September 12, 2010
When you're an undrafted running back who delivers the second-highest opening day rushing total in NFL history, you should feel pretty good about the performance. You might even want to keep a memento from the effort — like, say, a game ball. But apparently Houston's Arian Foster(notes) is an unsentimental dude. Or maybe he's just planning to have a lot more games like Sunday's 231-yard, three-touchdown explosion.
In any case, when Texans head coach Gary Kubiak tossed Foster a well-deserved game ball after the the second-year back destroyed Indianapolis, Arian immediately flipped it to his linemen. This via Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston:
"I said 'Appreciate it. It's very humbling. Kub gave me the game ball, but this goes to the O-line,'" Foster said.
The Texans offensive linemen were pleased, but not necessarily surprised by Foster's gesture.
When you watch the tape on Foster's huge day, you'll probably agree that his line deserved at least something. Those running lanes were ridiculous. Foster wasn't touched until he crossed the goal line on two of the TDs, and he only felt modest contact on the third. He's a powerful runner, and when you give him an unobstructed path for the first 10 yards, you're going to find it difficult to bring him down.
You might recall that Foster spent much of the 2009 season on the Texans' practice squad, but he starred in the final two weeks when he was essentially the last man standing (and not fumbling) in the Houston backfield. It's not quite right to say that Foster had a breakout performance on Sunday, because … well, because a player should only be entitled to one "breakout" in a 12-month period. Foster was fantastic in Week 17 last year, rushing for 119 yards and two TDs in a must-win game against New England.
If you left him on a fantasy bench this week — and he was only 61 percent started, so some of you clearly did — then you're encouraged to share your failed decision-making process in comments, where everyone can mock you.
Foster gets a healthy dose of the NFC East in the weeks ahead (at WAS, vs. DAL, at OAK, vs. NYG), but c'mon, you're not going to sit him again. He's a legitimately talented back, he has a workload all to himself, and defenses still have to game-plan to stop Houston's dominant passing attack. Also, Foster's line just overwhelmed the defending AFC champs. Park him in a starting spot and enjoy.
• Michael Vick(notes) looked quite a bit like the 2005 version of himself — in good ways and bad — while leading the Eagles in both rushing (103 yards) and passing (16-for-24, 175). Kevin Kolb(notes) was totally ineffective in the first half against Green Bay, then he checked out at halftime after he was concussed. (See below). There were a few misfires from Vick, but he ran all over the Packers defense, nearly leading a fourth quarter comeback. Highlights here.
Eagles head coach Andy Reid has already declared that Kolb will start at Detroit in Week 2 if he's cleared. There shall be no controversy, not this week. But it's worth speculating on Vick, just in case Kolb can't go. The matchup is ideal.
• Here's the early word on Green Bay's Ryan Grant, from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Brandon Jackson(notes) was solid in Grant's absence on Sunday, facing a quality defense (18 carries, 63 yards), and, well … he's the only other traditional tailback on the roster. Jackson will get all the work he can handle against the Bills in Week 2; Buffalo had the NFL's No. 30 run defense in 2009.
• Pete Carroll's Seattle Seahawks moved into a first-place tie in the Pac 10 by beating the favored Niners in a rout, 31-6. Niners quarterback Alex Smith isn't necessarily the guy you want at the controls when your team finds itself in an early deficit. Smith completed just 26 of 45 passes and threw two picks. Matt Hasselbeck(notes) was unexpectedly useful, tossing a pair of touchdown passes to a pair of Deons, Butler and Branch. He also broke the plane on a 1-yard rushing score. The Seattle ground game was precisely the mess you thought it would be, as Julius Jones(notes) had eight carries, Justin Forsett(notes) had seven, and Leon Washington(notes) had six.
• Sam Bradford(notes) had a few nice moments in his team's 17-13 loss to the Cardinals, and you can perhaps forgive the three interceptions when you notice that the rookie threw 55 passes, a crazy total. He clearly wasn't on a pitch-count. From a fantasy perspective, Mark Clayton(notes) was really the story in St. Louis. The new acquisition caught 10 passes from Bradford for 119 yards, and he was targeted heavily. Laurent Robinson(notes) caught a TD, but he only finished with three receptions for 18 yards. Clayton is a waiver add of interest.
• Tim Hightower(notes) started off well enough for Arizona, but he lost a pair of fumbles, one of which was completely unforgivable. (Late in the fourth quarter, following an interception, his team up four). He definitely did not have a game that will leave Beanie buried on the depth chart. And quarterback Derek Anderson(notes), as it turns out, is just as inaccurate as you remembered (22-for-41). He eventually connected with Larry Fitzgerald(notes) for a touchdown on Sunday, but the score required many targets. Anderson and Fitz definitely didn't finish with a normal attempt-to-reception ratio.
• If you were hoping that a clear No. 1 receiver would emerge for the Broncos this week, it didn't quite happen. Three guys managed to post quality fantasy lines: Brandon Lloyd(notes) caught five passes for 117 yards, Eddie Royal(notes) had eight for 98, and Jabar Gaffney(notes) finished with three receptions for 34 yards and a score. (After the games that Lloyd, Mendenhall, Pierre Thomas(notes) and Neil Rackers(notes) had, I really need to stop making fun of this guy. He might actually be 1-0 right now).
• For the record: I appreciate Randy Moss(notes). When he made his rather complicated postgame statements on Sunday, he was not talking to me. Randy meant you. Because I appreciate him. You can say those comments were poorly timed, I suppose, but the actual content really wasn't so bad. Let's relax. By the end of the season, Moss will have said 10 other things that will be more memorable.
Before we leave you, gamers, here's a stack of new leads…
Early waiver options for Week 2
PHI QB Michael Vick, at DET (11 percent owned)
CLE RB Peyton Hillis(notes), vs. KC (5 percent)
GB RB Brandon Jackson, vs. BUF (10 percent)
STL WR Mark Clayton, at OAK (7 percent)
JAC WR Mike Thomas(notes), at San Diego (6 percent)
TEN WR Nate Washington(notes), vs. PIT (20 percent)
SEA WR Mike Williams, at DEN (30 percent)
NO WR Devery Henderson(notes), at SF (27 percent)
CIN TE Jermaine Gresham(notes), vs. BAL (31 percent)
ATL Defense, vs. ARI (7 percent)
Posted at 10:10 pm ET
Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb had a rough day in front of the home crowd (5-for-10, 24 yards, two sacks), and it was a minor miracle that he didn't commit a first-half turnover. He was very nearly intercepted by both Charles Woodson(notes) and Clay Matthews(notes). Kolb is now done for the day after suffering a concussion in the second quarter, presumably when he was taken to the ground face-first by Matthews. Before exiting, Kolb lost several snaps to Michael Vick (four carries, 20 yards).
The Packers' defense is a graduate-level test for any QB — they ranked second in yards-allowed last season — and the best possible grade we can give Kolb is an incomplete. Vick is your Philadelphia QB at the moment.
Injuries have really been the story in the Packers-Eagles tilt, as Ryan Grant has an apparent ankle sprain, Stewart Bradley(notes) is concussed, and Leonard Weaver(notes) suffered a leg injury that we don't want to ever see again. (It was nasty; Weaver isn't likely to be back any time soon). Brandon Jackson is now the primary back for Green Bay, and he's capable of paying at least 90 cents on the dollar as a handcuff. He'll be a popular waiver play, depending on the severity of Grant's injury.
• At halftime, Julius Jones led the Seahawks in rushing with eight yards, and no Seattle receiver had more than one catch. You wouldn't think that would be a recipe for success, yet they went into the locker room with a 14-6 lead. Then Alex Smith opened the third quarter with a pick-six to Marcus Trufant(notes). Uh-oh. Seattle receiver Mike Williams was this close to a touchdown on a 35-yard reception. That was his first NFL catch since maybe 1988. Highlight here.
• Matt Moore(notes) reportedly suffered a concussion when he was strip-sacked by Osi Umenyiora(notes) late in the Panthers' 13-point loss. Moore had a miserable day, completing just 14 of 33 passes and throwing three picks, one of which we linked below. He made awful decisions throughout the game, and he made them slowly. Not good. Rookie Jimmy Clausen(notes) threw the final two incompletions for Carolina.
• Tim Hightower is off to a big start against St. Louis in the first half, to no one's surprise (50 rush, TD). He's had a few big stat lines against the Rams over the past two seasons, and with Beanie Wells(notes) inactive, he's getting a full workload. Hightower can be a pile-driver at the goal line. Evidence here. That score followed a 20-yard gain on the ground. Rookie QB Sam Bradford has been plenty impressive on the other side, though, shaking off an early interception by Adrian Wilson(notes).
• Kids, this is how a tackler is supposed to wrap up. That's textbook stuff right there. Well-played, bizarre inflatable mascot.
Posted at 6:30 pm ET
Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford(notes) — pictured right, not playing — suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder on a strip-sack by Julius Peppers(notes) near the end of the first half in Chicago. Stafford later emerged from the locker room with his arm in a sling, finished for the day. Bad news for the young QB and his fantasy investors, obviously. We don't know the extent of the injury just yet, but there never seemed to be any question about Stafford's status as soon as he went to the sideline. Before checking out, he was 11-for-15 with 83 useless passing yards.
Shaun Hill(notes) replaced Stafford, and he had no chemistry with anyone in the early going (except possibly Charles Tillman(notes)). The Lions were shutout in the second half with Hill at the controls of the offense. Well, sorta. With 24 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Calvin Johnson(notes) caught a ball in the end zone that would have been ruled a touchdown in absolutely every game you've ever played … but in the NFL, it's not a score.
Megatron one-handed the catch, he got his feet down, and he flopped on the ground. Sounds like possession — and it certainly looked like possession — but Johnson didn't put his left hand on the football. No possession through the end of the play, apparently, and in the NFL, it's, um … well, it's all about process. Let's just say that the Bears got the day's cheapest win. Here's the highlight/lowlight.
Matt Forte(notes) had a somewhat complicated day for Chicago. He caught a pair of touchdown passes, including the 28-yard game-winner in the fourth quarter, and finished with seven receptions for 151 yards. But he was also denied at the 1-yard line repeatedly, and he's coming off a season in which his goal-to-go performance was historically bad. Forte's fantasy owners don't care about the finer points of his day, however, not now. He just gave you 201 combined yards and two TDs. No sane manager would refuse those stats.
• Houston running back Arian Foster was utterly dominant in the second half against the Colts, breaking the plane three times. Here's one of 'em. Melvin Bullit had zero chance to bring down Foster at the goal line, and both player's knew it. Foster finished with 231 rushing yards. And you don't even wanna know the creepy things that Brad Evans was saying via IM. It's worth noting that Foster did most of his damage after Indianapolis safety Bob Sanders(notes) left the game with an elbow injury (predictably).
• Darren McFadden(notes) caught a garbage-time TD in Tennessee's 25-point mauling of the Raiders, but that game was the Chris Johnson Show, as expected. Johnson carried 27 times for 142 yards and two scores, adding four receptions for eight. Just your typical 150-yard game, which sets CJ2K on a 2,400-scrimmage-yard pace. That seems about right.
• Hakeem Nicks(notes) caught a third touchdown pass from Eli Manning(notes) in New York's 31-18 win over the Panthers. Eli had all day to pick a receiver, and he chose well. We should note that Ahmad Bradshaw(notes) out-carried Brandon Jacobs(notes), 20 to 12, and he reached the end zone on a 4-yard TD in the fourth quarter. Jonathan Stewart(notes) received only five touches for Carolina, which is at least 10 too few.
• The Cincinnati-New England game never really seemed to be competitive — the Pats won 38-24 — but most of the Bengals skill players salvaged some fantasy value in the second half. Carson Palmer(notes) passed for 345 yards, connecting 12 times with Chad Ochocinco(notes) and seven times with Terrell Owens(notes). But when things go as planned for Cincinnati, Palmer won't put the ball in the air so often. Rookie tight end Jermaine Gresham caught six passes for 25 yards, including a short-yardage TD. That kid is basically an impossible cover; if any first-year TE is going to have a useful fantasy campaign, it's clearly him.
• If you suffered through the Miami-Buffalo game as a fantasy owner, you should maybe just head to the pub right now. What a mess. Fred Jackson(notes) led the Bills in rushing with 19 yards, which tells you everything you really need to know about that team. Ronnie Brown(notes) and Ricky Williams(notes) split the carries for Miami (13 and 18), and Ronnie got the 1-yard score.
• Rashard Mendenhall(notes) ended the field goal-fest in Pittsburgh by rushing for a 50-yard score, a play that keeps me alive in a few leagues (not that you care). Not the best angle there, Erik Coleman(notes).
Posted at 5:10 pm ET
Unscheduled update, 3:15 pm ET: Beanie Wells is officially inactive for Arizona vs. St. Louis. This figures to be a good day to own Tim Hightower; his only 100-yard rushing effort of the '09 season was against the Rams.
Wes Welker(notes) punched in Sunday's first TD, and the play is worth a look. He caught a Tom Brady(notes) pass behind the line of scrimmage, then followed the vicious blocking of tight ends Alge Crumpler(notes) and Rob Gronkowski(notes). Welker, as most of you know, is returning from a double-knee ligament tear, and he's doing it on a crazy timeline. He added a second TD later in the half, catching a 4-yard bullet. Fred Taylor(notes) has dominated the rushing workload for the Pats so far (six carries, 44 yards), with Laurence Maroney(notes) inactive.
• Jerome Harrison(notes) has at least one highlight-quality run for Cleveland, but Peyton Hillis has been the better fantasy play so far (34 yards, TD). Hillis perhaps should have been flagged for excessive flexing after his 10-yard rushing TD. (And if "excessive flexing" is not an official penalty, it should be. Let's get the rules committee together for a quick discussion).
• Hakeem Nicks has three catches for 70 yards and two TDs at half for the Giants, and this fact really shouldn't come as any surprise. That guy was a draft day steal, a clear candidate for double-digit scores. Park him in a starting spot and enjoy.
• It's a new season, but the same old Chris Johnson. He made the Oakland defense look ridiculous (and painfully slow) on his 76-yard rushing score. At half, CJ2K has 112 yards on just 13 carries. Vince Young(notes) is having a pretty decent game, too (7-for-10, 112 yards, TD, 34 rush yards). He's a bit of a nightmare for man-coverage teams — and when you go with no coverage, as the Raiders did on this play, then he's really a problem.
• Matt Moore threw a brutal Delhommian red zone interception at the 9:37 mark in the first quarter against New York. He lobbed the football into a flock of Giants' defensive backs. Deon Grant(notes) could have signaled for a fair catch before intercepting.
• Jay Cutler's(notes) first pass of the day was a short toss to Devin Aromashodu(notes) on third-and-short. The ball was juggled, but Aromashodu eventually hauled it in, then piled up yards after the catch, running through and around would-be tacklers. Cutler's second toss was a long, beautifully thrown strike to Aromashodu in the end zone, but the ball was dropped. Not Devin's finest moment.
Still, the Bears' first drive of the Mike Martz era ended with points (three, not seven. Matt Forte was stonewalled on third down at the goal line, per his usual. Ndamukong Suh(notes) blew up the play).
• Mohamed Massaquoi(notes) caught a 41-yard TD that seemed just a little too easy. Highlight here. That's some disastrously poor coverage. Massaquoi could have had another long score, but Jake Delhomme(notes) missed him in the end zone by maybe nine feet.
• When Matt Schaub(notes) hit Kevin Walter(notes) down the middle for this second quarter TD, somewhere an excited Ron Jaworski screamed, "EYE DISCIPLINE!!!" And then Jaws threw another interception to Rod Martin. Schaub basically delivered a clinic in looking-off the safety on that 22-yard score.
• As someone who's facing DeAngelo Williams(notes) in a pair of leagues, I'd like to personally thank Giants safety Kenny Phillips(notes) for his TD-saving shoestring tackle, late in the first quarter. Phillips is an IDP of interest, a difference-maker when healthy.
• If you took 12:23 in the Jay Cutler interception pool, you're a winner! Congratulations. He zeroed in on Johnny Knox(notes) deep over the middle, but the receiver was covered thoroughly by a triangle of Lions. Jay chucked it anyway, with the expected results. Chicago's offense has been generous with the giveaways, as both Forte and Greg Olsen(notes) have lost fumbles. At least Forte made up for his gaffe, scoring an 89-yard TD on a pass from Cutler near the end of the first half. Only the Lions would have allowed those points. Nonetheless, Detroit leads 14-13 at the break, thanks to a pair of Jahvid Best(notes) rushing touchdowns. The rookie isn't a big back (5-foot-10, 199), but he's live-wire quick and he can clearly pick up tough yards between the tackles.
• I'm watching way too much of the Cleveland-Tampa Bay game. This must end. Josh Freeman(notes) and Delhomme are going back-and-forth with picks and near-picks. Even the scoring plays are ugly (but Mike Williams owners will take the points).
• If you're bothered by bullet-heavy fantasy content, we encourage you to give Scott Pianowski's Twittering a look.
Posted at 3:05 pm ET
Woooooo! Kickoff! Pony keg! Encased meat! WOOOOOOOOOOO!
OK, let's all just try to forget about that disaster of a game on Thursday night. The NFL hits the restart button on Sunday, and we're here to document any actionable fantasy news. Please check in with Sunday Scene throughout the day for notes, links, and very special limited time offers. You can find the Week 1 position ranks right here.
If you're looking for sit/start advice and late-breaking pregame news, then we urge you to check out Fantasy Football Live at noon ET. Try the chat window. It's heaven.
Get a win today, gamers.
Photos via AP Images (Welker, Stafford, Kolb, Foster), US Presswire (Cutler, Vick) and Getty Images (Giants fan)