As you read this most of Week 1 will be in the books, and the best way to describe it would be saying it was interesting. While it was highlighted by a bunch of big individual efforts, the thing that caught my eye more than anything was the sheer number of interceptions thrown.
With two Monday night games still remaining, the league’s other 28 quarterbacks managed to rack up 34 interceptions. Some of the headliners included four by rookie Brandon Weeden, which happened to be matched by Michael Vick in what turned out to be the ugliest game of the afternoon.
First overall selection Andrew Luck connected for his first touchdown and threw for 319 yards against Chicago, but he got picked three times in what turned out to be a disappointing debut. Matthew Stafford, Ryan Tannehill and Ryan Fitzpatrick also tossed three interceptions apiece.
Fantasy owners are going to need to start getting used to this. With the league as a whole shifting toward the pass, that obviously means more room for errors from the quarterback position. It also means opposing defenses are eventually going to start getting better at defending and scheming against it. This week may have turned to be a fluke, but it definitely is something to keep an eye out for.
San Francisco is just flat out nasty on defense. Green Bay’s high octane offense found that out in losing to them at home 30-22. Aaron Rodgers led the team in rushing with 27 yards. Cedric Benson was the only running back to receive a carry, and he gained just 18 yards on nine carries. It became painfully obvious very early in this contest that the Packers had zero chance at moving the ball on the ground. They tried their best to establish the run, but definitely had a game plan in place if they failed. It was getting the ball in the hands of Randall Cobb via short downfield passes to see if he could make plays in space. Rodgers completed all nine passes he threw to Cobb for 77 yards, as he ended up being the team’s pseudo running back. Knowing the struggles Green Bay has had moving the ball on the ground dating back to last season, this approach is something that really stands a chance at becoming a staple for the team. If Cobb is available on your wire, nab him if possible. If you own him congrats, you are looking at a guy that can feasibly catch 80-plus balls this season.
Bills running back Fred Jackson was forced from the Bills Week 1 contest against the Jets after taking an awkward shot to his knee by the Jets LaRon Landry in the second quarter. Prior to his exit he had an unimpressive 15 yards on six carries. C.J. Spiller was then forced into full-time duty and was a flat out beast. When all was said and done he racked up 169 yards and a score on the ground. He also added two catches for 25 yards in what turned out to be the most impressive performance by a running back on the afternoon. While all signs are pointing to Jackson being able to return this season, he will most certainly miss time with what looks like a sprained knee. Spiller immediately becomes an RB2 option. Last season we learned he could thrive as a feature back, so another couple of big games will likely turn this into a full blown committee when Jackson is ready to return. Had Jackson not signed an extension over the offseason he very well could have lost his job outright with this injury.
The New England Patriots rolled the Tennessee Titans 34-13, but it wasn’t in their usual fashion. We have gotten used to watching Tom Brady pick opponents apart through the air, but this week we watched them get the job done behind a solid defensive effort and a strong rushing attack led by Stevan Ridley. As a team the Patriots had just one game with a 100-yard rusher last season. Ridley racked up 125 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries in his first game as the teams “starter”. Yes I know Belichick is famous for playing matchups with his backfield, but this performance was just too good to ignore. He ran hard, showed impressive burst and most importantly didn’t make any mistakes. I expect him to now be locked in as the team’s primary runner The Patriots are going to be among the league leaders in scoring and have so many weapons opponents just aren’t going to be able to put more than seven defenders in the box. With 20 touches a game, Ridley immediately becomes a serious threat to post RB1 numbers. I absolutely love his potential moving forward.
In my opening I mentioned Andrew Luck and his three interceptions leading to what turned out to be a disappointing first NFL start. Notice I said NFL start. Sure the Colts lost, and yes he threw three interceptions. From a Fantasy standpoint he had 309 yards passing and a touchdown, which coincidentally zero out those picks. In case you didn’t notice, the Colts are going to be bad again this year. Their defense is atrocious, meaning Luck should see a pretty decent amount of work playing from behind. They fell way behind on Sunday, and Luck got his first taste of actual garbage time. He proceeded to fill his stat sheet while the Bears sat back in prevent coverage. He should settle in nicely as a high-end QB2 this season. The other thing to take from this contest was Luck seems to focus in on two receiving options. Veteran Reggie Wayne had 18 targets, which he turned into nine grabs for 135 yards. With that type of usage he immediately jumps into WR2 territory. Rookie tight end Coby Fleener was second on the team with 10 looks. He came into the season as a TE2 option, and should now be viewed as a high-end one. His stock is on the rise my friends, if he continues to see a consistent number of balls thrown his way he will be a TE1 in no time.
Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan made it clear he planned to ride the “hot hand” at running back, but after watching Alfred Morris throughout his first game as a pro I find it hard to believe that was the case. He managed 96 yards on 28 carries, an average of only 3.4 yards-per-carry. While he did hit holes hard, he also didn’t show much ability in terms of generating extra yardage on his own. Yes I know he ended up scoring two touchdowns, but he didn’t have the look of a player I would deem as having a “hot hand” throughout the contest. In fact he had just 24 yards on his first nine carries. Roy Helu and Evan Royster only received a pair of carries apiece, so in my mind it’s pretty clear the Shanahan brain trust is playing favorites. Moving forward I am expecting Morris to continue receiving a lion’s share of the work out of the backfield for Washington. Because the Shanahan’s are involved here the best I can do is speculate. I actually own him on a few teams and will be looking to unload him to a running back needy squad ASAP. It is advised you do the same.
The reunion of Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler has immediately paid dividends for the Bears. Cutler targeted Marshall a whopping 14 times, completing nine of them for 119 yards and a score in their 41-21 thrashing of the Colts. Marshall also drew two pass interference penalties as well, which don’t show up on the stat sheet. Throughout this game, Cutler showed zero hesitation throwing to Marshall regardless of how many guys were covering him or how tight the coverage was. This is going to continue. Cutler has the utmost confidence in Marshall, knowing he will do all he possibly can to make a grab on any ball put near him. Because of this Marshall is looking like a very strong bet to finish among the Top-5 receivers in the league in terms of Fantasy scoring. If you had any doubts on Marshall entering this season his showing this week should erase them.