So as always, there were folks who popped up and played staggeringly well in Week 1. Guys who -while we may have had them on the bench as sleepers, got up early.
Here are some of my surprise studs and my thoughts on whether they will repeat in week 2 and beyond.
Michael Turner – 226 total yards, 2 tds
Turner is a guy we knew could do great things. Very few people expected this so quickly. He’ll be a good play all year but won’t play the Lions all year. He will get the rock, if just to keep the dogs off Matt Ryan who had a nice game himself. Turner remains a rock solid #2, but check your expectations. He faces a much tougher D in Tampa Bay this weekend. Should play well, but the numbers will drop significantly.
Willie Parker – 138 rushing yards and 3 TDs
Now before you rush off and say ‘you’re crazy, how could Willie be a surprise?’, go back and look over most analysts and see how hard they were hedging on him. Also, think about how he was going in drafts – 5th round and on quite often. Viewed as no more than a #2 back, FWP outperformed his ADP significantly this week. I have long said he was way undervalued and the TD total last year was an aberration. The Oline still has issues but Parker will get the lion’s share of carries and the matchup this week – Cleveland, who was torched by Marion Barber – is prime. As you picked him up as a #2 in most cases, you could see a season where your #2 plays close to a #1.
Matt Forte – 141 total yards, 1 TD and 3 catches
I can say I missed this one last week. I know the Colts can make a runner look good, but wow did he look good. Forte ran with authority and vision and looked like anything but a rookie. I liked Forte going into the season – he’s the #1 RB in Chicago and a good runner. But he played out of his shoes Sunday night. Carolina will provide a stiffer challenge and I think we will see a dip in production but if Orton can move the ball and keep the defense honest, Forte may contineu to put up decent numbers, though I am not ready to crown him a sure thing #2 until I see him vs a better run D. Carolina might provide that test, so be careful this weekend. But high hopes overall for the season on Forte.
Hines Ward – 6 catches, 76 yards and 2 TDs
Everyone assumed Santonio Holmes would emerge as the #1 and Ward would fade off into the sunset. Instead, Ward put up the solid numbers he always does. Still, this was a blowout against a team that was overmatched defensively from the get-go. I like Ward to repeat the catches (he’s always Big Ben’s safety blanket) and maybe the yards. The TDs are shakier, but do recall cobversations on The Thundering Blurb Fantasy Football Podcast (tonight and every Wed at 9pm EST/6pm PST) and The Drive Block (Thursdays 10pmEST/7pm PST) that since they do not have a sure fire red zone RB, targets in the final 20 could go to the air – and Ward is a guy the Steelers look to in the end zone. Liek with FWP, Cleveland looks to be a godo matchup this weekend for Ward. Incidentally, I expect Holmes to rebound this weekend.
Eddie Royal – 9 catches, 155 yards and 1 TD
Couldn’t avoid talking about him could I? I loved his potential but he blew past expectations Monday. Will he repeat? Well, I do think he will emerge as a solid play most weeks, several things factor into his production: 1) Brandon Marshall returns from suspension. Marshall – if he can keep his head together – is the #1 here and will get a lot of the touches Royal did. 2) Defenses (better than the Raiders) will now key on Royal. The rookie might find it tougher when he isn’t facing oft burned DeAngelo Hall. Opposing Ds now have tape on him and that will make his life harder. The Chargers – the week 2 matchup – are angry and even without Merriman, will come out firing. I think you need to be careful with Royal from here on out. Play him like you did prior to Monday – don’t plug him into your #2 spot (or God forbid, the #1) and benefit from good numbers in your 3, 4 or flex spots.
That’s the top 5 (in no order really) – here are the quick hits on the next five –
Chris Johnson could be in the above list easily – (127 total yards, 1 TD, 3 catches) and the thing holding him back most might be being a little banged up, but he should continue to play very well as a #2 or flex RB….. DeSean Jackson saw 6 catches and 106 yards- what is more telling is he got 10 targets. That’s more than Westbrook got and equals the targets of TE LJ Smith. I think Jackson will be a good source of fantasy points but like Eddie Royal, keep him in your 3, 4 or Flex spot until we see more work especially since Dallas would be a tougher challenge than woeful St. Louis…… TE Dante Rosario surprised everyone (especially the Chargers on that last TD) with 7 catches for 96 yards and a TD, but I am not buying the hype right now – get him off waivers, but bench him if you have a more consistent option….. Speaking of Tight Ends, Anthony Fasano (8 catches for 84 yards and 1TD) may continue to reap the benefits of a relationship with Bill Parcells and Pennington’s weak arm against Arizona, but again, it’s early to risk on a guy who never did anything before last weekend…. Hank Baskett isn’t a guy I expect to repeat his 102 yard, 1 TD day – it was only 2 catches and damned flukey…
More later – and I have a Daily News Stampede coming at noon EST/ 9am PST and the Thundering Blurb Fantasy Football Show tonight at 9pm EST/6pm PST.
IR reports come out tonight so we will see who pops up on those as well today. See you later