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NFL Week 1 Fantasy Risers and Fallers



Sam Bradford, STL:

There were many concerns following the first preseason game for the St. Louis Rams. Bradford was hit, hit, and hit again behind a shaky offensive line.

Bradford settled in throughout the rest of the preseason against first team defenses. In the third preseason game against the New England Patriots, he completed 15 of 22 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions. After his preseason play, nobody questioned Coach Steve Spagnuolo’s decision to start the rookie in the first game of the season.

Bradford completed 32 of 55 passes for 253 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Bradford displayed a strong and accurate arm throughout the game. He also showed the ability to throw on the run. He completed a very good pass in tight coverage on a designed roll out at the goal line to score before the first half ended.

Do not be worried about the three interceptions. Two came within the last two minutes of a close game when the Rams were trying to rally to win.

The second interception came right before the pass rush reached Bradford and the defender undercut the throw, which would have resulted in the potential game winning touchdown. The final interception came on a Hail Mary attempt to end the game.

Take away these two interceptions in crunch time and Bradford had a very solid outing in his debut. Bradford appeared to make his mediocre receiving corps. look even better. Look for Bradford to throw plenty this season and work his way to respectable numbers as defenses stack the box to stop Steven Jackson.

Notable Performances and Notes:

Michael Vick (PHI) – 175 passing yards, TD, 103 rushing yards

Vince Young (TEN) – 2 passing TD, 76.5 completion percentage

David Garrard (JAX) – 3 passing TD, 76.2 completion percentage

Jay Cutler (CHI) – 372 yards, 2 TD, 22 rushing yards

Matt Hasselbeck (SEA) – 3 TD (1 rush), 78.3 completion percentage


Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG:

Although Brandon Jacobs was given a hefty contract, the organization finally realized that Bradshaw is simply the more talented player. Bradshaw is better in pass protection, catching out of the backfield and at the goal line, despite Jacobs’ power and size.

Jacobs runs too up right. He often does not break tackles over the past year, possibly in fear of getting injured. Bradshaw is one of the tougher backs in the league, which he proved last year playing on two injured ankles.

Bradshaw had a rough first start with a dropped pass, subpar blocking, and a lost fumble. However, he still tallied 76 yards rushing with one touchdown and two catches for 17 yards. Bradshaw will be a major part of the offense with his speed, good hands, vision and agility, which are all superior to Jacobs’.

Darren McFadden, OAK:

One pace to be the steal of the draft. The third year running back appeared to have his window shut with Michael Bush announced the starter. Perhaps that was the push he needed to get going.

Starting in place of the injured Bush, McFadden blew up for 95 yards rushing, six receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown against a tough Tennessee Titans defense.

McFadden entered the league with a lot of hype, as he has the abilities to be one of the best pass catching running backs in the league. With the lack of receiving depth and talent on the Raiders, McFadden has the potential to be one of the leading receivers on the team.

McFadden has been injured in the past, but McFadden is clearly a player to target in trade discussions before it is too late. Keep in mind that Bush will be back sooner than later and could steal goal line carries. However, McFadden’s speed and pass catching ability will keep him relevant throughout the season.

Arian Foster, HOU:

Doubters, step aside. Bandwagoners, don’t get too comfortable, there won’t be much more room on board.

Arian Foster opened the season sending the NFL on a wild ride and easily the biggest ‘riser’ of anyone in the NFL. The second year back made every fantasy owner who drafted him in the mid to late rounds a fantasy genius. 33 rush attempts for 231 yards and three touchdowns.

Arian Foster ran, ran and ran again all over the Indianapolis Colts. Even with Bob Sanders on the field for some time, the Colts had no answer for this monster. Foster found holes quickly, turned up field on one cut and either out ran or powered over defenders for long gains and easy scores. Many teams have done this to the Colts before, including the Texans, but this was a performance for the ages.

It is highly doubtful that Foster will even come close to these numbers again, but the Texans have proven that running backs can have a lot of success in their system. With their dynamic passing attack, it will be difficult for defenses to stack the box against Foster, meaning Foster will find plenty of rushing lanes throughout the season. Drafted as No. 2 back, Foster will have No. 1 potential the rest of the year.

Houston may have found the solution to their rushing woes, and this will be a problem for every other NFL team.

Brandon Jackson, GB:

Ryan Grant sprained his ankle in Week 1 and will need surgery to repair the injury. Brandon Jackson will finally take over the reigns as the starting running back.

Brandon Jackson is a better football player than Ryan Grant. He is far more versatile and will be able to do everything Grant did for the Packers, but better.

Jackson will be a better pass catcher out of the backfield, which bodes well for Rodgers owners. Jackson has all the confidence in the world out of Head Coach Mike McCarthy. The Packers offense will not miss a beat and should actually be even better without Ryan Grant in the backfield.

Jackson had 63 rushing yards and two receptions for 12 yards in limited time Sunday. Jackson should be the No. 1 waiver claim this week if he’s available.

Notable Performances and Notes:

Jahvid Best (DET) – 2 TD in debut

Matt Forte (CHI) – 7 receptions, 201 total yards, 2 TD

Peyton Hillis (CLE) – TD, goal line back

LaDainian Tomlinson (NYJ) – will split carries equally with Shonn Greene

Laurence Maroney (DEN) – traded to Denver


Mark Clayton, STL:

Who needs more than a week on a new team to make an impact? Not Mark Clayton, who continued his quality preseason play. In his first game, Clayton impressed the St. Louis coaching staff and fantasy owners. Clayton had a career day, 10 catches for 119 yards as was Bradford’s go-to-guy with 16 targets.

Clayton is the veteran of a young receiving corps. and should continue to see a lot of targets going forward. Most likely undrafted in most fantasy leagues, Clayton is a receiver to target on the waiver wire as Bradford looked good and will be dared to throw the ball. The Oklahoma connection could very well be alive in St. Louis this season.

Legedu Naanee, SD:

Vincent Jackson’s hold out has cleared the way for the third year receiver to be productive throughout the entire season. Naanee is quick, fast, has good hands and a good vertical leap, everything Philip Rivers needs in a receiver. He finished Week 1 with five receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown.

Naanee will see a lot of action underneath defenses as the Chargers try to stretch the field with the wildy inconsistent and average receiving option in Malcolm Floyd.

However, Naanee, as seen against the Kansas City Chiefs, can get behind a defense because he most likely will never garner much attention from the defense. As the Chargers lined up Gates and Naanee on the same side, three defenders flocked to Gates, which allowed Naanee to get behind the defense for a wide open 59 yard touchdown. Naanee was targeted inside the red zone as well since he is a shifty and quick receiver and could have ended the night with two touchdowns.

Although Antonio Gates will be the No. 1 receiving target, Naanee will see a lot of looks in this offense. Naanee is a waiver option to target immediately as he will have a fantasy impact throughout the season. Naanee could easily be a fantastic No. 3 fantasy wide receiver.

Notable Performances and Notes:

Dez Bryant (DAL) – 8 receptions

Eddie Royal (DEN) – 8 receptions, 98 yards

Mohammed Massaquoi (CLE) – TD, Delhomme’s new Muhsin Muhammad?

Steve Breaston (ARZ) – 7 receptions, 132 yards

Mike Williams (TB) – 5 receptions, TD


Visanthe Shiancoe:

Brett Favre has been known to throw to his tight ends. This is why many were not too surprised to see Shiancoe have a career year last season. Somehow, he was overlooked all preseason as he was generally drafted outside of the top 10 tight ends.

With Sidney Rice out until midseason, Percy Harvin requiring attention, Bernard Berrian’s lack of consistency and Greg Camarillo adjusting to the offense, look for Shiancoe to be Favre’s No. 1 target in most games.

Shiancoe is a big target with reliable hands. Week 1’s four catch, 76 yard and one touchdown performance proved he deserved to be drafted among the fantasy elite. He made two fantastic catches over the middle, one for the 33 yards and the next for 20 yards.

Notable Performances and Notes:

Marcedes Lewis (JAX) – 2 TD

Tony Scheffler (DET) – 6 receptions, 43 yards

Jermaine Gresham (CIN) – 6 receptions, TD

Chris Cooley (WAS) – 6 receptions, 80 yards

Todd Heap (BAL) – 6 receptions, 72 yards



Kevin Kolb, PHI:

Although Kevin Kolb will most likely miss Week 2 with a concussion, he is not on the list for injury concerns. Kolb looked terrible against Green Bay. He had awful pocket presence, accuracy and vision. He looked lost behind the Eagles’ subpar line and could not develop any type of chemistry with his receivers in the game and throughout preseason.

Michael Vick stepped in after Kolb left with a concussion at the hands of Clay Matthews, who was a menacing force for the Packers on defense.

With Vick in, the Eagles appeared rejuvenated and simply far superior on offense. LeSean McCoy saw more running room as he was less of a focal point. Vick displayed good, not great vision, as he made a few costly throwing errors.

He may have cost the team a victory when he decided to throw inside the 10 yard line when he probably could have rushed it in for a touchdown.

However, Vick proved he still has one of the strongest arms in the league as he was throwing strike after strike to his receivers, connecting on a bullet to Jeremy Maclin for a touchdown. Vick even looked more accurate than his days in Atlanta.

Kolb was a reach when he was drafted in the second round owners should be rushing to the waiver wire to pick up Michael Vick, who can be a major fantasy factor once again with his deadly scrambling ability and strong arm.

All Eagles play makers would benefit immensely from Vick at QB.

Notable Performances and Notes:

Matthew Stafford (DET) – Out anywhere between 2-8 weeks (shoulder)

Joe Flacco (BAL) – 52.6 completion percentage, INT

Alex Smith (SF) – 57.8 completion percentage, 2 INT

Donovan McNabb (WAS) – 46.9 completion percentage, just 171 yards with no TD

Mark Sanchez (NYJ) – 47.6 completion percentage, only 74 yards


Jerome Harrison, CLE:

Harrison had a fairly good match up to exploit as he looked to continue last season’s late surge. However, Harrison finished with just nine carries for 52 yards and one reception for seven yards. Although Harrison’s average yards per carry was good, 39 of the 52 yards came on one carry. Even more disappointing was that Peyton Hillis was used just as much and was more effective.

Although Hillis fumbled twice and lost one, these were the first two fumbles in his career. He is more versatile than Harrison, who only had one reception for seven yards. He will often be used on third down and appears to be Eric Mangini’s goal line back. Hillis could also see more red zone work than Harrison throughout the season, as he scored a 10 yard touchdown.

Hillis showed some success in Denver. Jerome Harrison could be nothing more than a late season fluke, whereas Hillis could be the most fantasy relevant running back in Cleveland. He finished the day with 41 yards rushing and four catches for 24 including the 10 yard rushing touchdown. Look for Hillis to cut into Harrison’s workload often.

Shonn Greene, NYJ:

Shonn Greene may be listed as the starter, but he did not play like one against the tough Baltimore defense. There appeared to be a role reversal as Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer called a couple screen passes for Greene and ran LaDainian Tomlinson up the middle.

This is good for Greene owners, as at least the Jets want to get him involved in the passing offense. However, he had a costly drop and fumbled twice, losing one. More importantly, he did not look good running the football and even ran into one of his offensive lineman.

LaDainian Tomlinson looked the best of the Jets’ skill players. He rushed 11 times for 62 carries and caught 2 passes for 16 yards. Greene rushed just five times for 18 yards. Those expecting Greene to be the Thomas Jones workhorse for the Jets may be disappointed. In their effort to make sure Greene stays healthy, there could be a lot of split time between Greene and Tomlinson. If Greene keeps fumbling and Tomlinson proves to be more productive, the Jets will not hesitate to feed the veteran the rock.

The Jets did face one of the best rushing defenses in the league, but the play calling is what should be most concerning for Greene owners. Those who drafted Greene in the first or second rounds could have a potential bust on their hands as he could fail to meet the consistency needed from a top pick on a weekly basis.

Notable Performances and Notes:

Ryan Grant (GB) – Out for Season (ankle surgery)

Jonathan Stewart (CAR) – 5 carries, 12 yards

C.J. Spiller (BUF) – 7 carries, 6 yards; 4 receptions, 8 yards

Michael Bush (OAK) – Could lose starting job coming back from thumb injury


Mike Sims-Walker, JAX:

Sims-Walker had a break out 2009 season and was one of the receivers outside of the top 15 that many targeted. Hopeful that he would exceed his break out numbers in his fourth season, Sims-Walker caught zero passes as he was blanketed by one of the premiere corners in the game, Champ Bailey.

On the other side, Mike Thomas, the potential 2010 break out wide out for the Jaguars, had a good day with six receptions for 89 yards.

Sims-Walker should not have many zero catch games, if any. However, teams are now game planning for the receiver who believes he is one of the best in the game. He will always be guarded by the No. 1 cornerback. He simply may not be as talented as his fantasy owners hoped to lead them to fantasy greatness as a No. 2 or potential No. 1 fantasy wide receiver.

Kenny Britt, TEN:

Kenny Britt has landed himself in Head Coach Jeff Fisher’s dog house.

Rightfully so.

Kenny Britt has done nothing to warrant his first round selection. He simply cannot keep his head in the game. He showed glimpses last season, but his rough offseason and preseason has been extremely disappointing.

Britt could be a much needed playmaker for Vince Young and the Tennessee Titans as he is a big target to rely on. However, he is leading many to question if he can be reliable.

He saw zero pass targets in the first game of the season and was clearly outplayed by Nate Washington who caught three passes for 88 yards and a touchdown. Although Vince Young only threw for 154 yards, completing 13 of 17 attempts, Britt is on the wrong side of the depth chart.

Pierre Garcon, IND: In his third season, many expected Garcon to blow up after a terrific postseason and entrenched as Peyton Manning’s No. 3 target.

Garcon had a rough opening game. Targeted plenty as Manning threw 57 passes, Garcon dropped several easy passes and a potential touchdown, which it appeared Manning actually laughed at.

He finished with four catches for 75 yards. He should have easily finished with seven or more receptions for over 100 yards and a touchdown.

Garcon is still in a great situation in the Colts offense. He made a remarkable one handed reception towards the end of the first half and getting plenty of looks from Peyton Manning does not mean anybody should be on a ‘falling’ list.

However, Garcon is on the list as a noteworthy player of interest. If he continues along this path of dropped passes and mental miscues, Manning will lose confidence in the young receiver.

Austin Collie, who proved to be just as effective last season, had a fantastic day finishing with 10 receptions for 131 yards and a score despite also fumbling. With Collie demonstrating reliable hands, he could overtake Garcon as the No. 2 wide receiver in the dynamic Indianapolis offense.

Those who spent a fifth or sixth round pick on Garcon could quickly see his role reversed with that of Collie or even Anthony Gonzalez if he keeps this up. Instead of being a potential No. 2 fantasy receiver or great No. 3 fantasy receiver, he could turn in to just another fantasy owners’ hopeful attempt for a big game.

Again, Garcon is only on this list as a player to keep track of because of his notable up and down performance and the reaction he received from Peyton Manning.

Notable Performances and Notes:

Michael Crabtree (SF) – 2 receptions, 12 yards

Dwayne Bowe (KC) – 1 reception, 13 yards

Braylon Edwards (NYJ) – 1 reception, 9 yards

Percy Harvin (MIN) – 1 reception, 12 yards

Devin Hester (CHI) 1 reception, 17 yards


Jason Witten, DAL:

Witten had a terrible fantasy Week 1 as he only caught three passes for 27 yards. With the Dallas offensive line banged up, Witten needed to help block for Tony Romo instead of working the middle of the field. He did receive a target in the end zone, though it appeared the ball was not even intended for Witten. Nonetheless, it was a terribly overthrown ball behind Witten.

Dez Bryant looked good in his first game in over a year. Jerry Jones appears intent on making sure he makes an impact on the team. Bryant could cut into Witten’s receptions as Bryant received a lot of short to mid range yardage work, which is where Witten generally does most of his damage.

As long as Witten is needed to help the offensive line protect Romo and Romo tries to distribute the ball between Miles Austin. Bryant and Roy Williams, his reception total could be severely limited. Those hoping Witten would creep back into the top five fantasy tight ends could possibly end up paying a hefty price for a tight end closer to the bottom of the top 10.

Notable Performances and Notes:

Tony Gonzalez (ATL) – 2 receptions, 35 yards

Owen Daniels (HOU) 1 reception, 9 yards

Brent Celek (PHI) – 2 receptions, 32 yards

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One Comment

In response to “NFL Week 1 Fantasy Risers and Fallers”

  1. Ryan Frank Sep 16 20102:03 am


    what do you think about Austin Collie??

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