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Week 1 Moving Up, Moving Down

By: — September 15, 2009 @ 3:20 pm
Filed under: Player Analysis

What a week to kick off the 2009 NFL season. Stud performances headlined by Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson, dud performances, key injuries, a Denver miracle in Cincinnati, a Buffalo collapse and finally, the Raiders looking respectable. For fantasy football purposes, here are the players moving up, moving down and ones that surprised, but lets keep our expectations in check.

Moving Up

  • Mike Bell, Saints – No touchdowns but a 143 yard performance in week one clearly establish that Bell is, at a minimum, the handcuff to Pierre Thomas. Plus, reports out of New Orleans suggest Thomas will have to earn his job back.
  • Thomas Jones, Jets – Jones didn’t look too promising in the pre-season courtesy of a rookie QB and no proven number two receivers. However, he posted 107 yards and 2 TD on the ground against the Texans.
  • Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward, Bucs – The Bucs running back situation looks settled. Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward will provide the 1-2 punch and split the goal line work.
  • Cedric Benson, Bengals – The guy everybody loves to hate put up 108 total yards and a TD and ran hard. If there’s a buy low candidate, Benson is likely it. There is a mounting evidence that he has become at least a servicable NFL running back.
  • Nate Burleson, Seahawks – With seven receptions for 74 yards and a TD, Burleson proved he has completely healed from a torn ACL suffered in week 1 of last season.
  • Mario Manningham, Giants – Three receptions for 58 yards, including a 30 yard TD is a nice start to the season. With rookie Hakeem Nicks out at least 2-3 weeks and Domenik Hixon not producing, Manningham has a chance to carve out a larger role in the Giants offense.
  • Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon, Colts – Anthony Gonzalez is out betweeen 2-6 weeks with a strained knee and perhaps for the season if he has a torn ACL. Collie and Garcon assume the 2-3 spots in the wide receiver rotation and it’s doubtful Reggie Wayne can go off for 10 receptions, 162 yards and a TD every week.
  • Mark Sanchez, Jets – Rookie jitters? Forget about it. 272 yards, a TD and a pick in his first game looks very promising.
  • Joe Flacco, Ravens – Established a career high with 307 yards plus a TD, indicating that the second year playcaller has earned the trust of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
  • Patrick Crayton, Cowboys – Crayton produces when he’s thrown to as indicated by his 135 yard, 1 TD performance. With Sam Hurd and Miles Austin not pushing for playing time, Crayton looks like excellent value.
  • Chansi Stuckey and Dustin Keller, Jets – With Sanchez playing well Stuckey and Keller each had solid games with Stuckey notching 64 yards and a TD and Keller totalling 94 yards.
  • Ben Watson, Patriots – Joey Galloway didn’t get Tom Brady‘s attention at all in week 1. Maybe this is the year Watson finally gets consistent targets.
  • Todd Heap, Ravens – It was the Chiefs but expectations were so low that you have to be impressed by his 5 reception, 74 yard plus a TD performance.
  • Mark Clayton, Ravens – Similar sentiments here with the talented but injury prone Clayton putting up 5 receptions for 77 yards and a TD despite not playing a single down in the pre-season because of a hamstring injury.
  • Earl Bennett, Bears – Seven receptions for 66 yards and it seemed like QB Jay Cutler was tossing it his way all night.
  • Andre Caldwell, Bengals – Laveranues Coles and Chris Henry had a catch each, while Caldwell hauled in 6 for 54 yards. Could be a solid option in PPR leagues.
  • Isaac Bruce, 49ers – Keep hearing about the team’s other receivers but Bruce put up 74 yards including a 50 yard catch.

Moving Down

  • Jake Delhomme, Panthers – You saw the highlights (lowlights). He has committed 11 turnovers in his last two games and might find himself on the bench unless he improves drastically in week 2 against the Falcons in Atlanta. Think the Panthers are regretting giving him $20-million guaranteed during the offseason?
  • Donovan McNabb, Eagles – Team figures to have a top five offense this season but McNabb won’t be leading it for a while courtesy of a cracked rib. He’s out at least a week but likely longer and you have to wonder how effective a QB can be while playing with this type of injury.
  • Ronnie Brown, Dolphins – It’s not that Brown looked particularly bad. It’s just that the offensive line did plus Brown had only 13 touches compared to 9 for Ricky Williams.
  • Earnest Graham, Bucs – One carry for 1 yard. It looks like he doesn’t have a role in Tampa Bay.
  • Sammy Morris, Patriots – No carries and apparently behind Laurence Maroney on the depth chart.
  • Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon, Giants – The Giants are saying Nicks is out 2-3 weeks with a foot sprain but he was on crutches after the game. Sounds like the team is a little overoptimistic on his recovery. Hixon saw a reduced role, perhaps confirming that the team doesn’t see as much upside in him as with the team’s younger receivers.
  • Brandon Marshall, Broncos – Maybe Kyle Orton is a huge downgrade from Cutler after all.
  • Braylon Edwards, Browns – One catch, 12 yards. More of the same from the enigmatic Edwards.
  • Donnie Avery, Rams – Let’s see, the Rams were shutout and managed just 13 first downs and 247 yards total offense against a suspect Seahawks D that was without Marcus Trufant and lost Leroy Hill and Lofa Tatupu to injury. Not pretty.
  • Jay Cutler, Bears – Hopefully it was just week 1 jitters. Even still, his performance in Green Bay was ugly with a capital “U”.
  • Greg Olsen, Bears – Seemed to disappear in week 1, something that happened all too often in 2008.
  • Deion Branch, Seahawks – Knee troubles already to go along with a bad hamstring resulted in him not suiting up on Sunday. With rookie 3rd round pick Deon Butler looking good, Branch isn’t worth owning in fantasy leagues.
  • Danny Ware, Giants – One play, one dislocated elbow. Out a minimum of two weeks, maybe more.
  • Jason Hill, 49ers – Despite Brandon Jones being out with and injury and 1st round pick Michael Crabtree not having signed, Hill was still inactive on game day. He’s buried on the depth chart and not worth holding on to.

Not Excited Yet

  • Julius Jones, John Carlson and Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks – It was the Rams, folks, and frankly, that was about as sad as a 279 yards, 3 TD performance as you will ever see from a QB. Against a real NFL defense, Hasselbeck would have looked very poor on this day.
  • Willis McGahee, Ravens – He got the goal line work and 2 TD (one receiving) but the Ravens won’t get to play the Chiefs every week.
  • Tim Hightower, Cardinals – Guessing that he’s not going to catch 12 balls for 121 yards every week. Just a hunch, though.
  • Devin Hester, Bears – Nice game in week 1 with four catches for 90 yards, including a 36 yard TD and an impressive catch near the sideline. However, the touchdown was the result of poor safety play and Bennett seems to be Cutler’s top target.
  • Roy Williams, Cowboys – 86 yards and a TD came on only 3 catches but a solid signal nonetheless.
  • Jeremy Shockey and Devery Henderson, Saints – Nice performances but it came against the Lions, who, as a reminder, were 0-16 in 2008. First TD for Shockey since week 10… of the 2007 season. Ouch.
  • Jerheme Urban, Cardinals – Nice week 1 performance with 5 catches for 74 yards but that came with Steve Breaston out and Anquan Boldin playing banged up.
  • Robert Royal, Browns – He caught a garbage time 26 yard TD pass. How nice.

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