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Fantasy Football 2015: Week 1 Takeaways

Adam Pfeifer breaks down all the fantasy football lessons learned from week one in the NFL season.

peyton manning, fantasy football

Peyton Manning is dead, Marcus Mariota is a Hall of Famer and the Colts offense stinks.

Welcome to Week 1, everybody.

After the first week of the season, your team is either going to the Super Bowl or going 0-16. That’s just how it works, apparently. Of course, I’m being sarcastic, as the best piece of advice I can give is that, no matter if you won your matchup by 50 or lost by 50, don’t overreact. It’s just one week. Fantasy football is a marathon, not a sprint, after all.

Let’s break it all down.

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A Mile Wide in Mile High

I love Twitter.

After Peyton Manning‘s terrifying Week 1 performance where he completed 24-of-40 passes for 175 yards, zero touchdowns and a pick-six, I asked the Twitter mass who they would rather start at quarterback for Week 2; Peyton Manning vs KC or Tyrod Taylor vs NE?

90 percent of the responses were Taylor.

I never thought guys like Tyrod Taylor and Marcus Mariota would be outscoring Manning, who has now struggled over his last seven games.

Week 13, 2014 vs KC: 17-34, 179 yards, 2TD

Week 14, 2014 vs BUF: 14-20, 173 yards, 2 INT

Week 15, 2014 vs SD: 14-20, 233 yards, 1 TD

Week 16, 2014 vs CIN: 28-44, 311 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT

Week 17, 2014 vs OAK: 21-37, 273 yards

Divisional Round vs IND: 26-46, 211 yards, 1 TD

Week 1, 2015 vs BAL: 24-40, 175 yards, 1 INT

Let’s focus on Peyton in this game. First of all, it didn’t help that he was sacked four times, which is telling, considering he only went down 18 times all of 2014. We knew the offensive line was going to be a question mark coming into this season, but boy, did it look bad? Because the line was so poor, Manning couldn’t take many shots down the field, averaging just 4.4 yards per pass attempt, his lowest total since Week 12 of 2013. The stats were obviously atrocious, but the eye test was perhaps worse. Manning’s arm strength has been in question for months now, and what I saw was him often overthrow a speedy guy like Emmanuel Sanders at times, but only when he didn’t have to adjust or move when throwing. As soon as his legs became a more dire part of his throwing motion, things got a bit more complicated. He seemingly never fully set his feet when throwing the football, which is something a rookie quarterback would do, not a 39-year old Hall of Famer. Manning, typically an outstanding player in season openers, failed to throw a touchdown in an opener for the first time since 2003 on Sunday, and, counting the preseason, he hasn’t thrown a touchdown in 21 drives.

So what to make of this?

History tells us to not overreact to struggling stars, especially when they are arguably the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Remember when everyone left Tom Brady for dead last season? I’d be lying if I told you that watching Peyton on Sunday afternoon didn’t make me feel uncomfortable, but at the end of the day, it’s still just one game– one game against a pretty darn good defense in Baltimore. Entering Week 2, a Thursday night showdown with the Chiefs and their stout pass rush, Manning shouldn’t be viewed as anything more than a low-end QB1.


Dez Bryant to miss first game since 2011… and more

During the fantasy snoozefest that was Sunday night’s game, things actually got worse. Star wideout Dez Bryant was forced to the locker room with a foot injury, and was seen with a pretty heavy limp. It was later reported that Bryant suffered a broken bone in his foot, and will be sidelined anywhere from 6-8 weeks. It’s devastating news for the Cowboys and fantasy owners, and this injury is a bit difficult because it’s the same one that kept Marvin Jones of the Bengals out for the entire 2014 season, while limiting Kevin Durant of the NBA to just 27 games. Early reports stated Dez would be out 4-6 weeks, but they appear to be really, really optimistic.

In the meantime, Terrance Williams will become the number one receiver in a Tony Romo-led offense. Not exactly a bad thing. He’s a must-add in all formats, though, Cowboys VP Stephen Jones stated that the Cowboys will continue to run the football 25-30 times per game. Cole Beasley will also be worth a look in deeper PPR formats, as well as Lance Dunbar, who would have ranked as a top-20 PPR wideout for Week 1, catching eight-of-eight targets for 70 yards.

More Injuries

T.Y. Hilton (knee): Day-to-day. Pick up Donte Moncrief, who played exclusively in three-wide sets. Caught six-of-11 targets for 46 yards and a touchdown.

Andre Ellington (knee): Ellington suffered a PCL sprain, but it is considered mild. He expects to be out no longer than two weeks. In his absence, Chris Johnson saw the every-down work, but rookie David Johnson made the big play, catching a 55-yard touchdown. He only played nine snaps, so CJ2K may be the short-term play, but Johnson has more long-term upside.

DeSean Jackson (hamstring): Out 3-4 weeks. Jordan Reed and Pierre Garcon to see boosts in value.

C.J. Anderson (toe): Played through injury on Sunday. Short week, but expect him to play Thursday night vs KC.

Derek Carr (hand): Questionable for Week 2.

Delanie Walker (hand): No fracture. Possibility of suiting up vs Browns in Week 2.

Marcus MariOHta

The number one quarterback in the 2015 NFL Draft played on Sunday afternoon in Tampa Bay.

Oh, and Jameis Winston was there, too.

In case you live under a rock, Titans rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota absolutely shined in his NFL debut, throwing for 200 yards and four touchdowns, compared to just three incomplete passes. He joined Fran Tarkenton as the only rookies in the history of football to throw at least four touchdown passes during their debut. Mariota scored 24 ESPN standard fantasy points, and it could have been a lot more if the Buccaneers didn’t stink. However, as Tristan Cockroft of ESPN points out, his 24 fantasy points in his debut tied for the fourth-most for a rookie quarterback since 1960. It was even more impressive when you consider that Mariota was holding a clipboard for the entire 4th quarter of the game.

So what do you do with him? I’ve seen a ton of folks debating whether to start Mariota or Manning himself, which is something I never, ever thought I’d see entering Week 2. Like.. ever. I think he’s certainly worth a pickup, especially if you’re already streaming in the first place.

Chargers Backfield

I feared this…

Rewind back to 2013, when Mr. Danny Woodhead finished as a top-20 fantasy back. The Chargers used him in many different ways, especially in the red zone.

Through Week 1 of 2015, with Woodhead healthy, nothing has changed.

On Sunday afternoon, Woodhead out-snapped rookie Melvin Gordon 43-35, but played exclusively in the red zone. In fact, Gordon received zero red zone opportunities, while also losing a fumble. Woodhead, meanwhile, saw eight red zone opportunities, including two from inside the 10-yard line. I know it’s a cliche, but Woodhead really does have a nose for the end zone, and because the Chargers are going to run plenty of plays, Woodhead is going to stay on the field. He needs to be owned universally because of the way the Chargers use him, and it’s evident that they prefer Woodhead when they get in close.

Featured Image Credit: By Jeffrey Beall (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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