By Stephen Dolan
Week 1 is in the books and now it’s time to see how coaches adjust to just one week of preparation instead of three months. The NFL’s opening weekend certainly provided some surprising performances—from rookies like Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota to veterans likes Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.READ MORE: Poinsettias, Trains Help H.P. Rawlings Conservancy Get 'Back On Track'
Play: Drew Brees (vs. TB)
Brees threw for 355 yards and one touchdown in the Saints Week 1 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Despite New Orleans’ attempts to shift to a more consistent rushing attack, Brees still threw 48 times, which is a good sign for fantasy owners as he put up 17.5 points. The Saints’ next opponent, Tampa Bay, was torched by rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota in Week 1- this is good news for Brees. Play ’em.
Play: Philip Rivers (vs. CIN)
Rivers got off to a slow start in the first quarter on Sunday against the Detroit Lions, but found his groove to the tune of 404 yards, two touchdowns and 22 points in FanDuel leagues. Rivers completed 35 of his 42 passes on the day, including 15 to Keenan Allen. He faces a Bengals team that allowed just 183 passing yards to the Raiders, but ranked 20th in the NFL against the pass in 2014.
Other Good Plays: Carson Palmer (vs. CHI) for $7,800, Marcus Mariota (vs. CLE) for $7,400
Pass: Ryan Tannehill (vs. JAC)
Tannehill looked shaky in his season debut against the Washington Redskins, throwing for 226 yards and one touchdown, posting just 11.7 fantasy points. The Redskins secondary didn’t pose a threat, but the Dolphins offense struggled to get into a rhythm. Plus, Miami’s next opponent, Jacksonville, kept Cam Newton and the Panthers in check, allowing just 175 yards through the air with an interception. Pass on Tannehill.
Other Passes: Tom Brady (vs. BUF) for $8,300, Jay Cutler (vs. ARI) for $7,200
Play: DeMarco Murray (vs. DAL)
The league’s leading rusher last season got off to a slow start on Monday Night Football against the Atlanta Falcons, but he salvaged his value by scoring twice, once on a run and once through the air for 16 fantasy points. Murray will certainly be motivated against his former team, the Cowboys, who allowed 99 rushing yards to the New York Giants on Sunday night. The Eagles offense looked to Murray in the red zone, so despite a potential lack of yards, he should be a solid play.
Play: Marshawn Lynch (vs. GB)
Lynch rushed 18 times for 73 yards and added five catches for 31 yards, which was good enough for 14.9 points in FanDuel leagues in the Seahawks overtime loss to the Rams in Week 1. Seattle will be looking to make a statement this week following Sunday’s upset. Lynch gets a favorable matchup against the Green Bay Packers, who allowed 189 rushing yards to the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Other Good Plays: Danny Woodhead (vs. CIN) for $6,200, Ameer Abdullah (vs. MIN) for $6,400, Bishop Sankey (vs. CLE) for $6,500
Pass: Giovani Bernard
Bernard rushed eight times for 63 yards and added six catches for 25 yards against the Oakland Raiders. But thanks to Jeremy Hill, he isn’t the featured back in the backfield, so Bernard doesn’t figure to see many touches near the goal line. Cincinnati faces the San Diego Chargers, who were stout against the run on Sunday, allowing just 69 rushing yards. Between the lack of touches in the offense and Bernard’s inability to find the end zone (he hasn’t scored on the ground since Oct. 26 last season), Bernard is not worth the pick.
Other Passes: Eddie Lacy (vs. SEA) for $8,100, Alfred Morris (vs. STL) for $7,300, LeGarrette Blount (vs. BUF) for $6,400
Play: DeAndre Hopkins (vs. CIN)
Hopkins came alive for the Texans in their Week 1 loss to the Chiefs. Hopkins caught nine passes for 98 yards, two touchdowns and posted 28.3 points in FanDuel leagues on Sunday, his first game as Houston’s No. 1 wide receiver. Hopkins was the primary target for quarterback Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett, who came into the game in relief of Hoyer, as he caught a touchdown from each signal caller. Play ‘em.READ MORE: Essex Spreads Holiday Cheer With Christmas Tree Lighting
Play: Brandin Cooks (vs. TB)
Cooks expected to have a bigger impact in the Saints’ season opener on Sunday, but was held in check, catching just four passes for 49 yards while registering 7.3 fantasy points. Cooks is a big play threat both in the vertical game and his ability to run after the catch, so he should pick up big yards in a hurry. Plus, he’s facing a Buccaneers team that struggled in a 42-14 loss to the Titans in Week 1. Play Cooks, especially with Brees as his quarterback.
Play: Jordan Matthews (vs. DAL)
Despite the dropped ball at the end of the Eagles Week 1 loss on Monday night, Matthews had a fantastic night as the Eagles No. 1 wide receiver. The second-year wide receiver caught 10 passes for 105 yards as the Eagles found ways to get him the ball in traffic and on the outside. Chip Kelly’s offense took a little while to get going, but if the second half was any indication, Matthews figures to get his fair share of fantasy points.
Other Good Plays: Keenan Allen (vs. CIN) for $8,200, Jarvis Landry (vs. JAC) for $7,100, John Brown (vs. CHI) for $6,200
Pass: Randall Cobb (vs. SEA)
Cobb caught five passes for 38 yards, one touchdown and 12.3 points in Sunday’s win over the Bears. Despite the solid afternoon, Cobb looked to be bothered by his shoulder injury, which is a concern as Green Bay hosts Richard Sherman and the Seattle Seahawks. Davante Adams and James Jones took targets away from Cobb and it should be more difficult to find space on Sunday night against Seattle’s staunch secondary. Pass on Cobb.
Other Passes: Alshon Jeffrey (vs. ARI) for $8,100, A.J. Green (vs. SD) for $8,100, Michael Crabtree (vs. BAL) for $5,500
Play: Zach Ertz (vs. DAL)
Ertz was a surprise active for the Eagles on Monday night after missing most of training camp during to surgery to repair a sports hernia injury. He registered three catches for 46 yards, no touchdowns and just 6.1 fantasy points, but he was open more often than not. After easing him into action in Week 1, Sam Bradford and the Eagles could look to Ertz’s mismatches against the Cowboys on Sunday.
Other Good Plays: Rob Gronkowski (vs. BUF) for $8,300, Tyler Eifert (vs. SD) for $5,900, Jordan Cameron (vs. JAC) for $5,500
Pass: Jermaine Gresham (vs. CHI)
Gresham, alongside Darren Fells, is the tight end in the Cardinals strong aerial attack led by Carson Palmer. Unfortunately for Arizona, Gresham was a non-factor, registering just one catch for four yards in Sunday’s win over New Orleans. Fells got most of the tight end targets for Arizona, catching four passes for 82 yards and one touchdown. Pass on Gresham until he gets involved in the offense.
Other Passes: Larry Donnell (vs. ATL) for $5,300, Coby Fleener (vs. NYJ) for $4,900, Scott Chandler (vs. BUF) for $4,900
- Play: Matt Bryant (vs. NYG) for $5,000
- Play: Dan Bailey (vs. PHI) for $5,000
- Play: Robbie Gould (vs. ARI) for $4,800
- Pass: Stephen Gostkowski (vs. BUF) for $5,200
- Pass: Adam Vinatieri (vs. NYJ) for $5,000
- Pass: Randy Bullock (vs. CAR) for $4,800
- Play: Rams (vs. WAS) for $4,900
- Play: Dolphins (vs. JAC) for $5,100
- Play: Saints (vs. TB) for $4,500
- Pass: Seahawks (vs. GB) for $4,700
- Pass: Browns (vs. TEN) for $4,600
- Pass: Bengals (vs. SD) for $4,600
- QB: Marcus Mariota (vs. CLE)
- RB: DeMarco Murray (vs. DAL)
- RB: Ameer Abdullah (vs. MIN)
- WR: DeAndre Hopkins (vs. CAR)
- WR: Brandin Cooks (vs. TB)
- WR: Jordan Matthews (vs. DAL)
- TE: Jordan Cameron (vs. JAC)
- K: Matt Bryant (vs. NYG)
- D/ST: Rams (vs. WAS)
Steve Dolan is an MBA student at Villanova University and a graduate of the Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University. Steve co-founded Whiz Wit Sports, a Philadelphia-centric sports blog, in March 2011 growing the site to win PHL 17’s Best Local Blogger on the Philly Hot List in 2013.