8 things we learned in Week 1 of fantasy football

DALLAS - Week 1 of the Fantasy Football season is officially in the books, and Week 2 has already gotten underway as the Bills and Jets battled on Thursday Night Football. 

Finally, after months of speculating in the offseason, we actually have some in-game data to analyze.  We finally got to see how some guys looked coming off of injury (like Jordy Nelson who looked pretty normal), how rookie quarterbacks would fare getting their first taste of NFL action (Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz did phenomenal), and the smallest sample size of what is to come. 

Just remember, it is not only just ONE week of data, but it was just the first week of the season.  Take note of what transpired, but don’t completely overreact either.  However, there are some hints of things that are pretty hard to ignore.

#1) A.J. GREEN IS BACK

Sure, he was still a top 10 WR last season, but his production wasn’t as consistent as it has normally been throughout his career.  A large part of this was the emergence of Mohammad Sanu and Marvin Jones as legitimate weapons. 

This meant that Andy Dalton could spread the ball around more and didn’t have to force feed Green.  Now, both of those guys are gone and it is the A.J. Green show again.  He had 12 receptions for 180 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets in Week 1.  He should battle for the top WR spot in fantasy this season.

#2) THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS’ PASSING ATTACK IS AS GOOD AS IT HAS EVER BEEN

Although they were still pretty good, the Saints have lacked supreme talent in their wide receiving core over the last few seasons.  Add that to the fact that Drew Brees was banged up for a decent portion of last year, and you had a team in 2015 that couldn’t consistently put up the elite offensive numbers many of us are used to seeing them produce. 

Brandon Cooks emerged last season as a guy who could be an elite WR in the NFL, but wasn’t quite there yet.  Willie Snead also showed glimpses of an extremely solid #2 WR, but again he wasn’t quite there yet either.  In Week 1, it looks as though both guys took major steps forward in the offseason. 

Together, the two of them combined for 15 receptions, 315 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns on 18 targets.  Willie Snead caught all 9 of his targets, continuing his high catch percentage that he established last season.  Going forward, both of these guys could put up big numbers on any given week.   Right now, Cooks is ahead of Snead, but the margin is shrinking quickly.

#3) C.J. ANDERSON HAS FINALLY ARRIVED

With Ronnie Hilman gone, and Peyton Manning’s spread offense a thing of the past in Denver, C.J. Anderson finally got his chance to be the workhorse in the Broncos’ attack.  He had 20 carries for 92 yards and a touchdown, while also securing 4 receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown. 

Denver also upgraded their offensive line during the offseason.  With a very inexperienced group of quarterbacks trying to run the offense, expect the Broncos to lean on Anderson all season long.  He has huge potential this year so keep him in your lineups.

#4) DON’T EXPECT ADRIAN PETERSON TO DOMINATE CONSISTENTLY

Sure, AD is going to have some monster games, and he will still probably finish as a top 10 RB in fantasy.  However, don’t expect another superhuman season from Peterson.  For starters, he is well into his 30’s now, with quite a bit of mileage on his body. 

Secondly, his quarterback situation is very subpar after the Vikings lost Teddy Bridgewater for the season.  Teams are going to be stacking the box, begging either Shaun Hill or Sam Bradford to beat them.  Third, Jerrick Mckinnon is going to get some touches on passing downs. 

Peterson had 19 carries for only 31 yards in Week 1, and failed to catch both passes thrown his way.  He faces another tough defense this week against Green Bay.  Peterson will still be a productive back this season, but he most likely won’t challenge for the top RB spot in fantasy like in years past.

#5) IGNORE THE HORRIBLE WEEK 1 FOR GARY BARNIDGE

He was one of the best tight ends in football last season, but seemed to fall further than expected in many fantasy drafts.  With Robert Griffin III going down with a shoulder injury, most likely missing the rest of the season, Barnidge’s value ironically skyrockets. 

Last season with Josh McCown at QB, Barnidge was targeted on almost a fourth of the routes he ran, and put up fantastic numbers.  McCown is now the starter again in Cleveland.  So, expect Gary Barnidge to bounce back in a big way as the season goes on.

#6) THIS WEEK’S SAINTS/GIANTS MATCHUP IS GOING TO PUT UP HUGE FANTASY NUMBERS

We already touched on what the Saints offense is primed to do this season.  Going up against a Giants team that looks to be improved stopping the run, but is still as bad on pass defense, Drew Brees and the Saints wide receivers have to be licking their chops when they prepare for the Giants this week. 

On the other side, now with a healthy and effective Victor Cruz finally back after overcoming some major injuries the last couple of years, the Giants have a deadly trio of wide receivers.  Odell Beckham JR., rookie Sterling Shepard and Cruz give Eli Manning all the weapons he could ask for.  There are going to be a lot of passes thrown in this game, expect fireworks.

#7) DON’T WORRY ABOUT EZEKIEL ELLIOTT, YET

Zeke had a rough start to his NFL career, gaining only 51 yards on 20 carries.  Part of this was because he showed an uncharacteristic lack of patience running the ball, part of it was the Cowboys offense line vastly underperforming on run attempts, and part of it was an improved Giants run defense.

With the addition of Olivier Vernon to the defensive line, the Giants were unafraid to stack the box to prevent the Cowboys from getting their running game going.

Elliott is not going to be the top overall RB in fantasy at year’s end, but he could very easily be in the top 10.  Expect him to improve as he gets used to the speed of the game.  Don’t forget, he only played part of one quarter in the preseason.

#8) DAK PRESCOTT LOOKS LIKE THE REAL DEAL

Everything you could have asked from a rookie quarterback making his first start in the season opener, Dak did it for the Cowboys.  He didn’t turn the ball over, he made smart decisions, and he spread the ball around. 

If it wasn’t for two drops by Cole Beasley and Dez Bryant, he would have also had two touchdown passes in addition to going 25-45 for 227 yards passing.  Then, if it wasn’t for the Terrance Williams deciding to not go out of bounds and run the clock out on his own team, he would have led the team into position for a potential game winning field goal.  This guy is only going to get better with playing time and experience.  The sky is truly the limit.

For more fantasy football tips after Week 1, you can find Blake on Twitter @blakegibbs.

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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