Fantasy Football Blitz: Week 1

By now, everyone in America knows that Peyton Manning threw for seven touchdowns Thursday evening.

Some of you also know that he’s on my list of this season’s Fantasy Football busts.

Well, just to be clear, I hold my stance.

One quarterback who could have provided you with an equivalent in some fantasy formats is the Oakland Raiders’ own Terrelle Pryor.

While not quite the same stat line, Pryor rushed for 112 yards and there’s no sign that he’ll slow down. Even better for him is that he’s got a much easier schedule than Manning.

Another thing that some realized — and some didn’t — about Thursday night’s Broncos win is that Baltimore was not only playing bad defense, but had lost two of their top players.

Right tackle Michael Oher was taken off the field with what is currently described as an ankle sprain and their deep threat receiver Jacoby Jones was also injured on a bizarre kick return play.

There’s a reason no player has ever thrown for more than seven scores in NFL history, so don’t expect more games like that from Manning. And if you can, trade him for a lot and make sure there’s an RB mixed in somewhere.

Quarterbacks

Colin Kaepernick showed why the 49ers did not require the services of Alex Smith anymore. He threw for over 400 yards and connected with newly-acquired receiver Anquan Boldin for what seemed like every play. Both should be considered fantasy studs.

Mathew Stafford did his thing once again and only connected with Calvin Johnson four times, albeit on nine targets. Stafford had 357 passing yards on the day, only 37 of them with the help of Megatron. Reggie Bush also helped out Stafford with 101 of those.

Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan were all expected to be good, as they were. But Carson Palmer closed out the top 10 in standard scoring with two touchdown passes and 327 yards while only throwing one interception.

I think it’s safe to say that Palmer enjoys playing in Arizona. He is not owned in most leagues and is a serviceable backup at worst. If you don’t like what you have at QB right now, scoop him up while you still can.

Running backs

The aforementioned Reggie Bush appears to be fully primed to dominate points-per-reception leagues. He was only eight yards shy of 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving, something that hasn’t been done for a very long time at his position.

Bush did fumble a goal line carry, but you needn’t worry about that. He’ll get his one way or another, and Detroit’s number two option Joique Bell is nowhere close to the type of player Bush has proven to be.

But speaking of Bell, he had a very nice day as well. He scored twice in short yardage situations and should be added in 12-team leagues. He’s an even bigger threat in PPR formats since the Lions throw the ball on nearly 70 percent of plays.

Steven Jackson came through as a top performer also, held without a rushing touchdown but 77 yards on 11 carries and 45 yards on five catches.

If Jackson is on someone’s trade block, grab him. He may not finish the season with RB1 numbers, but is a high upside RB2 and an even stronger flex play.

We all knew Adrian Peterson was going to have a good day. He might not have a hard time replicating last year’s numbers if Week 1 was any indication.

Peterson finished his workday with three touchdowns, 18 carries for 93 yards and another 18 yards on four catches. Talk about a monster fantasy day.

Daryl Richardson faced off against a weak run defense and doesn’t have the best job security with Isaiah Pead returning from a suspension next week. But he sure put up decent numbers Sunday, with 96 total yards on 20 carries and five receptions.

Wide receivers

Now this list is a long one. It begins with Anquan Boldin, then more Anquan Boldin and also finishes with Anquan Boldin. Has anybody seen Anquan Boldin?

The Green Bay secondary sure did. Boldin finished his first game in a 49ers uniform with 13 grabs, 208 yards and one touchdown. He was an eighth-round pick or lower in a large number of drafts. Wowsers.

Demaryius Thomas was a part of the Peyton Manning show on Thursday night, scoring twice and finishing with 161 yards receiving. Monster game for him, but I’m still not sold on his durability.

The number of offensive weapons that Manning has to play with is also scary in some regards, but as soon as one of those weapons gets hurt, the feeding frenzy should become a steady stream of fantasy points. My money is on Wes Welker being the top wide-out on the Broncos when the season finishes.

A.J. Green, Larry Fitzgerald and Jordy Nelson all had great games as well. For those lucky enough to own two or three of the receivers on this list, you may want to consider your options come December because it’s likely you will see your fantasy postseason.

Tight end

Jordan Cameron has been on my sleeper list since June, but Sunday he showed why: 108 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets, eight of which he caught. Cameron should be heavily used in the Browns offense moving forward, so don’t mistake him for a Week 1 fluke.

Trumping Cameron and every other tight end was Jared Cook of the St Louis Rams. Cook reeled in seven passes for 141 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and looks like the primary red zone option in the Rams passing attack. He may finish next to Jimmy Graham as the league leader at tight end.

Speaking of Graham, well, many didn’t today, unless it was to vent frustration. 45 yards and a score was all he could come up with; not bad numbers by any means, but not the kind you’d expect from a second or third round draft pick.

Graham is still that dude and you shouldn’t worry. He’ll have his games where his production isn’t stellar, but there will be many more days where he blows the roof off the Mercedes Benz Superdome.

Defense S/T

As per my expectations, the Kansas City Chiefs defense absolutely dominated Jacksonville’s pedestrian offense.

Kansas City probably won’t finish as the top defense this season, but you shouldn’t sleep on them either. They are a team that has a great offensive roster that should be able to control the tempo of the game.

This bodes well for their defensive unit since they will be able to get rest and not feel threatened. Offenses will need to take more chances and will result in a pretty nice season. The Kansas City defense is available on waivers in a decent number of fantasy leagues.

As a note, defenses can be wildly unpredictable. Just like kickers, some days are great and others are just deplorable. It’s just the way it goes.

Teams with weak quarterbacks usually won’t put up solid defensive stats. They can’t if their opponent has the ball all day. I bring this up simply because one of my favorite strategies, if I don’t have a top defense, is to play the matchup.

For instance, Jacksonville’s Blaine Gabbert is a terrible quarterback without many weapons. Therefore, opposing defenses will probably put up good numbers.

This goes week to week, and teams that have to start a backup quarterback are nearly always good to face off against. But beware of that sort of thing: We all remember Colin Kaepernick’s first game against the No. 1 fantasy defense of 2012, the Chicago Bears.

If you have any questions about your lineup, send me a tweet @jLeskiwNFL and use the hashtag #BummerDude.


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