Week one of last season promised a glut of passing yards and touchdowns when Tom Brady threw for over 500 yards, Cam Newton, Drew Brees, and Chad Henne over 400 yards, and then ten other quarterbacks topped 300 yards.
So far this week, no quarterbacks have come that close to 400 yards and only nine have topped 300. Does this mean anything? Maybe, maybe not, but even though we know for a fact the NFL is now a “passing league,” we also know that defenses adapt quickly and we can’t expect quarterbacks to put up gaudy numbers each week.
This week, the best fantasy quarterback threw for under 300 yards, but ran for a touchdown and threw for three others, oh and we all expected him to do just that.
Matt Ryan has been hyped as much as humanly possible this preseason and for good reason. We all saw how much he improved toward the end of last year with the addition of Julio Jones, the other hype machine cog. The Falcons’ coaches told us they’d play more up-tempo and then in preseason, they actually did. Ryan to Jones was as easy as hand into glove. But how often does the regular season come around and suddenly, THUD!?
Hype rarely fulfills itself.
So when Matt Ryan and Julio Jones took their show to Kansas City on Sunday and knocked it out of the park, I was actually surprised and relieved and happy all at the same time. Watching players live up to their potential is fulfilling.
Will Ryan continue to put up elite numbers with Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Jacquizz Rodgers? Can he make that step into the elite? In a league where we measure passing yards in the five thousands now, I don’t think he needs to put up those kinds of numbers. Aaron Rodgers was the MVP last year because he was economical with his passing yards. He converted them into touchdowns and that’s what Matt Ryan did in week one. Even though he didn’t quite hit 300 yards passing, he still had more fantasy points than he had in any one game all last season, and he topped 300 yards six times.
He fulfilled his promise this week and then some and I don’t see him, or the Falcons’ offense slowing down anytime soon.
Robert Griffin III - The expectations for RGIII have been off the charts, so much so, it seemed inevitable that he wouldn’t be able to live up to them. Well, so far, so good. He started off connecting on his first eight passes and finishing with an extremely efficient 19 of 26 for 320 yards, 2 touchdowns, zero interceptions and 10 rushing attempts for 42 yards, while upsetting the Saints 40-32.
He connected with his favorite preseason target Pierre Garcon on four receptions for 109 yards, including an 81 yard touchdown. And that was just in the first quarter. Unfortunately Garcon hurt his right foot and sat out the rest of the game. But losing his best receiver didn’t stop Griffin from leading the Redskins to 40 points, 12 more than they scored in any game last season.
After Cam Newton’s breakout week one performance last season, it was a lot to expect of Griffin to compete with, but according to Elias, he was the first quarterback to ever pass for over 300 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in his first NFL start.
And even more impressive was just how cool under pressure Griffin was inside the Superdome. According to ESPN’s Stats and Info blog, Griffin completed “8-of-9 attempts for 188 yards and two touchdowns when they sent five or more pass rushers.” And since 2008, no quarterback has ever played that well against the Saints blitzing five or more defenders.
He will face tougher defenses than the Saints this season, but his skill set is nearly fantasy-slump proof and looks to be pretty real-life slump-proof as well.
Peyton Manning – We already knew that Manning was back enough to at least look good in live-action preseason scrums, but to face one of the league’s better defenses and move the ball with ease at times, puts him firmly back into fantasy relevancy.
Adrian Peterson - When Adrian Peterson’s knee was torn asunder last Christmas, Peterson was the only person that would have predicted he’d run for 84 yards and two touchdowns, just 37 weeks later.
I can’t pretend to say I wasn’t worried about him returning so quickly, but he did and he picked up right where he left off. If you sat him, you might be upset, but I’d go ahead and be elated that he’s back, and you got him in the third round.
Mark Sanchez - Talk about the preseason not being an indicator of the regular season! Ok, if you insist. The Jets didn’t score a touchdown during the preseason while Sanchez was under center. On Sunday they scored four against what was supposed to be an improved Bills defense.
His 19 of 27 for 266 yards, three touchdowns and one interception led him to his highest QBR rating ever and shut the likes of me up quick! Of course Sanchez has had big games before and shown flashes of elite ability, but always comes back to earth. Is this the tipping point? I’m not on board until he shows some consistency and strings a few of these games together.
Kevin Smith - The Lions looked a lot like lambs as they took on the Rams, but the oft-injured Kevin Smith showed up and did his job, totaling 91 yards, catching four passes and crossing the goal line, with the ball mind you!, twice.
He led all running backs in PPR scoring and should continue to be around the goal line and receiving targets as long as he’s healthy.
Stevan Ridley - It was difficult watching BenJarvus Green-Ellis play over Ridley last season. Ridley almost always showed himself to be a better fantasy prospect. Thankfully this season Ridley is getting his shot and took advantage against the Titans.
His 125 yards rushing were the most on opening day for the Patriots since Curtis Martin in 1995 and his 6 yards per carry and 152 total yards were higher than Green-Ellis had in any game last season.
C.J. Spiller - Fred Jackson looks to have sprained his LCL, which gave Mr. Spiller the chance to go crazy to the tune of 194 total yards and a touchdown. These were garbage yards for the most part with the Jets putting a beating down, but as you well know, one person’s garbage is another fantasy football player’s treasure.
Spiller will fill in nicely for Jackson, just like he did last season.
Julio Jones - I already talked about him in the open, but why not talk about him some more?! Matt Ryan is the leader, but Jones is already ahead of him, as far as ability at his own position. He’s already moved himself into the ranks of Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson, which is amazing for a 23 year old.
Am I jumping the gun? Of course I could be, but there’s nothing to point to that says I am. Everything about him screams elite.
His six receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns was a nice start to the season, especially when you realize he didn’t score his first touchdown until week nine last year.
Brandon Marshall - The Marshall/Cutler Project would be a horrible reality show (as they all are), but on the field, they showed us that all the chemistry talk was right on. Of course having 11 targets at halftime helps, but there’s no reason to think Cutler won’t continue to target him in the double-digits, which makes it nearly impossible to keep him from having a productive fantasy game.
Reggie Wayne - The old man still has it. He made amazing catch after amazing catch on Sunday, while the rest of the Colts receivers, were, well, named Donnie Avery, Kris Adams, and Lavon Brazill.
Wayne saw a league high 18 targets from Andrew Luck (who actually looked better than his stats), catching nine for 135 yards. This is something you are going to see often this year. The Colts will get behind and Luck is going to throw it to the veteran, over and over again.
Jimmy Graham - The Saints got their posteriors handed to them, but you can’t stop Brees from throwing over 300 yards or Jimmy Graham from being a top fantasy tight end for the week. Graham had 6 receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown, pretty ho-hum for him.
LeSean McCoy - On a day when Michael Vick threw four interceptions and almost gave away a game to the Browns who were “led” by rookie Brandon Weeden with a stat line of 12 for 35 for 118 yards and four interceptions, McCoy was his steady self.
He didn’t get into the end zone, but did rush for 110 yards on 20 carries and had six receptions for 26 yards, which put him in the top-10 for PPR running backs.
Arian Foster - If Foster isn’t ruled out for the game, start him. His questionable status, the availability of Ben Tate, and a weak opponent, scared away some fantasy players, but Foster is just a fantasy stud like the studs of olden times. Would you sit LaDainian Tomlinson or Marshall Faulk?
Alex Smith - This is more of a real football game ball, rather than a fake football one. Smith looked good in leading the 49ers to a win in Lambeau. He was an extremely efficient 20 for 26 for 211 yards and two touchdowns. The addition of Randy Moss helped open up the underneath work for Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham.
The Packers pass defense isn’t top-notch, but the new receiving weapons for Smith seem to fit this team well and the sky is the limit for this team.