Each week of the NFL season, I will be listing five topics that fantasy football managers are focusing on for that particular week.
Here is a recap of those topics from Week 1:
1) The Return of Peyton Manning - After sitting out the entire 2011 season and signing with Denver, Peyton Manning returned with a bang in a 31-19 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1. Even though the Steelers finished the 2011 season as the #1-ranked pass defense (only 171.9 yards/game allowed), Manning showed he had not skipped a beat, going 19/26 for 253 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, and a QB rating of 129.2. Put Denver on your AFC playoff radars (as long as Manning remains healthy!).
2) Replacement Referees - In the games that I watched on Sunday, I saw multiple missed or incorrect calls from the replacement referees. And that appears to be the consensus around the league as I read articles from games that I was not able to watch. In Week 1's highest profile game (San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers), an obvious block in the back by the Packers on a punt returned for a TD was unbelievably missed (the poorest call of the weekend in my book.) There were also extra timeouts awarded, missed pass interference calls deciding outcomes, and a general misunderstanding of the NFL rulebook on display at many NFL stadiums in Week 1. Professional referees, please come back!
3) QB Youth Movement - The NFL started five rookie and five second-year QB's in Week 1. Here are their results and my grades for their fantasy performances. Also, please note that only two of these young QBs (Griffin III and Ponder) were able to get wins for their teams in Week 1.
Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts - Rookie): 23/45 for 309 yards, 1TD, 3 INT, 1 fumble, 9 yards rushing, and a QB-rating of 52.9. Grade: C+. The passing yards (309) and attempts (45) are great from a fantasy standpoint, but 4 turnovers are inexcusable.
Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins - Rookie): 19/26 for 320 yards, 2TDs, 0 INTs, 10 carries for 42 yards, and a QB rating of 139.9 in a Week 1 upset of the New Orleans Saints (40-32). Grade: A+. Obviously, the best performance of Week 1 by any first-year or second-year QB.
Brandon Weeden (Cleveland Browns - Rookie): 12/35 for 118 yards, 0TDs, 4 INTs, 2 carries for 25 yards, and a rock-bottom QB-rating of 5.1. Grade: F. If Weeden could have remotely done anything good, the Browns would have upset the Philadelphia Eagles (they lost 17-16).
Ryan Tannehill (Miami Dolphins - Rookie): 20/36 for 219 yards, 0TDs, 3 INTs, and a QB-rating of 39.0. Grade: D. The only thing keeping him from an F is an acceptable 219 yards and 36 attempts.
Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks - Rookie): 18/34 for 153 yards, 1TD, 1 INT, 1 fumble, 8 carries for 20 yards, and a QB-rating of 62.5. Grade: C. Not a terrible start for the rookie QB, but the low number of passing yards and 2 turnovers will not get a lot of fantasy coaches excited.
Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers - 2nd Year): 23/33 for 303 yards, 1TD, 2 INT, only 5 carries for 4 yards, and a QB-rating of 83.3. Grade: B-. The completion % and passing yardage is great, but fantasy coaches expect a lot more (particularly on the ground) from their starting fantasy QB.
Andy Dalton (Cincinnati Bengals - 2nd Year): 22/37 for 221 yards, 0TD, 1 INT, 3 carries for 11 yards, 1 Fumble, and a QB-rating of 65.3. Grade: C. The 0 TD's and 2 turnovers are the issue here.
Blaine Gabbert (Jacksonville Jaguars - 2nd Year): 23/39 for 260 yards, 2TD, 0 INT, 1 2pt.-conversion, 1 fumble, and a QB-rating of 96.1. Grade: A. Possibly the best game that I have seen Gabbert play.
Christian Ponder (Minnesota Vikings - 2nd Year): 20/27 for 270 yards, 0TDs, 0 INTs, 1 fumble, and a QB-rating of 105.5. Grade: B+. Stat line is great with the exception of no TDs.
Jake Locker (Tennessee Titans - 2nd Year): 23/32 for 229 yards, 1TD, 1 INT, 2 carries for 11 yards, 1 fumble, and a QB-rating of 89.2. Grade: B. Very good completion percentage, but a little low on passing yards and 2 turnovers. Also, Locker left the game in the fourth quarter with an injured left (non-throwing) shoulder.
4) Big Week 1 Matchups - Dallas Cowboys upset the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants (24-17); San Francisco 49ers knocked off the Green Bay Packers (30-22); Denver Broncos defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers (31-19); Baltimore Ravens crushed the Cincinnati Bengals (44-13); and the San Diego Chargers outlasted the Oakland Raiders (22-14).
5) Injured Running Backs Returning - For the most part, the large list of running backs returning from 2011 injuries did very well.
However, there were a couple of exceptions:
Arian Foster - Houston Texans: 26 carries for 79 yards, 1 catch for -4 yards, and 2 TDs.
Matt Forte - Chicago Bears: 16 carries for 80 yards, 3 catches for 42 yards, and 1 TD. Fantasy note: Michael Bush had 12 carries for 42 yards and two 1-yard TDs.
DeMarco Murray - Dallas Cowboys: 20 carries for 131 yards and 2 catches for 9 yards.
Adrian Peterson - Minnesota Vikings: 17 carries for 84 yards, 1 catch for 3 yards, and 2 TDs. Fantasy note: Toby Gerhart had 6 carries for 18 yards, and Percy Harvin had 5 carries for 20 yards.
Ahmad Bradshaw - New York Giants: 17 carries for 78 yards, 2 catches for 15 yards, and 1 TD.
Maurice Jones-Drew - Jacksonville Jaguars: 19 carries for 77 yards and 3 catches for 18 yards. Fantasy note: Rashad Jennings had 8 carries for 31 yards and 1 catch for 9 yards.
Marshawn Lynch - Seattle Seahawks: 21 carries for 85 yards and 2 catches for 12 yards.
Fred Jackson - Buffalo Bills: 6 carries for 15 yards. Fantasy note: Jackson left the game early with a knee injury. Grab C.J. Spiller (available in over 30 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy Football Leagues) if available. Spiller had 14 carries for 169 yards, 1 TD, and 2 catches for 25 yards.
Trent Richardson - Cleveland Browns: 19 carries for 39 yards.
Ryan Mathews - San Diego Chargers: Did not play.
Jonathan Stewart - Carolina Panthers: Did not play.
Peyton Hillis - Kansas City Chiefs: 7 carries for 16 yards and 3 catches for 8 yards.
Brian Music is one of five inaugural inductees to the 2011 Toyota Legends of Fantasy Football Hall of Fame on Yahoo! Sports. He has participated in fantasy football for 23 years and began playing Yahoo! fantasy football league in 2001, winning trophies in 17 of the 25 leagues that he has played.
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