Some things during Week 1 of the NFL season made a lot of sense. Brees, Brady, and Rodgers looked like franchise QBs. Rice and McCoy lived up to their preseason billing as studly RBs. Calvin and DeSean showed you that they're playmakers. But some other standout performances left us wondering: Were those performances real and spectacular? Or was the situation a result of some type of enhancement? I'm heading into the sauna to let the readers know the truth about some of Week 1's top performers.
Cam Newton (QB, Carolina)
It's just one week, but what a damn good week it was for the #1 overall pick. It wasn't just that he threw for 422 yards, the most by any rookie in Week 1; it was how he did it. People were worried about his accuracy, but he showed great touch on throws that Donovan McNabb and Eli Manning fans wish they saw on a regular basis. The second TD pass to Steve Smith was a professional throw. Newton didn't even run that often, which was most of the value people thought he had originally. He won't necessarily be a top-12 QB for the rest of the season, but he looks decent enough to be a backup or starting in a two-QB league. With QBs like Peyton and Bradford already dealing with injuries, you might need the odd game from Newton.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB, Buffalo)
One wouldn't expect Fitzpatrick's high-scoring output in a blowout victory, but somehow that happened on Sunday. Usually the Bills will be coming from behind, so it's a good sign that Fitzy is still winging it. I'll throw the same qualifier behind him as I did with Newton about not being a top-12 QB, but he's definitely more viable than some other trash out there.
Matt Stafford (QB, Detroit)
The screams you heard emanate from every bar around the country at about 3:15 p.m. on Sunday wasn't because the bars ran out of wings. It was because Matt Stafford was hobbling to the sidelines after throwing a TD to Calvin Johnson. We all feared the worst, but thankfully it was just cramps (not that menstrual kind or else that would've been rather awkward on the sidelines). Other than that little scare, Stafford was brilliant. He showed the ability to jump into the upper echelon of QBs and should continue to perform if he can continue to stay healthy. On a side note: If he stays healthy, Calvin Johnson will score 15 TDs this season.
Mike Tolbert (RB, San Diego)
The offensive performance in San Diego over the weekend was a little fluky. Tolbert somehow managed to grab three TDs along with his 93 combined yards. While you shouldn't expect this every week, you should expect Tolbert to be a viable flex play because he will score plenty of TDs and see enough touches to add the extra value. Ryan Mathews ain't running away with this backfield any time soon.
Beanie Wells (RB, Arizona)
Beanie showed what he can do if the passing game is a real threat. Arizona's offense wasn't perfect by any means, but it was relatively balanced. Expect Wells to continue the strong RB2 performance barring an injury.
Ben Tate (RB, Houston)
Speaking of injuries, Ben Tate's value is purely based on Adrian Foster's hamstrings and Derrick Ward's ankle. Tate has more talent than Ward, but played behind him until Ward had to leave the game. Both were filling in for Foster, whose return date is still in question. Tate's not a bad player to own and this game showed what he can do, but he's realistically a second fiddle with a healthy roster.
Darren McFadden (RB, Oakland)
This dude can really ball. We saw the total package from McFadden last night as he showed speed, strength, and pass-catching ability. The only disappointing aspect was that he decided to invite contact on his 47-yard run instead of avoiding it and getting the extra yard necessary to get in the end zone. He was just so jacked up that he wanted all the physical contact he could get. (Pause.) It didn't look good that the Raiders brought in Michael Bush for McFadden after that play, but DMac will surely get his as the season goes on and has the potential to be a top-three RB by the end of the season.
Steve Smith (WR, Carolina)
See: Newton, Cam. If Newton is viable then Smith is certainly viable and showed on Sunday that he's not a corpse just yet.
Early Doucet (WR, Tennessee)
Three catches does not a game make. Doucet's 70-yard catch and run for a TD was nice, but we can't expect that every week. Despite being the sixth-highest scoring WR this week, Doucet will not be in that spot for very long. Spending on him will offer as much value as that $5,000 "It's Just Lunch" membership that you're trying not to tell your friends about.
Devery Henderson (WR, New Orleans)
Marques Colston is hurt? No way! With that in mind, Henderson makes a solid pickup for the next four weeks as is evident by the 100 yards and a TD he put up in Thursday's match-up against Green Bay. Lance Moore still hasn't recovered so it's the Meachem and Henderson show for the next couple of weeks.
Davone Bess (WR, Miami)
The Dolphins showed that they were going to be a pass-first team (why else would Reggie Bush be their starting RB?), but they won't necessarily throw 49 times every week. Davone Bess made five grabs for 92 yards during Monday Night Football, but a good portion of it was in garbage time.
Mohamed Massaquoi (WR, Cleveland)
Someone has to catch the ball in Cleveland, right? Greg Little isn't there just yet, despite all the preseason hype. Massaquoi looks to be the #1 guy after his 77-yard effort against the Bengals, but I wouldn't take the money out from under the mattress to invest in him. He ain't the Steve Jobs of WRs, that's for sure.
Jordy Nelson (WR, Green Bay)
As a Nelson owner in a few leagues, I got really excited by the performance in the opener. Donald Driver is old enough to be my grandfather and James Jones was enjoying some cheese curds on the sidelines. This is Nelson's opportunity to excel and he'll be a fine WR3 as the season continues.
Fred Davis (TE, Washington)
Fantasy football veterans know this name. Davis excelled in late 2009 when Chris Cooley was injured. Cooley isn't his old self and Coach GTL Shanahan has endorsed a lot of two-TE sets this season. There isn't that much talent to go around in Washington, so Davis could be somewhat productive as long as Rex doesn't shit himself at mid-field. You probably need to wait another week to have him prove himself.
Aaron Hernandez & Rob Gronkowski (TEs, New England)
When your TEs combine for almost 200 yards and two TDs, you have to take notice. Both Hernandez and Gronk came in as high-upside TEs this year and they showed you why. Ochocinco was barely on the field for the Pats, while these two dominated the looks from Brady before the game got out of hand. Realistically they're probably the second and third options on offense. I favor Hernandez slightly because he'll generally catch the ball more in between the 20s, while Gronkowski is more of the red-zone target.