Ravens – Broncos
It took about six seconds for Peyton Manning and Wes Welker to build chemistry together. Manning finished with an NFL-record-tying seven touchdown tosses, two going to Welker, who hauled in nine receptions in his Broncos debut. Welker should do just fine in his new system. Demaryius Thomas had a busy night. In the first half he wore No. 80 and went by Julius. In the second half he wore his usual No. 88 jersey and went back to Demaryius. As Julius, he caught five balls for 110 yards and two scores. As Demaryius he had five receptions for 161 yards and two touchdowns. His Julius persona will be one of the hottest waiver wire additions this week, but most of us appreciated him returning as Demaryius for the second half. For all the talk of the Broncos’ running back committee, Baltimore unveiled one of their own with Ray Rice getting 12 carries and Bernard Pierce getting nine. Rice did catch eight balls and score a touchdown to save his fantasy night. Rice is still a strong fantasy play because of his role as a receiver, but this is looking like an annoying situation for owners moving forward. I finally figured out Denver’s backfield situation. Don’t start any of their running backs right now. Sometimes fantasy football really is that easy.
Titans – Steelers
Steeler fans were wondering if Todd Haley could possibly ruin Pittsburgh’s offense any more than he did last year. They got their answer on Sunday. Some will point to the loss of Maurkice Pouncey, but that’s what we do for bad coaches; we make excuses. The bottom line is that Haley is one of the worst offensive minds in the history of the NFL and he has destroyed the Steelers’ attack. Ben Roethlisberger looks even more lost than he did last year. Pittsburgh can’t run the ball and its offense has no imagination. Other than Antonio Brown, and maybe Emmanuel Sanders in deeper leagues, there are few fantasy bright spots in the Steel City right now. As for Tennessee, Chris Johnson and Kenny Britt continue to frustrate fantasy owners. Perhaps it’s time for people to lower their expectations of these two, especially Britt, who is living off a few big games over his five years in the NFL. There’ll be better days for Johnson, but Britt will always be a tease.
Patriots – Bills
There were about 20 fantasy storylines in this game. Stevan Ridley fumbled twice and, to quote a line from Clemenza in The Godfather, “Won’t see him no more.” Ridley was benched in favor of Shane Vereen, who rushed for 101 yards and caught seven balls for 58 more yards. Things can change quickly in New England and just when it seemed like Vereen was the back to own, he goes under the knife and is expected to miss a couple weeks after wrist surgery. I drafted Julian Edelman as a flier in two leagues because I had a hunch that when games started for real, Tom Brady would throw to guys he trusted instead of inexperienced rookies. Finally, after 10 years, one of my hunches paid off. Danny Amendola led the way with 14 targets and 10 catches but he’s already dealing with a groin injury, so Edelman should be owned in all leagues now. The big story on Buffalo’s side was C.J. Spiller, who was outgained in yardage by Fred Jackson, 67-41. Spiller also lost a fumble. That’s not the debut owners who used a Top 10 pick on him wanted to see, but it’s a long season. Don’t panic…yet.
Falcons – Saints
What was expected to be a high-scoring affair turned out to be a rather boring game by Falcons–Saints standards. As usual, the Boy of Summer, Mark Ingram, did very little once the regular season started. It’s easy for coaches to say they want to get Ingram involved in June, but the bottom line is that once Sean Payton and Drew Brees get in the flow of calling a game, Ingram spends more time on the sidelines in favor of Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas. With Roddy White nursing a hamstring, Harry Douglas led the Flacons in receiving. He has some short-term fantasy value but only until White is 100 percent healthy again. Kenny Stills is a player on the rise. He will take over that Devery Henderson/Robert Meachem deep threat role in New Orleans. Meachem won’t resume that role because he’s a tomato can.
Buccaneers – Jets
Well, if you like ugly, this was the game for you. Actually, “ugly” describes the next four games on the list. There were five fumbles, eight sacks and two interceptions in this one. To be honest, those numbers were lower than I expected. Chris Ivory was an absolute non-factor for the Jets, rushing 10 times for 15 yards. Some people thought Ivory could be a RB2. He looks like a RB12. I can’t get Kellen Winslow out of my life. I feel like I drafted him back in 1995. He re-emerged yet again to become Geno Smith’s favorite target, catching seven passes for 79 yards and a score. He looks pretty good considering he’s 50. The Bucs’ offense was stymied all day long by Gang Green. Vincent Jackson picked up where he left off last year, but the fact that the rookie, Smith, looked better than Josh Freeman is a problem going forward.
Chiefs – Jaguars
Word on the street is that every major real estate agent in the Jacksonville area put out a call to Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater Monday morning. I don’t know if Bridgewater has ever been to Jacksonville but he may want to get familiar with the city. There was nothing good about Jacksonville’s offense on Sunday. Maurice Jones-Drew was shut down and Blaine Gabbert could barely throw a forward pass. Apparently the Jaguars had 178 yards of offense, but they must have started with 100 for that to be possible. Alex Smith looked solid in his first start, but he didn’t have to do much because Kansas City’s defense was doing most of the work. Jamaal Charles left the game with a quad injury but is expected to be fine. It was a tough game to judge the Chiefs’ offense on because their defense dominated from start to finish. It wasn’t hard to judge Jacksonville’s offense. It stinks.
Seahawks – Panthers
I tried to warn people about Mike Shula. I said, “Google Mike Shula.” Mike Shula ruins offenses. Don’t tell me Carolina was playing Seattle either. The Seahawks were without two of their top pass rushers and a starting corner. Still, Shula’s “offense” managed just 7 points and 259 total yards. Cam Newton threw for 125 yards and rushed for 38. That’s less than 200 total yards for those of you bad at math and who used a high draft pick on a Mike Shula quarterback. I’ll say it again: good offensive coaches produce strong fantasy numbers while poor offensive coaches produce poor offensive numbers. See Pittsburgh Steelers. Marshawn Lynch was held in check by a much improved Carolina front seven. Running backs won’t have easy days against the Panthers this season. Russell Wilson didn’t have a huge fantasy day, but he showed why he’s such a great quarterback by gutting out a road win. He’ll put up big numbers in the coming weeks.
Dolphins – Browns
Besides Jacksonville, the Browns may have had the worst offensive performance of the opening weekend. After showing signs of life in the preseason, Brandon Weeden was harassed all day long, and when he did have time to throw, it wasn’t pretty. Weeden was sacked six times and threw three interceptions. Trent Richardson had no holes the few times he actually was given the football. You really have to question the Browns’ play calling of 53 passes and 13 runs in a game that was close the entire way. If Norv Turner and Rob Chudzinski think Weeden is their ticket to winning, they’re wrong. The lone bright spot for the Browns was tight end Jordan Cameron, who hauled in nine passes for 108 yards. Lamar Miller had all the preseason love and rewarded owners by rushing 10 times for three yards in the opener. I keep trying to tell people that Miller has the vision of a blind man. He will be yet another example of preseason Internet hype gone wrong.
Vikings – Lions
This was an interesting game. The Lions did what they do; they threw the football. Matthew Stafford tossed it 43 times for 357 yards. However, Detroit was also able to run it a little bit with Reggie Bush, who had 21 carries for 90 yards. Joique Bell added 25 yards on six carries and also scored twice, drawing the ire of Bush owners. The good news though is that Bush also caught four passes for 101 yards and a touchdown. He is set to have a monster season even if Bell steals away some short scores. The Vikings are what they thought they were: Adrian Peterson and not much else. Peterson scored three times, but other than that, Jerome Simpson’s 140-yard receiving day was Minnesota’s only fantasy bright spot. Until the Vikings get better quarterback play, guys like Simpson, Greg Jennings, and Kyle Rudolph will frustrate fantasy owners with their inconsistency.
Raiders – Colts
Terrelle Pryor gave a jolt to a franchise that needed one on Sunday. He not only made plays with his feet but also kept his eyes down the field and made plays with his arm. Pryor is an intriguing fantasy option moving forward, especially if teams don’t stop him from running. Expect the better defenses he faces to force him to throw from the pocket, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: there aren’t many good defenses left in the NFL anymore. Pryor is a high-end QB2 at the moment. Whenever a team changes coordinators, it’s hard to know what to expect. Apparently, Pep Hamilton doesn’t like using tight ends or T.Y. Hilton. That’s an interesting offensive philosophy, considering Hilton is an exciting playmaker and the Colts have two talented tight ends. Hilton, Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener combined for five receptions and 47 yards on Sunday. I miss Bruce Arians already.
Bengals – Bears
I don’t know how to stop A.J. Green. I hope no one figures it out, because I own him in most of my leagues. I guess Giovani Bernard should stop averaging 5.5 yards per carry. After averaging 5.5 yards on his first four carries, Bernard never saw the ball again. See Gio, in Cincinnati they like you to average less than 2.0 yards per carry. That’s how guys like BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Cedric Benson get on the field there. If Marvin Lewis and Jay Gruden want to know why the Bengals can’t run the football, they should look in the mirror. Jay Cutler did a good job of spreading the ball around. Brandon Marshall saw 10 targets, Alshon Jeffery eight, while Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett each saw six. If Cutler continues to spread the ball around like that, the Bears’ offense will be fantasy friendly to people other than just owners of Marshall.
Cardinals – Rams
This game brought a tear to my eye because one of my draft strategies this year was to wait on a tight end and grab Jared Cook. Well, I got him in every league, so to say Week 1 worked out well is an understatement. Cook has been the most underutilized player in the NFL over the last two seasons and he showed why on Sunday. On the play where he fumbled going in for a score, Cook looked like a larger version of Usain Bolt running down the field. The guy is a beast. He’ll be a Top 5 fantasy TE in 2013. Neither the Rams nor the Cardinals could get anything going on the ground. I seriously doubt that will change much throughout the year. Andre Roberts is one of the most underrated receivers in the NFL. He had a solid season in 2012 with high school quarterbacks throwing him the ball. If you’re in a PPR league and need a receiver, go grab Roberts.
Packers – 49ers
If you need more proof that the preseason is meaningless, look no further than the 49ers. While Cleveland’s offense looked pretty good during the preseason, San Francisco didn’t do much of anything. Then when the lights came on for real, the Browns got squashed and San Fran unleashed its weapons. Colin Kaepernick, Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis put on a show. It’s funny because Boldin only looks old when Cam Cameron is his offensive coordinator. Ever since Cameron was fired last year in Baltimore, Boldin hasn’t looked old anymore. Coincidently, the Ravens also went on a run and won the Super Bowl once Cameron was shown the door. For those of you who were worried that Kaepernick may be a one-year wonder, he looks like he’ll be OK. Jordy Nelson had a huge debut and Randall Cobb went over 100 yards on a meaningless final reception, but that’s only because I was playing against him last week. Eddie Lacy was the only Green Bay back who sniffed the ball. So much for that committee.
Giants – Cowboys
If you’re a gambler, you should really bet the over every time the Cowboys and Giants play in Dallas. The two teams always put up a ton of points in the new stadium. Victor Cruz had a huge night and apparently dances even when his team is trailing by double-digits. So if the Giants were losing by 50, Cruz would still do that stupid salsa dance? He’s really all about the team, huh? The Giants actually had three 100-yard receivers, with Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and the emerging Rueben Randle. David Wilson had two fumbles and was benched. Expect the Giants to bring in a veteran this week and for Wilson’s fantasy value to take a hit. It was a tough night for Dez Bryant. He was held to 22 yards receiving and left briefly with an ankle injury. Dez started last season slowly, too, but owners who used a Top 20 draft pick on him will want better results fast. Although, Bryant has another tough matchup in Week 2 against a strong Chiefs secondary, so his owners could be getting itchy trigger fingers by this time next week.
Eagles – Redskins
Are you not entertained? After watching guys like Haley and Shula attempt to call an offensive game it was a pleasure to see someone like Chip Kelly show them how it’s done. Oh wait, Kelly’s offense won’t work in the NFL, right? Isn’t that what all of Ron Jaworski’s idiotic film study told us? Listen, if you know offense it usually works on any level and when coaches like Bill Belichick are traveling to Oregon to watch your team practice, you know offense. The Eagles exploded on the scene with the trio of Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson making fantasy owners jump out of their seats. They’ll be fun to watch all season unless you’re playing against them. It was a slow start for Robert Griffin III but he got things going in the second half. We have to cut RG3 some slack. He’s just been trying to get back on the field all summer. It may take a couple of games for Griffin to shake off the rust but he’ll be one of the top fantasy quarterbacks when it’s all said and done.
Texans – Chargers
It was a tale of two half for the Chargers and Texans. In the first half the Chargers’ offense looked unstoppable. In the second half it was the Texans that took over. To put Andre Johnson’s career in perspective, Monday night was the 19th time he had 10 or more catches in a game, the most ever by any receiver in NFL history. It’s going to be another huge fantasy year for AJ. It was nice to see Matt Schaub take a break from throwing to Johnson and Houston’s 12 tight ends to get DeAndre Hopkins involved. Hopkins will be one of the NFL’s top rookie and a strong WR3/flex play most weeks. Arian Foster still got 18 carries and while he was a little off, he looked good overall. Those leagues where Foster fell to Round 2 will be sorry. Once he gets a game or two under his belt, watch out. Ryan Mathews gained 33 yards on 13 carries. That comes out to 2.5 yards per carry, which is actually a good game for him on the ground. Antonio Gates caught two passes for 49 yards, which is a good game for him too, so it was a great fantasy night for Charger players overall.