they have been looking for. If he's available in your league - grab him!
-Ever watch Toledo when Andrew Hawkins was there a few years back? That little kid was unreal in college… he played in the CFL for a bit and now he's in the NFL at it again. He's puny but not small at 5'7" (like Iverson is 6'0"). Another great pickup this week if you have a deep bench, he looks ready to be what Jordan Shipley never could be for the Bengals in the slot.
-The Jets didn't need to showcase Tebow because they were winning... his role will expand when the games are tight.
-Reggie Wayne, as I predicted is going to get a ton of targets from Luck this season... I anticipate Wayne to have his best fantasy season ever this year. This Colts team looks primed to be scoring a lot of fantasy points this year. I was targeting Wayne for the first time ever this season (I have never had Reggie on any fantasy team ever prior to now, and I have him in all now).
-Good lord is Demaryius Thomas a horse, look out for that youngster, he's more gifted than Wayne and Harrison by a mile.
-Ok, so I guess AP28 will be a top 5 back as usual. That guy is pretty awesome.
-Chuck Norris looks hilarious in that 'Total Gym' infomercial, nice hair dye job and toupee there tough guy. You look like Weekend at Bernies. But man is Christy Brinkley just still so hot. She either has timeless beauty or has the best plastic surgeon on the planet. I don't care, do your thing Uptown Girl.
-I have Pierre Garçon in every league that I am in (4 of them). I really hope that foot of his is ok, because he's going to be awesome with RGIII throwing him the ball.
-Ray Lewis is obviously awesome, one of, if not the best LB ever to play the game, but why does he have to always play through the whistle and late hit people? It makes him seem so cheap and disrespectful. Calm done a notch guy.
-Are you really surprised by the heroics that RGIII had in his first NFL game? Me neither. Do I think he'll do that week in and week out... no. But some weeks he'll be the best player in all of fantasy football - even his rookie year.
-Not ready to worry about Aaron Rodgers, he's going to score the most fantasy points this year for any player in my mind - but the Packers didn't look like the team that all the experts are saying will win the Super Bowl. Lot's of work to do for that team, they didn't pass the eye test for week 1.
-If you missed this Chris Kluwe rant about gay marriage, you gotta check this out, it's pretty hilarious:
-Russell Wilson should be 1-0 as a starting NFL QB. Braylon Edwards has to make that catch in the end zone at the very end of the game. You always hear about how Braylon makes all these amazing catches in practice and how he has all this unriveled talent, but he never seems to make the big play in games.
-Trent Richardson owners may be headed for a long and painful year. Lot's of 18 carries for 50 yard games for the youngster. If you took him in the first few rounds, you over-drafted him. Seek out the Browns or Crimson Tide fan in your league and try to move him.
-I wish hot girls would think that fantasy football "experts" like myself we're a total turn-on. That's all I ask for... please make fantasy football figureheads sexy the way GLEE made thespian geeks in high school cool somehow. Thanks in advance.
Bold predictions by Stagg Party after watching Week 1
- Brandon Marshall will lead the league in targets. The Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall pairing put up a solid line of 9/119/1. He was targeted over 15 times and you can see the reliance Cutler put on Marshall all game long. Whenever there was a catch that needed to be made he was looking Marshall’s way.
- Stevan Ridley will be a top 12 running back. Ridley avoided a fumble and showed burst and power. The Patriots seem content to run the ball more this year and Ridley will be the feature back, only ceding a few touches here and there to Woodhead and Vereen. The Patriots will run in the red-zone giving him a great shot for double digit TDs plus the thousand yards he is bound to pile up.
- Julio Jones will maintain the excitement. Those of you who drafted Julio are already ecstatic with his return. He probably won't score multiple TDs week in and week out but he will be targeted at the same level as Roddy White (Jones – 9, White – 8 on Sunday). His talent looks like a lock for double digit TDs and potentiall 1,500 yards receiving. He's that good.
- With Fred already listed as out, CJ Spiller will be a late round steal. This young Buffalo RB is "don't touch me because I'm electric and if you touch me you'll get a shock, shock, shock" electric. He will be especially valuable in PPR leagues where he will be used in the screen game and can take any touch to the house. Had only two catches on Sunday but I can’t imagine the season unfolding without this guy catching 50 passes.
- Vick will still end up in the top 10 QBs at seasons end while being among the leaders in INTs. After a dismal game in Cleveland where Vick threw 4 interceptions, Vick’s flaws of throwing into coverage and trying to force the ball were shown. Cleveland has an underrated defensive backfield but Vick will continue throw interceptions. These interceptions will be negated by his running ability and vault Vick into the top 10.
- Matt Ryan will break the upper echelon of QBs. Ryan was dynamic in the first game against the Chiefs, who have a really good defense, not to mention a very talented defensive backfield. He torched the Chiefs using his aerial arsenal and this will continue throughout the year. Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, and the underrated Harry Douglas in the slot Atlanta will put up large offensive numbers this season, with the new wide open offense a reason for celebration among fantasy owners, and to the disdain of Michael Turner.
- Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski will end the season close to each other statistically. These guys are both elite at the position but I think Hernandez takes the next step and takes some of the glory from the Gronk. Gronk has the edge in the redzone as he is a big body with superb boxing out ability. Hernandez has edge in open field prowess, the guy is shifty, something uncommon for the tight end position. Look for Hernandez to be on the heels of Gronk at the end of the season, a great value for a guy drafted three rounds later than his teammate.
- Jermichael Finley finally shows some consistency. Finley has been one of those guys where his talent is unquestioned. He is a matchup nightmare for most teams as he is big 6’5” 245 pounds and fast. The knock on him has been his consistency, from multi-TD games against the Bears to meager one catch performances. On Sunday against the 49ers he played with a swagger and if he can keep that going throughout the season will be the fantasy force people thought they were getting last year.
First Impressions by Jimbo Slice
At long last, football matters again. Gone are the days of mindless speculation and constant Tebow camp coverage; the real deal has arrived.
While preseason may have allowed you a brief glimpse of the prospects of your fantasy team, opening week will have provided a much clearer picture of your team’s future. Now that the chips are on the table, position battles have seen their resolution prior to Sunday and only the most glaring of question marks have yet to be addressed.
With a week of real football in the books and with rosters more or less in order around the league, let’s take a look at how key fantasy prospects have fared in early action.
QB – A legend, a surprise, and a batch of rookies looking the part
The quarterback position is always the epicenter of media attention, therefore it’s not unusual that the NFL’s two biggest stories this week focus on quarterbacks. In summary, Peyton Manning is back and RGIII just might be the monster that his highlight reel cracks him up to be.
Despite a slow first half and an hour-long, mid-game break for Peyton Manning, he and the Denver offense were able to pick apart the Steelers’ defense at will on Sunday night. Once John Fox allowed Peyton to dictate the rhythm of the game through a no-huddle offense, Pittsburgh scrambled to keep up and were unable to sustain the pressure on Manning that they had achieved in the first half. Manning’s arm strength and decision-making ability appeared to be up to Manning’s high standard, and his 19-26, 253-yard and two-touchdown performance may very well serve as a bookmark to another successful chapter in Peyton’s illustrious career.
Robert Griffin III, patronizingly referred to as ‘Bob’ by Giants defensive lineman Osi Umenyiora, is only just beginning his NFL career but is doing so on the right foot. Delivering 320 yards, 2 touchdowns and an upset win in an NFL debut is no small feat, especially when framed against the floundering performances of fellow rookies Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden, who seemed to be dueling for a spot in the record books for most dismal quarterback rating in a rookie debut. Griffin’s athleticism measured up to his arm on Sunday, as he was able to consistently elude pressure and move the ball with his legs. Griffin ran for 42 yards on 10 attempts and was only sacked once.
Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Alex Smith, Matt Schaub and Tony Romo all threw in admirable performances over the weekend, marking their ascension in fantasy quarterback ratings over the ‘old guard’ of Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. Rivers and Roethlisberger are still strong players, but their increasing acceptance of sacks and diminishing completion percentage are harbingers of the change overdue in the fantasy quarterback hierarchy.
Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden deserve an honorable mention, if only to highlight just how horrendous they were in their rookie debuts. Under such immense pressure and expectation, it must be disheartening to fall as flat as they did, but they are no more immune to criticism for it. Weeden completed only 12 of 35 passes with 4 interceptions and Tannehill was 20 of 26 with 3 interceptions. First overall pick Andrew Luck struggled as well, throwing 3 interceptions in a loss to the Bears. Had it not been for RGIII, this weekend would have easily ranked as the most disappointing rookie demonstration of recent memory.
RB – Hot picks and projected sleepers play to their labels
Running backs, for the most part, performed to expectation in early action. Top running back prospects Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte and Ray Rice all delivered strong games, demonstrating that their potential is worth the high picks they likely elicited.
The drop-off from these players is where things get interesting. Steven Jackson, Michael Turner, Trent Richardson and Jamaal Charles were all fantasy prospects surrounded by rumors of health setbacks or reduced carries, and each played to mixed results in week 1. Jackson, Richardson and Turner largely fell flat, delivering mediocre performances in this season’s opener, though Richardson’s bulldozing of Eagles safety Kurt Coleman should go down as one of the most ruthless steamrolls in NFL history. Jamaal Charles, on the other hand, chalked up a healthy total of 87 yards with a respectable 5.4 per-carry average.
With such depth at QB and WR this season, running backs are definitely the fantasy commodity of the year. As such, a lot of faith was put into sleeper backs or unsexy guys in good situations. 2nd-tier starting backs like Cedric Benson, Donald Brown, DeAngelo Williams and Mark Ingram all fulfilled their status as sleepers in that their performances were yawn-inducing at best.
Interestingly, the two prospects that got surprise opportunities on Sunday delivered the biggest performances. Buffalo’s CJ Spiller showcased the elite speed and elusiveness that earned him a first round draft pick several years back, churning out an absurd 12.1 yards per carry. In Washington D.C., Mike Shanahan made the surprise call to pass over Roy Helu and Evan Royster with Alfred Morris, who answered the call in a big way by busting out for 96 yards and 2 touchdowns. Bills’ starter Fred Jackson went down with a knee injury that will hold him out for several weeks and Morris’ performance should be enough to solidify him as the starter for the coming weeks, so both are looking like strong picks if you were able to nab Spiller with a deep pick in your draft or steal Morris off the waiver wire before your buddies got to him.
WR – Big boys hold it down
Opening weekend turned into a showcase for the new age of NFL wide receivers; these guys are huge, fast and nightmarishly athletic. Brandon Marshall, Andre Johnson, Alshon Jeffrey, Demaryius Thomas, Julio Jones and Stephen Hill are all big bodies that put up strong weekends. Marshall, Thomas and Jones look especially promising, considering that each has an excellent quarterback that should match up very well to each receiver’s playing style. Doomed to a full season of throws from Tebow and Matt Moore, Marshall and Thomas showed flashes of brilliance last season that should turn into more consistent play now that their situations have so dramatically improved.
Wide receiver is an outstandingly deep position this year, though there were still a handful of late-round and waiver guys who busted out for big weekends. Dallas’ Kevin Ogletree turned into Romo’s favorite target for a night, hauling in a 8 passes for 114 yards and 2 touchdowns as the ‘Boys put away the Giants on prime time TV last Thursday. Other surprises came from the Saint’s Lance Moore, who reeled in 6 balls for 120 yards and a touchdown and from Green Bay’s Randall Cobb, who caught 9 balls for 77 yards despite the Packers’ traditionally balanced passing attack.
There were a few letdowns at the receiver position, as guys like Steve Johnson, Dwayne Bowe, Hakeem Nicks, Robert Meachem and Darius Heyward-Bey, projected as major prospects for this season, came up with rather unremarkable outings. Meachem the exception of the bunch, each of these receivers’ teams lost and looked bad doing it, which may have had a large part to play in the lack of consistent targets. In Meachem’s case, Malcom Floyd was the clear primary target, leaving Meachem’s fantasy owners to wonder what the talk was all about this offseason.
TE - Who hit replay?
The tight end picture broke down over opening weekend very similarly to what one would expect. Big names like Gronkowski, Finley, and Hernandez all got plenty of targets and a touchdown apiece, cementing their place atop the tight end hierarchy.
Three pleasant surprises came in the form of Owen Daniels, Greg Olsen and Dennis Pitta. Owen Daniels had a down year last year after Texans’ starter Matt Schaub missed the majority of the season to a foot injury but bounced back big on Sunday, leading all tight ends with 87 yards on the day. Greg Olsen has struggled in his time in Carolina due largely to a positional battle between himself and Jeremy Shockey. Shockey is now out of the picture, and while the Panthers may turn to basher Mike Tolbert in goal-line situations, Olsen remains a strong red-zone target for Cam Newton.
Dennis Pitta deserves special mention, however, as his play on Monday night may have registered him on fantasy radar across the league. Not only did a brilliant-looking Joe Flacco consistently target Pitta, the guy also went up for a incredible flat-footed end zone lob from Flacco. Pitta’s size easily overmatched the efforts of Bengals’ cornerback Leon Hall, who fought in vain to strip the ball from Pitta’s grip as he came down in the end zone. It’s no secret that the tight end is a position used to exploit mismatches, so if Baltimore’s coaching staff continues to call good plays and find Pitta space to create problems, Pitta may have a top fantasy season among tight ends.
The ball’s rolling, what’s next?
With a week of regular season ball in the rearview, there are a whole lot of underperformers from last week eager for week 2 redemption. Michael Turner and Chris Johnson are prolific threats with a lot to prove moving forward, as are guys like Robert Meachem and Dwayne Bowe.
You can bet that these guys will be playing with a chip on the shoulder, but will you? There are some waiver wire guys like Alfred Morris and Steven Hill that are deserving of an early gamble while their jobs are secure, pick them up and enjoy some immediate production before you look for the next big thing.
Good things come to those who act, not wait. Pull the trigger and do it quickly, because your competition won’t think twice about exploiting fresh talent to take you down while you wait for ‘CJ2K’ to get back to the back you thought he was when you drafted him fifth overall…