On the NFL schedule, it read “Bengals at Jets.” What it turned into was an A.J. Green football clinic.
The No. 4 pick in fantasy football drafts this summer was a tricky one, but Green might turn out to be the right answer all along. Green was marvelous in Cincinnati’s 23-22 victory at New York on Sunday, posting a 12-180-1 line on 13 targets.
That’s a monster game against anyone, but it goes up in value when you consider the presence of Jets CB Darrelle Revis on the other side. Revis was in coverage on Green for most of the day, to little avail. To be fair, it looked like Revis expected safety help on Green’s 54-yard touchdown. But it’s probably time for fantasy owners to stop treating Revis Island as a thing. If you like your receiver against an ordinary matchup, he should be just fine against the Jets.
Green, to his credit, took his matchup domination in stride. “(Revis) has nothing left to prove, he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer,’ he told Kimberly Jones of NFL Network. “I’m trying to get where he is.”
Keep doing what you’re doing, No. 18. You’re well on your way. We’ll have our popcorn ready for your Week 2 draw at Pittsburgh.
Green was targeted on 40 percent of Andy Dalton’s pass attempts, a logical ratio when you consider what the Bengals are playing without. Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones departed after the 2015 season, and Tyler Eifert is out indefinitely. Brandon LaFell (4-91-0, four targets) and C.J. Uzomah (2-59-0, five targets) were the other regular targets Sunday. Throwing the ball to Green, open or covered, is never a bad idea.
Go count up your Green fantasy points, while we examine some other players of note in Week 1.
Other Booms from the early games:
• Spencer Ware, RB, Chiefs: For a month you’ve been reading hype about Ware, and on Sunday, you saw it validated. Ware rumbled for 199 total yards (11-70; 7-129) on a modest 18 touches, with a score. Ware wasn’t eliminated by Kansas City’s early deficit, and he was a key part of the second half comeback and overtime victory. I don’t know when Jamaal Charles is coming back, but I expect Ware to have a key role in this offense all year.
We knew Ware could run with power and decisiveness, but he’s grown significantly as a receiver. Including the preseason, he’s now grabbed 15 catches on 16 targets. The Chiefs were creative in his pass routes Sunday; the grabs weren’t just dump-offs behind the line of scrimmage. KC has an exciting, ascending player on its hands.
Charcandrick West was a bit player Sunday, for what it’s worth. His three carries went for a net of minus-one yards. He did add six catches for 24 yards, securing all of his targets. Kansas City visits Houston next week.
• Saints Passing Game: While New Orleans was dealt a stomach-kick 35-34 loss to the Raiders, in one of the best games of the day, Drew Brees made his fantasy owners plenty happy (423 passing yards, four touchdowns). The New Orleans pinball machine is alive and well.
Brandin Cooks (9-143-2, including a 98-yard score) and Willie Snead (9-172-1, catching all nine targets) were the primary options, while rookie Michael Thomas also made good (6-58-0, six targets). Tight end Coby Fleener was a notable bust, with a piddly one catch (six yards) on four targets. Keep in mind, Fleener is also coming off a terrible preseason.
• Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles: Limited preseason, no problem. Wentz posted a tidy 22-37-278-2-0 line in a victory over Cleveland, with no turnovers and just two sacks taken. It took 14 targets, but Wentz got the ball to primary playmaker Jordan Matthews (7-114-1), and TE Zach Ertz was also involved (6-58-0, seven targets).
Wentz’s best moment came in a game-clinching sequence in the third quarter. He burned the Cleveland blitz with a fourth-down completion to Ertz — extra mustard on that throw — and then iced the game away one snap later, on a gorgeous 35-yard TD rainbow to Nelson Agholor. It’s just one game of course, but so far, so good.
• Jameis Winston, QB, Bucs: The sophomore quarterback had one pick and missed an easy throw to Mike Evans in the end zone, but otherwise he was just about perfect in the upset win at Atlanta (23-for-23, 281 yards, four touchdowns). Winston didn’t do much on the ground in the opener, but that’s probably for the best. We want him throwing darts from the pocket. Winston’s scores went to four different receivers (including a make-good connection with Evans), underscoring his maturity and growth.
Notable Busts (early games):
• Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings: It was a whole lot of nothing for Peterson on 19 carries at Tennessee, just 31 yards (with a long of nine). Two pass targets went incomplete (Peterson probably should have caught one of them). You can blame some of this on the Shaun Hill effect, if you will, but it’s not like the Minnesota offense is expected to go bonkers under the guidance of Sam Bradford.
• Gary Barnidge, TE, Browns: The Cleveland tight end misfired on two early opportunities — catchable passes — and Robert Griffin never looked his way again. Not many Browns covered themselves in glory in a 29-10 loss at Philly, but Barnidge’s bagel sticks out. Griffin had his shoulder dinged during the game, which could put his Week 2 availability into question. If Josh McCown is back in the saddle at some point, it could be a fantasy boost for Barnidge.
• Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills: A 15-for-22 passing day doesn’t sounds too bad, but it added up to a mere 5.0 per attempt and seven points on the scoreboard. Taylor was also ineffective as a rusher (five attempts, 11 yards). There’s talk that Sammy Watkins isn’t 100 percent, and he didn’t look it at Baltimore (4-43-0, six targets).
There’s not much time for Buffalo to correct its errors; the Bills play the Jets on Thursday.