The first Sunday of the 2014 season is in the books and Jamaal Charles and Dez Bryant owners are glad to see it go. Plenty of studs disappointed this week, but there were still plenty of quality performances in the fantasy world, including a Mile High hat trick for Julius Thomas. Demaryius Thomas (11) and Emmanuel Sanders (9) were both targeted more heavily than Julius, but he was the man in touchdown column as he hauled in three second quarter touchdowns. A final stat line of seven grabs for 104 yards and three scores made Thomas the second highest scoring fantasy player of the week behind Matt Ryan. It may be Demaryius Thomas leading the way some weeks, or Emmanuel Sanders other weeks, but Julius Thomas is well on his way to catching a boat load of touchdowns in 2014. Let’s check in on other happenings from around the fake football world:
Mark Ingram: The New Orleans backfield was split just as we had anticipated, as Mark Ingram led the Saints backs in carries and Pierre Thomas led the way in the receiving game. Ingram, a preseason favorite of ours here at The Fake Football, handled 13 carries and racked up 60 yards and two touchdowns. Khiry Robinson will be involved as well (six carries on Sunday) but Ingram and Thomas are the best bets for weekly production.
Matt Ryan: Leading fantasy quarterbacks in Week 1 was Matt Ryan who chucked three touchdown passes to go along with 448 yards passing. This was a typical NFC South dome shootout, as the Falcons topped the Saints late. Julio Jones (9 targets) was Ryan’s favorite target on Sunday, but the entire Falcons passing offense looked solid. A tougher defensive aassignment awaits in Week 2 as Atlanta travels to Cincinnati.
Brandin Cooks: The New Orleans rookie had a phenomenal debut on Sunday, catching seven of eight targets for 77 yards and a score. Cooks was heavily involved in the Saints offense, just as Sean Payton imagined when they traded up for Cooks in the NFL Draft. This guy will be making a ton of PPR noise this year.
Cordarrelle Patterson: Preseason hype machine Cordarrelle Patterson didn’t disappoint on Sunday as he racked up 128 total yards (including 102 on the ground) and a score. Patterson was targeted five times and handled three carries on the day, as he showed of his freaky athleticism. It appears that Patterson will be a busy man in Norv Turner’s offense.
Ben Tate: Well, this was the absolute worst case scenario for Ben Tate owners as he not only left Sunday’s game with a knee injury, but TWO of Cleveland’s backup running backs looked good in his absence. Rookies Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell were productive as the Browns fought back against the Steelers, with West running for 100 yards on 16 carries and Crowell scored twice on five runs. Stay tuned for injury updates on Tate but this is not a good start to his career in Cleveland.
Allen Hurns: The underowned fantasy performer of the day was rookie Allen Hurns, who caught four passes for 110 yards and two TDs while leading exactly zero fantasy teams to victory. Hurns was busy early with two first quarter touchdowns but ended up only hauling in four of nine targets. We will have plenty of more Hurns coverage in our waiver wire report this week but the impending return of Cecil Shorts could give Hurns a short shelf life.
A.J. Green: One of the few fantasy studs that didn’t leave fantasy owners spiking remote controls was A.J. Green who caught six passes for 131 yards and a score. Marvin Jones is out and now tight end Tyler Eifert appears to have an elbow injury so Green will be targeted as heavily as ever in coming weeks. He’s good.
Bernard Pierce: Pierce was staring at an enormous opportunity on Sunday with Ray Rice suspended, and fantasy owners were hoping he could capitalize on this chance and grab a permanent chunk of the Ravens backfield workload. Instead, Pierce turned in a sluggish performance for the ages with six carries for 14 yards and was benched early after losing a fumble. Justin Forsett ended up leading the Ravens in carries and Pierce’s fantasy value has struck an iceberg and is taking on water.
C.J. Spiller: In the most pleasantly surprising development of the day, the Buffalo Bills went into Chicago and not only beat the Bears, but actually let C.J. Spiller lead their backfield! Amazing! Fantasy owners have been waiting years for this, but Spiller finally got a nice workload with Fred Jackson healthy, as he received 18 touches to 10 for Jackson. A receiving touchdown was the highlight of Spiller’s day but this workload trend is encouraging. Listen here Doug Marrone: Let’s keep things this way!
Bishop Sankey: The Titans rookie didn’t touch the ball until the later stages of Sunday’s game and only ended up with six carries on the afternoon, as he was the third backfield option in Tennessee behind Shonn Greene and Dexter McCluster. Don’t rush to dump Sankey to the waiver wire yet. as this situation is going to take some time to sort itself out.
Jamaal Charles: JC was not his usual superstar self on Sunday as he only received 11 touches and totaled a mere 34 yards. The Kansas City offense was terrible on Sunday so we can only hope this serves as a reminder to Andy Reid that he needs to get his top weapon more involved in Week 2. Don’t panic, these types of fantasy football days happen over the course of the season…unfortunately.
Knowshon Moreno: Looking just as good as he did in 2013, Moreno rumbled his way to 134 yards and a score on 24 carries. Moreno was the clear leader of the Miami backfield split, but Lamar Miller did handle all the receiving work so there may be room for them to help fantasy teams. In any case, Moreno looked great on Sunday and should be started with confidence as Miami heads to Buffalo in Week 2.
Rob Gronkowski: Big Gronk was back in action on Sunday and led the Patriots in targets (11) despite his “limited” tag. When Gronk is active, he dominates and Sunday was no different as the big fella helped fantasy owners with 40 yards and a touchdown. Get ready to see a lot of Gronk endzone spikes this season.
Doug Martin: Martin turned in a crusty performance on Sunday (nine yards on nine carries) before adding sweet, sweet icing to the cake by leaving with a knee injury. It appears that Bobby Rainey is the back to add if Martin will miss time but the entire Tampa Bay offense looked sluggish on Sunday. Perhaps this was the impact of a stout Carolina defense, so let’s give Lovie Smith’s offense another shot next week. Stay tuned for more information on Martin’s Week 2 status.