NFL fans around the world were forced to sit back and watch as fantasy starter after fantasy starter was reduced to bench fodder in Week 1. Meanwhile, backups and waiver wire players put up starter-worthy numbers from the bench or the free agent list.
As if that wasn't bad enough, Chargers WR Keenan Allen tore his ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. Browns QB Robert Griffin III broke a bone in his non-throwing shoulder and was placed on I.R., but that is far less of a hit than that of Allen's injury. Griffin can come back after 8 games, but I don't see much point with the Browns losing again this season. All those big-box websites will try and spin this as a "big loss" for the Browns. But the truth is, McCown is probably an upgrade at QB and Griffin hasn't been useful as an NFL player in years anyway.
Oh, and how can we talk about football and not mention that train wreck that was the late game on Monday Night Football? Let's just make this short and simple: Todd Gurley owners need to be the most worried owners in your league as we head into Week 2. Jared Goff couldn't beat out a QB in Case Keenum that finished 17-of-35 passing, 130 yards, 0 TDs, and 2 INTs. With that kind of production at QB, defenses could just stack the box with 8-man fronts every play and make Gurley a non-factor this season.
Not only did our No. 1s play like 2s and 3s, but some of you lost your WR1 and backup QB (in 2-QB leagues) before they could produce anything for you. In other words, welcome to Fantasy Football 2016!
Let's take a look at some of those guys now that hurt more than helped, and look at some of the guys who are sure to be hot waiver wire additions this week in the Week 1 Fantasy Football Recap.
Alex Smith – Chiefs:When you think of fantasy QBs worth starting, Alex Smith is not a name that will come up often. But this week he had one of the best 2nd-half performances we are likely to see all season as he shredded the Chargers defense for 269 yards and 3 touchdowns (2 passing, 1 rushing in overtime).
In the end, Smith finished with 363 passing yards, 15 rushing yards, and 3 TDs. Those numbers catapulted him into the #3 spot for fantasy QBs in Week 1 of the NFL season.
Jameis Winston – Buccaneers: Winston opened the fantasy season with a bang as he threw for 281 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception against the Falcons' porous defense. Winston looked solid for a 2nd-year player, and he will certainly get better (as a player) as the year goes on. Either way, he put up QB1 numbers while sitting on most people's benches.
With that said, I wouldn't touch him with a 10-foot pole over the next 4 games (@ ARZ, vs. LA, vs. DEN, @ CAR). Be aware and beware of picking him up this week.
C.J. Anderson – Broncos: Anderson looked like a man on a mission on Thursday night as he put the Broncos offense on his shoulders and finished with 139 total yards (92 rushing, 47 receiving) and a touchdown. With Trevor Siemian looking every bit of a game manager, Anderson is going to be a true bell cow RB for fantasy owners this season.
Anderson will be a top-tier RB1 play next week against the Colts "defense."
Spencer Ware – Chiefs: Ware was a major must-add fantasy RB heading into Week 1 for those big-box websites, but if you follow me on social media you would have known about him weeks prior and probably would be the one benefitting from his stellar Week 1 performance. Ware finished the game with 70 yards rushing, 7 receptions for 129 yards receiving, and a touchdown against their division rivals, the Chargers.
If Ware can keep up this type of production, he will be the Chiefs' workhorse back regardless of Jamaal Charles' health going forward.
DeAngelo Williams – Steelers: Can you name me a better 33-year-old RB in the NFL right now than D-Will? How about a better backup RB in the NFL? Remember, Matt Forte is 30. The answer… no, you can't. Williams finished Week 1 as the NFL's top rusher with 143 yards on 26 carries, scored 2 touchdowns, and added 6 receptions for 28 yards to make his fantasy owners just that much happier.
Williams is only a 3-game must-start player in fantasy football because Le'Veon Bell will be back in Week 4. But if this is any indication of the next 2 games, my oh my what a wonderful stretch that will be!
Theo Riddick – Lions: There isn't a Theo on this planet I don't love; Theo Huxtable, Theo[dore] Roosevelt, and of course, Theo Riddick. Riddick showed the Lions he needs to be worked into the offense on a weekly basis as he put up 108 total yards (45 rushing, 63 receiving) and 2 TDs. With that said, fantasy owners need to beware about picking up Riddick and starting him next week.
Riddick is a PPR options, not a standard scoring fantasy player. He has never had success as a rusher, and is likely to disappoint next week against a Titans defense that stuffed Adrian Peterson this week.
Willie Snead – Saints: There is nothing more you can ask for from a WR than what Snead gave us in Week 1. Snead managed to haul in 9 of 9 targets for 173 yards and a TD against the Raiders on Sunday. If you own Snead, this would be the sell-high point for him where you try and trade him to fill out the rest of your fantasy roster. He's a WR3 in fantasy terms, but put up WR1 numbers this week.
Will Fuller – Texans: Fuller racked up 11 targets in his first NFL regular season game, reeling in 5 of them for 107 yards and a touchdown. What is even more scary is he could have had a monster game if he didn't drop a pass that would have put him close to the 200-yard mark on the day. Fuller used and abused the Bears secondary and showed big-play ability after the catch. He's someone that is available in about 50 percent of the leagues out there, so check and see if he is on your waiver wire right now.
Julius Thomas– Jaguars: Thomas made a name for himself in Denver, and Jaguars fans were excited when the front office brought him to Jacksonville to be the TE that creates mismatches against LBs, and a guy Blake Bortles can throw to in the red zone. Year one was a little hectic with injuries and adjusting to a new system, but year two is off to a bang as Thomas racked up 64 yards and a TD against the Packers on Sunday.
Thomas is back to being a weekly TE1 in any format, so start him with confidence going forward.
Minnesota Vikings defense: The Vikings defense thumped the Titans on Sunday as they put up 2 sacks, 2 recovered fumbles, 2 defensive touchdowns, 1 interception, and held the Titans to just 16 points. For a defense to score not one, but two touchdowns is similar to buying a Baby Ruth out of a machine, and having it knock loose a bag of chips that was just hanging there.
The Vikings have several IDP options, and are a streaming option in the right matchup. But next week they draw the Packers and Aaron Rodgers. I'd look at them more for Week 4 against the Giants at home.
Russell Wilson – Seahawks: While Wilson did throw for 258 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, he also threw one interception, lost one fumble, and completed just 27 of 43 passes on the day. What's worse, he added just 16 yards on the ground, making him a low-end QB2 in Week 1. Wilson had "precautionary" X-rays after the game, which came back negative. Word is the injury to his ankle isn't serious, but it is certainly going to hamper his play until it fully heals.
With his Week 2 availability in question, I'd find other options (Brock Osweiler is largely unowned) to start for your fantasy team.
Dak Prescott – Cowboys: The preseason media darling looked less than dominant against a below-average Giants defense at home on Sunday. Prescott completed just 25 of 45 passes, and managed 227 yards and zero touchdowns. On the bright side, he also committed zero turnovers, which is about all the Cowboys could ask for from the rookie QB.
I was high on Prescott leading up to this game because the Giants defense was a great confidence-builder for the kid. But instead of finding his groove and moving the offense, his confidence likely took a hit with his WRs dropping pass after pass. He is back down to the bottom of the list for QBs after failing do anything against a pretty bad defense.
Adrian Peterson – Vikings: Peterson had a plus matchup against the Titans in Week 1, but the lack of an adequate passing attack allowed the Titans to focus on stopping the run, which they did. He ended the day with a whopping 31 yards on 19 carries and no TDs. What is worse is Peterson is a non-factor in the passing game, so Shaun Hill couldn't even check down to him.
The good news for Peterson owners is Sam Bradford almost has to be under center for Week 2, which should allow Peterson to find more rushing lanes.
Todd Gurley – Rams: What a nightmare Week 1 was for Gurley, finishing the game with 17 carries for 45 yards on the ground, and 3 targets, 1 reception, and -5 yards receiving. Gurley was projected as high as the #1 RB in fantasy football heading into this week, and he turned out to be somewhere in the 45-50 range for RBs. Not overall, just RBs!
I'm sure he will do good here and there this season, but he will be facing 8-man front a LOT this season with Keenum being the best option at QB. I'd start shooting out some trade offers if I owned Gurley, just to see if I could find his fan in my league.
Duke Johnson Jr. – Browns: Duke Johnson entered the season as a possible sleeper RB on a lot of people's fantasy list. His PPR ability was going to pay dividends in the later rounds of drafts, right? Well, that certainly wasn't the case in Week 1 as the Browns offense looked as terrible as it had in previous seasons.
Although he did manage 5 targets, Johnson hauled in just 3 of them for 28 yards, while adding 22 yards on 3 carries. Isaiah Crowell is the starting RB in Cleveland, making Johnson much more of a bench stash in case Crowell goes down. RGIII getting hurt and Josh McCown coming in bodes well for the Browns offense as a whole. But I wouldn't trust Johnson in fantasy leagues until we see his role increase.
Odell Beckham Jr. – Giants: Beckham is a weekly must-start, but it is hard to watch your #1 WR get you 74 empty yards against a less-than-stellar Cowboys defense to open the season. He did see a total of 8 targets on the day, but managed to reel in just 4 of them and stayed out of the endzone.
The good news for fantasy owners is the Giants take on a Saints defense that gave up 35 points and 319 receiving yards to the Raiders this week. Look for ODB to have a monster game in Week 2.
Dez Bryant – Cowboys: The saddest part of Week 1 for Dez Bryant was the fact that he managed just 1 catch for 8 yards, despite his QB throwing the ball 45 times. I'm not a big fan of Bryant's when it comes to fantasy football because if we look at the last 3 seasons (2013-2015), he's played in 41 games and reached 100 yards in just 8 of them. Compare that to, say Julio Jones, who is in a running offense, and you'll see he had 9 100-yard games last season alone!
When it comes to fantasy football, Bryant is a TD-or-bust player, whose name carries more value than his fantasy production.
Coby Fleener – Saints: Well, any hopes fantasy owners had of Drew Brees turning Fleener into the next Jimmy Graham should be killed after his Week 1 play. Fleener finished the game with a single catch for box score-busting 4 yards and no touchdowns. The rumor all offseason was Fleener was struggling to pick up the Saints playbook, and not gelling with Brees on the field. We can safely say now that there appears to be more fact than fiction to those stories.
If you own Fleener, now is a good time to cut him and see if Eric Ebron or Jacob Tamme are available.
Kansas City Chiefs defense: The Chiefs defense is a good one to own, most weeks. That, however, wasn't the case in Week 1 as the Chargers got ahead of them early and finished the game with 27 points allowed by the Kansas City defense. To add insult to injury (Keenan Allen), the Chiefs managed just a lone sack for defensive stats against the Chargers on Sunday. No INTs, no fumbles, and no touchdowns.
The Chiefs travel to Houston in Week 2 and face a QB who isn't afraid to launch the ball down field (Brock Osweiler). The Chiefs have a fairly tough schedule this season, and I honestly don't see many games I would recommend them as fantasy plays.
Los Angeles Rams defense: There is NOTHING worse than making Blaine Gabbert and the 49ers offense look better than you. The 49ers were one of the worst teams by every single analyst out there, yet they put up 28 points on the Rams defense Monday night. What's more, the Rams were projected by most as a top-5 fantasy defense for Week 1, but finished right near the bottom.
The Rams managed a single fumble recovery for defensive stats. If they can't stop the 49ers offense, it sure doesn't bode well for the season-long outlook.