Week 1 of the fantasy season was a learning experience for a lot of owners, and the main thing we learned is that if you can find someone to take an Indianapolis Colt not named Reggie Wayne off your hands, you should just do it! The Colts offense looked inept with Kerry Collins under center and people who took Dallas Clark to anchor their TE position are scouring the waiver wire to see if there are any sleepers left.
Outside of the Colts debacle, there were plenty of highs and lows around the NFL for fantasy owners to deal with. Let's see who helped their owners bring a victory home and who helped snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.
Cam Newton: Was it a fluke or is this kid for real? Who cares! Newton had one of the most impressive debuts for a rookie in NFL history as he put up 422 passing yards, 18 rushing yards and scored three times. He led all players in scoring despite being owned in just 42 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: I told some of you that emailed me about Fitzpatrick as an alternative to Peyton Manning this week, and that advice paid off. Fitzpatrick torched the Chiefs defense to the tune of 208 passing yards and four touchdowns. Fantasy leagues have always been heavy on TD points, so even a below-average yardage day can be easily made up with TDs, ala Jerome Bettis towards the end of his career: 3 carries for 3 yards and 2 TDs = low-end RB1 numbers.
Tom Brady and Chad Henne: I normally don't do front-line starters here, but the 517 passing yards, four touchdowns and one INT deserved to be recognized. Tom Terrific is an obvious start every single week, but these numbers are ones we normally see on Madden football, not the NFL. Add to that, Henne managed to come out of nowhere and prove that he can be a productive QB by throwing for 416 yards with two scores and an INT, and added 59 yards on the ground with another score. I don't think Henne will do this again, but it sure made his fantasy stock rise.
Mike Tolbert: The Chargers backfield is going to be a mess for fantasy owners all season long, but Tolbert was the one who came out of Week 1 as a winner. He managed to rack up just 35 rushing yards and 58 receiving yards, but he scored a total of three touchdowns. I wouldn't expect to count on either Tolbert or Ryan Mathews as fantasy players while they split carries, but this was a great game for a guy that was started in just 28 percent of leagues.
Ben Tate: Tate played hot potato with the pigskin as he rushed for 116 yards and a score in a game that could have been much worse had the Texans not gone to the ground. The news here really is that the Texans won't comment on Arian Foster's availability next week, so owners are just going to have to wait until Wednesday to figure out their week 2 plan. I added Tate as an insurance policy just in case the Texans nurse Foster back to health.
Kenny Britt: Britt was one of my sleeper picks entering the drafts, so it really wasn't a shock to see him amass 136 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Matt Hasselbeck isn't someone I want to own, but Britt is a WR that I own and have no problems sticking into my WR1 slot.
Ted Ginn, Jr.: This is one of those situations where fantasy numbers are deceiving. Ginn didn't haul in a single pass, but he still managed 268 return yards and scored twice. This means little to fantasy owners since some leagues count return yards and some don't, and Ginn certainly won't score every weekend as a return specialist.
Scott Chandler: Chandler had a career day as he finished with five receptions for 63 yards and two endzone visits. I can almost guarantee that Chandler is available on your waiver wire, and I can also promise that there are better TEs with more upside on that same waiver wire. Chandler isn't someone worth owning just yet, but he is someone that should be on the fantasy radar.
Chicago Bears defense: This is more for my friend Chris, who is a diehard Bears fan living in Portland, OR as a recruiter in the Army. If you've been reading this for a while then you know Chris and I clash over the long-term prospects of the Bears season. The Falcons entered the season as a favorite to make some noise in the NFL, but the Bears held them to just 12 points on the day. The "bend but don't break" philosophy worked to perfection and the Bears were able to record five sacks, one INT, two fumble recoveries and a defensive touchdown. Yes Bears fan, I was wrong… this week.
Donovan McNabb: I warned people to stay away from McNabb in drafts, and he showed why this week. I don't even know how a QB throws for 39 yards with a single TD and an INT, while running for 32 yards as a starter, but McNabb did it. Simply put, McNabb wasn't even worth playing in leagues that start two QBs.
Matt Cassel: The Chiefs as a team failed fantasy owners, so it is no surprise that Cassel made this list. He finished the day with a meager 119 passing yards, one TD and one INT. What's worse is that 14 of his 22 completions went for six yards or fewer and six passes went for negative yardage. Cassel isn't the sexiest fantasy QB out there, but his owners sure didn't expect a game like this against the Bills to open the season.
Chris Johnson: CJ2K showed why training camp and pre-season is so important. He managed to rack up a pitiful 24 yards on nine carries and 25 yards receiving on six catches, but failed to score. There will be better days for Johnson ahead, but he faces the Ravens this week and that is not a good thing.
LeGarrette Blount: I warned people against taking Blount as he is just a two-down back, but some people don't listen. Blount finished the game with 15 yards on five carries… numbers hardly worth mentioning, let alone playing in any type of fantasy format. I'm not going to tell you to cut him, but his upside is limited with just two shots at glory per a 4-down series.
Vincent Jackson: V-Jax was a victim of the Vikings pressure of Philip Rivers. Rivers wasn't able to complete a single pass to a WR until deep into the second quarter, and that left Jackson limited to just 31 yards on two receptions. Things will get better, so this was just a hiccup.
Jeremy Maclin: Maclin was a victim of the Eagles O-Line problems. People are all excited about Michael Vick's play against the Rams, but he looked a lot more like the Vick we saw in Atlanta as he completed 14-of-32 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns while also carrying the ball 10 times for another 98 yards. The point of this is that Vick wasn't given time to throw the ball, so he scrambled and ran… which means Maclin is going to see more days like this one before the season is over.
Dallas Clark: As I mentioned earlier, Clark was not a fantasy favorite this weekend as he finished with just 39 yards on four receptions. This is exactly what I expected from Clark when Manning went down and Collins stepped in. I would be a seller of anyone in a Colts uniform, and that includes Wayne.
Cleveland Browns defense: More than a few sites had the Browns defense as one of the top plays in week 1 since they faced off against the Bengals. However, impress they did not. The Bengals put up 27 points on the scoreboard and the Browns only managed four sacks with no INTs or fumbles. The thing to remember about the NFL is that there is no sure thing!