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This week included the first set of regular season data and a dynasty rankings update. By position, here are the highlights, lowlights, and shifts in player value:
The Saints were a trendy sleeper defense this year, but this week Matt Ryan and the Falcons passing offense torched them. Ryan set a career-high for passing yards and every receiving target had at least a decent fantasy day. Ryan was the top quarterback scorer of the week (6pt passing touchdowns). The Falcons defense is not very good, so high volume and games a notch below this 42-point effort could be more of the norm the rest of the season.
Jake Locker, with his rushing potential, is a top-15 weekly play. Justin Hunter’s development will help a ton. Health has been the biggest roadblock to Locker’s fantasy impact over the years. Locker is an ideal upside part of a quarterback committee.
The biggest takeaway from Week 1 at the position was the boost of viable QB2-types for superflex and 2-Quarterback leagues. EJ Manuel looked decent after a horrible preseason (and much of his rookie season). Derek Carr, while the Raiders were very conservative overall with the game plan, was functional in his first career start. Geno Smith looking like a rock-solid QB2 at a minimum with rushing upside from there.
Le’Veon Bell looked great and blew away the running back field in PPR scoring for the top spot in Week 1. Bell had more burst, agility, and movement skills than 2013. It should not surprise anyone if Bell is the top running back at the end of the year. Even with a top-five finish, Bell will be a first round startup pick, if not mixed in with the elite receivers come January drafts.
The Ravens backfield is completely different than expectations in the offseason. Ray Rice has gone from a light two-game suspension to not on the Ravens roster. Bernard Pierce lost the starting job and Justin Forsett stole the show in PPR scoring as Baltimore playing catch-up and chucked the ball around more than 60 times. Pierce is below Trent Richardson in my latest rankings update, which should give an indication of how low I place the odds that Pierce turns into a long-term dynasty asset in the future.
Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West looked outstanding in relief of Ben Tate after (shocker) an injury. The Browns comeback effort from a big deficit to Pittsburgh was largely due to West and Crowell. Both were top-35 PPR plays for the week. Either one is creeping up to a future first round rookie pick value on the dynasty trade front. One without the other in the picture would be an automatic top-15 weekly play.
Knowshon Moreno was nearly out of the league a few years ago, and then he was a dominant fantasy force in Denver. Now he performed as the RB8 to open the 2014 season. Lamar Miller also had a top-12 PPR day, but Moreno hogged the touches as Miami beat New England. Moreno continues to churn out production and gobble up carries. He has little market value, so Moreno is a cheap hold or acquisition for teams hurting at running back. Lamar Miller is already turning a profit for folks that bought on the rebound this offseason outside the top-100 in startup drafts.
Ahmad Bradshaw looked worlds better than Trent Richardson in the Colts backfield, which should have surprised exactly zero people. Richardson is running out of backers in the dynasty community and the Colts signed Dion Lewis to a two-year deal this week. Remember when he was considered the top overall dynasty asset for many? That was only 13 months ago. So is life as an NFL running back.
Benny Cunningham looked better than Zac Stacy and the Rams offense in general looks like a train wreck. Plus Tre Mason, the most talented pure runner on that depth chart, is simmering on the sidelines. Stacy’s ADP of 35 this summer will be double that, at least, come January.
Allen Hurns continued his torrid play from the preseason with 27 PPR points in Week 1, second to only Calvin Johnson (who did it in a half basically) for the week. Hurns was largely a waiver wire pickup in the preseason and I am planted on the ‘Hurns is not the Jacksonville receiver to own’ side. Allen Robinson’s injury opened the door for Hurns to see the field and Cecil Shorts has been absent as well. I have recommended to folks inquiring on twitter to shop Hurns and a future second for a future first or a future second straight up to wide receiver needy teams. Hurns is the perfect package up player to get a better long-term asset.
Brandin Cooks was as advertised in his opening game. He can do it all and is in the perfect system to be a top-24 PPR option as a rookie and will turn a profit from those that invested in the 35-40 range of startup drafts this summer.
Percy Harvin is back and the Seattle offense will center on him. The other receivers are replacement level with Golden Tate gone. Harvin will easily get enough touches to be a top-12 receiver this year. With a healthy season, Harvin will be back into the top-20 of startup drafts.
Kelvin Benjamin had 21 PPR points…with Derek Anderson. Benjamin was a surprise pick as the second rookie off the board in an August industry dynasty startup draft in the third round. Benjamin could easily be a top-20 pick after the season.
Michael Floyd was the lead Cardinals receiver and the news coming out after the game was the team will not ‘force the ball to Larry Fitzgerald.’ Fitzgerald’s value was already tenuous at best and Michael Floyd is a good bet to be a first round startup pick.
Tyler Eifert is on the short-term injured reserve with a dislocated elbow. He was off to a terrific start in Week 1 prior to the injury. Being out of the lineup is an outstanding time to put out some offers in dynasty and this is no exception. With a solid starting option already on the roster, Tyler Eifert makes for an ideal upside TE2 to stash away. Start with a future second and negotiate from there.
Larry Donnell ran with the Giants starters and most fantasy analysts shrugged as it was an indicator that Adrien Robinson’s chances were fading more than anything. Donnell emerged in Week 1 as one of the few bright spots on the struggling Giants offense, including a jump ball conversion in the red zone for a score. Donnell is on 99% of waiver wires, making him a requirement to throw out a bid in the 5-10% range, if nothing else, to price enforce against leaguemates. Donnell had forgettable metrics coming out of college, but showing athleticism against the Lions. Even when Odell Beckham returns to the lineup, Donnell is the primary red zone target in the passing game. Corey Washington came in for a cameo fade target at the goal line, but Donnell will regularly be on the field.
Ladarius Green played just 24 snaps in the juicy tight end matchup against the Cardinals and was asked to block on more than 70% of that playing time. It was a lost week for the talented tight end and time for talent-seeking dynasty owners to propose some trades for the big-play machine. Green has a high touchdown rate in his career and is arguably the second-best (or even the top) target in the Chargers passing game.