Denver Broncos 21 – Carolina Panthers 20
Fantasy owners were led to believe by the Panthers that Kelvin Benjamin wouldn’t be the same player in 2015 after sifting through the coach-speak. He led all Carolina WR in snaps (52) leading to a solid day (6/91/1 on 12 targets). Devin Funchess only caught one of his four targets for nine yards. Needless to say, but Devin still needs a lot of work to be a viable starting WR in the Fantasy space. The RB snap breakdown went like this: Jonathan Stewart (43), Mike Tolbert (28), and Fozzy Whittaker (13). Cameron Artis-Payne.
Trevor Siemian (18/26 for 178 yards and a TD) looked good as a game manager with the expectation of two ill-advised passes landing in the hands of the other team. C.J. Anderson (139 combined yards with a TD and four catches) was a beast while securing 85.7 percent of the RB snaps. The Broncos are waiting for the results of an MRI for Demaryius Thomas who suffered a hip injury. Jordan Norwood operated as the WR3 for Denver in Week 1 with Bernie Fowler recovering from a broken elbow in mid-August. Norwood may have suffered a concussion last week so Fantasy owners will need to keep an eye on Cody Latimer and Jordan Taylor this week.
Green Bay Packers 27 – Jacksonville Jaguars 23
Fantasy owners can take three things away from last week’s game for the Packers. First, Eddie Lacy should regain his previous form if he stays healthy. Second, Davante Adams has a pulse. Lastly, Randall Cobb should be much more active in the passing game in 2016. Jordy Nelson didn’t make any big plays (6/32/1 on nine targets) while Aaron Rodgers only gained 5.9 yards per pass attempts, which smells a lot like 2015.
The offensive line for the Jaguars continues to fall short in run blocking. Even with a bump in touches (25), T.J. Yeldon gained fewer than three yards per touch. I know Allen Robinson only had six catches for 72 yards, but Blake Bortles gave him plenty of chance to make plays (15 targets). Robinson looks explosive with an edge in scoring ability. Last year wasn’t as a fluke.
Baltimore Ravens 13 – Buffalo Bills 7
My offseason research suggested that the Ravens would be better defensively. It proved to be true as Baltimore held the Bills to 160 combined yards. In a matter of two days, the WR corps for the Ravens turned into a total mess. Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman found their health leading to Kamar Aiken becoming worthless. Mike Wallace hit on a big TD, but he only caught two of his other five targets for 25 yards. The lead RB job could be a coin flip each week with all answers being worthless in most weeks. For what it’s worth, West will be the goal line back.
I thought Sammy Watkins looked good in the game, but his foot is bothering him. The Bills may need to shut him down. The lack of WR talent continues to limit the upside in the passing game. LeSean McCoy will be the only player with starting Fantasy value if Watkins needs a fall vacation.
Houston Texans 23 – Chicago Bears 14
Lamar Miller indeed had the opportunity Fantasy owners expected in Week 1. He finished with 32 touches for 117 yards and four catches. His lack of TD led to him underachieving as a Fantasy option in the daily games. Brock Osweiler gave Will Fuller (11 targets) plenty of chances to make plays. Will finished with five catches for 107 yards and a TD. Jaelen Strong looks to be the odd man odd early in the year in Houston’s WR rotation.
Jeremy Langford was given a Matt Forte type opportunity in Week 1 for the Bears. He finished with 19 touches for 63 yards with a TD and two catches. It’s his job to lose. Alshon Jeffery played well in the first half (4/105 on six targets), but Houston took him away from Jay Cutler in the second half. Kevin White had a team-high seven targets even with minimal success (3/34).
Philadelphia Eagles 29 – Cleveland Browns 10
Ryan Mathews finished with 22 rushes while never making a play longer than seven yards. His results (22/77/1) were more steady than explosive. Carson Wentz (278 yards and two TDs) gave Browns’ fans some weak moments as he should have been a Brown in 2016. Jordan Matthews (7/114/1) played surprisingly well for missing a month’s of action in the preseason. Even Nelson Agholor (4/57/1) had a pulse. Brent Celek may get a short term bump in value with Zach Ertz battling a rib issue.
Robert Griffin has a new uniform, but his results looked oddly similar to the end of his career in Washington. He suffered a broken bone in his left shoulder when he decided to play tough guy on the sidelines when he should have avoided contact. Josh McCown will be an upgrade for sure, and this offense could surprise when Josh Gordon returns to the starting lineup. Terrelle Pryor caught three of his seven targets for 68 yards. He’ll remain the Browns No. 2 WR until Gordon returns. Corey Coleman had only five targets, but he flashed the ability to get open.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31 – Atlanta Falcons 24
A couple of nice catches in the end zone led to Jameis Winston having a solid day (281 yards and two TDs). Winston completed a pass to eight different receivers while the Falcons’ failed to record a sack. Doug Martin was surprisingly active in the passing game (5/34) leading to 23 combined touches. Vincent Jackson doesn’t look viable as a starting WR (2/18 on seven targets) in the Fantasy games.
Atlanta gave Devonta Freeman 15 touches for 40 combined yards compared to 13 touches and 117 yards for Tevin Coleman. Coleman had five catches for 95 yards in the passing game, which hurts Freeman’s upside. Mohamed Sanu looked viable as a WR2 (5/80/1 on eight targets, but he did suffer an ankle injury in Week 1. Justin Hardy was the only other WRs with any targets (two).
Minnesota Vikings 25 – Tennessee 16
The Vikings struggled to run the ball (28/65). A pair of fumbles and an interception by the Titans led to 25 unanswered points in the second half thanks to two scores by their defense. Stefon Diggs continued on the upward path (7/103 on nine targets). The WR2 opportunity looks to be a work in progress. Charles Johnson caught only one of his six targets for five yards.
Delanie Walker only had three targets in Week 1 as the Vikings forced Marcus Mariota to beat them with his RBs and WRs. DeMarco Murray was the only bright spot on offense (77 combined yards on 18 touches with five catches and two TDs). Derrick Henry struggled to find running room (5/3) even one big play in the passing game (29 yards). The preseason hype for Tajae Sharpe (7/76 on 11 targets) seemed to be true. Andre Johnson had the second most WR targets (7), but his stat line (3/30) won’t draw much attention. Johnson did drop a wide open TD, which would have shined more light on his success.
Cincinnati Bengals 23 – New York Jets 22
The Jets shut down the Bengals running game (19/57) as expected, but Darrelle Revis couldn’t cover A.J. Green (12/180/1). Brandon LaFell looked healthy leading to him catching all four of his targets for 91 yards. C.J. Uzomah caught two of his five targets for 59 yards. He may have short-term value as an injury replacement until Tyler Eifert returns to the starting lineup.
Matt Forte remains an elite pass catcher. The Jets gave him 27 touches in Week 1 leading to 155 combined yards and five catches. Bilal Powell finished with only six touches. The Bengals took away Brandon Marshall (3/32 on eight targets) giving Quincy Enunwa a better than expected opportunity (7/54 on eight targets). The TE position didn’t have a catch or a target in the passing game for New York.
Oakland Raiders 35 – New Orleans Saints 34
Big stones by head coach Jack Del Rio led to a one-point victory on the road. Amari Cooper finished with a plus game (6/137). He had a team-high 11 targets while catching a TD. After a slow start, Michael Crabtree caught seven of his nine targets for 87 yards and a game-winning two-point conversion. Latavius Murray didn’t end being the workhorse back (15 touches for 72 yards with a TD and one catch) as the backup RBs finished with ten rushes for 92 yards and two TDs with most of this success coming on a 75-yard run by Jalen Richard.
The addition of Michael Thomas (6/58) to the passing game for the Saints is going to be a big win for Drew Brees in 2016. Oakland didn’t have an answer for Willie Snead (9/172/1) or Brandin Cooks (6/143/2). Travaris Cadet emerged as the pass-catching option the backfield behind Mark Ingram.
Kansas City Chiefs 33 – San Diego Chargers 27
The Chargers opened up a 24-3 lead early in the third quarter only to see Alex Smith dink and dunk his way to 363 yards and two TDs. His RBs caught 13 passes for 153 yards on 14 targets. Chris Conley saw WR2 targets (seven) leading to four catches for 42 yards. Spencer Ware was dominating as the replacement for Jamaal Charles (199 combined yards with a TD and seven catches).
In a similar fashion, the Chargers built their lead by using their running backs. Danny Woodhead had 21 touches for 120 combined yards with a TD and five catches. Melvin Gordon scored his first two TDs in the NFL. With Keenan Allen out for the season, I wonder if San Diego will incorporate Hunter Henry more in the passing game. Tyrell Williams should get the first chance to be the WR2 with Travis Benjamin getting a big bump in targets.
Seattle Seahawks 12 – Miami Dolphins 10
Christine Michael was the better back in Week 1 (71 combined yards on 17 touches), but Thomas Rawls still had 15 touches for 58 yards. This situation will remain fluid until one player emerges as the lead option. The Seahawks still have issues on the offensive line as they gained only 3.5 yards per rush. Doug Baldwin continues his late season success in 2015 by catching nine of his 11 targets for 92 yards and a TD. Tyler Lockett had the second-most targets on the team, but he only caught three balls for 17 yards. Jimmy Graham made a token appearance (one catch for 11 yards). Russell Wilson suffered what looks to be a minor ankle injury.
Kenny Stills should have scored a long TD early in the first quarter when he had his man beat by a few steps. Arian Foster struggled to find running room (13/38), but he did make one big play in the passing game (50 yards). The only of player of value was Jarvis Landry.
Detroit Lions 39 – Indianapolis Colts 35
The Lions crushed the Colts with their RBs. Ameer Abdullah had 17 touches for 120 yards with a TD and five catches. It was surprising to see Theo Riddick have seven rushes (45 yards) leading to a TD, which is real positive for his value in PPR leagues going forward. He chipped in with five catches for 63 yards as well. Eric Ebron looked healthy. Marvin Jones had a team-high ten targets, but he only had four catches for 85 yards.
The Colts passing game looks to be back. Andrew Luck had four strong receiving option at WR and TE never mind the added value by backup TE Jack Doyle (3/35/2) and the RBs (8/60). Phillip Dorsett was much improved, and he will increase in value as the third WR in 2016. T.Y. Hilton had 12 targets, but he only caught six of his chances for 79 yards. Donte Moncrief delivered a nice steady game (6/64/1).
New York Giants 20 – Dallas Cowboys 19
The Cowboys held Odell Beckham in check (4/73 on eight targets) for the third straight game. New York gave almost equal snaps to Sterling Shepard (53) and Victor Cruz (50). I know it is tough to trust the health of Cruz, but he may emerge as the WR2. Larry Donnell held the edge in snaps (31-25) over Will Tye. The running back split between Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen fell in line with 2015.
Dak Prescott did a new job as a game manager, but he failed to make big plays when the game was on the line. For his skill set to reach the next level, Dak needs to get Dez Bryant involved while making better throws in the heat of the battle. Ezekiel Elliott finished with 21 touches for 52 yards and his first NFL TD. Jason Witten and Cole Beasley were active in the short passing game.
New England Patriots 23 – Arizona Cardinals 21
Jimmy Garoppolo is three games away from his next big pay day. He threw the ball well (264 yards and a TD) while making no mistakes in his first NFL win. Julian Edelman (7/66 on 66 targets) played like himself. Chris Hogan finished with WR2 snaps (55) compared to 39 by Malcolm Mitchell and 19 by Danny Amendola. Game score led to LeGarrette Blount playing more than expected (42 plays). The Cardinals defense shut down Martellus Bennett (3/14 on five targets).
Dusty old man Larry Fitzgerald came out of the game with plus production (8/81/2 on ten targets). John Brown was a non-factor (1/8 on four targets). David Johnson played like a first round draft pick (122 combined yards with a TD and four catches). Johnson was on the field for 58 plays compared to nine by Andre Ellington and two by Chris Johnson. Ellington is the early season handcuff.