The first Sunday of the 2012 fantasy football is now in the books, and just like the NFL there were winners and losers. However your team performed, it’s important to remember, a first week win doesn’t guarantee you a playoff spot and an opening week loss doesn’t spell doom for your fantasy team. Our fantasy team of James Morris and Jon Cope have you covered with a complete recap of the fantasy winners and losers from Sunday and a look at players to consider adding to your roster heading into week two.
Winners (by James Morris)
Matt Ryan – QB, Atlanta: The Falcons let Ryan do his thing with the offense and they were rewarded to the tune of 299 yards passing, 25 yards rushing and 4 TDs (3 passing, 1 rushing) on the day. Ryan was one of my “sleeper” QBs in the pre-season, and he showed exactly why I would have put him in the top 5 for fantasy QBs.
Robert Griffin III, QB Washington: Yes, I said to bench Griffin and I was wrong. But, in my defense, 88 of his 320 passing yards came on one play to Pierre Garcon. Had that play not happened, he would have finished with 232 yards passing and a single TD. However, it did happen and Griffin finished as a top tier play this week despite my misgivings. Could he be this year’s Cam Newton?
Julio Jones, WR Atlanta: Julio Jones was another one of my “sleeper” picks that went into full beast-mode on Sunday. Jones finished with 6 catches for 108 yards and 2 TDs, numbers good enough to put him in the top scoring spot in standard scoring leagues.
Andre Johnson, WR Houston: Sorry Dolphins fans, but Johnson did put up huge fantasy numbers on Sunday as he finished the game with 8 catches for 119 yards and a score. While I don’t think he can do this week in and week out, Johnson is a top 3-5 fantasy WR play most weeks because of this type of potential.
C.J. Spiller, RB Buffalo: Some would say it was only a matter of time before Fred Jackson went down due to injury, so Spiller was always a must-own player. Others would say that it was time for the Bills to see what Spiller can do on the field. Either way, Spiller let his stats do the talking as he ran the ball 14 times for 169 yards and a TD. Those stats will make his owners go overboard with his future value, so keep in mind that Ryan Fitzpatrick is still his QB and WR Donald Nelson may have a torn ACL.
Stevan Ridley, RB New England: While Wes Welker and Tom Brady both struggled, Ridley stepped his game up and made fantasy owners take notice. I had him as a sleeper pick all along, and his 125 yards rushing, 27 yards receiving and a TD allowed him to finish the week as a RB1 despite being started in roughly 30 percent of leagues.
Reggie Bush, RB Miami: Bush didn’t have stats that wow you, but for those in point-per-carry and/or point-per-reception league, he had a very respectable game. He finished with 14 carries for 69 yards and 6 catches for 46 yards.
Jimmy Graham, TE New Orleans: Graham entered the season as a top pick at TE, and he showed exactly why as he hauled in 6 passes for 85 yards and a TD. The guy is a stud and will be a top 2-3 pick every single week this season.
New York Jets defense: The Buffalo Bills offense is just as more to thank for this ranking as the Jets defense is. While the Jets did give up 28 points to the Bills offense, they also tallied 3 INTs, 1 fumble recovery, 1 defensive TD and 1 return TD for those in leagues that count them as defensive stats.
Losers (by James Morris)
Eli Manning, QB New York Giants: While he didn’t have a statistically horrible game, Manning didn’t wow fantasy owners with his 213 yards passing and one TD either. The Giants as a whole had a terrible game against the Cowboys, so I am not worried about his prospects going forward. Chalk this one up to opening game hurdles and keep him locked into the QB1 spot next week.
Josh Freeman, QB Tampa Bay: Freeman and the Bucs may have won against the Panthers on Sunday, but his 138 yards passing and one TD won’t win him any fans in fantasy football. The good news is that there is a very good chance that this will be the worst game of the season for him, but the bad news is that his offensive scheme is going to keep his fantasy value extremely low too. He is someone to avoid and this game is a good reason why.
Greg Jennings, WR Green Bay: I don’t think anybody expected Green Bay to lose at home, which makes Jennings’ game sting a little more. He did manage to rack up 34 yards on 5 receptions, but he failed to score and that hurt his fantasy owners. He will be fine, but the 49ers sure took the wind out of the Packers sails in this one.
Wes Welker, WR New England: Welker was odd-man out in the passing game on Sunday, and he managed to finish the game with just 3 catches for 14 yards. These numbers are just appalling, and there is little left to say about them. Shake it off and pray that this was a fluke.
Peyton Hillis, RB Kansas City: People around the Chiefs really thought that Jamaal Charles and Hillis would split the workload fairly evenly this season, but that is not what happened on Sunday at all. Hillis managed just 16 yards on 7 carries and no scores. I would employ a wait-and-see mentality with Hillis this season.
Toby Gerhart, RB Minnesota: Nobody expected Adrian Peterson to carry the load for the Vikings this week, but that is exactly what happened as he rushed 17 times for 84 yards and 2 TDs. That left Gerhart with just 6 carries for 18 yards and no endzone visits. AP is back and Gerhart can be cut if there is a FA worth picking up.
Jason Witten, TE Dallas: While Witten did manage to play in the season opener, his owners may have wished he just sat it out and get a little healthier. He managed to finish with just 10 yards receiving on 2 receptions, barely enough stats to get him a blip on the fantasy radar.
San Francisco 49ers defense: Just as I warned owners about, the Niners allowed 22 points while getting just 3 sacks and one INT in return. The team may have won, but the fantasy defense was among the lowest scoring this week.
Pittsburgh Steelers defense: The Steelers defense is another top tier defense that struggled on Sunday. Peyton Manning led the Broncos to 25 points while giving up just 2 sacks and no INTs. The Steelers did manage to recover a fumble, but the points allowed and lack of defensive stats put them on the low end of the fantasy totem-pole.
Waiver Wire Additions (by Jon Cope)
**CJ Spiller is the obvious add with the injury to Fred Jackson. However, Spiller is owned in nearly 90% of NFL.com leagues, so he won’t be on this but definitely check your waiver wire just in case he is not owned.
Alfred Morris, RB Washington (owned in 30.0% of NFL.com leagues)- In true Mike Shanahan fashion he decided not to start the #1 running back on the depth chart (Evan Royster), or the primary ball carrier for the latter part of the 2011 season (Roy Helu), as Shanahan opted for rookie Alfred Morris, the team’s 6th round pick out of FAU. Morris did nothing to lose the job on Sunday, rushing for 96 yards and two touchdowns on a hearty 28 carries. You’ll probably need to see more from Morris to deserve a spot in your starting lineup, but he’s worth an addition to your bench unless you’re stacked at the position
Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson, WRs St.Louis (both owned in less than 10% of NFL.com leagues)- With a healthy Sam Bradford, the St. Louis Rams offense will not be a fantasy wasteland outside of Steven Jackson. Gibson and Amendola will be the team’s two main receiving threats and the team should be decent enough on offense to make each of them productive in 2012. Amedola led the team with 9 targets and 70 receiving yards on Sunday while Gibson had 4 catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. If you’re in a PPR league, add the steady Amendola; if you’re not in a PPR league, then the dynamic Gibson is the Rams wide receiver that you want.
Stephen Hill, WR New York Jets (owned in 1.0% of NFL.com leagues)- Unfortunately, it’s hard to ignore 5 receptions, 89 yards, and 2 touchdowns from the Jets rookie receiver. Hill has all the physical skills and clearly will be one of the Jets main receiving threats along with Santonio Holmes. The Jets will struggle running on Sunday in Pittsburgh, and Hill should have the opportunity to once again put up nice fantasy numbers.
Coby Fleener, TE Indianapolis (owned in 46.6% of NFL.com leagues)- On Sunday, we learned two things haven’t changed since last year: 1) Andrew Luck and Coby Fleener have very good chemistry as Fleener recorded six receptions for 82 yards in his debut and 2) The Colts defense still isn’t very good, which should result in many games where Luck will have to throw plenty to attempt to bring the team back from a deficit. Fleener was targeted 10 times on Sunday, and deserves a look if you’re in need at tight end.
Cincinnati Bengals Defense (owned in 18.2% of NFL.com leagues)- No matter what happens in their contest on Monday night against the Ravens, the Bengals are a sneaky pickup and start for week two, when they have a very friendly matchup against the Cleveland Browns. The Browns offense looked quite inept against the Eagles on Sunday with rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden throwing 4 interceptions and the team only gaining 210 total yards. The Bengals have a talented defensive unit that I would start over defenses such as the Bears, Ravens, Lions and Seahawks in week two as the aforementioned teams face formidable offenses
For more fantasy advice, you can follow James on Twitter here.
Also, be sure to check back on Wednesday for more fantasy football guidance.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.