The NFL season is underway and so is fantasy football. Compared to previous season-opening weekends, it was a low scoring affair. It’s time to analyze the stats and implications of week one and review who the studs and duds were from the opening week of NFL action.
Fantasy Football: Week One Studs and Duds
Alex Smith – quarterback – Kansas City Chiefs
Alex Smith absolutely tore it up on the Thursday night stage. He dissected the New England Patriots defense for 368 yards and four touchdowns. Smith completed 80 percent of his passes and looked sharp. During the off-season he commented that he was going to try and push the ball downfield more. He came through with flying colors in the season opener.
One cannot expect Smith to keep this pace up during the entirety of the season. However, Smith remains a trusted and safe play at quarterback. He’s worth the start in two quarterback leagues or leagues that utilize a super-flex position.
Kareem Hunt – running back – Kansas City Chiefs
Kareem Hunt made his NFL debut Thursday night and promptly fumbled on his first carry. Undeterred, he went on to set a historic rookie performance. He rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown. He also hauled in five passes for 98 yards and two more scores. Welcome to the NFL, Mr. Hunt.
Hunt looked powerful and elusive running the football, breaking tackles for extra yards and extending plays with quick-cuts. He handled passes with the ease and grace of a veteran.
Hunt is locked-and-loaded as a three-down back. Treat him as an RB1 moving forward.
Antonio Brown – wide receiver – Pittsburgh Steelers
What more can be said about Antonio Brown that hasn’t already been written? He finished week one with 11 catches for 182 yards. He did not record a touchdown and fumbled once.
Brown runs routes with the precision of a surgeon. He knows how to create separation and put himself in a position to extend the play.
Brown is a must-start, top-tier WR1 moving forward.
Austin Hooper – tight end – Atlanta Falcons
Though quiet through most of the game, Austin Hooper came through when his number was called. He caught both of his targets for 128 yards and a touchdown.
Hooper has the big-play ability to finish the season among the top tight ends in the league. He’s got plenty of potential, but it’s about the Falcons drawing plays with him in mind. He’s a boom-or-bust start moving forward with TE1 potential.
Andy Dalton – quarterback – Cincinnati Bengals
The phrase “dumpster-fire” comes to mind when watching the tape of the Bengals first game. Andy Dalton has had bad games, but this one shows up as one of his worst. He completed 16 of 31 attempts for 170 yards with no touchdowns. He threw four interceptions and lost a fumble. Dalton also absorbed five sacks for a loss of 26 yards.
Dalton felt the Baltimore Ravens defensive pressure throughout the game. He showed some of the bad-decision making that has followed him through a chunk of his career. He got rattled early and never seemed comfortable overcoming the pressure Baltimore sent at him.
Dalton has the best offensive weapons he’s had in his career up to this point. It’s difficult to imagine this kind of play continues. Moving forward, Dalton faces a stingy Texans defense in week two and is a risky start in most leagues. He is best started in a leagues that offer a super-flex position or in two quarterback leagues.
Le’Veon Bell – running back – Pittsburgh Steelers
Drafted as the perennial number one pick in most fantasy leagues, Le’Veon Bell disappointed most owners in week one’s tilt with the Cleveland Browns. Bell is highly regarded as a great running back who adds value to his draft stock by catching passes out of the backfield. He finished the game with 32 yards on ten carries and 15 yards on three receptions. These were career lows for Bell.
Bell held out for the entirety of the preseason, but didn’t show any physical signs of not being game-ready. Moving forward the Steelers face a much tougher Minnesota Vikings defense in week two. Bell has too high of a ceiling to sit.
Brandon Marshall – wide receiver – New York Giants
With Odell Beckham Jr. sidelined, all signs hinted at a heavy work-load for Brandon Marshall. He disappointed fantasy owners and Giants fans in a big way Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys. He finished with one reception for ten yards. Marshall didn’t draw many looks from Eli Manning. The rookie tight end, Evan Engram, drew more targets than Marshall.
Use caution starting Marshall until some chemistry is seen between him and Manning.