Entering Week 1, it wasn’t hard to envision Buffalo taking out Indianapolis at home. It was, however, difficult to see them absolutely dominating them en route to victory. This game gave us a glimpse of what to expect from the Bills, and it told us a lot from a Fantasy perspective.
For starters, we got to see Tyrod Taylor play a full game against a first team defense. He was an efficient 14-of-19 for 195 yards and a touchdown through the air, while adding nine carries for 41 yards. He protected the football, always kept his eyes downfield and managed the game nicely. With their defense, the Bills aren’t going to be trailing in games by more than a possession too often. Because of this, Taylor isn’t going to be a Fantasy starter in anything but two-quarterback leagues.
His favorite target on the afternoon was Fantasy afterthought Percy Harvin. He led the team in targets (5), receptions (5), and receiving yards (79) while adding a touchdown and a nine yard carry as well. As we all know, Rex Ryan is a big fan of the gadget play and it looks like they are going to keep Harvin involved. He isn’t worth starting yet but is definitely worth a roster spot.
LeSean McCoy owners didn’t see him rack up a bunch of yardage or touchdowns. They did, however, see him get 20 touches and finish the game no worse for wear. Opposing defenses are going to stack the box against him on a regular basis, so finding room to run is likely to prove difficult. Right now, he looks more like a RB2 than an RB1. Rookie backup Karlos Williams looked solid and is likely a free agent in your league. If you are a McCoy owner, Williams looks like a solid handcuff.
The biggest point of concern was second-year wideout Sammy Watkins being held without a reception on the afternoon. He finished the day with just three targets, all of which came in the fourth quarter. He did face off against one of the best cornerbacks in the league in Vontae Davis, but the donut is discouraging regardless. Unless your options are thin at receiver he shouldn’t be anywhere near a starting lineup.
No receiver saw more targets than the 17 Keenan Allen got on Sunday. Allen didn’t waste them either, catching 15 of them for 166 yards. San Diego fell behind by 18 points early in the contest and ended up throwing the ball 42 times. Philip Rivers was on all day, completing 35 of those attempts. Every time I checked in on this game, I saw Rivers hitting Allen on either a slant or in-route in stride, right on the numbers. It was a thing of beauty and these guys were humming all day. Allen had a great rookie season followed by a very pedestrian sophomore campaign. His junior year is off to a fantastic start and he looks well on his way to a career season. In order to accomplish that he would need to haul in 62 passes for 880 yards and eight touchdowns. The touchdowns will be a challenge but the other two look like locks provided he stays healthy.
Joique Bell and Ameer Abdullah both saw the same number of snaps in their Week 1 loss at San Diego. Bell got the start via veteran deference and had six carries for 14 yards and two catches for 27 yards. Abdullah, on the other hand, had seven carries for 50 yards and a score along with four catches for 44 yards. He also tallied another 105 kickoff return yards in three chances. Anyone who saw even a portion of that game could plainly see Abdullah was the better player. His vision was fantastic, and he offered plenty of burst that allowed him to gain yardage in bunches. As things stand now this is a timeshare, capping Abdullah’s value as nothing more than a FLEX play and basically rendering Bell useless. This will change, though, and there is one clear indicator to look for. Coach Jim Caldwell isn’t going to tell you Abdullah is his starter, what he will do though, is remove him as the team’s kick returner. When that happens, get him active in DFS because that will be your last chance to get him on the cheap.
There is no doubt about who should be the first player taken off all waiver wires when they open this week, and it’s James Jones of the Packers. His final line was four receptions for 51 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He did, however, have a much bigger impact on the game. He tallied an additional three targets, two that were erased by penalty and another that drew a crucial pass interference, putting the ball on the two yard line for Green Bay. Of those seven targets, four came in the red zone. One was a touchdown called back on a holding penalty, and the pass interference call would have been a touchdown as well. Jones had a monster game that could have been even bigger. This isn’t going to be a flash in the pan, folks. Aaron Rodgers showed some serious trust in Jones, and their chemistry remained after his one year hiatus in Oakland. Jones is going to carry plenty of value in non-PPR leagues courtesy of his red zone prowess, while offering PPR owners a WR3 option in plus match-ups.
There wasn’t a performance on Sunday that generated more buzz at the quarterback position than the debut of Marcus Mariota. He completed his first career pass attempt to Kendall Wright on a quick slant; he proceeded to take it 52 yards to the house, and then it was on. For the day, he completed 13-of-16 passes for 209 yards and four touchdowns. He didn’t play in the fourth quarter because of the large lead they amassed over the Bucs. The coaching staff put the rookie in a position to succeed, calling many quick timing passes that played to his strength as a precision passer. While he was solid, try your best to pump the brakes here a bit. Tampa Bay ranked 28th in the league against the pass last year and were in the bottom third in the league in sacks as well. The competition wasn’t exactly stellar. Mariota should be owned in Fantasy leagues. He has shown enough to merit that. But let’s not bump him up to QB1 status after just one start.
If you were told Mark Ingram led all running backs in receiving targets with nine on Sunday, would you believe it? Think that’s odd? Well, he caught eight of them for 98 yards. Mind blown? All offseason we heard Ingram improved his pass catching chops and we even saw it in preseason action. This all happened with C.J. Spiller sidelined with a knee, which obviously poses the question of whether this passing work for Ingram was a fluke. Personally, my eyes say no. This offense has a ton of targets floating around with the loss of Jimmy Graham, and early indications point to many of them heading towards the running backs. Drew Brees attempted 48 passes, 16 of which went to guys coming out of the backfield. Having a one-two punch of Ingram and Spiller playing on both running and passing downs keeps opposing defenses honest. Saints coach Sean Payton knows this. Ingram is going to keep catching passes and will eclipse his career high of 29 receptions by midseason.
Denver eked out a win at home against Baltimore this week, but it wasn’t because their offense bailed them out. Last year, Peyton Manning took just 17 sacks. He was sacked four times by the Ravens and was under constant duress, completing just 24-of-40 passes for 175 yards and an interception. Losing Ryan Clady for the season with a torn ACL has decimated this offensive line. This is going to be a problem all season. Baltimore dared Manning to throw the ball by stacking the box against the run. Their pass rush enabled this strategy, as they kept him uncomfortable all afternoon. Manning missed two deep passes to Sanders and tossed up more than his fair share of ugly passes. As things stand right now, he doesn’t look like a set-it and forget-it option at quarterback anymore. Sure, he can be used with confidence against inferior options, but any quality defensive unit can follow this strategy and shut this offense down. At this stage of his career Manning needs a clean pocket to operate. Without the offensive line talent to provide good protection, this is going to be one up-and-down season.