After getting a nice appetizer last Thursday, fantasy football fans finally got the full buffet of Week 1 today. We saw that nothing has changed for Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. Addition by subtraction may have been just what the Dallas Cowboys needed. The NFC East didn’t disappoint in being possibly the best division in football, as Dallas, the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles all looked sharp, despite the Eagles losing Donovan McNabb to fractured ribs. Like Brees, Adrian Peterson picked up right where he left off in 2008.
In this article, as you will find every Sunday night, Bruno Boys Jimbo will take you through each game of the week and give you a recap from a fantasy football perspective. It’s never too late to start planning for next week. One common theme that I’m going to say here so I don’t have to keep repeating myself throughout the article—one game is not enough to make a full evaluation of your players. If your studs failed to show up today, don’t make any rash decisions. If your sleeper went off today, don’t get ahead of yourself either. With that, let’s take a look back at today’s action.
New Orleans 45 vs. Detroit Lions 27
What can you say about Drew Brees? He kicked off the 2009 season with six touchdowns! Don’t expect too many repeat performances like that this year, but you can definitely expect big things from Brees this year. What’s worth noting here is that Brees threw those scores to five different receivers. Jeremy Shockey was the only receiver to get two touchdowns. Brees loves to spread the wealth around. Devery Henderson had 5 catches for 103 yards, but next week, it may be Lance Moore or Marques Colston who has the huge day. You just never know which Saint will share in Brees’ excellence. Mike Bell got owners who picked him up this week 143 yards on the ground, but expect Pierre Thomas to return to action next week. For the Detroit Lions, Calvin Johnson owners are going to have to bear with Matthew Stafford as he goes through the learning curve, but Johnson is still a must play every week. Kevin Smith, a guy who I think should have a nice season, only got 20 yards rushing, but he also got 52 yards receiving and scored a touchdown.
Baltimore Ravens 38 vs. Kansas City Chiefs 24
The biggest fantasy star heading into this game was Dwayne Bowe. Owners of Bowe are very lucky that this guy was able to get a touchdown because he only racked up 40 yards receiving. If you have Bowe on your team, cross your fingers that Matt Cassel returns next week. Larry Johnson put up 20 yards on 11 carries. There just aren’t too many players on the Kansas City Chiefs who I think will put up big numbers. I wouldn’t have high expectations for Johnson in particular. How many people actually had Todd Heap in their starting lineup? Heap posted 74 yards receiving and scored a touchdown. With a quarterback like Joe Flacco, who could be a budding star, Heap’s career might be resurrected, but it’s still too soon to tell. Speaking of Flacco, he had 300 yards passing with three touchdowns. If he wasn’t drafted in your league, he’s definitely somebody to keep an eye on. One of the major questions this offseason was how would the Baltimore Ravens’ running game produce. Well, Ray Rice had a 100-yard rushing performance, while Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain found the only rushing touchdowns. It’s only Week 1, but that strategy worked well today.
Dallas Cowboys 34 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21
You would think that all the Patrick Crayton owners out there who ecstatic that Crayton had 135 yards receiving with a score, but I’m willing to bet most owners of Crayton probably had him on their bench. In his first game as the top wideout for the Dallas Cowboys, Roy Williams didn’t disappoint, recording 86 yards receiving with a touchdown. The real story here is how well Tony Romo did without having a certain grouchy receiver constantly complaining on the sidelines. Romo passed for 353 yards with three touchdowns. Granted, I don’t think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense is too formidable this year, but that’s still a good sign for owners of anybody on the Cowboys. This could be a sign of this offense soaring to new heights. The most impressive player for the Bucs today was Cadillac Williams. Williams just missed 100 yards on the ground, and also hit paydirt. Even with Derrick Ward and Earnest Graham, I like Williams to remain the feature back for Tampa Bay.
Minnesota Vikings 34 @ Cleveland Browns 20
The story at the outset of this game was how well will Brett Favre play, but it ended up with the same story as always for the Minnesota Vikings—Adrian Peterson is amazing. Peterson scored three times and had 180 yards on the ground. As for Favre, he connected with the rookie Percy Harvin for a score and finished with 110 yards passing. Favre didn’t look as sharp as the Favre we’ve all come to know. The Vikings are still going to be a team that runs first and foremost, but a couple games this year, I think we’ll see Favre have some impressive performances. Owners of Braylon Edwards probably through their hat at the TV when Edwards’ first score of 2009 was taken away on a challenge by Minnesota. Edwards ended up with one catch for 12 yards. But now that the QB situation is settled, I think he and Brady Quinn will continue to build a nice rapport. Edwards should have a better ‘09 than ‘08. In case you didn’t hear, rookie RB James Davis was in a car accident yesterday, which may have had something to do with his five yards on four carries today. Still, Jamal Lewis only had 57 yards rushing. The job is Davis’ for the taking.
Pittsburgh Steelers 13 vs. Tennessee Titans 10
Could there be a changing of the guard with the Pittsburgh Steelers? Santonio Holmes posted an exact repeat performance from the Super Bowl and appeared to be the go-to receiver for most of the game. However, Hines Ward also had 100 yards receiving, and there’s a good chance he would have gotten into the endzone if he didn’t fumble. Given the weak running attack Pittsburgh showed, I think the Steelers will have to pass more than usual this year. That bodes well for Holmes and Ward owners. Don’t get too down on Chris Johnson’s quiet performance. It’s very difficult to run on the Steelers. Just forget about that game for him altogether. But, how about the passing attack for the Tennessee Titans? Kerry Collins did a nice job of slinging the ball around. Everybody keeps talking about Nate Washington in this offense, but I think you need to keep an eye out for Justin Gage. The Titans will still be a run-first team, but Collins’ performance looks promising.
New York Giants 23 vs. Washington Redskins 17
The NFC East will be an incredibly tough division to play against, and the New York Giants are one of the frontrunners to win this division. Although they will run mostly, Eli Manning did a nice job throwing the ball today with no Plaxico Burress. Manning passed for 256 yards with a touchdown. Manning shouldn’t be your starting QB on most weeks, but with the right matchup, he could be a good spot starter. It’s still way too soon to tell which receiver will be his go-to target. Clinton Portis got all the carries for the Washington Redskins, but was only able to manage 62 yards on 16 carries. I’m not high on Portis this year, and I see Ladell Betts getting involved more as the season goes on. The Washington Redskins’ offense may have trouble scoring points against all the tough defenses in their division.
San Francisco 49ers 20 @ Arizona Cardinals 16
This was a tough game for all of the fantasy stars. Frank Gore only managed 30 yards rushing, though he did score a touchdown. He did get 22 carries, so the proof is out there that the San Francisco 49ers are definitely going to run the ball this year. Tim Hightower didn’t do much with the ground game, but all day long he and Kurt Warner were hooking up on swing passes to the sidelines. Hightower finished with 121 yards receiving, more than both Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Fitz was held under 100 yards, but he did find the endzone. Boldin only caught two passes for 19 yards. This game was more defensive than I think a lot of people thought it was going to be. Beanie Wells had 29 yards rushing on seven carries. He hasn’t surpassed Hightower just yet.
Indianapolis Colts 16 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars 14
Anthony Gonzalez is expected to miss 2-6 weeks with a knee injury, pausing the possibility of him having a breakout season. The old tandem of Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne hasn’t missed a beat, as Manning and Wayne connected for a 35-yard touchdown pass. Wayne finished with 162 yards receiving. As expected, Maurice Jones-Drew was the focal point for the Jacksonville Jaguars. MJD posted similar numbers as he does whenever he faces the Indianapolis Colts, 97 yards rushing, 26 yards receiving and a touchdown. The Colts’ defense seemed to contain MJD a little better than they have in years past. The question is, did the Colts’ defense improve or will most defenses just gang up on stopping MJD?
Philadelphia Eagles 38 @ Carolina Panthers 10
As always, Week 1 is way too early to come up with any final decision on players, but Jake Delhomme couldn’t have gotten his season off to a worse start. He threw four interceptions and only mustered 73 yards passing. The good news for Delhomme owners is that Josh McCown got injured during the game, so Delhomme isn’t likely to lose his job any time soon. That’s also good news for Steve Smith owners because a quarterback change like that is usually never good news for the receivers or the offense in general. The Philadelphia Eagles’ defense was excellent today, and got you huge fantasy points if you had them in your lineup. Donovan McNabb went down with fractured ribs and his future is in doubt. On a completely unrelated note, Michael Vick is eligible to play in Week 3. DeSean Jackson returned a punt 85 yards for a score. With the multiple receivers the Eagles have, Jackson may not always be the first target, but he’s always liable to return a kick back for a score.
Atlanta Falcons 19 vs. Miami Dolphins 7
Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez got things off on the right foot as Gonzalez was Ryan’s top target today, recording 73 yards and a touchdown. Ryan took a page out of the Drew Brees playbook, spreading the wealth around to everybody. Roddy White had five catches for 42 yards. Don’t worry about too many more quiet days like that for White. Michael Turner didn’t have a 2009 kickoff outburst like he did in 2008. While he got 22 carries, he only finished with 65 yards and didn’t hit paydirt. Remember, the Atlanta Falcons signed Gonzalez to improve the passing game so they wouldn’t be so dependent on Turner. Speaking of quiet running backs, Ronnie Brown had 43 yards rushing and also couldn’t get into the endzone. The Wildcat wasn’t at its best today. Davone Bess was the Miami Dolphins’ top receiver with 57 yards on seven catches. Everybody keeps talking about Ted Ginn Jr. and Greg Camarillo, but going back to last year, Bess has been quietly putting up respectable numbers.
New York Jets 24 @ Houston Texans 7
Matt Schaub was supposed to have a very favorable matchup, despite missing Kevin Walter. But that’s why they play the game. The Houston Texans were getting booed off the field as last year’s third-best offense in the league sputtered getting out of the gate in 2009. Schaub finished with 166 yards and no touchdowns. As bad as Schaub was, Steve Slaton had an even worse game. Slaton finished with 17 yards on nine carries. If you’re looking ahead to next week, Slaton gets the Tennessee Titans’ rush defense. Possibly this year’s Matt Ryan, Mark Sanchez had a nice NFL debut, putting up 272 yards with his first career touchdown pass. All that talk about using three running backs, well Thomas Jones put a wrench in that plan for the time being. Jones capped off a 100-yard outing with two touchdowns. You might want to hold off before plugging Leon Washington into your lineup just yet.
Seattle Seahawks 28 vs. St. Louis Rams 0
So far, it looks like there will be no sophomore jinx for John Carlson. The second-year tight end out of Notre Dame was the Seattle Seahawks’ leading receiver (6 catches, 95 yards, 2 touchdowns). Don’t expect outings like that all the time, but Carlson will not just be a blocking tight end. It was also a nice afternoon for Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck had 279 yards and three touchdowns. Julius Jones scampered for a 62-yard score. Remember, Seattle wants to run the ball more now than in recent years. Owners of Steven Jackson had to be frustrated at his 67 yards on the ground and no touchdowns. Jackson will have his impressive games, as long as he stays healthy, but if the Rams keep struggling like they did today, Jackson’s production may decline with it.
Denver Broncos 12 @ Cincinnati Bengals 7
If you had Brandon Stokely in your lineup…you got really lucky. Stokely’s amazing touchdown catch capped off what most people thought would have been an offensive shootout, but actually, was very low scoring. Two members of the Cincinnati Bengals who had nice outings were Cedric Benson and Chad Ochocinco. Benson collected 76 yards on the ground and plowed in for a score. If the Bengals’ passing game can flourish like it has in the past, Benson will benefit from that as the team’s feature back. Ochocinco totaled 89 yards receiving as he and Carson Palmer may be getting back on track. The touchdowns will come for these two as long as they stay on track. It was a quiet game for all of the Denver Broncos on offense, besides the game-winning touchdown. With Brandon Marshall back in action, Kyle Orton and Eddie Royal will produce as a result. Don’t let today’s unusual game steer you away from that.
Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings connected for a 50-yard touchdown pass. Get used to it because these two are going to score a lot this year. The Green Bay Packers’ passing attack may be second only to the New Orleans Saints (we’ll see how the New England Patriots do tomorrow night). Ryan Grant also got in on the action as he scored a touchdown. His value will rise along with the receivers in this high-powered offense. For the Chicago Bears, give Jay Cutler some time to develop more of a rapport with his receivers, as it was evident they aren’t all on the same page quite yet. Cutler did hit Devin Hester for a nice touchdown pass. I think we’ll see more of that this year. Matt Forte had a quiet night, just recording 55 yards on the ground, but what’s more surprising is that he didn’t have a single catch. Time to worry about Forte? Of course not, just keep an eye on it.
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*THIS ARTICLE WRITTEN BY BRUNO BOY JIMBO JONES.*