Week 1 reminded me of playing Tecmo Super Bowl on my Nintendo and watching player after player get injured while playing in season mode. With key players like Dez Bryant, Andre Ellington, and DeSean Jackson going down with injuries, fantasy owners scrambled to the waiver wire when it opened on Wednesday morning to try and snag a replacement.
The most popular additions so far have been Cowboys WR Terrance Williams, Packers WR James Jones, Cardinals RB Chris Johnson, and Colts WR Donte Moncrief. The question is, though, are they worth playing this week or are owners chasing Week 1 numbers? Well, let's see.
Terrance Williams: The loss of Bryant leaves an enormous void in the Cowboys passing game, one that Williams will try to fill. Now I want to preface this by saying that Williams didn't suddenly get better this offseason, and he is in no way going to be this year's Odell Beckham. With that said, Williams will be worth playing right away based on the sheer amount of passes he should see as the Cowboys' No. 1 WR.
James Jones: Jones is the No. 3 WR in Green Bay, and his fantasy numbers are inflated because two of his receptions went for touchdowns in Week 1. While he is a great fit for the Packers (he spent 7 seasons with them before going to Oakland last year), he is just too far down the pecking order to count on as anything more than a WR4/5 in fantasy terms.
Chris Johnson: The Cardinals are saying that Chris Johnson will get the start over rookie David Johnson while Ellington recovers from a sprained PCL. You have to wonder just how much CJ2K has left in the tank after failing miserably in New York last season. But I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt here and chalk up last season as that being the Jets offense and not the man who was once unstoppable on the football field. I like Johnson as a flex play this week, but would suggest you keep an eye on how the Cardinals use him and David Johnson.
Donte Moncrief: If T.Y. Hilton is out, Moncrief will draw the start in his place. IF. Right now the Colts are being elusive about Hilton's status this week, but my guess is they will play it safe and give him a week to fully heal up. If that happens, Moncrief becomes an interesting flex play as the Colts' deep threat. Andre Johnson will handle the possession duties (since that's all he is at this point), but Moncrief will be given a green light to swing for the fences in his route running.
Nick Foles – Rams: Foles looked surprisingly solid against the stout Seahawks defense, throwing the ball for 297 yards and a TD, while chipping in 11 yards and a TD on the ground. This week the Rams get a decidedly easier matchup when they face a Redskins defense that looked far better than it really is against the Dolphins. I'm looking at Foles as a streaming option for Week 2.
Sam Bradford – Eagles: Bradford is owned in 89 percent of Yahoo leagues, but started in just 32 percent of them. Meaning owners view him as worth owning, but not trustworthy enough to start. While he did throw 2 INTs and 1 TD last week against the Falcons, the 336 yards passing shows the Eagles are committed to the pass. My guess is DeMarco Murray will have a much bigger chip on his shoulder this week as he faces his old team (Cowboys), where he didn't look like he was itching to make big things happen. This is a huge divisional rivalry, so I expect a good amount of scoring in this one.
DeAngelo Williams – Steelers: Williams ran wild against the Patriots in Week 1, racking up 21 carries for 127 yards (6.0 YPC). Williams knows and understands fully that he will lose his job next week when Le'Veon Bell returns from suspension, and you can be sure he wants prove to the Steelers that he can be more than bench depth going forward. I'm looking for RB2 numbers from Williams this week, with upside into the RB1 ranks if he can find the endzone.
Tevin Coleman – Falcons: Coleman out-carried Devonta Freeman 2:1 in Week 1, and the reason for that is because he was far more effective (4.0 YPC for Coleman, 1.8 YPC for Freeman). The Giants defense is nowhere near as intimidating without Jason Paul-Pierre, and there is almost no hope of him playing this season. Because of the Giants defense, I am looking for Coleman to walk away from Week 2 in the RB2 ranks.
Mike Evans – Buccaneers: Evans missed Week 1 because of a bad hamstring, but reports say he is on track to play this week against the Saints. While I'm not wild about Jameis Winston as a QB, I know Evans has the talent to exploit the holes in the Saints defense. I still think Evans was drafted too high in most leagues (27.7 ADP), but he has to be played when he is active because of how high people took him. His presence alone will help Winston do better than he did in Week 1.
John Brown – Cardinals: I have Carson Palmer on my QB1 radar this week because the Bears defense is as weak as they come in the NFC. Larry Fitzgerald isn't the WR he once was and Michael Floyd saw just 9 snaps last week, but Brown reeled in 4 of 7 targets for 46 yards and a touchdown. I am looking for Brown to see his 42 percent start rate jump when people see he is for real after he roasts the Bears secondary.
Ladarius Green – Chargers: Green has the starting TE job all to himself until Antonio Gates returns from his 4-game suspension. Green shined last week as he snagged 5 of 6 targets, finishing with 74 yards and a TD against the Lions. The Chargers will certainly lean on their 6'-6" target when they take on the Bengals in Week 2.
Houston Texans defense: The Texans must have forgotten Hard Knocks was over, because they got knocked out on defense. Even though they gave up 27 points to the Chiefs, and managed just 2 sacks and no INTs, they get a chance to redeem themselves in Week 2 when they take on the Panthers. The Panthers have possibly the worst WR corps in the NFL, and as long as they can contain Cam Newton, I like the Texans as a bit of a sleeper defense after last week.
Matthew Stafford – Lions: There are just far too many people who think Calvin Johnson is still an elite WR in the NFL, thus making Stafford a starting fantasy QB. Stafford finished last week with 246 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 INTs. And while that may sound good on the surface, a 1:1 TD:INT ratio isn't going to win any fantasy football awards. The Vikings defense is underrated by most, but not by me.
Alex Smith – Chiefs: Smith carved up the Texans like a Thanksgiving turkey, ranking him in the top 5 for fantasy QBs. This week he gets a Broncos defense that is as close to a plug-and-play defense as you can get. Smith is still a good option for those in 2QB leagues, but he is someone I'd sit in standard leagues if you can manage it.
Melvin Gordon – Chargers: Fantasy owners went into the draft with the impression that Gordon was going to be the Chargers' bell cow at running back. But that hope hit a snag in Week 1 when Gordon was benched for much of the second half in favor of Danny Woodhead. Gordon leaves 96 percent of Yahoo managers scratching their head wondering if they wasted a 4th-round pick on a RB. My advice is you find other options at RB until Gordon is able to establish himself as the RB in San Diego.
Isaiah Crowell – Browns: The Browns offense is a mess, with question marks at every position from QB to TE. Crowell was able to tally 12 carries to Duke Johnson's 7 carries, but he did next to nothing with them by averaging 1.7 YPC. The hard truth is that no defense is going to be scared by the Browns QB (s) or WRs, so as a result they won't respect the pass and just play against the run. The Browns backfield is one that is best to be avoided like the plague.
Eddie Royal – Bears: Why do 61 percent of people own Royal on Yahoo? Beyond the fact that he saw 5 targets and caught just 1 for 8 yards, Royal is the 4th option in the Bears passing attack behind Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte, and Martellus Bennett. Royal will NOT see enough targets or yards to be worth owning in all but the deepest of leagues.
Torrey Smith – 49ers: Smith has never been someone you can count on in both fantasy, and reality. Add in the 49ers run-first offense, and Colin Kaepernick's erratic passing, and you have a recipe for a WR I want no part of. Smith is currently owned in 73 percent of all Yahoo leagues, but he is started in just 16 percent of them, meaning even his owners don't trust him!
Owen Daniels – Broncos: People who drafted Daniels (or picked him up off the waiver wire) were hoping they found Peyton Manning's new TE target, but those same people didn't account for Manning looking every bit of 39 years old. Daniels is 32 years old and well past his Texan glory days. If he is on your roster, I'd give some serious thought to rectifying that situation as soon as possible.
New York Jets defense: While Darrelle Revis is as intimidating a CB as there is in the NFL, Andrew Luck is arguably the best QB in the NFL. And with Jets CB Antonio Cromartie likely out a few weeks with what looks to be a hyperextended knee, Luck is sure to exploit his replacement. Rookie DE Leonard Williams struggled with his conditioning in Week 1, and those problems will only be magnified going from the Browns inept offense to the Colts finely tuned offense. I would consider dropping the Jets and streaming the Vikings or Saints defense this week.