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Fantasy Football 2012 Week 1 Most Surprising Performances: Fan’s Take

Yahoo Contributor Network

Week 1 of the 2012 NFL season featured big games by Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley, and New York Jets wide receiver Stephen Hill. With 13 games played on Sunday, September 9, here's a look at the most surprising fantasy performers from each Week 1 game on Sunday.

Atlanta Falcons at Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs WR/RB Dexter McCluster - 6 receptions, 82 receiving yards

A somewhat-surprising player to lead the Chiefs in catches, McCluster had a team-high six receptions for 82 yards. An intriguing player for his unique WR/RB versatility, he had great chemistry with quarterback Matt Cassel and could easily become the second-best receiving option on the team behind Dwayne Bowe. An explosive slot receiver, he could become a great pickup if he can maintain his role in the offense.

Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns

Browns team defense - 17 points allowed, 2 sacks, 4 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, 1 defensive touchdown

Highlighted by D'Qwell Jackson's interception return for a touchdown, the Browns defense played well enough to almost win the game for them against the Eagles. Forcing five turnovers, including four interceptions by Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, the Browns will face a tough Cincinnati Bengals offense in Week 2 and may struggle as a fantasy option next week.

Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints

Redskins QB Robert Griffin III - 19-for-26, 320 passing yards, 1 time sacked, 2 passing touchdowns, 10 carries, 42 rushing yards

While it's not too surprising to see Griffin succeed in his debut against a poor pass defense, he exceeded many expectations by leading the Redskins over the Saints. From managing a solid run attack to connecting with eight different receivers, Griffin looks to be a great Week 2 starter against the St. Louis Rams.

St. Louis Rams at Detroit Lions

Rams WR Brandon Gibson - 4 receptions, 51 receiving yards, 1 touchdown

Somewhat forgotten in the wide receiver mix behind Danny Amendola, Steve Smith and Brian Quick, Gibson was the receiver who had a grabbed a great touchdown pass by Sam Bradford. Potentially the team's primary big-play receiving threat, he was targeted several times during the game and could grow into a reliable fantasy option.

New England Patriots at Tennessee Titans

Patriots RB Stevan Ridley - 21 carries, 125 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 27 receiving yards, 1 touchdown

With BenJarvus Green-Ellis in Cincinnati and Shane Vereen out, Ridley got most of the carries and performed well with his first 100-yard rushing game of his career. Demonstrating great ability both between and outside the tackles, Ridley could be an excellent fantasy running back when the Patriots decide to run the ball often.

Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans

Texans RB Arian Foster - 26 carries, 79 rushing yards, 1 reception, -4 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns

Surprising because of his game-time decision status, Foster had no problem putting up a great line against the Dolphins. With no apparent signs of injury struggles, he'll be a dominant running back the rest of the season if healthy.

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets

Jets WR Stephen Hill - 5 receptions, 89 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns

While there were a lot of surprising performances in this high-scoring contest, Hill's contributions were particularly unexpected, especially when you consider this was his first game. A big-play threat on a team lacking receiving options for Mark Sanchez, Hill could quickly become an excellent wide receiver in his rookie season.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Minnesota Vikings

Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert - 23-for-39, 260 passing yards, 2 times sacked, 2 passing touchdowns, 5 carries, 6 rushing yards, 1 fumble lost

After struggling throughout his rookie season, Gabbert looked very good while leading the Jaguars to a near-victory. While running backs Maurice Jones-Drew and Adrian Peterson had noteworthy showings as "backups," Gabbert looked great with an improved group of receivers. While it's early to declare him a solid fantasy backup option, his Week 1 start is definitely a showing in the right direction.

Indianapolis Colts at Chicago Bears

Bears WR Alshon Jeffery - 3 receptions, 80 receiving yards, 1 touchdown

While the combined 122 rushing yards and three touchdowns by Bears running backs Matt Forte and Michael Bush displayed their success with their running game, Jeffery was another rookie wide receiver with a great first outing. Serving as the second-most targeted receiver behind Brandon Marshall, Jeffery is a great sleeper at wide receiver who could be a nice asset to own.

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams - 6 carries, -1 rushing yard, 1 reception, 5 receiving yards

Surprising for how bad he played, Williams ended the day with negative yardage on the ground despite Jonathan Stewart being inactive. After being one of the biggest fantasy busts of Week 1, Williams' trade value may be at its lowest point of the season and could be worth buying low if he has a bounce-back performance against the Saints in Week 2.

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals

Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb - 6-for-8, 66 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, 1 carry, -1 rushing yard

After losing out the starting quarterback job to John Skelton, Kolb was not expecting to see any action against the Seahawks. However, after Skelton left the game with an ankle injury, Kolb came in and threw the game-winning touchdown to Andre Roberts in the fourth quarter. Although still an unreliable fantasy option, Kolb may have found his opportunity to once again start in Arizona.

San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers

Packers WR Randall Cobb - 9 receptions, 77 receiving yards, 153 return yards, 1 return touchdown

As Aaron Rodgers' favorite target of the day, Cobb had a career day and helped open up opportunities for the rest of the offense once the 49ers defense started paying more attention to him. A top sleeper in drafts this season, he appears to be a major part of the Packers offense and will surely be a hot waiver wire commodity moving forward.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos

Steelers RB Jonathan Dwyer - 9 carries, 43 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 11 receiving yards

While Isaac Redman came away with the most carries, it was Dwyer who was most effective on the ground. While Rashard Mendenhall is expected to return within the next few weeks, Dwyer could become a decent flex option if he can find a more definitive role in the offense.

Sources:

Week 1 Scoreboard, Yahoo! Sports

Philadelphia at Cleveland | Sunday September 9, 2012, Yahoo! Sports

Stevan Ridley News & Notes, Yahoo! Sports

Indianapolis at Chicago | Sunday September 9, 2012, Yahoo! Sports

More from this contributor:

Fantasy Football 2012 Week 1 Over/Under Predictions: Fan's Take

Chargers RB Ronnie Brown's Week 1 Fantasy Outlook vs. Raiders: Fan's Take

2012 Fantasy Football Underrated Starters for Week 1: Fan's Take

Why Dallas WR Kevin Ogletree Will Be a Great Fantasy Player in 2012: Fan's Take

Fantasy Football 2012 Week 1 Unfavorable Matchups for Star Players: Fan's Take

Austin Chang is a lifelong football fan, San Francisco 49ers supporter, and fantasy football player since 2005. Follow him on Twitter @_austinchang.

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