NFL Power Rankings: Week One
Arian Foster had the best rushing day in Texan history to lead Houston to a big upset win.
Welcome to the 2010 football season! This is our first NFL power rankings of the season, and this column will appear after each weekend of football.
It was a very exciting opening weekend for the NFL with a handful of injuries and a couple of big surprises to go with them. The two biggest shockers were the Houston Texans beating their division rivals, the Indianapolis Colts, behind Arian Foster’s 231 rushing yards and three touchdowns, and the Kansas City Chiefs finally pulling off a win over their division rivals, the San Diego Chargers, thanks to their new rookies, Dexter McCluster, Javier Arenas, and Tony Moeaki.
Key Week Two matchups: New England at New York Jets, New York Giants at Indianapolis Colts
Pickup of the Week: Brandon Jackson, RB, Green Bay Packers
Start of the Week: Adrian Peterson vs. Miami Dolphins
Legend: Rank, team, record
1. New Orleans Saints, 1-0: The Saints didn’t flash the high scoring offense we all looked forward to seeing from last season, but they were able to pull off the win after dominating the Viking offense in the second half. Look for Drew Brees to have a great week picking apart the 49ers’ defensive backs on Monday night, with Robert Meachem as his sleeper wide receiver.
2. Green Bay Packers, 1-0: Aaron Rodgers did not have the game he was hyped up to have, but playing the Buffalo Bills for their home opener should give him the chance for a huge game. The bad news is Green Bay’s star running back, Ryan Grant, is out the rest of the season with an ankle injury. Therefore, Brandon Jackson will be taking his place as the starter and should be a significant Fantasy option on one of the best offenses in the league.
3. Baltimore Ravens, 1-0: Ray Lewis may be 35 and may have lost a step or two throughout the years, but he is still one of the best linebackers ever as he showed when he stopped Shonn Greene in his tracks. Baltimore lost both games to division rival Cincinnati last year, so expect its defense to pound hard on the Bengals. The Bengals gave up 118 yards on 23 carries to the Patriots, so expect Ray Rice to have a big game and reward his Fantasy owners this Sunday.
4. New England Patriots, 1-0: Tom Brady is back and he brushed off the car accident to throw for 258 yards and three TDs. He will have a tougher matchup against the Jets, and Randy Moss may be held up by Darrelle Revis, but look for Wes Welker and rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski to catch the rest.
5. Indianapolis Colts, 0-1: This is the second time in three years that the Colts have lost their season opener, however, with Peyton Manning at the helm, have no fear…at least not yet. He shouldn’t have to throw 57 times again any time soon, but you never know. Either way, Manning will provide lots of yards time and time again with touchdowns. Joseph Addai and Donald Brown should be used more next week, and when playing his little brother Eli’s team in the past, Peyton played well and beaten the New York Giants. Assuming the Colts’ rush defense improves, we can expect Indy to take this game,
6. Minnesota Vikings, 0-1: Without Sidney Rice, Brett Favre is going to have to work more with his other receivers. With this week’s practice they should be able to get some chemistry between them, and Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian and Visanthe Shiancoe can each have good games next week against Miami. Adrian Peterson looked pretty good in Week One and he hasn’t fumbled yet. ADP should get his first touchdown of the season on Sunday and possibly more.
7. Houston Texans, 1-0: The Texans pulled off the biggest upset of the weekend over the Colts. However, they won’t be able to run for over 250 yards as a team every week, but thankfully they are known for their passing. All those owners disappointed with Matt Schaub’s numbers will be able to cheer up this week when he and Andre Johnson hook up multiple times against the Redskins. I’m beginning to become a believer in Arian Foster, but he will still have to prove himself this week against Washington’s respectable run defense.
8. Dallas Cowboys, 0-1: It was a disappointing opener for “America’s Team,” however they could have won if their offensive lineman didn’t screw it up on the called-back game winning touchdown. Miles Austin was very thankful for his new contract, showing it in his ten-reception, 146-yard performance. Rookie receiver Dez Bryant also played well with eight receptions for 56 yards. He even was targeted once more than Austin. Dallas should beat Chicago next week and expect great games for Tony Romo, Austin and Bryant.
9. Tennessee Titans, 1-0: Everybody’s favourite running back, Chris Johnson, has returned, running for 142 yards on 27 carries with two TDs. He has a tough matchup against the Steelers, who held him to 57 yards on 15 carries last year. Johnson will want payback, but if he can’t get it against the defense that held Michael Turner to 42 yards on 19 carries, then Kenny Britt and Nate Washington can pick up the slack with help from Vince Young.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1-0: Props to Dennis Dixon, who took over for suspended starting QB Ben Roethlisberger and beat the Falcons. However, the Steelers have another tough matchup against the Titans, but if their prominent defense can hold off Chris Johnson like they did to Michael Turner, then Rashard Mendenhall and Hines Ward will have big games again this Sunday.
11. New York Jets, 0-1: The loss of nose tackle Kris Jenkins for the season will hurt, but the Jets’ defense is still excellent as evidenced by two sacks, an interception, and two fumble recoveries last week against the Ravens. The Jets play division rivals New England this week in what will be a huge game, but if Mark Sanchez has another terrible game the Jets will need to lean more on Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson who are now splitting the load. After LT’s performance against the Ravens, I see him having a big game against the Pats with a touchdown or two.
12. San Diego Chargers, 0-1: Ryan Mathews looked great, but Phillip Rivers looked frustrated during San Diego’s surprising loss to the Chiefs. The Chargers will have to improve their goal-line offense after failing to score to tie up the game at the end of the fourth quarter…taking less dumb penalties to stall key drives would be a good place to start. In San Diego’s home opener against the Jaguars on Sunday afternoon, look for Mathews to have a great game that should feature with his first career touchdown. We all know that Rivers will pass to Antonio Gates a lot with Vincent Jackson out, but Legedu Naanee should be owned in all leagues and is my sleeper pick on this team.
13. Atlanta Falcons, 0-1: Atlanta’s offense failed to score a touchdown against the Steelers, but the Falcons’ promising offense should get kick started in the home openers against the Cardinals on Sunday. Michael Turner, Matt Ryan, and Roddy White should all have much better games than they did last week.
14. New York Giants, 1-0: With the Giants playing the Colts and their terrible rush defense this week, both Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs should have big games. Hakeem Nicks could possibly be the biggest sleeper this year after having three TDs in last week’s game. Steve Smith should have a bigger game this week as well after Week One’s below average performance (compared to his season last year).
15. Washington Redskins, 1-0: The Redskins had a big win against division rival Dallas, but also failed to score a touchdown on offense. Their defense played great, but Donovan McNabb should do better Sunday against the Texans as his ankle continues to get closer to 100 per cent. Santana Moss and Chris Cooley look to be the top targets for McNabb this season.
16. Miami Dolphins, 1-0: The Dolphins have a tough game coming up against Minnesota. Chad Henne will need to play better, but he seems to like Brandon Marshall and Fantasy owners of Marshall have to like that. The running back duo of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams could rack up over 150 yards using their Wildcat plays to trick the Vikings.
17. Cincinnati Bengals, 0-1: The Bengals had a tough time last week against the Patriots, and now have to face Baltimore and its top defense. Cincinnati needs to get back to its running game behind Cedric Benson to grind out a win. Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens will continue to strive for the ball, but my sleeper slot receiver, Jordan Shipley, should be watched through the weeks as a viable option.
18. Philadelphia Eagles, 0-1: With Kevin Kolb’s injury, Michael Vick may finally get his second chance at starting for a pro football team. If Vick ends up starting he should be picked up, but if he does start, DeSean Jackson’s Fantasy value will drop. However, with the loss of Leonard Weaver for the season, LeSean McCoy’s value increases especially playing Detroit at home this week.
19. Arizona Cardinals, 1-0: Now who would have thought that Derek Anderson would throw for almost 300 yards and have no interceptions? Maybe Ken Whisenhunt was right about him, but the Cardinals were only playing the Rams, so let’s see how Anderson does this week against Atlanta. Keep an eye on this QB situation because Max Hall could take over the starting job in the future if things turn bad. Larry Fitzgerald was about 75 per cent healthy last week and still got a TD; look for his numbers to improve greatly as he gets more practice with Anderson and gets healthier. Beanie Wells should be coming back soon and he will carry most of the rushing load especially after Tim Hightower lost two fumbles. Steve Breaston should be played as well after catching all seven targets for 132 yards.
20. San Francisco 49ers, 0-1: The pre-season favourite to win the NFC West was upset big time in Pete Carroll’s debut for the Seahawks. With poor performances from Alex Smith and Frank Gore, the 49ers couldn’t score a touchdown on offense or defense. And then there was Mike Singletary’s mandatory meeting on Monday after their loss and his criticism of Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree for their poor performances. San Francisco is having some problems, and for its home opener Monday, it gets to face the Super Bowl Champions and that may bring even more problems.
21. Seattle Seahawks, 1-0: The Seahawks and new head coach Pete Carroll got a huge win Sunday. Their running game can improve more, but their defense played great under this new regime in Seattle. After not having played since 2007, Mike Williams may have found his niche, and he should be watched and picked up if needed.
22. Chicago Bears, 1-0: Jay Cutler may have thrown another interception, but he also threw for 372 yards and two TDs. Both TDs went to Matt Forte who had three times as many receiving yards as rushing yards. Forte also said he feels as good if not better as he did during his rookie season. For Forte owners, the fact that he’s playing better and connecting with Cutler is a great sign. However, the Bears were playing the Detroit Lions (and almost lost), so this week’s game in Dallas will be a big test.
23. Kansas City Chiefs, 1-0: With their surprising win over San Diego on Monday Night Football the Chiefs’ confidence is at its highest in a long time as they travel to Cleveland to look to go 2-0. Matt Cassell is going to need to play better, but behind Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones, and their impact rookies, they can pull it off. Javier Arenas, who looked like he could take it to the house on every touch, and Dexter McCluster are big threats in KC’s special teams this year.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars, 1-0: Don’t panic, Mike Sims-Walker was matched up against Champ Bailey, who is one of the top corners in the league. So look for Sims-Welker to actually get some catches next week. Mike Thomas is a sleeper that can deliver each week, especially in PPR leagues.
25. Denver Broncos, 0-1: Tim Tebow won’t be an option anytime soon, but he will get more carries in the future out of the Wildcat formation. With Eddie Royal now in the slot position, he will have a much better season this year, probably more in line with his amazing rookie season. And playing Seattle this weekend should mean better games from Knowshon Moreno and Kyle Orton as well.
26. Carolina Panthers, 0-1: Matt Moore had a terrible outing that ended with a concussion, DeAngelo Williams had a poor game, and Jonathan Stewart was barely used. But with the Panthers playing Tampa Bay this week, we should see promising from Williams and Steve Smith. As for Moore, I could see Jimmy Clausen starting later this season if not in the next couple of weeks.
27. Oakland Raiders, 0-1: Darren McFadden has finally had a good game without injury, seeming for the first time since joining the league three years ago. If he can stay healthy then his Fantasy owners will be glad to have drafted him this time. With the Raiders hosting the Rams in their home opener this week, McFadden and Zach Miller could have great games, and Oakland can possibly even its record.
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1-0: As Josh Freeman continues to heal up his hand and grow as a second-year player, the Bucs will rely on Cadillac Williams to carry the bulk of the load as he did last week with 22 carries for 75 yards. Tampa Bay has a harder matchup against the Panthers, but can continue to improve with its young franchise quarterback.
29. Detroit Lions, 0-1: The Lions should have won this game, but it is not my place to argue the wording of the rules for football. Rookie running back Jahvid Best scored two touchdowns in his first career game, but only had 20 yards on 14 carries, not surprising given it was against the Bears’ defense. Detroit will definitely be favouring him this season and he will continue to get better each week, however Best has another tough defensive matchup against the Eagles on Sunday. With Matthew Stafford (separated shoulder) getting knocked out for several weeks, Shaun Hill is the starter and he looks like he has good chemistry with Calvin Johnson, who will have better games down the road as well.
30. Buffalo Bills, 0-1: The Bills kept the game close against the Dolphins, but Trent Edwards doesn’t look like he will be able to lead the team anywhere which will deplete the Fantasy value of all the Buffalo receivers. There is some hope with the Bills’ committee at running back with C.J. Spiller, Marshawn Lynch, and Fred Jackson, however don’t expect much this week against the Green Bay Packers.
31. St. Louis Rams, 0-1: Despite throwing three interceptions, Sam Bradford’s debut was not too bad. He did, however, have the second most passing attempts last week with 55, right behind Peyton Manning who had 57. Bradford managed 253 yards passing with one touchdown, but he won’t have as many passing attempts this week against the Raiders. He does bring hope to this team and it seems Mark Clayton and Danny Amendola are emerging as his favourite receivers since Donnie Avery has been out since the preseason. Steven Jackson should have a big week running against the Raiders.
32. Cleveland Browns, 0-1: Jake Delhomme had a bad outing and was seen wearing a boot on his foot, which could leave Seneca Wallace starting and Colt McCoy as his backup. With Peyton Hillis splitting carries in the backfield, Jerome Harrison’s stock goes down and offers little hope for this team down the road this season. Let’s first see how the Browns play against the Panthers in Carolina on Sunday.