Peterson showing his fantasy prowess, more Week 1 analysis

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Even if you are pulling out your hair for sitting him -- under the expectation his return from major knee reconstruction would leave him a limited contributor -- you have to love what you saw. With Toby Gerhart stepping aside, Peterson rushed 17 times for 84 yards and two touchdowns. Wowzers.

"My legs are loose. Seriously, I'm feeling really good. I'm ready to carry the load," Peterson said.

Music to the ears, even if you have less hair above them. Peterson is a fantasy monster again, almost just like new.

In this day of timeshare running backs, Peterson is a rare workhorse -- even at what, 80 percent? Ninety maybe?

"I told him afterward: 'I'm not sure you weren't just faking that ACL,'" Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "He looked pretty good to me."

There won't be a Peterson owner in fantasy who won't have him active in Week 2 against the Colts' poor run defense.

Week 1 taught us plenty about A.D. (All Day) and many others. We break it down in our weekly Fantasy Football Fast Forward:

1. RGIII > Andrew Luck -- OK, yours truly was wrong, real wrong, in Week 1. Robert Griffin III got off to a lightning start in his debut and did nothing to give it away late in a huge upset of the Saints in the Super Dome. No one wins there. RGIII did it in his first start and looked great out of the gate.

He finished 19-of-26 for two TDs and 320 yards passing. He added 42 yards rushing and didn't mail it in when his leading receiver, Pierre Garcon (88 yard TD, four catches for 109 yards), was out for the game.

"It's great for any quarterback to get a couple of easy passes at the beginning of a game so you can get into a rhythm," said Griffin. "They were giving us those looks and I took advantage of them."

He clearly is a must-start in all leagues, especially with the Rams on the schedule for Week 2. Fire up those Cam Newton comparisons: RGIII is a fantasy monster right away.

Luck, meanwhile, threw three picks (23-for-45, 309 yards and a garbage-time TD). He faced a much-tougher defense, sure, but he isn't the sure-thing fantasy starter Griffin is right away. Week 2 against the Vikings should be a lot better for Luck. The Vikings made Blaine Gabbert look like a capable NFL starter.

2. Spiller into action (after) Jackson -- Fred Jackson's loss (knee, MRI to come) is C.J. Spiller's and, perhaps the Bills', gain. Spiller was dynamite in relief, rushing for 169 yards on just 14 carries, including a 56-yard TD, against one of the best run defenses in football. The Bills and fantasy owners are in great hands (legs?) with Spiller as a starter.

"Fred doesn't look as bad as David [Nelson, who left with a knee injury]," Bills head coach Chan Gailey said. "We don't know how bad David is, but it doesn't look good right now. We'll get a further evaluation [Monday]."

If Jackson is out any significant time, or even just Week 2 against a pretty good Chiefs run defense, Spiller is a must-start in all fantasy leagues. He has game-changing speed and the Bills won't abandon the run. In fact, they will rely on it more in future weeks.

3. Morris gives us rare Shanahan-igan clarity -- Could it really be? Did Mike Shanahan give us reason to trust Alfred Morris in all leagues? The Redskins sure didn't give Evan Royster or Roy Helu much work.

Morris went for 96 yards and two TDs on a hard-earned 28 carries. He looks like a solid start in all leagues against that Rams run defense next week. There should be more garbage time to pile up yards and red-zone scores. Only Helu might take some third-down back receptions. Otherwise, Morris is the bell cow for Shanahan, who never renders one of those for us so neatly in fantasy.

4. Oogling Ogletree -- Here is the best way (only responsible way?) to break down Kevin Ogletree's opening night coming out party: With the Cowboys' leading receivers banged up all preseason and unable to take the first-team reps, Ogletree developed a great rapport with Tony Romo. Those practice reps become game-day play calls and loads of targets against an elite defense overcompensating for the elite receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin.

With Bryan, Austin and soon tight end Jason Witten healthy, Ogletree will be relegated to being the fourth-best target again. Yes, you have to try to get him off waivers, but your expectations should be kept in check.

He can be this year's Laurent Robinson, but only if Bryant and Austin are last year's Bryant and Austin. They won't be. Bryant and Austin are going to be top 12 fantasy wide receivers on a weekly basis.

5. Williamses go bust -- If DeAngelo Williams cannot rush against the Bucs' suspect run defense, he shouldn't be counted on against anyone. Jonathan Stewart's absence was supposed to help. Instead, Williams went for -1 on six carries and mustered just one catch for five yards.

Then, over in Arizona, Ryan Williams lost a fumble on his second carry and managed nothing against the Seahawks' run defense. He rushed for just nine yards on eight carries and had two catches for 17 yards.

They could have been Week 1 studs in their matchup(s), as the two worst teams in fantasy against RBs a year ago were facing each other. Instead, they are among the biggest Week 1 duds.

There is no chance you can trust Ryan Williams against a Pats run defense that stuffed Chris Johnson. Beanie Wells either, for that matter. And, we are already accustomed to not expecting much out of DeAngelo Williams, especially if Stewart returns to the fold against the Saints.

Remember that criticism from's bold predictions? We said reach in the fourth round to draft Ryan. That looks like a stroke of genius right now.

Ryan went for 299 yards and three TDs and added a rushing TD. It sure didn't take long for Ryan and Julio Jones to look unstoppable. Jones caught six passes for 108 yards and two scores, while Roddy White went for six catches and 87 yards. Even the old tight end, Tony Gonzalez, got into the mix with 5-53-1.

That Falcons running game wasn't productive and Michael Turner's carries were indeed limited, as the Falcons promised they would be. Turner received just 11 touches and Jacquizz Rodgers was a non-factor.

Jones might now be the second-best WR in fantasy to Calvin Johnson, while we might have to make room in the crowded top five at QB for Ryan, a burgeoning fantasy superstar.

Wilson fumbled away his big opportunity to earn fantasy pertinence out of the gate with the Giants. He coughed up the football on his second carry and wound up in Tom Coughlin's doghouse the remainder of the game, relegated to kickoff duties the rest of the way. This is bad news for Wilson owners. The Giants just cannot trust him and he had fumbling issues at Virginia Tech.

Wilson had set a goal to not lose a fumble this year. He also wanted to rush for an average over five yards per carry, have six 100-yard games and 10-plus TDs. Those goals would have made him a fantasy star.

He's a useless bench flier now until something happens to Ahmad Bradshaw.

As entertainingly awesome RGIII was and serviceable Luck was, due to garbage time, the low-end rookie QBs looked like messes. Brandon Weeden was just 12-of-35 for 118 yards and four interceptions, while Ryan Tannehill was marginally better at 20-of-36 for 219 yards and three INTs. To their defense -- if you can defend them at all -- they were facing two elite NFL defenses.

Neither matter in fantasy, barring desperation in two-QB formats. Weeden at least has some talent at WR to throw to. Tannehill has Reggie Bush and nothing else. It is going to be a long year for both, or a short one if the turnovers continue at this rate. They probably belong holding the clipboard. They definitely don't belong on fantasy rosters. Drop them like hot potatoes.

Weeden should be especially embarrassed. Colt McCoy, the 2011 starter and backup, hasn't had a four-INT game in his career. Heck, he hasn't had a four-INT month! That is a bad job by the Browns. McCoy should have been given a better opportunity.


• Peyton Manning, Broncos -- In the preseason it looked like he never left and it looked the same against the best team in fantasy against QBs a year ago. Move him back into the must-start category in all leagues, regardless of the matchup. It should be a shootout in Atlanta next Monday night. Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Jacob Tamme look like must-starts in all leagues, too, if only for Manning's presence alone.

• Tony Romo, Cowboys -- You all shouldn't have slept on Romo on draft day. He proved he is an elite fantasy QB, even if he isn't an NFL postseason winner. With his array of weapons, he is headed for at least 4,000 yards and 30 TDs. He might even be a threat to break that holy grail 5,000 yards and 40 TDs group that is only Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford and Dan Marino. Seriously. Romo is a must-start in all leagues, regardless of the matchup. Among the clear top five fantasy QBs, Romo is the only one with an elite running back. That means a lot of trips to the red zone.

• Michael Vick, Eagles -- He salvaged an embarrassing day with 317 yards and a pair of passing TDs. The four picks show he isn't the passing QB he looked like in a spurt in 2010. He is a marginal fantasy starter going forward. There just are so many more QBs who can throw the ball better. "I thought he was rusty," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "But he kept competing, kept shooting. He's our quarterback and he had to work through it. He had to play, had to endure and had to tough it out." So, no, rookie Nick Foles isn't a waiver option outside of being a Vick handcuff.

• Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills -- He salvaged his potentially awful day with three garbage-time TDs. This will be the story of his year. He is mostly one of the worst QBs in the league, but the fact the Bills won't be going to Tarvaris Jackson as their QB gives Fitzpatrick plenty of chances for late fantasy points. The Bills figure to play a lot more low-scoring defensive struggles in future weeks, so don't trust Fitzpatrick as a fantasy starter.

• Mark Sanchez, Jets -- Maybe we shouldn't have slept on him, after all. Aw, who are we kidding? Sanchez will be 190 yards and one TD in most weeks. Consider him merely a fantasy backup after his surprising Week 1 production.

• Jake Locker, Titans -- He left with a left (non-throwing) shoulder injury that he says won't affect his status for Week 2. He didn't play that poorly, but he didn't prove to be a viable fantasy starter in a standard league either.

• Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars -- That improvement he showed in preseason sure carried over to the regular season. He is nothing more than a backup QB in one-QB fantasy leagues, but he does look like he has made significant strides. That is perhaps most telling for his leading targets, giving them juice to start for owners.

• Russell Wilson, Seahawks -- He didn't look as potent as RGIII or Luck, but at least he didn't prove devastatingly worthless like Tannehill or Weeden. He figures to have a tough time against the Cowboys defense in Week 2. Don't dare start him for that, outside of deeper two-QB formats.

• Kevin Kolb, Cardinals -- He saved the day when John Skelton left with an ankle injury. Kolb isn't a fantasy option, but if he gets a start against the Pats, you might consider Andre Roberts a sleeper in three-WR formats given that he caught the game-winning TD. There should be some garbage-time numbers to be had.

Running backs

• Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars -- With Rashad Jennings (knee) leaving, MJD took over and looked as if he hadn't missed a beat. MJD is clearly going to be the Jaguars' back going forward and will be a solid start in all leagues. The Texans have a rugged run defense, but you will be hard-pressed to find an offense that is more stubborn sticking to its running game. "I still think he's got some work to do, but I think he's pretty proud of the way he picked up the system," head coach Mike Mularkey said.

• Chris Johnson, Titans -- Ouch! We should say that Pats' run defense is vastly overrated, so CJ2K has that as an excuse. He looked real bad, early 2011-esque. Expect him to look a lot more explosive against the Chargers next week. Keep him active.

• Trent Richardson, Browns -- He proved healthy but ineffective against the Eagles' front. He will be a must-start in fantasy eventually, but the next five weeks feature real good defensive fronts, too. If you own Richardson, sit him and hold tight through mid-October. If you don't own him, make some low-ball offers and keep going back to that owner every week as his frustrations with the rookie and the Browns' offense mount.

• Stevan Ridley, Patriots -- Welcome to fantasy prominence, Talented Mr. Ripley. The Pats finally have a feature back and he looks like a must-start in all leagues, regardless of the matchup. The Pats trust him and they historically produce a lot of goal-line scores, which Ridley will get exclusively. Ridley is potentially a top 10 fantasy back this season. Heck, he looked like a top five here.

• Kevin Smith, Lions -- He wasn't real busy, but the Lions have a chain-moving offense and Smith is the red-zone back. That is the good news. The bad news is you have to sit him against the stout 49ers run defense next week. That is the best run defense in the league.

• Reggie Bush, Dolphins -- He is the only thing the Dolphins have going for them. A concussion to Daniel Thomas might make Bush the goal-line back in Week 2, too. Bush is close to a must-start in PPR formats.

• Michael Bush, Bears -- Matt Forte gets most of the touches, but Bush gets the goal-line scores. Forte and Bush will be tougher to trust against the Packers' tough run defense next week. We probably will list Forte as a start and Bush as merely a low-end flex option.

• Ben Tate, Texans -- He was one of the biggest busts of Week 1. Regardless of Foster's health, Tate should have gotten more than five carries and three catches. If he wasn't going to be a factor in a blowout against the Dolphins with Foster's knee sore, he shouldn't start in fantasy against the Raiders in Week 2. He is going to impact fantasy, but he is merely a stashee right now.

• Mark Ingram, Saints -- He received just six carries (15 yards) and Pierre Thomas got just four carries (17 yards). Darren Sproles (five catches for 35 yards and a late TD) was merely a receiver. The Saints will learn they cannot abandon the running game, but it might take awhile to sink in. Ingram has a favorable matchup against the Panthers run defense, but the Saints' awful game plan makes him a low-end starter option.

• Peyton Hillis, Chiefs -- He was woefully outproduced by Jamaal Charles and didn't get the 50-50 split for touches the Chiefs promised. Even Shaun Draughn got the TD inside the five late over Hillis. He doesn't look like a great option against the Bills' talented front next week.

• Daryl Richardson, Rams -- The rookie received two carries and fellow rookie Isaiah Pead didn't see a touch. That makes Richardson the handcuff of choice for Steven Jackson owners.

• Doug Martin, Buccaneers -- It wasn't a great performance as much as a steady one. He rushed for 95 yards and picked up four receptions for 23 yards. It makes him a solid, every-week starter in fantasy right away. This Bucs offense runs through him, one of the few teams in football that runs its offense through a single back, much less the running game.

• Cedric Benson, Packers -- The Packers, like the Saints, think they don't need to run the ball. They are wrong. Benson did nothing against the best run defense in the NFL and he shouldn't be considered against a pretty solid Bears run defense next week. The Packers just don't bother with the running game and they won't against the Bears, either.

• Knowshon Moreno, Broncos -- He is officially out of John Fox's doghouse and looked solid coming off knee surgery, scoring on a short TD run in place of Willis McGahee. McGahee's age and injury history make Moreno a must-have handcuff, while the Broncos' commitment to the run -- even with Manning -- can make Moreno a potential flex option in easier matchups. Next week does not qualify Moreno as a starter, though. The Falcons have a solid run defense.

• Jonathan Dwyer, Steelers -- He didn't start but he thoroughly outplayed Isaac Redman. Dwyer should be considered the Steelers RB to start until Rashard Mendenhall returns by October. Redman and Mendenhall are must-sits against the Jets' run defense -- despite what Spiller did to them -- while Dwyer might be a flex option in non-PPR formats.

Wide receivers

• Wes Welker, Patriots -- You should be slightly worried about him. He reeled in just three passes for 14 yards and the Pats tend to marginalize players who complain about their contract. You shouldn't sit Welker yet, but you should watch this closely. Brandon Lloyd looked like the Pats go-to receiver that isn't a TE.

• Reggie Wayne, Colts -- There should be no question Wayne has something left and there should be no questioning who Luck's go-to WR is. Wayne might return to the top 15 WRs in fantasy this season.

• Titus Young, Lions -- Apparently, he isn't quite ready to take off as a fantasy star. Nate Burleson (six catches for 69 yards) and both TEs grossly outperformed Young (1-14). He is worth owning, but not worth starting until he moves up the pecking order. Megatron will always be No. 1 and the TEs likely will remain the second target(s) for now.

• Stephen Hill, Jets -- One of the few rookie WRs starting in Week 1, he was in a class all by himself, reeling in five catches for 89 yards and two TDs. He clearly should be added in fantasy leagues and might even prove to be a solid start on a weekly basis, particularly with veteran Santonio Holmes (hamstring) not yet 100 percent. Week 2 against the Steelers will be a bad time to trust Hill as a starter, though.

• Alshon Jeffery, Bears -- He won't get the targets Brandon Marshall gets, maybe not even the ones Jay Cutler's former Vandy teammate Earl Bennett gets, but he is a viable flier in deeper leagues. He might be a fantasy starter by midseason.

• Greg Little, Browns -- He was shut out by Nnamdi Asomugha and the Browns don't look like they have a WR worth starting in any fantasy leagues right now.

• Brandon Gibson, Rams -- He reeled in a TD and is a viable sleeper, particularly since Sam Bradford looked more like his 2010 self, but possession receiver Danny Amendola is still the only Rams WR to start, or perhaps even own.

• Cecil Shorts, Jaguars -- He reeled in a clutch TD in the final minute of regulation, but Laurent Robinson, rookie Justin Blackmon and TE Marcedes Lewis are Gabbert's go-to guys. Shorts should be ignored off waivers. The Jags just aren't a potent enough passing team to make him fantasy viable in future weeks.

• Jeremy Kerley, Jets -- Don't pick him up off waivers. He was a larger part of the game plan because the Jets' starting TE was dealing with a sore hammy. Kerley is going to be the most overrated pick-up on waivers this week. He is merely a fourth option for a team that won't be having many productive passing games like this one.

• Sidney Rice, Seahawks -- He has gotten lost in the depths of the WR rankings, but Rice is a solid start on a weekly basis. Despite his injury woes, he remains the Seahawks go-to man. In fact, Wilson should have gone to him over Braylon Edwards on that fourth-down play in the final minute.

• Brandon LaFell, Panthers -- The third-year WR breakout candidate reeled in Cam Newton's lone TD and looks primed to make an impact in all fantasy leagues this season. Consider him a great sleeper start against a Saints defense that should be giving up some garbage-time numbers next week.

• Randy Moss, 49ers -- He didn't get the targets Michael Crabtree got, but he did pick up the TD on busted coverage that left him wide open in the middle. He isn't back, but he can be a replacement option if you have banged up WRs or ones in tough matchups you want to sit.

• James Jones, Packers -- Somehow he outproduced Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley and Randall Cobb, who had a team-high nine catches. It won't happen like this a lot, but Jones proved worthy of being owned. The problem with starting him is the Packers just spread the ball around so much. We can only feel confident starting Jennings, Nelson and Finley on a regular basis in fantasy.

Tight ends

• Jason Witten, Cowboys -- Remarkably, he played. Expectedly, he did little. He should be perfectly fine to start in Week 2. Expect fantasy-starter-quality numbers from him going forward.

• Owen Daniels, Texans -- He was productive as Matt Schaub's second-best target behind Andre Johnson. His status as a go-to receiver opposite a star makes him far more intriguing in fantasy. Daniels might even earn regular starting status in fantasy lineups for that reason alone. The Texans just don't have options at WR behind Johnson. Kevin Walter and LeStar Jean just aren't useful and probably shouldn't be owned in fantasy.

• Kyle Rudolph, Vikings -- The draft-day love for Rudolph is warranted. He was the Vikings' second option in the passing game and Christian Ponder proved capable out of the gate in Year 2. Rudolph should get plenty of targets after Percy Harvin draws all the attention on the outside. Until Jerome Simpson returns from suspension, Rudolph might be a must-start fantasy TE.

• Jared Cook, Titans -- He wasn't great but he showed enough to remain among TE starters in fantasy. The Titans QB situation after Locker's injury shouldn't affect that.

• Coby Fleener, Colts -- That was an impressive debut for a rookie TE. That rapport with Luck apparently carries weight, especially in a blowout. We should expect a lot of garbage-time yardage from him. He's a viable fantasy starter, deepening the pool of startable fantasy TEs.

• Martellus Bennett, Giants -- Bennett also had an impressive debut, including that late TD when Eli Manning lost faith in his leading WRs (Victor Cruz had the dropsies and Hakeem Nicks wasn't 100 percent). Bennett is an intriguing sleeper and a potential starter in standard leagues. He will be popular off waivers Tuesday night.

• Clay Harbor, Eagles -- He has gotten rave reviews from his head coach, but he isn't worth owning in standard fantasy leagues. The TD throw to the TE will be Brent Celek's more often than not.

• Heath Miller, Steelers -- A no-huddle Steelers drive was capped by his TD reception. A wide-open passing game can make Miller and option as a TE stopgap, too. There sure are a lot of decent TEs to pick through if you don't have one of the sure-fire elite guys.


• David Akers, 49ers -- He tied the longest field goal in NFL history with a 63-yarder that doinked the crossbar and flopped over. The 49ers have the perfect storm for a kicker and Akers just happens to be accurate and with a strong, strong leg. He might be the clearest No. 1 kicker in fantasy we have had in years. Never sit him.

• Matt Bryant, Falcons -- He is a bit of a forgotten man because of his age, but the explosion of the Falcons offense -- along with his dome kicking -- should make him one of the most productive kickers in fantasy this season.

• Blair Walsh, Vikings -- The rookie kicker not only had four field goals, but he nailed a game-tying 55-yarder at the end of regulation and hit the game-winner in overtime. If you want a sleeper at kicker, Walsh qualifies. The Vikings are going to be a chain-moving team with a healthy Peterson and that should lead to plenty of field-goal opportunities. If you are unhappy with your kicker's performance in Week 1, Walsh is a guy to pick up going forward. "I was bragging on him," Peterson said.

Defense/Special teams

• San Francisco 49ers -- The final fantasy total won't look impressive, but what they did to the best QB in fantasy for three quarters should have opened your eyes. They shouldn't sit in any matchup if they can go to Green Bay and slow Aaron Rodgers and company.

• Dallas Cowboys -- This was one impressive debut against one of the best passing offenses in the NFL. Those two new corners allow them to be a lot more aggressive getting after the QB. They should force a lot of turnovers, particularly against less experienced QBs. This looks like it will be one of the top five D/STs in fantasy. You might consider making a deal for them now.

Eric Mack writes fantasy for You find him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).