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Sep 09

Inside the Locker Room, Week 1 Review: A look at Sunday’s action

As fantasy owners Monday morning’s quick react can be a bit of a challenge. The goal of this piece is to help take what we learned by watching the full slate of games and present it to you as actionable nuggets… a little Week 1 review.

The bullets below need to be assessed a little further in the week ahead, but here’s what the game tape is telling us:

  • Victor Cruz was the story for the Giants (actually, David Wilson’s fumbles were… but we’ll have to discuss those when we know better how Tom Coughlin will react long-term.) However, it shouldn’t overshadow the performance of Rueben Randle either – he answered the bell for the Giants with a number of catches in key moments. Randle was oft discussed in the preseason as a breakout candidate and, fairly quietly, he delivered on the big stage against the Cowboys, including a clutch catch over the middle on a late 3rd and 5. Seriously, this time it is worth keeping an eye on Randle moving forward. With regards to Cruz, he came into the game with a question mark about his health, and It’s been answered. Cruz totalled three score, including a few gritty catches in coverage get his season started right.
Reggie Bush was in vintage form against the Vikings this weekend, making multiple players miss on his way to 191 total yards and a Lions win (Photo: Paul Sancya/AP).

Reggie Bush was in vintage form against the Vikings this weekend, making multiple players miss on his way to 191 total yards and a Lions win (Photo: Paul Sancya/AP).

  • Reggie Bush led the Lions in rushing and receiving, becoming the first player since some guy called Sanders to rush for 90 and add 100 yards receiving for the Lions. I won’t bank on 200 total yards a week, of course, but you can count on a similar deployment moving forward as the Lions enjoy their new weapon. His 25 touches were a fantasy owners dream, and it could have been better given his eight targets. Again, he won’t have an 80 yard TD every week but he was taken down on the one a couple of times, and it appears that the Lions are willing to give him opportunities. Calvin Johnson‘s quiet start looks worse in the box score as he had a touchdown taken away upon review. For the Vikes, Adrian Peterson was Adrian Peterson, and Christian Ponder was Christian Ponder (three picks). Jerome Simpson‘s big game should be noted, though.
  • The good new for those who invested a high pick in Kenbrell Thompkins: he was heavily targeted, including consecutive targets inside the five yard line – one on which he slipped after the catch, one that he got pushed out of bounds. Bad news – he made just four catches. It is a ridiculously small sample, of course, but that represents a 28.5% catch rate – one that would rank dead last by 15% among all qualified receivers last year according to stats compiled by Pro Football Focus… not exactly a sterling debut. Again it’s just one week, but I’d keep an eye on how things shape up between he and Aaron Dobson moving forward. Perhaps the early round pick has a shot to earn the starting job after all…
  • Danny Amendola, meanwhile, was a key factor in the Patriots comeback win. He came in hurt and missed time during the contest with his groin injury, but gutted it out in the 1st half. His 14 targets (tying Thompkins) project well if he can stay healthy over the course of the season. With performances like this week’s in the games dying seconds he’ll get plenty of looks moving forward.
  • Terrelle Pryor looked… squirrely… at times. Particularly on the 3rd down play where he just flipped the ball sideways to no one, almost begging the refs to call it a fumble. Other times he showed a tremendous ability to extend the play, which should help the Raiders remain interesting this season and will lead to plenty of games with 8.6 YPC performances. Rod Streater, who I wasn’t overly enthused with this preseason, made an impact as well.
  • A.J Green was a monster. The stat line tells you that (160 yards, 2 scores) but the tape looks even better – the Bears simply couldn’t cover him.
  • The Steelers were awful today and from a fantasy perspective it was fairly easy to see coming. The late touchdown helped give Ben Roethlisberger a somewhat reasonable line, but no one on the Steelers offense distinguished themselves. In particular the run game suffered with just 32 yards on the ground. The most troublesome fantasy takeaway however is the injury to Maurkice Pouncey - the line was already in rough shape, and losing their three time All-Pro Center won’t help things.
  • Looking at the results from their key fantasy starters, you’d think the Miami Dolphins got thumped by the Cleveland Browns. Miller’s 0.3 YPC didn’t exactly live up to the hype, and Mike Wallace‘s 15 yards didn’t deliver on his contract. Wallace’s post game quote when asked about his limited production doesn’t exactly sound like the words of a victor: “Ask coach. Not my game plan.” What this fails to acknowledge, of course, is that the new Dolphin was targeted five times but hauled in just one ball.
  • Roddy White appeared to be moving pretty well, but the fact that he was limited to two catches (on two targets) after news surfaced that he’s reportedly been dealing with a high ankle sprain isn’t great news for his near-term fantasy value.
  • Anyone invested in the Jaguars passing game, or their offense in general, needs to start stumping for Chad Henne. I understand that Gabbert came in with a thumb injury, but, his performance was simply too Gabbert-esque to expect much from Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon when he returns. Shorts had more than half of his receiving yards from the arm of Henne within the last couple of minutes of the game.
  • I was down on Anquan Boldin all preseason, and coming into the week, ranking him as a fringe starter in 12 team leagues. He was all over the field for the 49ers, and what makes him valuable for the 49ers is that he runs all the routes. On a team limited in terms of their other pass catching options, Boldin’s versatility should help. He amassed a whopping 17 targets. Get Boldin in your plans. The other option in San Francisco, Vernon Davis, looked great in the middle of the field and was a huge target in the end zone. On the other side, Jermichael Finley recovered from a drop that led to an interception and ended with an impressive line. In fact all of the Packers pass catchers showed great versatility after the catch making a number of 49ers miss. James Jones, you’ll note, was absent from the score sheet. He’ll have his catches moving forward, of course, but this is a reminder of how TD dependent his scoring line was last year.
  • Last year Cardinals QBs were 0/9 throwing to Larry Fitzgerald in the endzone. Today their QB was 2/3. Carson Palmer is a stark contrast over last year’s bunch, and he showed that he has a lot to offer the Arizona receivers. His willingness to throw it up – as perhaps best evidenced by a wobbly toss under pressure in Michael Floyd‘s direction in the third quarter – should lead to more opportunities and larger star lines.
  • Eddie Lacy had an interesting day: he looked great making a number of players miss on his 31 yard reception, and shortly thereafter he put the ball on the ground. He ran for a YPC average under 3, but scored a nice touchdown going over the top of the pile. The moral… he’s going to get his work in an offense that should score points. Trent Richardson showed us the value of a low yield back who scores touchdowns last season. Plus, not every matchup will be this difficult.
  • Jared Cook was a big factor in his reunion with Jeff Fischer while Lance Kendricks had just four targets. I wasn’t sure how the split would work out, but if those numbers are any indication it looks like Cook is safe to deploy. Snap count numbers should be available today.
  • Stevan Ridley struggled holding onto the ball and we saw more of Shane Vereen than we expected (and he capitalized on the opportunity.) I wouldn’t necessarily count on a changing of the guard, but Vereen owners will be happy if he picks up a few more touches early in the season.
  • I saw a number of experts projecting Colin Kaepernick as the week’s top QB and couldn’t wrap my head around it. “There’s no way he’ll rush for 180 yards again”, I said. Well, he didn’t. And he was still masterful. It’s time to wrap our heads around Kap as a top-level fantasy QB… if we haven’t already.
  • Keep an eye on how the relationship between Robert Woods and EJ Manuel develops – the rookies looked in synch today.
  • Another player or note: Kellen Winslow with the Jets. He had seven catches on eight targets and is worth a look in deeper leagues. He’s a sure bet to miss time at some point this season, but is worth keeping on your radar as a matchup-based fill in.
  • Tavon Austin picked up a carry late in the game for the Rams, at the Cardinals 22, and although it lost a yard, it does speak to St. Louis’ plans for him. He finished the game with just six catches for 42 yards in his regular season debut. 

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