Fantasy Clicks: Brees, Peterson lead Week 1 Revelations
Drew Brees: Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Regarding the Lions, Matthew Stafford will someday be known as the franchise's best quarterback since Bobby Layne (hey, did you know they both attended the same high school?) ... but in the meantime, he's just another woefully inconsistent asset in fantasyland (with an arm like a bazooka). He had his bright spots against New Orleans, for sure -- like this pass to Calvin Johnson, which should've been a touchdown -- but for the most part, he had the deer-in-the-headlights look of 21-year-old kid marking his NFL debut with a club with only two marketable playmakers, C-Johnson (3 catches, 90 yards) and Kevin Smith (72 total yards, 1 TD); and it'll be three once rookie TE Brandon Pettigrew takes the field. A second word of caution: At one point in the third quarter, Calvin Johnson had been targeted 13 times but only had three catches. By the fourth quarter, he looked absolutely gassed from having to carry the Lions' passing game. In PPR leagues, Targets may be gold, but there's a fine line between an NFL team featuring a star ... and killing him before the bye week.
San Francisco 20, Arizona 16
On the flip side ... the 49ers may be 1-0 in real-world football, but they're barely relevant from a fantasy standpoint. QB Shaun Hill (209 yards, 1 TD) confirmed his standing as a second-stringer, WRs Isaac Bruce (4 catches, 74 yards) and Josh Morgan (3 catches, 38 yards) might only be suitable bye-week replacements, and tight end Vernon Davis -- stop me if you've heard this one before -- oozes with potential during pregame warmups but usually finishes with 40 yards (just like Sunday). The only true star of the lot, Frank Gore, was lucky enough to score two touchdowns against the Cards ... otherwise, we'd be focusing on his paltry 48-yard day. All this leads me to the following: If you drafted Michael Crabtree, on the off chance he'd finally sign with San Fran before October, I have a funny feeling something will get done this week. Just call it an uneducated-educated hunch.
Baltimore 38, Kansas City 24
Regarding the Chiefs, Brodie Croyle isn't worth discussing, despite throwing two touchdowns in relief of the injured Matt Cassel. Larry Johnson (26 total yards) doesn't warrant much consideration either, simply because we knew he'd be subpar against the stingy Ravens defense. If anything, LJ should be judged on his next five games (vs. Oakland; all four NFC East teams) ... before determining if he's falling off the proverbial cliff in fantasyland. At the very least, all Johnson owners would be wise to sneak in a handcuff trade for Jamaal Charles (37 total yards). Better yet, he might just be available in free agency. Dwayne Bowe, for the most part, played like a street free agent against Baltimore, excluding his 2-yard touchdown in the second quarter. But hath no worries here: Whenever Cassel comes back, Bowe should average six catches for 80-90 yards, thus confirming his spot as a reliable and borderline dominant WR2.
Philadelphia 38, Carolina 10
Seriously, has any quarterback ever strung together worse back-to-back games in NFL history? After tossing five picks against Arizona in the NFC playoffs, Delhomme threw four interceptions on Sunday, essentially handing Philly the game on a silver platter and providing Carolina coach John Fox ample reasons to make the uncomfortable switch to either Josh McCown or Matt Moore. In other words, let this be a warning shot to all Steve Smith owners (myself included): Sell high (or marginally high) ... now!
The Eagles, on the other hand, didn't exactly come away from the experience unscathed. As painful as 267 total yards sounds, it's nothing compared to the grief of Donovan McNabb likely missing a game or two with a fractured rib. And if that's the case, does Kevin Kolb or Michael Vick get the starting nod Week 3 against Kansas City? Would it even matter, given the Chiefs' open-door policy on defense? On the positive side, Brian Westbrook logged 72 total yards while getting his proverbial "sea legs" under him. Call this the second uneducated-educated hunch from Revelations ... but I'm guessing Westbrook earns 23-26 touches and racks up at least 130 total yards next week against the Saints. BOOM!
Sidney Rice (left), Adrian Peterson: AP
As for the Browns, welcome to a little preview of how the rest of the season will shake out. They don't have a fantasy-worthy quarterback (Brady Quinn) taking the field, yet curiously have one residing on the bench (Derek Anderson). The club has intriguing, but way-too-young depth at running back and receiver. Steve Heiden is no Robert Royal (4 catches, 60 yards, 1 TD) ... and Royal is no Kellen Winslow at the tight end spot. And Braylon Edwards, sad to say, only holds WR1/WR2 value when Anderson's flinging the ball downfield. To be fair, Edwards had a long TD pass/catch from Quinn negated in the second quarter; but that aside, the days of Braylon getting 14 targets per game are seemingly long gone. On the positive side, how about Jamal Lewis' 104 yards, including 47 receiving? And to think, some people were ready to push him off that cliff.
Green Bay 21, Chicago 15
Regarding Jennings (6 catches, 106 yards, 1 TD) and RB Ryan Grant (67 yards, 1 TD), they're the centerpieces of a prodigious offensive attack in Green Bay and must be treated like Top 15 draft picks. Never waver on their supreme value.
Speaking of elite players, Bears RB Matt Forte was held to just 55 rushing yards and failed to catch a pass for the first time in 17 NFL games. On one hand, this outing will fuel the fantasy naysayers who pegged Forte as a one-hit wonder in 2008 (1,715 total yards, 12 TDs), and as a complementary piece to the new offense, starring QB Jay Cutler. And then there's Forte's divine followers, who maintain the Bears offense still runs through No. 22. As first impressions go, when factoring in Cutler's 47-percent completion rate and four interceptions against the Packers -- along with Forte's minimal usage and Chicago's gut-wrenching defeat -- maybe Forte's followers have a point.
Indianapolis 14, Jacksonville 12
Jacksonville, to no one's surprise, will only go as far as Maurice Jones-Drew can carry the club, from a fantasy and real-world perspective. He's the Jags' leading ballcarrier, receiver and Wildcat operator, making him indispensable in PPR and standard-scoring leagues. As for Torry Holt (3 catches, 47 yards), he's nothing more than an emergency flex option on Flubber turf ... and a must-bench on grass, which happens to be his new team's surface of choice at home (not that anyone in northern Florida will see Jags games at the Old/New Gator Bowl in '09).
N.Y. Jets 24, Houston 7
As for the Jets, keep riding Thomas Jones, Leon Washington, Dustin Keller and Jerricho Cotchery (6 catches, 90 yards) to fantasy glory for the next six weeks until their Week 8 bye. So what if they lack potential flash-and-dash on a weekly basis, they're genuine models of consistency -- regardless of the circumstances. Oh, and when the mood should strike you, feel free to give rookie QB Mark Sanchez (278 yards, 1 TD) a spot start.
Matt Ryan: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 21
N.Y. Giants 23, Washington 17
Seattle 28, St. Louis 0
Denver 12, Cincinnati 7
Stokley's heroics aside, I now have a few practical questions (thanks, Steve Czaban): Is Brandon Marshall (4 catches, 27 yards) really that far behind with absorbing Josh McDaniels' playbook? Does he seem mentally fit enough to trade for as a "buy-low" option? Is Eddie Royal (2 catches, 18 yards) only dangerous in fantasyland against poor pass defenses ... and when Marshall is pulling down 10-12 catches per game? And why doesn't Correll Buckhalter (10 touches, 57 yards) see the ball more?
Regarding Cincy, is this Chad Ochocinco's idea of "doing something that's never been done before?" ... because I see guys catch five balls for 89 yards every Sunday. And when will people realize that Cedric Benson (98 total yards, 1 TD) is a reliable threat for 100 total yards EVERY Sunday (minus the four games against Baltimore and Pittsburgh)? For those old-school fantasy owners who detest time-shares at running back ... I hope you'll practice what you preach and move heaven and earth to land one of the NFL's 10 best primary backs. At the very least, would it kill you to conceive a creative trade involving Benson before Week 4, when Cleveland appears on Cincy's sked?
Jay Clemons can be found on Twitter, day and night (@SI_JayClemons), accessing your fantasy questions and comments. You can also read his award-winning Revelations every Sunday and Monday during the NFL season.