The cold, dark days of the NFL offseason are officially over, as fantasy football sprang back onto the scene this past week. After months of draft preparation, meticulous lineup projections and speculations, we got our first taste of the sweet, overpowering ambrosia this weekend.
As per every season opening weekend, the true makeup of many teams was revealed, and under-the-radar studs put into the limelight. When scouring the waiver-wires it is important to take stock of these players.
RB CJ Spiller, Buffalo: Spiller enjoyed a limited role as the change of pace back last year for Fred Jackson, scoring in four of his last five games. With Jackson’s injury in the first half on Sunday, Spiller put together an impressive 169 rushing yards on 14 attempts, while adding a touchdown and two receptions for 25 yards. Jackson is expected to miss at least a month with his knee injury, and Spiller is a more than capable replacement.
RB Alex Morris, Washington: Coming into the season nobody was talking about Morris. Running back guru Mike Shanahan has done it again however. Morris, who was listed as third on the depth chart behind named starter Evan Royster and backup Roy Helu, carried the ball 28 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns against New Orleans. Morris has instantly earned a spot on any fantasy roster as a solid third running back with definite potential as the featured back in a revamped offense that includes first round pick RGIII.
WR Kevin Ogletree, Dallas: Dallas is in no way shape or form short on offensive weapons with Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Jason Witten and Demarco Murray in the lineup. Ogletree had a career game to open the season, catching eight passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. However, while he looked synced up with Tony Romo, there is a question of consistency when all other targets are healthy. It is unlikely that Ogletree will return to this level of production in 2012, but he is definitely an intriguing talent to watch.
WR Randall Cobb, Green Bay: The Juggernaut that is the Packers’ passing attack often comes as a double edged sword to fantasy owners. Aaron Rodgers and his golden arm have been an absolute revelation to the Green Bay receiving corps, with the stipulation that the ball is often spread out to one of his many many options. Cobb seems to be an early favorite of Rodgers’ this year though, cathing nine passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. The offense he plays in and Greg Jennings’ uncertain status for Thursday’s game against the bears make Cobb a must add in most leagues.
Other standouts in this latest installment include Stephen Hill (NYJ), who had five receptions for 89 yards and two touchdown and Aldrick Robinson (WAS), who pulled in six passes for 104 yards and a touchdown.
Luckily, the NFL didn’t see any injuries too catastrophic or impactful to fantasy owners this weekend, sans Fred Jackson. Maurice Jones-Drew made his first appearance with the Jags after holding out this preseason, and looked entirely pedestrian in his debut, running for 77 yards on nineteen touches with no scores. Look for the NFL’s reigning rushing leader to get back on track later in the season, as he shakes off the rust from his holdout. Ryan Mathews did not play after vowing to be back for the opener following his broken clavicle on the first play of the season. He may be cleared for contact this week, but do not put too much stock in his return just yet. Week 3 looks to be a more likely return date for the oft injured back.
The first week is over, and with it comes a heightened sense of the NFL’s makeup. It’s time to carefully review your lineup, double check how your players will be used this year and adjust accordingly. This should be done with a grain of salt, however, with 15 weeks remaining in the regular season there is still plenty of suspense to be had.