Fantasy Football: 7 Biggest Surprises of Week 1
The first week of the NFL season brings surprises to fantasy football every year. Some veteran stars returned from lengthy absences away from the game and played as if they never left.
Some younger guys started the season with a bang, as well.
Kevin Ogletree does not make this list. He played well, but we saw it coming. The stage was set for him to go off on Wednesday night against the Giants. Ogletree is definitely worth a fantasy addition, but you don’t need me to tell you that now, right?
Success isn’t the only type of surprise that met NFL and fantasy football fans in Week 1. There were players with high expectations that fell far short of them in their season debuts.
Here are my biggest fantasy football surprises of Week 1.
7. Brandon Weeden, QB, Cleveland Browns
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Two quarterbacks that were drafted to be starters were not game-breaking performers for their fantasy teams, despite getting the win with their NFL counterparts. One quarterback wasn’t drafted to be a fantasy starter and didn’t do much to improve his start percentage in Week 2.
Michael Vick chucked four interceptions, but still finished with over 300 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns in the Philadelphia Eagles’ win over the Cleveland Browns.
Matthew Stafford tossed three picks against the St. Louis Rams, but also escaped his home field with a win. Brandon Weeden wasn’t so fortunate.
Fantasy owners in standard-scoring leagues would have done better to leave the QB slot empty than play Weeden in Week 1, as the rookie amassed a total of negative-two points. He threw for a modest 118 passing yards and a frustrating four interceptions.
6. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers
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We all thought DeAngelo Williams had the green light against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Jonathan Stewart missing the game, but the Carolina Panthers’ rusher finished with minus-one yards. On just six carries.
Many, including yours truly, expected him to at least be worthy of a start by virtue of his expected volume of touches. He was started in 54.1 percent of leagues on ESPN.com.
We all turned out to be wrong as Williams scored zero points.
5. Blaine Gabbert, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
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Several quarterbacks who weren’t drafted to be starters on most teams (and a couple of guys who were) stepped up their games Week 1 and delivered unexpectedly good fantasy performances.
Peyton Manning returned from a flurry of neck surgeries to give the Steelers headaches on Sunday night.
Robert Griffin III was impressive in the Washington Redskins’ win over the New Orleans Saints. But a lot of fantasy owners who reached for him in drafts did so with intentions of him being their starter.
Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets hung 48 on the Buffalo Bills, but he still wasn’t the producer of the most surprisingly pleasant quarterback performance of the week.
Blaine Gabbert was likely far, far away from fantasy lineups after his showing in the 2011 season. However, in Week 1 against the Vikings, Gabbert compiled 260 yards and two touchdowns.
Seventy-four of those yards and one of the scores came from the contributions of a guy named Cecil Shorts.
The Jaguars lost in overtime.
4. Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers
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It appears that Randall Cobb has indeed wrestled the No. 3 WR job in Green Bay from James Jones for the time being. Cobb was targeted nine times on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
He had nine receptions. That's 100 percent.
The second-year wideout from Kentucky added a controversial punt-return TD, but there is no asterisk attached to his extra six points in your fantasy lineup. As long as he's in Aaron Rodgers' sights, Cobb is an asset to owners in PPR leagues and fantasy gold in leagues that award points for return yards.
3. Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins
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Morris had an impressive preseason and turned that into a starting job for the Redskins on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
Now, he leads the NFL in carries.
Morris had 28 totes for 96 yards and two scores in Sunday’s win, making it a great day for Redskins rookies. Knowing Mike Shanahan’s habit of rotating his starters at the running back position, it would terrify me to start Morris.
But the fearless among us may be rewarded with strong fantasy performances in the future.
2. Stephen Hill, WR, New York Jets
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Stephen Hill was named the Jets’ starter just prior to the Buffalo Bills game. The Jets then proceeded to terrorize the Bills en route to a 48-28 blowout.
Hill came up big with 89 yards and two touchdowns. He caught five of the six passes thrown his way.
Whether Hill’s performance will repeat itself this year remains to be seen. But to this point in the season, he has outscored Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson.
As well as almost every other receiver in the league.
1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
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As we are all aware, Adrian Peterson tore his knee up on Christmas Eve last year. Because of that alone, he was recommended to be drafted in rounds lower than his customary first-round grade.
When the Vikings took him off of the PUP list, it was seen as gamesmanship. He’d get the Jaguars thinking in Week 1. Maybe he’d get a few touches in the game, too.
And then…he carried the ball 17 times. He gained 84 yards.
He even messed around and scored a pair of touchdowns.
Peterson still didn’t even look like he was 100 percent healthy, and that’s why he’s the best back in the league.