Colin Kaepernick (QB – San Francisco)
I thought Kaepernick wouldn’t be able to be as effective of a passer this year because of the loss of Michael Crabtree. I’m back to being a believer after one week. It looks like Anquan Boldin, who we’ll get to later, can replace Crabtree adequately and Vernon Davis seems back to his electric self. And Kaep only ran for 22 yards! The upside is unlimited on this kid.
Michael Vick (QB – Philadelphia)
Vick put up the fourth-most points of any QB in standard scoring and he didn’t even play that well. He wasn’t that accurate and he didn’t run early as much as one might like, but Chip Kelly’s offense will make Vick (and everyone around here) fantasy gold this season if Vick can stay healthy. That’s still a big IF as you could see Vick looked slightly banged up at times. Being a top 5 QB is a real possibility if he can stay on the field for all 16 games.
Reggie Bush (RB – Detroit)
The Lions are going to enjoy Reggie this season and vice versa. Bush is clearly the second-most talented player on their offense behind Calvin Johnson and it showed with the amount of touches he received on Sunday. He may’ve only caught 4 balls, but he received 8 targets. Losing red zone carries to Joique Bell is disappointing, but it’s not a deal-breaker from Bush finishing the season as a top 10 running back.
Fred Jackson (RB – Buffalo)
Buffalo’s RB ran the ball 30 times on Sunday and that pace should continue going forward because that’s what Doug Marrone likes to do. C.J. Spiller won’t get all the carries, so Jackson should get 8-10 a game with a few catches to go along with it. There’s still a little gas in the tank for the old man to be a weekly flex play.
Anquan Boldin (WR – San Francisco)
I’ll begin by caveating Boldin with this one disclaimer: a 32-year-old wide receiver will look his best in Week 1 because he’s 100 percent healthy and energized. I don’t expect Boldin to do this every week, but he’s obviously a tough SOB with great hands and has a knack of getting open. He looks like he was misused in Baltimore until the Super Bowl run last year. Boldin was drafted as a WR4, but could easily be a WR2 this season because there are no other receivers worth a damn on the Niners’ roster.
Jordy Nelson (WR – Green Bay)
I’ve never been a James Jones guy as we’ll get to later. Nelson is clearly the second option on the Packers and looks fully healthy after his knee was cleaned up in preseason. He slipped through drafts because of the injury and last year’s disappointing finish, but he shined bright in Sunday’s performance.
Jared Cook (TE – St. Louis)
Cook has always had talent, but that talent was marginalized when he was in Tennessee. His game on Sunday showed that he can thrive when given the opportunity and he almost had a third touchdown if the Honey Badger hadn’t caught him from behind. The Rams don’t have many weapons, so Cook should continue to produce the rest of the year. I like him most of all the tight end options that are likely on your waiver wire.
Julius Thomas (TE – Denver)
There was a little bit of preseason hype surrounding Thomas, but not enough where many people drafted him. Then ESPN ran a piece on him during Thursday’s SportsCenter and people got a little more excited about him. The world was set ablaze after he played the Ravens. He showed off his talent with 110 yards and two touchdowns. His biggest issue going forward will be all the options surrounding him in Denver, but he surely has the physical gifts.
Russell Wilson (QB – Seattle)
Wilson’s owners weren’t expecting their starting QB to score less points than guys like Terrell Pryor, Alex Smith, and E.J. Manuel. There’s no need to panic. Things will get better for Wilson although it may not come until after playing the 49ers in Week 2. Wilson was extremely effective last year because of what he brought in the running game via the read option and Carolina was able to shut that down on Sunday. Still, you can’t get too upset about a guy who threw for over 300 yards even if he wasn’t a top 15 QB this week.
Terrell Pryor (QB – Oakland)
It’s just one game and the Colts’ defense is terrible. It’s possible that Pryor may turn into a good fantasy quarterback while being a bad quarterback in reality, but I need more evidence. Let’s see how Pryor does against better defenses with less time to prepare before we get excited about him rushing for 100 yards every game.
Marshawn Lynch (RB – Seattle), C.J. Spiller (RB – Buffalo), Maurice Jones-Drew (RB – Jacksonville), Stevan Ridley (RB – New England), Lamar Miller (RB – Miami), David Wilson (RB – N.Y. Giants)
I grouped all of these guys because they all were projected to be top 20 RBs this week and they all scored 6.2 points or less. There’s no reason to panic on these guys yet. Lynch was stymied by a good Carolina front seven and should shine once he gets the 49ers out of the way. Spiller saw 22 touches and will be more explosive going forward. MJD will benefit from Chad Henne taking over for Blaine Gabbert (injury) because the offense can’t be any worse. Ridley was the closest to being listed in the group below, but Shane Vereen’s injury should give him a chance to get out of the doghouse. The Browns underrated defense held Lamar Miller down, but he can’t be worse and will still get at least half the carries. (Daniel Thomas was quite bad himself, so we don’t have to worry about Miller being outshone.) Finally David Wilson played the worst game of his life, but Da’Rel Scott or whoever the Giants pick off the street is not the season-long answer.
Joique Bell (RB – Detroit)
Bet you never thought you’d see TWO Lions’ RBs in this column. Bell could have some value going forward even if Bush stays healthy. He might be an ok flex play if he gets goal line carries and some catches, while becoming extremely valuable if Bush gets hut. Just don’t’ expect two touchdowns a week.
Julian Edelman (WR – New England)
Edelman has shown up big on occasion for the Patriots in previous years and he did again on Sunday. Brady found Edelman twice in the red zone for two scores elevating him to a great fantasy day. The slight cause for concern is Edelman was still third behind Danny Amendola and Kenbrell Thompkins for targets. His greatest value will be when Amendola inevitably gets injured since Gronkowski will likely take some of these targets away when he returns. He’s still worth grabbing on the waiver wire and stashing away.
Calvin Johnson (WR – Detroit)
If you are legitimately concerned about this guy then you should stop playing fantasy football.
Dwayne Bowe (WR – Kansas City)
Alex Smith won’t always throw his touchdowns to Junior Hemmingway and Donnie Avery. Brighter days will come for Bowe, especially when Kansas City trails in games. He may’ve only seen 6 targets, but that led all KC WRs.
Kellen Winslow (TE – N.Y. Jets)
Everyone’s favorite soldier looked like the Winslow of old against his former Buccaneers. He was second on the team in targets, which is no surprise given the sack of shit the Jets are throwing out there at receiver. I’m not sure how much is left in the tank at age 30, but he could be a plug-and-play TE if you need one this season. Just don’t expect this kind of production every week.
Ben Roethlisberger (QB – Pittsburgh)
It might be a long season for Pittsburgh’s offense. The Steelers’ offensive line was rather porous to begin with and now they’ve lost their best player, Maurkice Pouncey, for the season. The result against the Titans was constant pressure on Big Ben and the lack of a running game to take the pressure off. Things might get better on the ground when Le’Veon Bell returns from injury, but that won’t help the line. Big Ben will be running for his life all season, so hopefully you didn’t have high expectations for him this season.
Montee Ball (RB – Denver)
It’s a long season, so Ball may find value later in the year, but he can’t be started right now. Maybe Denver will use a different game plan to put more emphasis on the running game against other opponents, but Ball’s use last Thursday was terrible for his owners. He only ran when the Broncos had the game well in hand. He obviously isn’t trusted yet in pass protection or close games. Keep him benched until his talent turns the corner.
Mark Ingram (RB – New Orleans)
So much for all that preseason hype about the Saints being ready to commit to Ingram… The Saints brought out an equal timeshare against the Falcons with Ingram getting the same amount of carries as Pierre Thomas, and only one more than Darren Sproles. I’m not sure if you can drop him outright given the limited RB options out there this week, but he can’t be started until the Saints commit to him. (Not that they have a reason to. He ran for 1.2 yards per carry.)
James Jones (WR – Green Bay)
James Jones was good last year because of injuries and touchdowns. Touchdowns aren’t necessarily replicated year to year. Jones saw two targets on Sunday and that’s not surprising to me. Hopefully you didn’t reach for him in the draft or aren’t relying on him on a weekly basis. There are better WR3s out there.
Eric Decker (WR – Denver)
Thursday showed why I’m not bullish on Decker this year barring an injury to Demaryius Thomas or Wes Welker. There just aren’t that many balls to go around in Denver. Decker didn’t have his best game, but he was tied for third with Julius Thomas on looks and should remain the 3rd or 4th option all season. With all the quality at WR this year, there will be more than a few weeks where Decker should be on your bench.
Zach Sudfeld (TE – New England)
So much for Sudfeld, eh? He got more preseason hype than any TE and didn’t deliver at all in Week 1. Part of it was the scheme and part of it was his hamstring, but his window was short. With Gronkowski coming back and Edelman getting the looks, it’s safe to drop Sudfeld for better options.
Kyle Rudolph (TE – Minnesota)
Like James Jones, Rudolph’s value last year came from touchdowns. He only saw four targets this weekend and Christian Ponder is doing a pretty horrible job of getting anyone the ball, let alone Rudolph. This appears to be the year of the TE, so go get yourself someone better.