Fantasy football 2011 | Fantasy notes: What we learned from Week 1

Yesterday, I told everyone to prepare for an NFL season unlike any they’ve ever seen.

After a zany first full day of games, don’t be surprised if any or all of jzak’s BOLD predictions come true.

Saints-Packers

Drew Brees picked the Packers secondary apart for 419 yards and 3 TDs. We didn’t see that coming.

There were a couple battles going on in this game that began to tell fantasy owners whether they burned or got burned on their running back picks. Mark Ingram and James Starks led their respective backfields in carries. Both Pierre Thomas and Ryan Grant were a little more effective with their carries, but Ingram and Starks will continue to get more opportunities.

In the always frustrating Saints receivers merry-go-round, Devery Henderson stole the brass ring, hauling in six catches for 100 yards and two TDs.

There were two return touchdowns in the game, a sign of things to come. There are still two games to be played, but there have been 18 return touchdowns already this season. Everyone thought rules changes would mean more touchbacks in 2011.

Eagles-Rams

As expected Michael Vick dazzled, rushing for almost 100 yards, throwing two TDs and almost 200 yards, despite being sacked five times.

LeSean McCoy went nuclear, rushing for 122 and scoring twice.

The Rams storyline includes several players who ended up on the trainer’s table, including some big names. Steven Jackson pulled up lame on a 47-yard TD run. Sam Bradford injured his finger while throwing. Danny Amendola, who led all Rams wide receivers with 5 catches, hurt his elbow. Early reports put Amendola out for the season.

Cadillac Williams was excellent in Jackson’s absence, rushing for 91 yards on 19 carries and leading the Rams with six catches. He had 49 yards receiving.

In the Rams WR battle, Brandon Gibson scored three catches for 50 yards. Mike Sims-Walker, who everyone wanted to be the No. 1 receiver, had one catch for five yards. They both get upgrades if Amendola is done for the year.

Bills-Chiefs

Ryan Fitzpatrick? Yeah, we saw that coming. Four TDs, including two to TE Scott Chandler (?!). Chandler finished with 5-63-2 and will be a hot waiver commodity this week.

Dexter McCluster, although he put a ball on the ground at an awful time, provided more relief (4 carries for 42 yards and five catches for 52 yards) for Jamaal Charles than Thomas Jones (2 carries).

Falcons-Bears

As I explained in the comments of the quarterback projections, the Bears defense gives, does not break and forces turnovers. Matt Ryan threw for 319 yards and was picked off once. Michael Turner rushed 10 times for 100 yards. But the Falcons went touchdownless.

Julio Jones looks like he’s ready for the NFL, pulling down five catches and 71 yards. There will be bumps along the way, but he’s a supreme talent.

On the Bears side, Matt Forte was the story. He had five catches for 90 yards and a TD and added 68 yards rushing on 16 carries. Watch out for Kellen Davis. Jay Cutler targeted him several times, including at least once in the red zone. Devin Hester (3-60), Johnny Knox (3-60) and Roy Williams (4-55) did nothing to distinguish themselves from one another.

Lions-Bucs

I’ve been touting Matt Stafford since my consistency rankings on Aug. 1. Thankfully, I have him on a boatload of teams. He threw for almost 300 yards in the first half and tossed three TD passes. Calvin Johnson (6-88-2) and Nate Burleson (5-60) are very happy to be Lions.

Jahvid Best impressed me. I didn’t see much of him last year after the Eagles game, but 21-72, 4-42 is an excellent line and tells me the Lions are going to run him into the ground (like they did with Kevin Smith and Kevin Jones before him).

LeGarrette Blount better come around (5 carries for 15 yards) or some people will have paid a hefty price for a fantasy football paperweight. Tampa Bay was playing from behind the whole game and that’s not Blount’s forte. Wait until after next week’s game before trying to deal him.

Titans-Jaguars

Deji Karim rushed 14 times and caught three passes. He wasn’t as effective (14-33, 3-39) as we expected Rashad Jennings to be with those touches, but it is obvious that Karim will give Maurice Jones-Drew the rest the Jaguars think he needs to stay healthy.

The quarterbacks, Luke McCown and Matt Hasselbeck, were efficient in the game. With teams built around superstar running backs, that is usually all you need. As expected, Mike Thomas will get a shot to be a legit No. 1 NFL wide receiver. He caught eight passes for 55 yards. He’ll get opportunities to make plays.

Hasselbeck may be a great fantasy upgrade for Kenny Britt. The duo connected five times and Britt turned it into 136 yards and two TDs. As long as that is going on, expect more 6-67 type performances out of Nate Washington (that’s a flex-worthy 12.7 points in PPRs), who went undrafted in most of my leagues.

Bengals-Browns

Andy Dalton posted a 102.4 QB rating before getting hurt. Bruce Gradkowski came in and led the Bengals to a come-from-behind win.

I avoided Cedric Benson in drafts. He opened the season with an impressive 25-121-1 line. Peyton Hillis was less impressive, except in PPR leagues (six catches for 30 yards).

A.J. Green flashed his potential with a 41-yard TD catch. Jermaine Gresham also caught a TD and led the Bengals with six catches and 58 yards.

For the Browns, Colt McCoy was hit-or-miss. He was 19-of-40 and threw two TDs and an interception. Ben Watson and Evan Moore (who each had three catches, at least 35 yards and a TD) could be a lighter version of 2011′s Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

Steelers-Ravens

Joe Flacco threw TDs to Anquan Boldin, Ed Dickson and Ray Rice in a blowout win. Lee Evans didn’t make a catch.

Rice added 19-107-1 on the ground. It’s worth noting that Ricky Williams posted a 12-63-0 line on the ground. Pick him up if he’s available on waivers. He could post a couple more games like that. If Rice goes down he’s a gold mine.

Ben Roethlisberger was terrible, throwing three interceptions, losing two fumbles, completing only about half of his passes (22-41) and was sacked four times. In the battle for the No. 3 receiver slot, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown each caught two passes. However, we have to see the Steelers on a better day to determine how that battle is going to play out.

Keep the same thing in mind when you see Rashard Mendenhall‘s 12-45-0 (+1 fumble lost) line.

Colts-Texans

Ben Tate, Ben Tate, Ben Tate. I’ve been saying his name since before his injury last year, when I picked him in the first-round over Jahvid Best. Dude went 24-116-1 in Arian Foster‘s absence. Derrick Ward went 11-39-1

As bad as Kerry Collins was, he had a better QB rating than Matt Schaub (82.3-78.5). Collins did cough the ball up twice, but late in the game he found Reggie Wayne for a TD. Give Collins another week in the system and another week to shake off the 38-year-old rust. … Or hope the Colts bring in David Garrard.

I had high hopes for Owen Daniels in 2011, especially after the way he performed at the end of last year and that $22 million contract he signed in March. Instead he shared TE targets with Joel Dreesen and James Casey.

Giants-Redskins

Rex Grossman ended last year with some good numbers and started 2011 with some good numbers. If there wouldn’t have been all that QB controversy talk in the preseason, I would have been touting Grossman as a potential sleeper. He was sacked four times, but still completed 21-34 for 305 and two TDs for a 110.5 QB rating.

TE Fred Davis had five catches for 105 yards, Santana Moss added 6-76 and Jabar Gaffney went 3-54-1 for the surprising Redskins.

TE Jake Ballard was a surprise for the Giants, catching two passes for 59 yards. He was not a pass-catcher at Ohio State, but seems like he could be one in New York.

For you IDP owners, Kenny Phillips had six tackles, three assists and two pass deflections. He seemed to pick up some of the fantasy points that Terrell Thomas was expected to get before he got hurt. Reed Doughty led Washington with 10 tackles.

Vikings-Chargers

Both Percy Harvin and Vincent Jackson were criminally underused in the contest. Despite the preseason sleeper talk, Donovan McNabb‘s final numbers were pathetic.

Jamarca Sanford led the Vikings in tackles. Everyone paid big money for Chad Greenway at auctions. He finished second. Sanford, a seventh-rounder in 2009, had nine stops. Last season he had 22 in 12 games. If he posts big numbers again, he’s worth adding in deep IDP leagues, but don’t drop Greenway for him.

Panthers-Cardinals

Cam Newton welcomed himself to the NFL with a rookie record 422 yards passing and two TDs. He also rushed for 18 yards and a score.

See former Panthers quarterbacks, that’s what happens when you connect with Steve Smith eight times in a game. Smith finished with 178 yards and two TDs. Greg Olsen, Brandon LaFell and Jeremy Shockey showed flashes of potential value in deep leagues.

Kevin Kolb was excellent for the Cardinals, throwing for 309 and two TDs in the shootout. Early Doucet was his top pass-catcher, going 3-103-1. Larry Fitzgerald caught the same number of passes for 62 yards.

Beanie Wells rushed for 90 yards and a TD on 18 carries. He’s a legit RB1 sleeper candidate if Kolb and company can keep defenses honest.

Seahawks-49ers

It’s hard to overlook Ted Ginn Jr.‘s performance. Ginn scored back-to-back on a kickoff and then a punt return in the late afternoon contest. He finished with 268 return yards.

The 49ers kept giving the ball to Frank Gore with little success. He rushed 22 times for 59 yards and caught three passes for 19 yards. Could be a long season for Gore if the rest of the offense doesn’t step up.

Doug Baldwin, an undrafted rookie, was a big surprise for the Seahawks. You go 4-83-1, it doesn’t matter where you were drafted, you are going to get more opportunities from the coaches and quarterbacks. Golden Tate only had one catch but it was an eight-yard TD. If he builds on that he could lose the bust label.

Second-year safety Kam Chancellor led the Seahawks with 10 solo tackles. He’s an IDP player to keep an eye on. Earl Thomas, another Seattle safety, had nine total tackles (eight solo). Depending on the depth of your IDP format, Thomas might not be available, but he’s worth watching in other leagues.

Cowboys-Jets

While Tony Romo‘s costly mistakes are horrible for real football purposes, he continues to amass fantasy points. He threw for 352 and two TDs. In leagues that penalize for turnovers, his fumble and INT took some points away, but not enough to keep him from scoring with the Michael Vicks and Ryan Fitzpatricks of Week 1.

Felix Jones was hardly explosive against the Jets stout defense, but he was given a lot of touches that will be worth more against lesser Ds. He went 17-44-1 and 4-39-0.

LaDainian Tomlinson was a forgotten pick this year as the Jets were going to make Shonn Greene a feature back. LT only had five carries for 16 yards, but was more effective than Greene (2.6 YPC). LT also had six catches for 73 yards.

The Cowboys secondary is not instilling fear in opposing teams, but the Jets top receivers look like they’ll have a decent amount of value. Plaxico Burress caught four passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. Santonio Holmes went 6-70-0. TE Dustin Keller had five catches for 61 yards and a TD.

What games did you watch? Which teams or players impressed you the most during Week 1? What big injury did I miss? Leave a note in the comments.

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