Top 10 Fantasy Performers of the 1st Quarter
We are now four games in. We've gotten more than just a sample of what the season has to offer and can glean some insight to where the best performers stand for the fantasy season to this point and moving forward. We'll have two tight ends, three wide receivers, three running backs, and two quarterbacks.
Jermichael Finley has the best situation. First, he has Aaron Rodgers. Nobody is in more of a zone right now than Rodgers is. Although Greg Jennings is out there, the rest of the receiving corps is average to above average. They're not bad by any means, but beyond Jennings they're just not special. Finley is the best pure athlete of the crew and Rodgers uses him like no other. Yes, he had a rough game this past week (3 catches, 28 yards) when the Packers rolled-up 49 points, but last week he had three touchdowns. The Packers are an offensive juggernaut and he should continue to roll.
If Aaron Hernandez hadn't missed any time yet, he would've probably gotten this, but it goes to Jimmy Graham. He exploded this week with 10 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown. Graham's role has expanded every week since Marques Colston went down and I don't expect that to begin now or even when Colston returns. Brees has gained lots of confidence in his favorite new target and you should only expect his numbers to improve from here on out.
Has anybody benefited from a rookie quarterback more, in the history of the NFL, than Steve Smith has? The speedy dynamo looks like he did about 5-6 years ago. Yes, the Panthers lost this week, but Smith caught 10 passes for 181 yards. Yeah, it was missing a touchdown and he only has a touchdown in one game so far, but there is potential here. Add a few of those to the yards he's accumulating and you have a total fantasy stud. Come on, Cam Newton!
Calvin Johnson is a man amongst boys. He doesn't have as many catches as the leaders, but this guy scores. He scored on Dallas this week for the win and won the game on his own. He is a tight end with top receiver speed. Scary. The Lions aren't your dad's Lions. Matt Stafford is finding himself and staying healthy. The sky is the limit for Megatron.
Wes Welker is the exact opposite of Calvin Johnson. If you have him in a PPR league, you pretty much have a running back playing in a receiver position. If Tom Brady continues at this torrid pace, Welker will elevate receiving stats to a new level. Even if you take out the 16 catch effort from last week, he's still averaging eight a week. If the running game struggles, which teams will try to eliminate, he should be able to achieve 10+ a week.
I know LeSean McCoy is a talented back, but who thought HE would have to carry the Eagles? Michael Vick is about halfway back to being the old Michael Vick. Bummer. McCoy is going to be the savior. He's amassing 100 yard games without getting 20 carries. Just think what may happen if Andy Reid decides to run the ball like a normal offense should. He will and McCoy will continue to ascend in the running back ranks.
Does anybody think Ray Rice looks like MJD when he had a better team? Rice is a dynamo and he doesn't have Willis McGahee pushing him anymore. He only had 9 carries against St. Louis, but he made up for it against a tough Jets defense with 25 carries. An increased workload combined with a more confident and smarter Joe Flacco means big numbers for Rice.
This is what the Raiders expected when the drafted Darren McFadden. He has better home run potential than any other back in the league. He won't wow you with his moves, but when he sees the end zone, no matter where he is, he has the speed to make it there no matter what. Plus, DMC has a great set of hands and Hue Jackson loves to call screen plays. Also, Jason Campbell seems to have no problems looking for DMC as his safety valve.
Drew Brees is carrying his team. His best receiver went down two weeks ago. All Brees has done is throw for 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns through four games. All that with only 2 interceptions. Just wait until he gets Colston back. He has also managed to make Jimmy Graham a huge part of this offense. We must also mention that, as much as Darren Sproles has been utilized, the running game has been rather lackluster to this point, which only adds to what Brees has accomplished.
This guy is getting better every week. Who passes for four touchdowns and runs for two more? Michael Vick you say? Not this year. Aaron Rodgers is making this the new "greatest show on turf" minus the turf. Yes, all the receivers are good or better, but some of them are either slightly above average (Jordy Nelson) or aging (Donald Driver). The crazy thing is he's probably only going to get better.