As usual, the opening weekend of NFL football was as predictable as the Powerball lottery numbers. Every year, a group of nobodies explodes on the scene, only to disappear quicker than a $100 bill on a New York City streetcorner.
So after a wild slate of season-opening games, which players have seen their stock climb? Which have seen their value drop?
Brandon Jackson, GB
Everyone’s waiver wire darling after the Packers lost Ryan Grant for the season, Jackson looks as though he’ll be the starter for Green Bay going into this week’s matchup with Buffalo. Reports vary greatly on whether the Packers will add another back to the mix. Name circulating include Marshawn Lynch, Marion Barber, Tashard Choice, Willis McGahee, Kregg Lumpkin.
The question is whether or not Jackson can hold down the starting gig for a season. He’s shown flashes in the past of being a solid back from a secondary role, and the staff seems to be behind him … for now. Jackson should be owned in all formats at this point, but watch NFL news closely, just in case.
Mark Clayton, STL
Signed just days before the season opener, Clayton was expected to move up the depth chart slowly over a couple week span and perhaps lock into the WR2 role opposite Laurent Robinson. So much for patience. Clayton exploded onto the scene in week one to the tune of 10 catches, 119 yards. Rookie QB Sam Bradford seems confident in Clayton, and fantasy owners should snag him in all formats as the Rams will be passing plenty this season, and Clayton looks to be a main cog in that process.
Arian Foster, HOU
Excited about what Arian could do with the Texans, we at chinstrapninjas.com had been pushing him prior to the season. But no one could have predicted his 231 yards rushing and three TDs in Week 1. With Steve Slaton dinged up and not showing much upside these days, Foster has a stranglehold on the starting gig in Houston, and in that offense, he’ll find plenty of open lanes to sprint through.
Michael Vick, PHI
Was privileged enough to see the Philly-Green Bay game in person, and noticed fairly quickly, even before Kevin Kolb went down with a concussion, that Michael Vick was going to be a major part of the offensive game plan this year. About every other play, Vick was on the field and sprinting for yardage like a gazelle running from a lion. The Kolb concussion thrusts Vick into the starting role, and gauging the fan reaction shift during the game, Vick should cement himself even more of a role with continued impressive play.
Darren McFadden, OAK
A perennial disappointment for the Raiders, McFadden was given another opportunity when Michael Bush was injured in preseason play. McFadden has taken advantage this time, running for 95 yards while catching six passes for 55 yards and a TD. Expect the Raiders to keep riding him while he’s hot.
Legedu Naanee, SD
Given an opportunity to break out with the Vincent Jackson drama in San Diego, Naanee exceeded expectations in Week 1 by outplaying sleeper WR option Malcolm Floyd and notching 110 yards and a TD on five receptions. Floyd will get his at times this season, but as long as VJax is not part of the puzzle, expect decent numbers from Naanee.
Visanthe Shiancoe, MIN
Brett Favre needed someone to lock onto with Sidney Rice out at least half a season, if not the whole thing. Shiancoe was that player, finishing with four catches, 76 yards and a score against the Saints Thursday night. As long as he continues to be a Favre favorite, Shiancoe will be a great value TE in most formats.
Shonn Greene, NYJ
The entire Jets offense was paralyzed by the Ravens Monday night, but Greene looks to be the most troubling piece of the puzzle from a fantasy standpoint. He finished with just 18 yards rushing and a fumble while LaDanian Tomlinson, who also was stunted somewhat, easily outplayed Greene.
Already downgraded in PPR leagues, Greene is losing value in all formats. He’s definitely not looking consistent enough to start on your fantasy roster at the moment, but too low of a value right now to trade away.
Jonathan Stewart, CAR
Seems unfair that I’d pick Stewart to be a stock down player when backfield partner DeAngelo Williams wasn’t much better in a lopsided loss to the Giants in Week 1. However, both backs struggled to get reps as the Panthers aired things out in catch-up mode. They should fare much better this week vs. Tampa Bay.
However, the detractor for Stewart was the five carries to DeAngelo’s 16. Both players have the ability to score tons of fantasy points if the split is 50-50 or even 2-to-1. However, it looks at the moment as though Carolina is going to use DeAngelo in much heavier doses. It is only one week, and the numbers could flip-flop totally by next week. Just something to note.
LeSean McCoy, PHI
It wasn’t that McCoy was a poor fantasy option Sunday, but more that his usage was all over the place. Vick, as stated above, was a major piece in the running game from the first play, and McCoy—once expected to be the main cog out of the backfield—could see much more of a RBBC situation develop. Yes, McCoy averaged five yards per carry and logic would suggest that Philly should give him more carries in that light, but Vick averaged closer to 10 yards per carry and could become the wildcat quarterback that so many others have tried to emulate.
Tim Hightower, ARI
Hightower was a good plug-and-play, as we suggested, but his value is quickly dropping as Beanie Wells nears a return. Hightower didn’t help his own cause by fumbling twice against St. Louis.
Mike Sims-Walker, JAX
A nice 2009 hasn’t carried over to 2010 so far for Sims-Walker. He didn’t have a single reception in the season opener. In fact, he didn’t have a single target. That is concerning for a guy many expected to continue as his team’s top receiving option.
Michael Crabtree, SF
Another young receiver with ample upside, Crabtree should have seen plenty of targets in a game where the 49ers needed to play catchup. However, he finished with just two catches for 12 yards. He’ll bounce back, but one wonders to what level.
Jason Witten, DAL
The Cowboys not named Miles Austin were ineffective across the board, but it was the reception totals that interest me. Austin and Dez Bryant had 10 and eight catches, respectively. Witten? Just three. Considering Felix Jones had two for practically the same yardage output as Witten, things were even more dismal for the tight end that many expected to produce nice numbers. Except for some of us at chinstrapninjas, that is. Our concern from the start was that Witten would be lost in the shuffle of receiving options. So far, it looks that way.
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