Pigskin Droppings: Week One
BY ALEX HARDIN
Editor’s note: This is Alex’s debut article on RotoRob. We look forward to his fantasy football input each Tuesday during the season.
Perhaps you heard something about Tom Brady? Okay, now that we’ve established you haven’t been living under a rock, let’s get to meat of what was Week One of another glorious year of NFL action. The biggest surprise to me was the NFC’s domination over elite AFC squads. Jake Delhomme and his Panthers went into San Diego and got a dub-yah; the Bears, led by Kyle Orton, went into newly-christened Lucas Oil Stadium and beat up on Peyton Manning’s Colts; and the highly-touted Cowboys just destroyed the upstart Brownies. That’s 3-0 NFC vs. AFC and that just caught me by surprise.
Well, what did we learn from Week One in fantasy land? I think we figured out that some teams are not as far along as others. I would place the Redskins, Colts and 49ers under this category and I believe that their fantasy numbers will be down across the board the first few weeks.
The Redskins are clearly adjusting to a new offensive staff as they just never found their rhythm against the Giants. If you own Jason Campbell, I would keep him tucked away on your bench for the first handful of games, and maybe he will be ready to produce by the time you need a fill-in QB.
The Colts will be fine once Manning is back to 100 per cent after his knee injury. His timing just didn’t seem to be all the way back there.
Finally, the 49ers are in trouble. Mike Martz teams are supposed to produce a few fantasy diamonds, but with J.T. O’Sullivan at the helm, this may hold them back and even cut down on Frank Gore’s numbers throughout the year.
We also learned that there will be a few productive rookies this year. Matt Forte of the Bears and Chris Johnson of the Titans seem the most likely to make consistent contributions to your fantasy squad. Forte is a three-down back that will get full-time work as long as he stays healthy. Johnson is supposedly splitting carries with the Pillsbury doughboy, LenDale White, but C-Jo has already shown to be the more effective and explosive back.
Let’s take a look at some Week One studs and duds.
Willie Parker, RB (PIT) – Fast Willie had quite an afternoon, racking up 138 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. I for one thought that Rashard Mendenhall coming in signaled an end to Parker’s days of 20-carry games. He may eventually end up losing carries, but Parker looked great coming off his broken leg and rewarded his owners.
Michael Turner, RB (ATL) – The “Burner” is lit! Mr. Turner gained 220 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. Seriously, those are Tecmo Bowl numbers. Who averages ten yards a carry in an NFL game getting the ball that many times? This makes me think the Lion defense is just horrible. When a team with a new coach, a rookie quarterback, and a bunch of spare parts come in and dominates a game like this, one would think that the defense they faced is severely flawed.
Reggie Bush, RB (NO) – Finally, it looks like Bush is going to be utilized properly. He only gained 51 yards on the ground over 14 carries, but he caught eight passes for 112 yards and a TD. I believe the addition of Jeremy Shockey really helps this offense — especially Bush, as it gives him more space to operate when opposing defenses have to keep a bruising TE with great hands in check.
Donovan McNabb, QB (PHA) – He’s baaaaack, baby, and looking great. McNabb threw for 361 yards and three TDs against the Rams in the season opener. Coach Andy Reid loves to throw the ball and I believe McNabb will be a reliable start all season long, as long as he (and Brian Westbrook) stays healthy. Even though McNab’ss WR corps was banged up, DeSean Jackson and Hank Baskett stepped up big. Of course, it was the Rams, so this doesn’t surprise me at all.
Forte, RB (CHI) – This guy will be a household name by the end of the year. Forte is a three-down back out of Tulane that will get steady carries all year long. He rushed for 123 yards with a TD in his NFL debut on the road. How impressive is that?
O’Sullivan, QB (SF) – Big things were expected, little was delivered. He wasn’t horrible, as he was 14-for-20 for 195 yards, but he did not have a TD and he was burned for a pick. I thought O’Sullivan would be a solid QB2 for your fantasy squad, but unless you are in a 14-team league, he is free agent material.
Steven Jackson, RB (STL) – After signing a fat contract, more was expected than 40 yards without a TD. He only carried the ball 14 times and the Rams were never in the game. This earns Jackson a Week One dud, but look for him to bounce back and get things rolling. I still think he is a top ten fantasy option.
Every Bengal, QB/RB/WR (CIN) – I know the Bengals were playing on the road against a quality defense, but they were quite awful. Carson Palmer had the worst day of his career as he was 10-for-25 for just 99 yards. That just does not happen. The running game was not much better as Chris Perry managed only 37 yards on 18 carries. If you started Carson, hopefully you did not have him teamed up with T.J. Houshmandzadeh or Chad Johnson.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB (SEA) – First of all, I love the Buffalo defense this year and I think this performance was more an indication of great defense. Also there was the subtraction of Hasselbeck’s long time QB coach, Jim Zorn. Mr. Hasselsuck (as I am sure his owners were screaming) was 17-for-41 for 190 yards. I do not place the blame fully on him as his receivers are banged up, but if you started him, you definitely paid for it.
Braylon Edwards, WR (CLE) – Big time WR? Check. Potentially potent offense? Check. Two catches for 14 yards? Uh, this is not a performance you should be proud of by your WR1. He obviously did not have an impact on the game, but perhaps his foot injury is not 100 per cent. I would keep a close eye on Braylon over the first few weeks.
Looking ahead to next week, here are some match-ups that you may want to keep your eye on. These are mainly borderline sit/start situations as it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to suggest you to start LT, Manning, Randy Moss, etc.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB – Coming off the Monday night victory over the hyped up Vikes, Rodgers and the gang head over to Detroit. I really think he has a huge game here as the Lion defense is very suspect, as we discussed earlier. By now, I think Rodgers is on the same page with his wide outs, and I expect Greg Jennings to show big numbers as well. Verdict: Play Rodgers.
Turner, RB, ATL – If you think he is the next LT, check your dome. Week One was an anomaly for the dirty bird ground game. The Falcons will not have another offensive output like Week One as they go into Tampa Bay to get knocked around by the Bucs. Verdict: Sit Turner.
Johnson, RB, TEN – The Bengal defense is weak, and this guy is explosive. I think Vince Young being out does not hurt Johnson at all because it makes the passing game more stable, opening up the run for CJ. Verdict: Play Johnson.
Forte, RB, CHI – First of all, I love this kid. With that being said, the Bears are going to face Carolina and I think the Panther defense will key on the Chicago running game, limiting Forte’s effectiveness. Led by Jon Beason, the Panthers will stack the box and force Orton to beat them. Verdict: Sit Forte.
Laurence Maroney, RB, NE – I think the loss of Brady will force the Pats to run the ball more. This benefits nobody more than Maroney as he is very talented, but sometimes does not get enough carries to put up quality fantasy numbers. I think the passing game will be fine, as Moss and Wes Welker will create separation and still allow them to move the ball. I am just worried about Sammy Morris stealing goal line TDs. Verdict: Play Maroney.
Bush, RB, NO – He was dynamic last week, but I have some reservations for playing him Week Two. The Redskins had trouble facing Brandon Jacobs last week, but Bush is exactly the opposite of Jacobs. The Washington defense matches up much better against Bush and I believe it will bottle him up. With that said, I think Shockey has a great game. Verdict: Sit Bush.
Here are my projections for the Top three fantasy scorers at QB/RB/WR for Week Two. We will check in next week to see how these turned out.
1. Tony Romo, DAL – Big MNF game, big numbers, tons of offense. Hopefully Yoko Romo stays home.
2. Jay Cutler, DEN – He’s the next great QB, and is getting Brandon Marshall back. Eddie Royal has stepped up and the Broncos have a very efficient offense that will move the ball against the Chargers.
3. Rodgers, GB – Facing the Lions. ‘Nuff said.
1. Adrian Peterson, MIN – Purple Jesus will run all over Indy.
2. Larry Johnson, KC – Expect a bounce back game. He will run for 100+ yards with two TDs and show us the real LJ.
3. Clinton Portis, WAS – The Redskin offense will wake up and show a pulse, led by Southeast Jerome who will rush for 100 yards and a TD.
1. Larry Fitzgerald, ARZ – Kurt Warner to Fitz will be commonplace versus the ‘Fins.
2. Terrell Owens, DAL – Get’cho popcorn ready!
3. Jennings, GB – He’ll be the No. 1 target for Rodgers as they hang 30+ on the Lions. A week of 120 yards and a TD is very possible.
Enjoy Week Two and may all your fantasy prayers be answered.