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Friends and Family Matters: Week 1 lessons

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If Week 1 numbers meant nothing, Thomas Jones(notes) and Tim Hightower's(notes) first game last season wouldn't have foreshadowed their surprisingly productive fantasy seasons to come.

If Week 1 numbers meant everything, Julius Jones(notes) would have been the running back to own in Seattle, and Patrick Crayton(notes) – not Miles Austin(notes) – would be the Cowboys wide receiver to emerge in life without Terrell Owens(notes).

Truth is, Week 1 performances aren't nothing. They aren't everything. They're somewhere in between.

In the 14-team Yahoo! Friends and Family League, a handful of experts who drafted a top-15 Week 1 player have volunteered to discuss where they believe their player falls. Was that strong season debut meaningless, or did that player's season prospects just improve dramatically?

Arian Foster(notes): 231 rushing yds, 3 TDs, 1 rec, 7 yds.
Week 1 rank: 1.
Drafted: Fourth round, fifth pick (47th overall)
Owner: Brad Evans, Yahoo! Sports.

Evans: "Since Foster was already tabbed my 'Most Valuable Crush' preseason, his earth-shattering opening-week performance only amplified my inappropriate feelings toward him. As the unquestioned bell cow in a high-powered offense, he should continue to plow his way to banner RB1 numbers. Gary Kubiak appears committed to a more balanced offensive philosophy, which means a consistent 20-25 carry per-game workload for Foster seems likely. His schedule is peppered with several difficult matchups [e.g. Weeks 13-15 (at Phi, Bal, at Ten)], but running behind arguably the most underappreciated line in football, he could eclipse the century mark routinely. Yes, his Week 1 performance is anomalous, but barring injury, he should finish inside the position's top 10, a spot where I projected he would wind up. For now, my head-in-the-clouds preseason forecast remains intact (273 attempts, 1,228 rushing yards, 31 receptions, 236 receiving yards, 12 total touchdowns)."

Matt Forte(notes): 50 rushing yds, 7 rec, 151 yds, 2 TDs.
Week 1 rank: 2.
Drafted: Round 5, seventh pick (63rd overall).
Owner: Jeff Erickson,

Erickson: "I was actually pretty fortunate to get the big number from Forte, in that his lack of conversion at the goal line created the scenario where the Bears needed to throw to him late in the game. Instead of a 6.1-point rushing touchdown, I got a 9.55 touchdown reception, plus another catch on an earlier drive. When I drafted Forte in the fifth round, I was pretty happy with the selection if for no other reason than it was a PPR league and RBs in Mike Martz's system on occasion have benefited from that in the passing game. But the flip side to this is that Forte's offensive line needs work, and Forte didn't run all that well behind it when given the opportunity against the Lions, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry and getting stuffed on the goal line on multiple occasions.

"If I were drafting again today, I'd be willing to go after him in the late third/early fourth, depending on how I had already constructed my roster. In this alternate universe, however, I wouldn't have already taken Michael Crabtree(notes) with my fourth pick. So whatever credit I get for Forte falling to me in the fifth I lose for reaching for Crabtree, unfortunately."

Hakeem Nicks(notes): 4 rec, 75 yds, 3 TDs.
Week 1 rank: 4.
Drafted: Fourth round, fourth pick (46th overall).
Owner: Michael Salfino, Wall Street Journal/Yahoo! Sports.

Salfino: "Nicks is a guy I've written about all year, even going all in in a Wall Street Journal piece where I said he'd be their most productive receiver and I'm not even supposed to opine in that space. If I was drafting right now, I'd take him in the third round easy and maybe before Brandon Marshall(notes). Let's put it this way – I own both and I'd trade Marshall before Nicks if pressed for the same price. He's way above his preseason peers like Michael Crabtree, Pierre Garcon(notes) and Robert Meachem(notes). Michael Crabtree? Ha! Liss owes me a steak over that one already (straight up – who's better in standard fantasy?), I can taste it.

Darren McFadden(notes): 95 rushing yds, 6 rec, 55 yds, TD.
Week 1 rank: 7.
Drafted: Ninth round, fifth pick (117 overall).
Owner: Dalton Del Don,

Del Don: "Darren McFadden played his best football game in the NFL on Sunday. The situation was pretty ideal – Oakland had to throw a ton, resulting in a bunch of check downs – and Michael Bush(notes) will take away carries (including at the GL) once he returns, but McFadden finally showed an ability to break tackles. He's always had the speed. McFadden is a great start in Week 2 at home against the Rams if Bush is again sidelined, but long term, my view hasn't changed too much. He still needs to prove he can stay healthy and will likely be in a committee soon enough. Still, there's definite talent here, and it's possible Oakland gives its former No. 4 overall pick a real opportunity if he continues to shine."

Legedu Naanee(notes): 5 rec, 110 yds, TD.
Week 1 rank: 13.
Drafted: 12th round, sixth pick, (160 overall).
Owner: Andy Behrens, Yahoo! Sports.

Behrens: "Let's not overrate one nice week from Naanee. He posted a nice fantasy line, but most of the points arrived via a long touchdown that had an unusually low degree of difficulty. Every Chief on the field decided to cover Antonio Gates(notes) on the play, and Naanee had a clear run to the end zone.

"Does that suddenly make him the Chargers' top receiving threat? No. It's the sort of nice thing that will occasionally occur when you're tied to a great offense, though, and that's why I own him. At the end of the day, nothing happened in Week 1 that really moved the needle on Legedu, unless he was previously unknown to you."

Working the wire

This section tracks the expert league's weekly free-agency activity. The player pool defaults to waivers Sunday though Tuesday, after which owners bid on free agents using a $100 free-agency auction budget. Players who clear waivers can be added free of charge.

The move: Del Don ( dropped Ryan Grant(notes) and added Mark Clayton(notes) for $35.
Synopsis: Clayton caught 10 of his 16 targets in Week 1, which were second only to Roddy White's(notes) 23 targets. Interestingly, three Rams wide receivers are currently owned in the league. I drafted Laurent Robinson(notes), and John Hansen ( picked up Danny Amendola(notes) this week for $13. Here's to hoping the Rams keep playing from behind.

The move: Behrens (Yahoo! Sports) dropped Brandon Tate(notes) and added Louis Murphy(notes) for $9. Synopsis: A very savvy move here. Murphy didn't do much in Week 1, but he could wind up being the steal of the draft after Scott Pianowski (Yahoo! Sports) took him 191st overall. Behrens outbid me and then declined my trade offer of Robinson for Murphy, so he knows what he has here: the best downfield option for an offense teams will dare to stretch the field. Murphy's 7 percent ownership rate should shoot up very, very soon.

Other adds: Michael Vick(notes) ($26), Mike Thomas(notes) ($15), Amendola ($13), Pittsburgh defense ($11), Philadelphia defense ($8), Nate Washington(notes) ($5), Kyle Orton(notes) ($5), Jordan Shipley(notes) ($4), Carolina defense ($2), New England ($1), Javon Ringer(notes), Tennessee defense, Brandon Lloyd(notes), Kansas City defense, Davone Bess(notes), Marcedes Lewis(notes) and LaRod Stephens-Howling(notes).

Other drops: Deion Branch(notes), Miami defense, Correll Buckhalter(notes), Chris Chambers(notes), Lance Moore(notes), Rashad Jennings(notes), Jerricho Cotchery(notes), Kenny Britt(notes), Nate Burleson(notes), Arizona defense, Matthew Stafford(notes), James Jones(notes), Darrius Heyward-Bey(notes), Kareem Huggins(notes), Dustin Keller(notes), Kevin Smith(notes), Anthony Gonzalez(notes).

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