By: Mike Carlson
If Week 1 of fantasy football was any indication, fans and players alike will be in for a wild season.
The last seven Heisman Trophy winners all saw some kind of action on the field (some were less successful than others), kickers were posting better scores than Peyton Manning, guys who were thought to be off the fantasy map miraculously reappeared again, and, of course, there were more than a few breakout performers. Yet, for every Odell Beckham Jr. or CJ Anderson there is a Charles Sims or Cordarrelle Patterson.
There is a thin line separating fantasy gold from fool’s gold. Here’s the verdict on some of the guys walking that line last week and how they will fare this week.
Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning: Not only is the city of Denver on high-alert this week, but so are the guys who opted to spend an early round pick on the future hall of famer. The good news, though, is that fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Despite turning in an awful performance against the Baltimore Ravens, Manning will be up to his old tricks against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night. He has far too many weapons at his disposal to ever drop off completely. Besides, this was the first time new head coach Gary Kubiak’s offense saw meaningful in-game action, so a bit of a learning curve should be expected. This week Manning and company get a pass.
Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota: The former Heisman Trophy winner turned in maybe one of the best rookie debuts by a quarterback since Cam Newton all the way back in 2011 with four touchdowns, over 200 yards passing, and a sparkling 81% completion rate. Still, this one should be chalked up to beginner’s luck. The Tennessee offense lacks a legitimate top target at wideout and there are still a lot of questions to answer at the running back position. Obviously, Mariota has the skills to play in the NFL, but the cast of characters around him makes it tough to showcase any of them in a way which benefits fantasy owners.
San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde: Make no mistake, Hyde is the real deal. In his first crack as the top dog in San Francisco, he piled up 168 yards and two scores against a serviceable Minnesota Vikings defense. In terms of skillset, Hyde checked all the boxes in Week 1 and will continue to as the season goes on. The Ohio State product is in a run heavy offense with a more-than-capable Colin Kaepernick to assuage any pressure when called upon to do. It looks like fantasy football has found its next great running back.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins: Seferian-Jenkins was the lone bright spot in Tampa Bay this weekend as he posted more than 100 yards through the air and two touchdowns. However, don’t expect the trend to continue. Rookie quarterback Jameis Winston was without his top target in Mike Evans and one of his two touchdowns came at a point where the game was out of reach for the Bucs. Evans should return this week and with it Seferian-Jenkins will take a backseat in the Bucs offense. Not to mention, Winston looks set up to struggle in his rookie campaign which only further hurts Seferian-Jenkins’ stock.
Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson: The long-time fantasy juggernaut had one of his worst games in recent memory this past week as he was only able to wrangle two receptions for 39 yards. Granted, Johnson has seen a dip in his numbers the past few years, but none of this should be cause for concern. He is still the unquestioned number one target of Matt Stafford and he still has the skillset to make him a difference maker in fantasy football. Everyone has a bad week every now and again. Johnson decided to get his week out of the way early. You can thank him when the fantasy playoffs roll around.