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Week 1 Fantasy Football Standouts and Injuries

A quick look at notes from all of Week 1 of the 2015 NFL fantasy landscape through Sunday's games.

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Here are notes from around Week 1's games through Sunday night. You can see top performers here, but let's take a look deeper at performances which will affect your coming decisions, game-by-game.

UPDATE: Notes from Monday Night Football games are here.

Cowboys 27 vs Giants 26

  • Dez Bryant will be out 4-6 weeks with a broken foot. This is bad for Tony Romo as his WRs have no clue how to play football. Terrance Williams can be a WR2 while Dez is out and Jason Witten becomes a legit TE1 with great DFS potential. Cole Beasley is a super-fringey deep PPR league desperation play.
  • Darren McFadden is bad. Apologies to those who followed by lead on DMC being the primary back for Dallas. Joseph Randle has this job as Dallas' all-purpose back under control, making DMC nothing more than a handcuff. Lance Dunbar did not have a high snap count, but caught eight balls for 70 yards because he is clearly the Cowboys' most trusted pass-blocking back and who they exclusively had on the field for no-huddle offense. Dunbar is a swingy flex option for PPR leagues.
  • Rod Marinelli has this defense preventing big plays. Eli Manning was bad, but give credit to Marinelli. Since his days with the Bears, he has had his defenses preventing big plays and Manning could not cope with this all game. Don't trust mediocre QBs who rely on deep threat WRs against Dallas.

Bills 27 vs Colts 14

  • T.Y. Hilton is day-to-day, but could miss 1-2 weeks with a bruised knee. The x-rays were negative and we hope the MRI is equally optimistic. Donte Moncrief (6 rec., 46 yds, TD) was great when he stepped in last season and becomes a strong WR3/flex option in standard leagues with WR2 potential; Andre Johnson (4/24/0) becomes a legit high-end WR2 in PPR. Johnson's nine targets should go up and the quality should go up against the Jets in Week 2 and certainly against the Titans in Week 3. Phillip Dorsett (2/45/0) had two deep targets, but should not figure into fantasy relevance.
  • The Bills defense is elite. We should love their DST and consider them matchup-proof most weeks, if they can do this to Andrew Luck (26/49, 243 yds, 2 TDs, 2 INTs) and frustrate the entire Colts offense.
  • Buy low on Frank Gore. Gore only had 31 yards on eight carries and two catches for nothing, but Indy was down 24-0 very early and this was a classic case of the game situation forcing them to abandon the run. The Colts will have plenty of games contrary to this where they lean on Gore to protect a lead.
  • Either Percy Harvin is legit or I was very, very wrong to like the Colts as a sleeper DST. The case for the Colts DST is that they face the AFC South teams twice along with the Bills and this went badly. But maybe--just maybe--Harvin is back to being fantasy-relevant again. This time, more as a DeSean Jackson-type of home run hitter than the all-purpose volume threat he was in Minnesota. Or it's somewhere in the middle: Harvin is a low-end WR2 and the Colts are still great streaming options against the AFC South.

Packers 31 at Bears 23

  • You can do worse than James Jones with your top waiver claim. He is not only clearly, once again, Aaron Rodgers most-trusted red zone weapon, but there is nothing short term to project about it. Jordy Nelson is out for the year, so Jones is a TD-dependent top-25 WR rest of season. Only so low because his yardage will not be high, but so high because we're talking about Aaron Rodgers and we've seen this movie before.
  • Is there enough at the buffet for Davante Adams? I still believe so. It seems crazy to have three top-25 WRs from the same offense, but there is no TE option to steal targets, the Packers are high volume, and Eddie Lacy is more of a bailout checkdown option than a back with designed passes. 4/59/0 in seven targets in standard is a bad slash, but replacement level in PPR, and it's safe to say that there is volume to come his way. Adams is a strong buy-low option in PPR, but maybe more of a high-potential WR3 in standard instead of the legit WR2 we may have once thought.
  • Matt Forte is still the Bears offense. The Bears ran 71 plays and Forte carried the ball or was targeted on a total of 32 for 166 total yards. Still among the most elite without Trestman. Remember that Jay Cutler desperately needs bailout options in the pass game and John Fox loves the run. Alshon Jeffery (5/78/0) is a low-end WR1 at best and you can do worse than Martellus Bennett as your weekly TE, but Forte is the guy.

Cardinals 33 vs Saints 19

  • Carson Palmer is a top-10 QB. The Dez injury, Bruce Arians' offense, a talented receiving corps, and speed in the backfield makes Palmer's 307-yard, 3-TD game very repeatable against non-elite defenses.
  • Michael Floyd is the WR we don't want from Arizona. He may not be bad, but Larry Fitzgerald (6/87/0), John Brown (4/46/1), and TE Darren Fells (4/82/1) are the weapons at Palmer's disposal. Andre Ellington only had three targets, so that's not taking volume away, yet, either.
  • Ellington's injury is unclear. The Cardinals thinking PCL and there are various grades to the injury. David Johnson only had one touch in the game, but it was a 55-yard reception; Chris Johnson relieved Ellington as the primary rusher. In a deep league, CJ is worth a waiver claim for no other reason than he may be the primary rusher in the offense of a genius. The worst case may be a low-grade tear where Ellington plays hurt and is bad in the process giving us no usable rushers in Arizona. All of this raises David Johnson's value, though. He is worth a waiver claim, even as a stash, especially in PPR.
  • The Saints may be an unpredictable mess for a while. The only significant receiver was Mark Ingram's eight catches for 98 yards, which is great for C.J. Spiller owners in all formats, when Spiller can finally hit the field. Chances are you don't have the options to bench Drew Brees or Brandin Cooks, yet, but they are slight gambles against good defenses. Brees got the 355 yards, but only one TD and his trademark INT.
  • Empty the benches against the Saints D. It is bad. Bear in mind that Arizona eased up on New Orleans to kill clock, leaning on Chris Freaking Johnson.

Patriots 28 vs Steelers 21

  • Heath Miller is a usable TE with or without Martavis Bryant. In 46 games over the last three years, Miller is just at the bottom of the top-10 in red zone targets among TEs, with 28. That's tied with Jason Witten. Antonio Brown is 2nd over that span with 58, and is obviously the primary red zone target. But there is value to be had for Miller as a streaming option in 12-team leagues.
  • Don't believe too much in Deangelo Williams. None of us are thinking he has any shot at a timeshare when Le'Veon Bell returns, but bear in mind that New England is going to struggle up the middle. What is optimistic, if you have to flex Williams before Bell returns, is that Dri Archer was completely absent. Williams only had one target the entire game, but it is good to know that he will dominate the snaps and carries; also, that the short game is primariliy going to Miller and the WRs.
  • Dion Lewis may be the closest thing to Danny Woodhead we will see from the Pats this year. Shane Verren was a decent 2014 flex option in PPR, but the weeks were very swingy. What Lewis has that New England has not had since Woodhead is a legitimate receiving option out of the backfield who can still run the ball to keep degrees of deception in their game. LeGarrette Blount will still be a RB2 plodder for 2015 in standard leagues when he returns in Week 2, but Lewis has RB2 upside in PPR formats, as Branden Bolden is again and again and again just not being used.
  • If you hoped Danny Amendola would fill a hole until Brandon LaFell returns, you can stop now. This passing game is all Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, and Lewis.

Chargers 33 vs Lions 28

  • Ameer Abdullah is an RB2 in all formats. Abdullah led the team in carries, but with only seven. Joique Bell will get more than his six when the Lions have leads and should be the goal line back. But Abdullah's game is situation-proof. Ahead, the Lions will be using him to get those leads and extend possessions on third down; behind, they will throw so much that Bell stays off the field. Abdullah only touched the ball 11 times to accumulate 94 yards, thanks to a 24-yard TD run and a 36-yard reception, but those are not flukes. That is the upside his talent and opportunity bring to the table from week-to-week.
  • I was so, so wrong on Keenan Allen. I was high on him in 2013 when he won me fantasy championships as a free agent pickup, was proven right by not overvaluing him in 2014, and so wrong to devalue him in 2015. His 166 yards in 15 catches was not a fluke in that Allen in Philip Rivers' #1 guy. Rivers is not a deep thrower and 16 of Allen's 17 targets were short, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com. That's trust and Rivers leans on trust.
  • Woodhead is a top-15 RB2 in PPR formats. In 2012, he was a low-end RB2 his last year in New England and became Rivers' primary receiving and goal line back the following year in San Diego. 2014 was killed by injury, but Woody is back in business in that role. He got 12 carries to Melvin Gordon's 14 and seven targets to Gordon's three. Gordon had zero carries inside the red zone to Woodhead's six, though, hence Woody's two TDs.
  • Are the Chargers a legitimate pass defense? Only five of Matthew Stafford's 30 passes were characterized as deep by PFR. Stafford only completed two of those for 40 yards and Calvin Johnson only had four total targets. How WR1s and deep threats perform against SD is something to watch.
  • LaDarius Green is a great streaming option until Antonio Gates returns. Rivers gets hot early and leans on TEs. After a bad preseason, Green came out to catch five of his six targets for 74 yards and a TD

Titans 42 at Buccaneers 16

  • Don't use a waiver claim on Marcus Mariota. Phenomenal 4-TD debut, but even Bishop Sankey (12 carries, 74 yds, TD) and Terrance West (13/41/0) looked good in spurts. Tampa is an all-around terrible defense. Bravo to him for exploiting that, but Mariota is a low-end QB2, but elevates safely to within the top-24. The game was much closer to average than you may think.
  • Sell high on Kendall Wright in standard leagues. Wright should be a decent WR3 or low-end flex in PPR, but he isn't the type to suddenly find the end zone often and Mariota's inevitable struggles will make Wright a high-volume, low-upside play. Think Edelman-lite.
  • Austin Seferian-Jenkins may be forced into being a TE1. He has TE1 talent and a young quarterback who will be forced to lean on him. He benefited from garbage time, but played very well. Good Wednesday morning free agent pick up for us as a streaming option.

Broncos 19 vs Ravens 13

  • Buy low on C.J. Anderson. This was a weird game where neither team got to the red zone in over 55 minutes. He split time to Ronnie Hillman, as they both received 12 carries. Hillman had the better game with 41 rushing yards and no receptions to Anderson's 29, but 19 yards on four catches. Gary Kubiak is not good, but he shys away from timeshares and favors receiving backs to carry large shares of the offense from Arian Foster for years to Justin Forsett last year. Anderson's sprained toe is something to watch and could cause concern for owners to sell him cheaply. There is risk that he doesn't practice and is outplayed in a Week 2 timeshare to lose the job, but we should gladly trade a high-end WR2 for him.
  • Emmanuel Sanders is still a strong PPR weapon. He isn't the WR1 he was last year, but his eight catches will continue. Peyton Manning's WR2 is always a threat for 100 catches.
  • Forsett is the only startable Raven. Only 56 total yards on 14 carries and four catches, but he remains the focal point of Marc Trestman's offense and that means a lot. Only five players hit 50 rush yards against Denver last season, so maybe it's just a matchup of which we should take caution for our RBs.

Panthers 20 at Jaguars 9

  • T.J. Yeldon has a problem. Cliché but true that when teams are down big early, they abandon the run and this happened to Yeldon in Week 1. Why should we not believe this will happen a lot?
  • Buy low on Allen Robinson as a WR3 and pick up Allen Hurns as a free agent. Whether Blake Bortles is good or not, the Jags will be throwing a ton. Before Julius Thomas returns, they are nice PPR gambles, especially in bye weeks.
  • Target the Jags when streaming DSTs. They, by far, allowed the most points per week to DSTs in 2014 and that trend will continue, as they allowed over 20 points to the Panthers in Week 1 in almost all formats. This offensive line is terrible.

Dolphins 17 at Washington 10

  • DeSean Jackson is out 3-4 weeks and that matters. Alfred Morris got 25 carries and killed with them for 121 yards; Pierre Garcon got eight targets (6/74/0); and Jordan Reed caught all seven of his targets for 63 yards and TD. Reed is a top-8--if not top-5--TE when he plays. Big "when" there. The injury doesn't make a new person relevant from Washington, but it elevates the relevancy of these three.
  • Ryan Tannehill cannot get the ball downfield. Washington is not a good defense, but Tanny's style forces WRs to make plays after the catch and they really don't. Other than Jarvis Landry (8/53/0) in PPR, all of these receiving options are bad until DeVante Parker can get on the field, and--even then-- Tanny's limitations may limit Parker's upside to the WR3 realm.
  • Lamar Miller's lack of volume remains a concern. Touching the ball only 14 times will happen a lot for Miller, but only 53 rush yards hurts. The 22-yard catch is nice, but he needs to catch more balls or score TDs to be a high-end RB2. Expect that to happen, so buy low where you can.

Jets 31 vs Browns 10

  • Chris Ivory is a strong volume RB2. His 20 carries for 91 yards are not a fluke.
  • Can't trust any Browns. Isaiah Crowell didn't get the volume and Duke Johnson didn't get a target in the pass game. Both are rosterable. Neither are usable, yet. But I would rather own Johnson in the hopes he steals the job.
  • Brandon Marshall is back to being Brandon Marshall. In a terrible game for his offense and a game where Ryan Fitzpatrick only threw 24 times, Marshall still caught six of nine targets for 62 yards and a TD, despite Joe Haden. He"s still a volume guy. He's just in a terrible offense, but as long as Fitzpatrick is behind center, Marshall is fantasy relevant. Look to sell high on him if he scores in Week 2 against the COlts because Geno Smith is looming.

Bengals 33 at Raiders 13

  • Both teams are who we thought they were. Jeremy Hill got the ball a lot (19/63/2); Giovani Bernard caught six passes; A.J. Green (5/63/0) didn't have volume, but this was a blowout; Andy Dalton was solid. Hill's low yards per carry is countered by the fact that he had such a wealth of carries and the TDs.
  • Latavius Murray only had 11 carries, but seven catches in a game where the Raiders were forced to throw. Solid RB2 in all formats with no threats from Roy Helu, despite a game where Oakland had to pass a lot.
  • Empty the benches against the Raiders D. The Bengals have a great RB. Teams without great RBs get a lot of third downs to keep throwing with leads and that will pay off.
  • Derek Carr has a bruised thumb on his throwing hand. Whether or not he or Matt McGloin start in Week 2, it is very, very hard to start a WR of whom we have never seen a good NFL performance, despite Amari Cooper's talent. Cooper caught five of six balls for 47 yards and looked very good, but further proved the vulnerability of bad quarterbacking. A healthy Carr brings Cooper back to WR3-legitimacy.

Rams 34 vs Seahawks 31

  • Sit your Rams. Benny Cunningham had 122 total yards on 16 carries and four catches, but Tre Mason was a late scratch and the two can be in a timeshare. Jared Cook (5/85/0) had his monthly respectable game and should go back to being bad again.
  • Buy low on Jimmy Graham. Graham and Russell Wilson are not clicking, yet, and the point that passing options are never fantasy relevant from Seattle can get us good prices on Graham. Graham caught a nice TD and caught six of seven targets, but was not used in the red zone well, as much as Seattle got there. Wilson is too smart for this to not improve, but there will be a learning curve.
  • Marshawn Lynch is not threatened by Fred Jackson. Jackson only had a week of practice, but only one target and three carries. He's just a handcuff. Lynch (18/73/0) did not have a good game running the ball, but the Rams are really strong up front. Moreover, Lynch caught five passes for 31 yards, so there is no change of pace on the horizon.
  • Don't go crazy about Tyler Lockett. This is where holding onto Seattle's history matters. Only reason to believe this is the low end of Graham is because Graham is Graham and there is barely enough room for one strong receiving option in this offense.

Chiefs 27 at Texans 20

  • Travis Kelce is the 2nd-best TE in fantasy and it isn't close. As optimistic as we should remain in Graham, Kelce (6/106/2) is a target and catch machine, as well as the far-and-away #1 receiving option in an Andy Reid offense. He caught all of his targets, was second to Jeremy Maclin's nine targets, but this should be on the lower end of Kelce's targets, as the Texans are very strong up front and in the middle.
  • Not buying Jeremy Maclin. Alex Smith went another game without a TD to a WR, and this is not surprising because he's so risk-averse and his TE is amazing. Maclin may finish the season as a top-30 WR, but he is a high-end WR4 from week-to-week because the upside each week is so low that others should consistently slip into WR3 ranges.
  • Alfred Blue is terrible. Blue only got nine of the team's 20 carries. We should rather own Jonathan Grimes in the hopes Blue loses the primary job while Arian Foster is still out, but this is a long shot. No Texan RB is rosterable except Foster.
  • DeAndre Hopkins is incredible. Bryan Hoyer is a terrible QB, but 13 of his 34 pass attempts went Hopkins' way and Hopkins caught nine for 98 and two TDs. The Chiefs are a middle of the road defense, but Hopkins are nearly matchup proof, as he's still a WR2 in bad matchups with WR1 upside every week.
  • Alex Smith is better than you think. In 31 games with Reid as his HC, he's run for 700 yards and two TDs. Not super-sexy, but add in only 13 INTs and you gain 82 points from rushing while only losing 26 to INTs and that matters if we're streaming QBs in a deep league. If Mariota gets snatched up in waivers, Smith is a fine concession in free agency. 243 yards, three TDs and no INTs with 15 rush yards against a very good, if not great, defense is matchup-proof. The fear with Smith is actually the gerat matchups because Jamaal Charles can eat up so much usage, but the floor is seldom low.