1. It took all of one week for the notion that San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates would remain injury free in 2012 to come crashing down. Gates suffered a rib injury during the team’s opening week win over the Raiders and was limited to Friday practice prior to the Chargers home game against the Titans this week. He was generally the 3rd tight end off the board in most fantasy drafts based on the belief that he was healthy and would benefit from the free agent defection of wide receiver Vincent Jackson to the Buccaneers. Unfortunately, his fantasy owners will once again need to shuffle their rosters and starting lineups with the rib injury making him a questionable start in Week 2. With San Diego being a west coast team, those decisions aren’t always easy to make at 1:00 p.m. on Sundays.
2.In the offseason, the Falcons let it be known that they planned on opening up their passing attack under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and while most pundits expected that to happen, most didn’t expect the team to go as heavy on the pass as they did in Week 1. Despite the fact they never trailed and won by a score of 40-24, the Falcons ran the ball just 23 times and threw 31 passes. The fantasy prognosis for running back Michael Turner took another hit as he had just 11 carries for 32 yards, just four more carries than backup Jacquizz Rodgers. At this point, Turner shapes up as nothing better than a fantasy backup.
3. Over in Kansas City, the expectation was that the Chiefs would rely heavily on Peyton Hillis early in the season in order to ease Jamaal Charles’ return from a torn ACL that ended his 2011 season in Week 2. However, that scenario did not materialize in Week 1 with Charles getting 16 touches to just 10 for Hillis. While this ratio doesn’t torpedo Hillis’ fantasy value, it certainly does lessen it and makes Charles a much more valuable option earlier in the season than most expected.
4. In St. Louis, the Rams bad luck with injuries has continued with free agent center Scott Wells being placed on injured reserve. Wells was signed to bolster the team’s porous offensive line and help keep franchise quarterback Sam Bradford upright. The loss of Wells lowers the value of running back Steven Jackson as well as Bradford, who will face off against Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III this week in marquee matchup featuring the quarterback the Rams could have had and the one they chose to keep. If you’re wondering what one to keep from a fantasy perspective (and I’m pretty sure you’re not), this little tidbit might help you out. In 27 career starts, Bradford has thrown for 300 or more yards three times while RGIII threw for 300 in his only start. There’s more. Bradford has 92 career rushing yards while RGIII ran for 42 yards last week. Let’s go out on a limb and jump to the conclusion that the Rams probably aren’t too enamored with the NFL’s schedule maker.
5. The Bears offense crashed back to earth in Week 2 with quarterback Jay Cutler having another awful day against the Packers. Neither outcome should be a surprise since the accolades the team’s offense was getting after dismantling an overmatched Colts defense weren’t exactly deserved. The Bears failed to address the offensive line in the offseason and remain unable to protect Cutler. And, while the addition of Brandon Marshall was a clear upgrade at the wide receiver position, the team lacks a consistent option opposite Marshall with Devin Hester, Earl Bennett and rookie 2nd round pick Alshon Jeffery sharing time at that position. At tight end, the team lacks a proven receiving option and offensive coordinator Mike Tice failed to dial up any screen passes in Week 2 to help slow down the Packers pass rush. While the Bears abysmal offensive performance in won’t likely be repeated any time soon, the team is unlikely to have anything more than a mid-tier offense in 2012, particularly with running back Matt Forte likely to miss time with a high ankle sprain.
6. In Tampa Bay, rookie 1st round pick Doug Martin’s stranglehold on the team’s starting running back position became a little stronger with news that backup LeGarrette Blount suffered a stinger in Week 1. While Blount was clearly being relegated to a backup role, new head coach Greg Schiano has shown a preference for players that avoid the injury bug (witness the trade of tight end Kellen Winslow). That doesn’t bode well for Blount, who faces competition for touches from former Giant D.J. Ware, who is more familiar with new offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan’s playbook from their time together with the Giants.
7. All it took was one week to prove that Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson should not have been a 1st or 2nd round selection in your fantasy draft. While Richardson is clearly a talented back and will have a productive career in the league barring injury, there are too many obstacles for him to have a solid fantasy season in 2012. The Browns offensive line features three largely unproven starters and the team’s group of wide receivers rank near the bottom of the league. At quarterback, rookie1st round pick Brandon Weeden figures to improve as the season progresses but isn’t ready to lift up an offense that lacks playmakers to a respectable level. Cleveland is going to struggle to move the ball on a consistent basis in 2012 and that will likely relegate Richardson to low end RB2 status by season’s end.
8. Washington head coach Mike Shanahan was up to his usual tricks in Week 1, loading up rookie 6th round pick Alfred Morris with 28 carries while dishing out two carries each to Roy Helu, Evan Royster and Darrel Young. The fact Morris started wasn’t exactly as big of a surprise as his huge workload, the most of any running back in the league. For what it’s worth, his production was more volume based than anything, as he accumulated 96 yards and two touchdowns. If I had to make a guess as to whether an NFL talent evaluator was overly impressed by Morris’ performance in Week 1, the guess would be no. Look for the Redskins to have a revolving door at running back once again in 2012 and if I had to roll the dice on one, it would be Helu.