The season has finally started, and now those teams you drafted have already started to fill you with joy and pride over the picks, or agony and questions on whether you made the right decisions. With the first week of the NFL season almost over, except for the two Monday games tonight, it is time for a weekly look at the top performers from the games on Sunday, and on Thursday. After going over my thoughts on the top performers at each position, I will also select a few other players who either performed above expectations, or that early round pick who left you wondering if that was it.
The goal of this article is to highlight those top guys, and if you can expect some similar performances in the future from them or if it was a flash-in-the-pan, and also whether you should be worried about top picks in drafts that put up less than stellar performances. So without rambling on longer in this intro, let's take a look at those who performed well in week 1.
QB - Tom Brady 288 Passing Yards, 1 Rushing Yard, 4 TD's, 27 Fantasy Points
After everything that happened in the offseason, Brady went out week 1 and played just like he did at the end of 2014. If you drafted him late before the ruling was handed out, congrats, as you have a top 5 QB on your team for a late pick. This will end up being one of the best draft values, as I see him continuing his dominance with Gronkowski all season long.
QB - Carson Palmer 307 Passing Yards, 14 Rushing Yards, 3 TD's, 25 Fantasy Points
Could you tell Palmer tore his ACL last year from this game? I certainly couldn't tell. Palmer looks like he did before the injury, and played great. I have mentioned before that the Saints have a bad defense, but it is good to just see Palmer play like we would have expected pre-injury. He is a top 15 QB going forward, and can be used in the right matchups for outings like this.
QB - Marcus Mariota 209 Passing Yards, 6 Rushing Yards, 4 TD's, 24 Fantasy Points
Can someone please tell me what happened here? How does Mariota find himself in the top 3 at the position in his first NFL game, and not get a single fantasy point from running? Some of it will be chalked up to the Bucs, and there complete disarray, but this is still impressive. Now it isn't enough to warrant starting him next week against the Browns, but definitely keep an eye on him. A great guy to stash on your bench if you have the space, and let's see if he can continue this magic in an RGIII like rookie season.
RB - Matt Forte 24 Carries for 141 Yards and 1 TD, 5 Catches for 25 Yards, 22 Fantasy Points
He isn't done yet. Forte had a game like he has always done in the past. His running looked great against the Packers. He won't be used as a receiver as often as he was last year, but that is fine. As long as the touches continue for him, he will always put up the numbers.
RB - Chris Ivory 20 Carries for 91 Yards and 2 TD's, 1 Catch for 9 Yards, 21 Fantasy Points
I haven't been a supporter of Ivory, but being the starter on a team with a great defense and shaky QB helps. Ivory will be entrusted with carrying the ball quite a bit over the season, as the Jets will play to their strengths. They want to be in low scoring games, where there defense can win it for them. This means running the ball with Ivory to kill clock. I am not willing to fully trust him as a RB2, but Ivory is in FLEX play consideration each week as long as the volume of carries continues.
RB - Bishop Sankey 12 Carries for 74 Yards and 1 TD, 2 Catch for 12 Yards, 20 Fantasy Points
And I thought writing about Chris Ivory was going to be tough, what do I say about a guy I wrote for dead over the offseason? While it is nice to see Sankey put up such a great game, this will be his highest fantasy point total for the season. I just don't see how the Titans can play this well again. I may be proven wrong by Sankey at the end of the season, but I just don't believe this is someone you can now trust to start at RB for you going forward. Yes he will be the Titans starter, but can he always play against the hapless Buccaneers? If he is available for some reason in your league, pick him up, but wait another couple of weeks before you start to consider starting him as an RB2 or even FLEX guy till he can prove this was for real.
WR - DeAndre Hopkins 13 Targets, 9 Receptions for 98 Yards and 2 TD's and a 2pt Conversion, 23 Fantasy Points
I loved Hopkins this preseason. I am glad to see the love was backed up at least in the first week. Brian Hoyer was the one who threw the first TD to Hopkins, however it wasn't until Mallet was in the game that Hopkins really started to shine. I hope Mallet is given the chance to start next week, because if he is, the big play threat that Hopkins is will be on full display yet again. He is right around the top 10 for WR's going forward, which really hasn't changed because that is where I ranked him before the season.
WR - Antonio Brown 11 Targets, 9 Receptions for 133 Yards and 1 TD, 19 Fantasy Points
You presumably drafted Brown in the first round, so performances like this are what you expected. Not much to say here other than Brown is still arguably the best receiver in the NFL. Enjoy the great season with him.
WR - James Jones 4 Targets, 4 Receptions for 51 Yards and 2 TD's, 17 Fantasy Points
Isn't it great to have Aaron Rodgers as your QB again James? You went away for a year to Oakland and discovered how difficult it is to try and catch passes from Derek Carr. James Jones is an interesting study for the rest of the season here. He was used heavily in the redzone, but not much otherwise. Davante Adams was targeted more than Jones still, and that will still continue I believe. The problem that Jones creates though is he is a great redzone option, and will continue to be used like that going forward. Adams just lost quite a bit of his TD upside, but don't worry too much about his overall targets number going down. Jones is someone you can pick up if you owned Ty Montgomery hoping for him to get the 3rd receiver spot. Jones has that now, and could be on his way to another double digit TD season with the Packers, but the yardage would once again be lagging behind.
TE - Rob Gronkowski 8 Targets, 5 Receptions for 94 Yards and 3 TD's, 27 Fantasy Points
You are going to be seeing Gronkowski on here often, as that is just what he does. This is what you wanted when taking him in the first 2 rounds of the draft. Gronkowski and Brady combo will be giving defenses nightmares every week.
TE - Austin Seferian-Jenkins 7 Targets, 5 Catches for 110 Yards and 2 TD's, 23 Fantasy Points
In a week where TE's were dominant, this one is a little surprising. Now Seferian-Jenkins had a tough rookie year, but all rookie Tight Ends do. The problem with believing in what he did on Sunday is the fact that Mike Evans was inactive. If Evans is active for this game I doubt he puts up a statline near this. Also remember that this game got out of hand fast with the Titans shutting the door before the first half ended. In a deep league I don't mind picking him up, but for those of you in shallower leagues, he is a wait and see type of guy, as I want to know what happens when Evans is healthy.
Now a look at a few of other performances that stood out to me from Sunday's games:
QB - Johnny Manziel 182 Passing Yards for 1 TD and 1 INT, 2 Fumbles lost, 8 Fantasy Points
With Josh McCown going down early in the game, that provided the opportunity for Manziel to once again try and take the QB job. It started out fine, with a nice TD pass to Travis Benjamin, but after that, Manziel still showed that he needs more time before being given the reigns. 3 turnovers is too many for someone who is trying to win the starting job. Even if McCown is out for the next game, don't pickup Manziel, as there won't be enough value to get from him to be worthy of starting anytime soon.
RB - C.J. Anderson 12 Carries for 29 Yards, 4 Catches for 19 Yards, 3 Fantasy Points
I am not worried about C.J. Anderson after the first week here. The entire Broncos offense struggled against a great Ravens defense. Manning looked for Anderson in the pass game still, which is great to see. Anderson you could tell was limping a little bit from that sprained toe he suffered during the game. With the Broncos playing on Thursday night I do believe Hillman will get a few more carries than normal, however in the long run after an extended break after Thursday night, Anderson should be back to his 2014 form.
WR - Donte Moncrief 11 Targets, 6 Receptions for 46 Yards and 1 TD, 10 Fantasy Points
Moncrief's statline is helped by two factors here. First the Colts were down early in the game, so Luck threw the ball far more than usual. The second is that T.Y. Hilton got hurt and left the game late. For the short term I think Moncrief will have some nice value as Hilton may be out for a couple of weeks here. Even if Hilton is only out a couple of weeks, that may be enough time for him to move past Andre Johnson on the depth chart, and warrant more 2 WR set consideration. I love Moncrief's skillset more than Johnsons, and think the upside is that of a top 15 guy if given the targets.
Want thoughts on a specific player? Leave a comment on who it is, and I will respond with my thoughts on that guy's performance and where he stands going forward.