Ahh, do you smell that? It’s the victory of your home team winning its first game, the confusion of some teams losing theirs, and rookie quarterbacks setting records. It’s football season!
As I did last year, here are the top 5 (-ish, in some cases of ties I’ll keep listing them) for every quarterback, running back, and wide receiver week-by-week, in terms of fantasy value. It’s a nice indicator of how well your favorite players are doing as well. This year I’m going to rank them by their overall year’s value, however. Click names on the bottom of this post for other mentions in blog articles I have written. Starting off with a huge Falcons game, here we go!
- Matt Ryan – Matty Ice completed 23-of-31 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns during Sunday’s win against the Chiefs. He also added three carries for 25 yards and a rushing touchdown. A huge game for Ryan, who had high expectations coming into the season. He connected with six different receivers, including Julio Jones six times for 108 yards and two scores. The Chiefs’ defense was missing a number of pieces and Matt did his best to carve it up. I’m glad I started him on my $50 league, as his 31 points got me a sweet victory.
- Robert Griffin III – RG3 completed 19-of-26 passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns during Sunday’s win at New Orleans. He also added 42 rushing yards on 10 carries. A remarkable debut for Griffin, who connected with eight different receivers, including Pierre Garcon on a highlight-reel 88-yard touchdown as his NFL’s first. It’s tough to say anyone expected this debut performance from Griffin, but fantasy owners who decided to start him will gladly take it. You know what’s funny? While I drafted Matt Ryan in the 8th round, I picked up RG3 in the 10th for my bench spot. I ended up 90 points on my bench this week, partially because of Griffin’s 24-point contribution.
- Tony Romo – the Cowboys quarterback completed 22-of-29 passes for 307 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, and also added five rushes for 12 yards Wednesday against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. Despite one “Romoesque” interception that was nearly returned for a touchdown, the quarterback looked impressive carving up the Giants secondary with some of his weapons a bit dinged up. The Cowboys face a tough Seahawks secondary in Seattle in Week 2, but the long week should help get Romo’s arsenal close to 100% healthy. Don’t be scared to trot him out there for the foreseeable future. Tony racked up 23 points on the NFL’s opening night.
- Aaron Rodgers – It wouldn’t be the same without my favorite quarterback, even if the Packers did lose to my 49ers. Aaron completed 30-of-44 passes for 303 yards, two touchdowns and one interception during Sunday’s loss. Rodgers also ran the ball five times for 27 yards, the latter of which led the Packers. He spread the ball around to five different receivers, all of which had at least six targets. Nevertheless, it wasn’t enough against a strong 49ers defense and it doesn’t get a lot easier next week when the Bears come to Lambeau. Last year’s MVP scored fantasy teams (who likely picked him in the top-3) 22 points.
- Drew Brees – NFL records for passing yardage aren’t easy to come by, but are easier when you’re losing the game and have to toss the pigskin a lot. Drew completed 24-of-52 passes for 339 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions during Sunday’s loss to the Redskins. A very solid performance overall for Brees, although fantasy owners had to be disappointed with his second interception, which was caught as time expired on a Hail Mary attempt. He connected with seven different receivers, including Lance Moore, Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston, who were all targeted more than nine times each. Breezy racked up 21 points to take 5th place in the NFL for fantasy points.
- CJ Spiller – I played Fred Jackson, who ended up hurt after a few carries, and his backup reigned supreme. C’est le vie! Spiller had 14 carries for 169 yards and a touchdown, as well as two catches for 25 yards during Sunday’s loss to the Jets. Unfortunately for Bills fans, CJ’s great performance came in a Jets’ blowout. Spiller scored on a 56-yard touchdown minutes after Fred Jackson went down with a knee injury that will keep him out of a few games, likely 3-4 weeks. He becomes the main back for a Bills offense that has shown signs of brilliance over the last year, but can also go stagnant at times.
- Alfred Morris – Who? Oh right, that Morris guy I kept seeing when RG3 didn’t have the ball. Alfred had 28 carries for 96 yards and two touchdowns during Sunday’s win over the Saints. Head coach Mike Shanahan stated before the game that Morris would get a majority of the backfield work and he certainly stuck to his word. Evan Royster and Roy Helu combined for four carries and the latter was the only one to make it into the receiving stat sheet. If Morris continues to play like he did Sunday, there could be some stability in Shanahan’s backfield.
- Stevan Ridley – He carried 21 times for 125 yards with a one-yard touchdown in Sunday’s win over the Titans. Ridley also caught two passes for 27 yards. With Shane Vereen out, Ridley led the Patriots’ backfield out of the gate, running with both power and solid cutting ability. Danny Woodhead and Brandon Bolden combined for 11 carries in the game, but it’s clear that the Patriots plan to lean on Ridley heavily as long as he can avoid fumbling issues.
- Adrian Peterson – ESPN lied to me and said All-Day would only receive 5-10 carries; so I played Toby Gerhart and left AP on my bench. With a ton of points, also totaling to that massive 90. Apparently the knee issues are behind him! Peterson had 17 carries for 84 yards and two touchdowns during Sunday’s win over the Jaguars. Adrian also added one catch for three yards in a performance that was much greater than most projected. His 17 carries were on the higher-end of expectations, but the two touchdowns were certainly more surprising. His workload probably won’t increase by a large degree, but it seems he will get the touches near the end-zone, keeping his fantasy value relatively high.
- Ray Rice – Joe Flacco looked impressive, all of the Ravens offense was in-sync very well, and owners will love it. Ray had just 10 carries for 68 yards with two touchdowns and three catches for 25 yards Monday against the Bengals. Rice’s production came in just about three quarters of action as he scored from both one and seven yards out in the red zone. Though his carries were cut down in Baltimore’s new up-tempo approach, the top-five fantasy pick should have no trouble getting his fair share of touches on a weekly basis this season.
- Kevin Smith – Well when the Lions have really no other runner to turn to… Kevin had 13 carries for 62 yards and a touchdown, as well as four catches for 29 yards and another score during Sunday’s win over the Rams. Smith was the only Lions’ running back to get more than one carry and he’s clearly the dominant player in the backfield. He was targeted six times and could be a major fantasy piece moving forward, if he can stay healthy and outplay Mikel Leshoure, who missed the game with a suspension. So much for Jahvid Best!
- Kevin Ogletree – This possible 3rd stringer had eight catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns Wednesday against the Giants. Assuming free agent departure Laurent Robinson’s role from last season, Ogletree had a career game. He was targeted a team high 11 times, while hauling in touchdowns of 10 and 40 yards. Kevin was able to get open all night with ease, and if Robinson’s 11 touchdowns in 2011 are any indication, Ogletree’s upside could be huge in Big D. He’ll likely be the the top target on the waiver wire this week.
- Julio Jones – Yeah, I started Julio and Matty Ice. Two scores? That’s double points each time. Jones had six catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns during Sunday’s win over the Chiefs. A monster game for Jones, who dominated the Chiefs’ banged up secondary. He led the Falcons in targets and receiving yards and looked every bit like the fantasy stud he is expected to be this season. Roddy White is now #2 in Atlanta.
- Stephen Hill – Why is this guy still a free agent in most fantasy football leagues? The rookie caught five passes for 89 yard and two touchdowns in Sunday’s romp over the Bills. The sore calf wasn’t an issue, and Hill certainly passed the eye test here. All that FAAB money you had earmarked to Kevin Ogletree? Perhaps Hill would be a similarly-worthy target. The Jets feel comfortable using Hill as one of their starting receivers, opposite Santonio Holmes.
- Lance Moore – When Drew Brees plays well, so do his receivers. Moore had six catches for 120 yards and a touchdown during Sunday’s loss to the Redskins. A huge performance for Moore, who was targeted 10 times and scored on a 33-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Drew Brees targeted three receivers at least 10 times (Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston were the others) and Lance was the surprise winner Sunday. While his big performance may be due in part to Devery Henderson’s early departure from the game due to injury, Moore is clearly one of Brees’ favorite targets and should be universally owned.
- Brandon Marshall – The Bears are starting to look kinda dangerous lately. Brandon had nine catches for 119 yards and a touchdown Sunday against the Colts. Marshall’s 15 targets were three times as many as any other Bears’ wide receiver. It goes to show that Jay Cutler has supreme confidence in Marshall no matter the coverage or situation, which may make Marshall one of the top PPR options in fantasy this year.
- Andre Johnson – Here’s to hoping he can stay healthy this year! Andre caught eight passes for 119 yards and a touchdown during Sunday’s win over the Dolphins. Johnson may have a nagging rib injury, although his performance Sunday certainly made people forget about that. If he stays healthy, which is always an ‘if’ with Johnson, he remains an elite fantasy wideout, especially with Matt Schaub under center.
- Demaryius Thomas – Peyton Manning is on his way to making Broncos receivers household names. Thomas had five catches for 110 yards and a touchdown during Sunday’s win over the Steelers. Demaryius took a short pass 71 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, which certainly helped boost his stats. He was targeted seven times, the same number as Eric Decker, so a favorite receiver hasn’t come to fruition quite yet.
Good luck in your leagues, and come back next week!