Every NFL season is unique in and of itself just as no two fantasy seasons are alike. Today was the start of a brand new season, one that will wash away our memories of last year and all we thought we knew this off-season. The first Sunday of the 2011 season saw highly paid superstars fail miserably, new coaches guiding their team to victory, rookies that played like All-Pro veterans and a team that looks lost without its leader. It was a glorious start for some of us while others can’t wait for week two to be here. Let’s take a look around the league and discuss all of the highs and lows of this first week shall we?
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Pittsburgh at Baltimore
Joe Flacco – 17-29, 224 yards, 3 TD’s passing
Ray Rice – 19-107 yards, 1 TD rushing; 4-42 yards, 1 TD receiving
Anquan Boldin – 4-74 yards, 1 TD receiving
Ed Dickson – 5-59 yards, 1 TD receiving
Mike Wallace – 8-107 yards receiving
Ben Roethlisberger – 22-41, 280 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT passing
Rashard Mendenhall – 12-45 yards rushing
Lee Evans – 0-0 yards receiving
James Harrison – LB – Right Knee strain, status is day-to-day
The Steelers defense has some major issues right now. Free agency, injuries and age have caught up with them in a major way and they are no longer a unit that should strike fear in fantasy owners.
Anquan Boldin had another TD reception called back due to offensive holding as well.
Indianapolis at Houston
Ben Tate – 24-116 yards, 1 TD rushing
Andre Johnson – 7-95 yards, 1 TD receiving
Reggie Wayne – 7-106 yards, 1 TD receiving
Joseph Addai – 8-29 yards rushing
Dallas Clark – 4-39 yards receiving
Owen Daniels – 1-12 yards receiving
Derrick Ward left the game in the third quarter with a right ankle sprain. He was walking on the sidelines and isn’t expected to miss any time.
Kevin Walter has a significant shoulder injury that could lead to him missing extended time. If there is a break in the shoulder than he may miss the remainder of the season.
Anybody who runs the football for the Texans should be considered a RB1 this season. The offensive line is mauling defenders and creating huge running lanes in the process.
The performance by the Colts offense in this game proves that Peyton Manning is indeed the best player in the NFL. Without him, this team went from Super Bowl contender to Andrew Luck contender real quick
Atlanta at Chicago
Jay Cutler – 22-32, 312 yards, 2 TD’s passing
Matt Forte – 16-68 yards rushing; 5-90 yards, 1 TD receiving
Michael Turner – 10-100 yards rushing; 3-40 yards receiving
Matt Ryan – 31-47, 319 yards, 1 INT passing
Roddy White – 8-61 yards
Atlanta has a lot of weapons but it doesn’t appear as though Matt Ryan knows how to use them. He seems overwhelmed by having so many options that he tries to be too perfect with every read and throw which is causing him to dance around too much in the pocket.
Bears WR Roy Williams left the game with a strained groin muscle but was laughing and stomping around on the sidelines after suffering the so called injury.
Cincinnati at Cleveland
Cedric Benson – 25-121 yards, 1 TD rushing
Colt McCoy – 19-40, 213 yards, 2 TD passing
Ben Watson – 3-45 yards, 1 TD receiving
Evan Moore – 3-35 yards, 1 TD receiving
Peyton Hillis – 17-57 yards rushing
A.J. Green – 1-41 yards, 1 TD receiving
Andy Dalton left the game with a right wrist injury and did not return.
The offensive line for the Bengals will save them this season. The guys up front are big, space clearing maulers and will help the younger skill position players greatly.
Mohammad Massaquoi is a guy who is available in many leagues right now yet is the top receiving option here in Cleveland. He should be a steady performer in PPR leagues this season.
Detroit at Tampa Bay
Matthew Stafford – 24-33, 305 yards, 3 TD’s passing
Calvin Johnson – 6-88 yards, 2 TD’s receiving
LaGarrette Blount – 5-15 yards rushing
Jahvid Best – 21-72 yards rushing; 4-42 yards receiving
Josh Freeman left the game temporarily due to leg cramps but did return after missing one series.
Detroit must learn how to close out games and not just try and sit on the ball and run out the clock. There is so much firepower on this offense they need to keep the pedal to the metal in order to close out games.
Tennessee at Jacksonville
Kenny Britt – 5-136 yards, 2 TD’s receiving
Matt Hasselbeck – 21-34, 263 yards, 2 TD’s passing
Maurice Jones-Drew – 34-97 yards, 1 TD
Chris Johnson – 9-24 yards rushing; 6-25 yards receiving
Luke McCown – 17-24, 175 yards passing
Marcedes Lewis – 2-23 yards receiving
Jared Cook – 1-7 yards receiving
Marcedes Lewis was in and out of this game with what is believed to be a calf strain. He will be re-evaluated during the week.
MJD started out this game looking fast and fresh but slowed down tremendously later on. It didn’t appear as though his knee was much of a factor but he did seem a little slower or perhaps more hesitant at times today.
Matt Hasselbeck could have put his team in position to win this game but threw up a hail mary type pass on the final drive the resulted in an interception and thus the end of the game.
Buffalo at Kansas City
Ryan Fitzpatrick – 17-25, 208 yards, 4 TD’s
Scott Chandler – 5-63 yards, 2 TD’s receiving
Steve Johnson – 4-66 yards, 1 TD receiving
Matt Cassel – 22-36, 119 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Dwayne Bowe – 2-17 yards receiving
Steve Breaston – 2-26 yards receiving
Matt Cassel appeared to wince several times in this game which leads me to believe he is still reeling from the back/ribcage injury he suffered in the final week of the preseason.
The Chiefs are not going to be good this year. The loss of Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator and Todd Haley’s disturbing use of his players will be the downfall of this team.
Jamaal Charles lost yet another fumble in this game. Charles has had a long and storied history in protecting the ball and with every turnover his touches become more and more limited. It doesn’t matter how many yards he averages, he won’t be on the field if he keeps putting the ball on the ground.
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Philadelphia at St. Louis
Michael Vick – 14-32, 187 yards, 2 TD’s passing; 10-98 yards rushing
LeSean McCoy – 15-122 yards, 1 TD rushing; 2-15 yards, 1 TD receiving
DeSean Jackson – 6-102 yards, 1 TD receiving
Jeremy Maclin – 1-20 yards receiving
Sam Bradford – 17-30, 188 yards passing
Mike Sims-Walker – 1-5 yards receiving
Steven Jackson left the game after his 47 yard TD run on the first drive of the game due to an injured quad muscle. Jackson is scheduled to undergo an MRI and could wind up missing a couple of weeks.
Danny Amendola appears likely out for the year after dislocating his elbow on a fourth quarter fall. The injury looked hideous and I wouldn’t be counting on anything more from Amendola this season.
Sam Bradford also left the game in the fourth quarter with an injured right index finger. There is fear that there may be some ligament or even nerve damage in the finger so this is one to watch closely throughout the week.
The Rams got off to a great start but Jackson’s injury, followed by all of the other injuries really took the wind out of their sails. Michael Vick is so amazing to watch with how effortless his runs and throws appear to the naked eye. DeSean Jackson dropped two easy TD passes in this game as well including a 75 yard bomb where he was all alone along the sidelines and watched the ball go right through his arms.
N.Y. Giants at Washington
Rex Grossman – 21-34, 305 yards, 2 TD’s passing
Tim Hightower – 25-72 yards, 2 TD rushing; 3-25 yards receiving
Fred Davis – 5-105 yards receiving
Hakeem Nicks – 7-122 yards receiving
Eli Manning – 18-32, 268 yards, 1 INT passing
Brandon Jacobs – 6-29 yards rushing
Chris Cooley – 2-21 yards receiving
Hakeem Nicks banged up his knee late in this game but it didn’t appear to be very serious. He was not on the field however for the Giants final few drives.
Tim Hightower was the feature back for the Redskins all afternoon which is a good sign for his fantasy value. Eli Manning needs to learn to rely on a second and third option in the passing game as Hakeem Nicks won’t be able to carry this full a load going forward.
Seattle at San Francisco
Doug Baldwin – 4-83 yards, 1 TD receiving
Ted Ginn Jr. – 102 yard kickoff return for TD; 55 yard punt return for TD
Everybody else who played in this game
Tavaris Jackson got the wind knocked out of him in the third quarter but unfortunately for Seahawks fans he remained in the game.
Neither of these offenses were good today. The Seahawks have some potential especially when they get LG Robert Gallery and WR Sidney Rice back from injury and learn how to use TE Zach Miller properly. The 49ers will need more miracles like this out of Ted Ginn to be competitive offensively this season.
Minnesota at San Diego
Mike Tolbert – 12-35 yards, 1 TD rushing; 9-58 yards, 2 TD’s receiving
Phillip Rivers – 33-48, 335 yards, 2 TD’s, 2 INT’s passing
Donovan McNabb – 7-15, 39 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT passing
Vincent Jackson – 2-31 yards receiving
Bernard Berrian – 0-0 receiving
Nate Kaeding was taken off the field on a cart on the opening kickoff in which Percy Harvin returned for a TD. It appears as though Kaeding will miss significant time with a knee injury and thus should be dropped in all leagues.
Mike Tolbert appeared to suffer a knee injury late in this game. He was down for several minutes before limping off the field with help from teammates. His status will be updated throughout the week.
The Vikings offense outside of Adrian Peterson is horrible. Percy Harvin is an explosive player as he demonstrated by returning the opening kickoff 103 yards for a TD. Ryan Matthews looked real good but it is a nightmare for fantasy owners that he won’t get the ball anywhere near the goal line. I still feel that Matthews will be the better fantasy player the rest of the way but it is going to take guts to keep starting him over Mike Tolbert.
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Carolina at Arizona
Cam Newton – 24-37, 422 yards, 2 TD’s passing; 8-18 yards, 1 TD rushing
Steve Smith – 8-178 yards, 2 TD’s receiving
Kevin Kolb – 18-27, 309 yards, 2 TD’s passing
Early Doucet – 3-105 yards, 1 TD receiving
Beanie Wells – 18-90 yards, 1 TD rushing; 4-12 yards receiving
DeAngelo Williams – 12-30 yards rushing
Jonathan Stewart – 7-26 yards rushing
Larry Fitzgerald – 3-62 yards receiving
The Panthers lost LB Jon Beason in what looks like a season ending type injury. Beason collapsed without contact while running after TE Jeff King in the third quarter and appeared to be clutching his Achilles. This would be a tremendous loss to the Panthers defense.
Nobody in this industry like Cam Newton more than I heading into the season but this performance even for me was ridiculous. Although he will be a good fantasy QB, this is without a doubt the best game he will have this season. The best part of Newton’s performance is that it makes WR Steve Smith a useful fantasy player once again.
Lost in all of the Cam Newton hoopla was that Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb was also tremendous in this game. Kolb took a lot of hits and was under constant pressure but still delivered the throws when needed to get his team the win.
Dallas at N.Y. Jets
Mark Sanchez – 26-44, 335 yards, 2 TD’s, 1 INT passing
Tony Romo – 23-36, 342 yards, 2 TD’s, 1 INT passing
Miles Austin – 5-90 yards, 1 TD receiving
Dez Bryant – 3-71 yards, 1 TD receiving
Jason Witten – 6-110 yards receiving
Plaxico Burress – 4-72 yards, 1 TD receiving
Shonn Greene – 10-26 yards rushing
Santonio Holmes – 6-70 yards receiving
Derrick Mason – 3-13 yards receiving
No significant injuries to report in this game.
Don’t buy into the media’s reaction to this game. The fact remains that Tony Romo is a top 10 fantasy QB in any format while Mark Sanchez shouldn’t even be owned in leagues of less than twelve. Dez Bryant is a complete stud and needs the ball thrown to him more no matter what cornerback is covering him.
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