Week 1 – Ballers and Bums

 

You can research for years, have all of the “insider” information known to man, and even talk to the coaching staff before the game. Hell, you could actually be on the team, and know the game plan inside and out, but there’s one thing that can never be predicted… Results. Some guys will outperform expectations (ballers), and some will underperform (bums).

Now, the bums are quite obvious. They’re the guys you drafted early, or traded the farm for, and for whatever reason they burned you (injuries don’t count). But, the ballers, these guys aren’t so obvious. I don’t consider guys who come out and have a good game, when everyone is expecting them to play well, ballers (i.e. Andrew Luck). If you’ve read any of my prior content (if not, you should) then you know how I feel about “sleepers”, and these definitely aren’t that either.

My ballers are guys who are overlooked, or underrated – whether they’re coming off injury, a down year, have a tough matchup – whatever the reason, they are expected to struggle… But, don’t. Or guys who normally play well, but take it to another unexplainable level. These are my ballers. And now that that’s out of the way…

Baller of the Week:

AJ Green – 12 rec. 180 yds 1 TD – 24 fantasy points

Wait?! Didn’t you just say these weren’t guys who everyone expected to play well? Yes, yes I did. The reason it goes to Green is the matchup (you weren’t benching him, but if you had him you were concerned… Don’t lie), and the sheer ridiculousness of what he did… Revis Island has been flooded.

Andy Dalton completed 23 passes on 30 attempts Sunday. Of his 30 attempts, 13 of those targeted A.J. Green. Of those 13 balls thrown at Mr. Green, 12 of them were caught. With those 12 catches came 180 yards, and a TD… Let’s do some advanced math real quick. He caught 92% of the passes thrown his way, at 15 yards per catch, and was responsible for 52% of Dalton’s completions (He also had 5 of the Bengals 11 passing 1st downs)… Oh, and did I mention he was on Revis Island? Oh, and did I mention Eifert was out, Sanu/Jones are gone, and everyone knew where Dalton wanted to go and it still didn’t matter? Hats off to Mr. Green, it doesn’t get much better.

Bum of the Week:

Dez Bryant – 1 rec. 8 yds – 0 fantasy points

Did Dez even play? I mean, I remember seeing him frantically waiving at Terrance Williams to get out of bounds, but did anyone verify he actually ran a route on that play? Was he on the sidelines the entire game? Does he have a non-athletic, identical twin brother? I need answers.

Quarterbacks

Baller:
Alex Smith – 34/48 363 yds 2 TDs 1 INT (4 rush 15 yds 1 TD) – 27 fantasy points

“Game managing” Alex Smith surprised everyone with 363 passing yards, and 2 passing tds, to go along with 15 rushing yards, and a TD… Not bad considering the Chiefs had 3 points with 6 mins to go in the 3rd quarter. His performance was a product of game flow – the Chiefs were down 21 halfway through the 3rd – but the fact he pulled off the comeback, and the way he did it, easily make him my QB baller of the week.

Check the Wire – Honorable Mention
Jameis Winston – 23/33 281 yds 4 TDS 1 INT (4 rush 3 yds) – 25 fantasy points

If for some reason he’s available in your league, pick him up. Tough matchup at Arizona this week, but he looks impressive.

Bum:
Tyrod Taylor – 15/22 111 yds (5 rush 11 yds) – 5 fantasy points

Tyrod completed 68% of his passes, which was good for the 11th best rate of the week. Problem is, his average pass travelled about 5 yards, and his receivers provided close to 0 yards after catch. Tyrod should bounce back, but the breakout season many predicted, is off to an awfully slow start. Still too early to bail on him, and you have to give credit to the Ravens’ defense.

Running Backs

Ballers:
Theo Riddick/Ameer Abdullah – 7 rush 45 yds 1 TD (5 rec. 63 yds 1 TD)/ 12 rush 63 yds (5 rec. 57 yds 1 TD) – 39 fantasy points

Yardage wise, neither stat line is overly impressive. However, Riddick and Abdullah’s yards per carry – 6.43 and 5.25 respectively – are. Coming into the game, all of the talk was about the Colts banged up secondary (and Stafford balled out too btw), but to me, the story was the Lions backs. Both finished as Top 10 fantasy RB performers.

Check the Wire – Honorable Mention
Danny Woodhead – 16 rush 89 yds (5 rec. 31 yds 1 TD) – 17 fantasy points

Melvin Gordon was solid, but Phillip Rivers trusts Woodhead. With Keenan Allen going down for the season, Woodhead becomes their best offensive weapon. He’ll continue to see a lot of touches.

Bum:
Todd Gurley – 17 rush 47 yds (1 rec. -5 yds) – 4 fantasy points

With the exception of Lamar Miller (maybe C.J. Anderson/Matt Forte depending on how your draft went), if you took a RB in the 1st 2 rounds, chances are you’re not happy with their performance. This could easily go to Adrian Peterson, or countless other guys, but I assume Gurley was taken #1 more often across the board; so he gets the edge. Until the Rams can pose a threat passing, expect loaded boxes, and little running room for Gurley.

Wide Receivers

Baller:
Willie Snead – 9 rec. 172 yds TD – 23 fantasy points

Snead was targeted 9 times. He had 9 catches. Yes, David Amerson has been up and down since his ’13 breakout season at NC State, but he’s a talented DB. No, Sean Smith is not Darrelle Revis. But, he’s pretty damn good… The Raiders secondary is not a bad unit. Yet, Willie did not drop, or have a pass deflected the entire game. 9 targets. 9 catches. That’d be impressive vs. North Eastern S. Tennessee St., but against the best of the best?? C’mon Willie, cut it out. Then, just because, he averages 19.1 yards per catch and turns 9 catches into 172 yds. Baller.

Check the Wire – Honorable Mention
Will Fuller – 5 rec. 107 yds 1 TD

Outside of a huge drop, which would’ve let to a 70ish yard TD, Fuller was very impressive in his rookie debut. Houston’s offense did not quite look in sync, but Osweiler was not shy in airing it out. Lamar Miller was effective out of the backfield, and DeAndre Hopkins is one of the best in the game, so Fuller should see a lot of 1-on-1 coverage. He has the speed, and elusiveness, to continue to put up big numbers like he did Sunday. Pick him up if he’s available.

Bum:
Brandon Marshall – 3 rec. 32 yds – 3 fantasy points

Credit due to the Bengals defense, as they held Fitzpatrick & co to 123 yards (excluding Forte/Powell’s 66 yards receiving out of the backfield). Marshall received a team high 8 targets, but only managed 3 for 32. The Jets’ passing game struggled as a whole, and I don’t expect this to continue, but a bad day from a guy many had as a Top 10 option for Week 1.

Tight Ends

Baller:
Julius Thomas – 5 rec. 64 yds 1 TD – 12 fantasy points

When he’s on the field, he balls. The problem is, he’s often injured, and gets forgotten as a result (he was injured in this game, and is considered questionable for Week 2 – sprained ankle). However, Thomas pulled in all 5 of his targets Sunday for 64 yards, and a TD. Good enough to be the #3 fantasy TE for the week.

Check the Wire – Honorable Mention
Jacob Tamme – 6 rec. 51 yds – 5 fantasy points

Tamme, tied for the most targeted Falcons pass catcher with 8, caught 6 balls for 51 yards. Matt Ryan has not had a reliable TE since Tony Gonzalez retired, and Tamme is exactly that… Reliable. His ceiling is limited, but so is his floor. He should continue to see plenty of targets moving forward.

Bum:
Coby Fleener – 1 rec. 6 yds – 0 fantasy points

I expected Fleener to have a big season, and still think he will. But, a few more performances like the one he had on Sunday, and he should be available on all Waiver Wires. Drew Brees has always leaned on his TEs, and made Ben Watson a star last season. Yet Fleener, who was petty solid in Indy, was targeted only 4 times, and caught 1 for 6 yards… In a game which Brees threw for 423 yds, and 4 TDs. Yikes. We’ll blame it on the fact that Cooks, and Snead were both un-coverable, and just move on.

*Fantasy points based on ESPN’s standard scoring system

 

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