Though analysts had an idea of who the big fantasy performers would be in the NFL in 2015, nothing is ever certain until teams take the field for the first time. Some owners are being rewarded for their prescience, while others are wondering if they made a terrible mistake with a key player.
Week 1 NFL action was full of surprises, as underrated fantasy players emerged in some cases, while past mainstays had surprisingly below-average performances (we're looking at you, Peyton Manning).
Here is a look at the complete results from around the league, along with analysis on some of the biggest fantasy performers from Sunday's action.
|Sunday's Week 1 NFL Scores, Fantasy Stars|
|Away||Score||Home||Notable Fantasy Star|
|Green Bay Packers||31-23||Chicago Bears||Matt Forte (141 rush yds, 1 TD; 5 rec., 25 yds)|
|Kansas City Chiefs||27-20||Houston Texans||Travis Kelce (6 rec., 106 yds, 2 TD)|
|Cleveland Browns||10-31||New York Jets||Chris Ivory (91 rush yds, 2 TD; 1 rec., 9 yds)|
|Indianapolis Colts||14-27||Buffalo Bills||Andrew Luck (243 pass yds, 2 TD, 20 rush yds)|
|Miami Dolphins||17-10||Washington Redskins||Alfred Morris (121 rush yds)|
|Carolina Panthers||20-9||Jacksonville Jaguars||Cam Newton (175 pass yds, 1 TD, 35 rush yds)|
|Seattle Seahawks||31-34||St. Louis Rams||Nick Foles (297 pass yds, 1 TD; 11 rush yds, 1 rush TD)|
|New Orleans Saints||19-31||Arizona Cardinals||Carson Palmer (307 pass yds, 3 TD, 14 rush yds)|
|Detroit Lions||28-33||San Diego Chargers||Philip Rivers (404 pass yds, 2 TD)|
|Tennessee Titans||42-14||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Marcus Mariota (209 pass yds, 4 TD, 6 rush yds)|
|Cincinnati Bengals||33-13||Oakland Raiders||Tyler Eifert (9 rec., 104 yds, 2 TD)|
|Baltimore Ravens||13-19||Denver Broncos||Brandon McManus (4/4 FG, 1 XPM)|
|New York Giants||26-27||Dallas Cowboys||Tony Romo (356 pass yds, 3 TD)|
Top Week 1 Fantasy Performers
Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
One of the two 2015 rookie quarterbacks taking the field for the first time this matchup had an excellent debut. One did not.
Oregon product Marcus Mariota looked like a seasoned pro, getting his team out to fast start and finishing his day 13-of-16 for 209 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions for a perfect passer rating of 158.3.
Not bad for a rookie taking the field for the first time.
"Starting fast, setting the tempo, going out there and having success early, just gave confidence to everybody and really helped us all the way through the game," Mariota said after the game per the Associated Press, via ESPN.
His efforts helped the Titans end what had been a 10-game losing streak and, surely, led the front office to pat itself on the back for drafting him No. 2 overall instead of trading away the pick to one of many suitors.
The question, however, is how many fantasy owners were able to benefit from Mariota's flashy outing? He was the third-highest-scoring fantasy quarterback in Week 1, bringing in 24 points, but as an unproven rookie he wasn't a popular option to start this week.
That could change next week after owners who may have had him on the bench mourn what could have been.
On his way to fantasy glory, Mariota broke some nice records, as well. The Titans shared one on Twitter:
Clearly, Mariota is not going to throw for four touchdowns every week. This could have been a flash-in-the-pan situation, and owners should proceed with caution before benching another quarterback for Mariota.
But his Week 2 matchup against the Browns, who gave up 31 points to the New York Jets, is a favorable one.
If Mariota happened to go undrafted in your league, put in your waiver request. Now.
Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs still didn't have a wide receiver score a touchdown in their Week 1 opener, but if opponents can't figure out a way to stop tight end Travis Kelce, perhaps that doesn't matter so much.
Kelce was just that, unstoppable, on Sunday against the vaunted Houston Texans defense. He finished his day with six receptions for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
Alex Smith's favorite weapon was No. 3 in scoring among tight ends in Week 1, behind Rob Gronkowski, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and tied with Tyler Eifert. He had the second-most yards of any tight end and proved to be virtually uncoverable by the Texans defense.
There were plenty of flashy tight ends who came off the board in fantasy this year earlier than Kelce, but owners who made an investment in him have to feel after this performance that they'll see high returns.
Kelce set a record of his own Sunday afternoon, joining another esteemed tight end with his performance:
One of Kelce's touchdowns came off a 42-yard completion from Smith, who didn't look too bad himself on Sunday.
If the Chiefs offense is finally clicking—and adding Jeremy Maclin to the mix to draw some defenders off Kelce certainly helped matters—both Kelce and Smith could be must-starts deep into the season.
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears
Against what has been a suspect Green Bay Packers run defense for awhile now, it's no surprise that Bears rusher Matt Forte had himself a day.
Still, though, the extent to which Forte completely gashed Green Bay's defense was astounding, and no doubt filled fantasy owners with glee.
Forte's final line was 24 carries for 141 yards and a touchdown, and another five receptions for 25 yards. A whopping 105 of Forte's yards came in the first half. Under head coach Marc Trestman in 2014, Forte only rushed for more than 100 yards in an entire game three times.
He led all running backs in scoring for Week 1, finishing with 22 points.
It's clear that new Bears head coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase plan to use Forte differently than Trestman, and that's good news for fantasy owners.
Fox has a particularly dramatic strategy when it comes to running the ball that National Football Post writer Greg Gabriel shared via Twitter:
And Forte made it clear in postgame comments that he didn't feel that the 2014 Bears coaching staff had a commitment to running the ball, especially in playing-from-behind situations, as Chicago Sun-Times writer Mark Potash shared:
Forte's efforts weren't enough to help Chicago to a victory over Green Bay, which was unfortunate for Bears fans but did not matter much to fantasy owners.
Scoring stats via ESPN.