After one week, Marcus Mariota, Alex Smith and Nick Foles are in the Top 10 among fantasy quarterbacks. That's probably not going to last, but it's fun to see how everything shakes out. As the weeks progress and the sample sizes grow, we'll start to read trends on which quarterbacks are settling into the Top 10 and which ones are falling out. It's difficult to predict strength of schedule in the preseason, because teams change, grow, adapt and develop after each game. One team could have a disastrous showing on the road one week, but turn it on for the home crowd the next against an inferior opponent.
Pass Defenses to Exploit:
Detroit: Allowed 404 yards passing and 33 points to the Chargers in Week 1. The Lions allowed 7 passes of 20+ yards and 20 passing first downs. Detroit is at Minnesota Week 2
NY Giants: Allowed a league high 21 passing first downs to Tony Romo and the Cowboys, including 356 yards passing and 3 touchdown passes. New York hosts Atlanta Week 2
Pittsburgh: Allowed four touchdown passes to Tom Brady and struggled to keep Rob Gronkowski in check. New England passed for 288 yards against the Steelers and finished with a 143.8 QB rating. Pittsburgh hosts San Francisco in Week 2.
Tampa Bay: The Buccaneers made Marcus Mariota look like a Pro Bowler in his first NFL start. They allowed four touchdown passes (all in the first half) and a league high 158.3 QB rating against. Interestingly enough, the yardage wasn't that high (209 yards) on just 13 completions. Tampa Bay is at New Orleans Week 2
Pass Defenses to Stay away from:
Denver: The Broncos kept Joe Flacco in check, allowing only four passing first downs all game, 173 total yards allowed and a paltry 3 yards per offensive play. They also had an interception for a touchdown, which ultimately was the deciding factor in the game. Denver's offense struggled to find any rhythm, but their defense could keep them in many games this year. Denver is at Kansas City Week 2.
Baltimore: The Ravens managed to keep Denver and Peyton Manning from reaching the end zone. They stopped the pass (150 yards) and the run (69 yards). Holding Peyton Manning to 3.2 yards per play is an accomplishment. Peyton could be declining, but he also was up against a tough defense Week 1. Baltimore is at Oakland Week 2
Carolina: The Panthers were stingy against Jacksonville allowing only 9 points and 265 total yards (169 pass, 96 rush). They also led the way with 5 sacks and 3 turnovers, including a fumble recovery and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown that sealed the game. Carolina hosts Houston Week 2
Carlos Hyde led the way in Week 1 with 168 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns, plus 2 catches for 14 yards receiving. He looked quick, powerful and above all confident. A calf injury to Reggie Bush opened the door for Hyde to see more carries and he did not disappoint. It's safe to say he's the main back in San Francisco and arguably the team's top weapon. Expect to see more confidence in him moving forward. This could be a breakout year for Hyde.
Matt Forte also had a dominating performance in a loss to the Packers. John Fox said he would rely on Forte more in the running game and he did just that. We've come accustomed to seeing Forte catch a lot of passes out of the backfield, but would he do it in the new Bears offense? He had 5 catches for 25 yards. The running effort told the story for Forte, but he also showed that perhaps the reception totals might not drop as much as we expected.
Chris Ivory, Danny Woodhead, Bishop Sankey, Jeremy Hill and DeMarco Murray each had strong fantasy weeks with two touchdowns. Woodhead, Sankey and for the most part, Ivory had performances that surprised most people. Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram (7+ catches each with over 100 total yards) played well Week 1 and should continue to be a threat moving forward. Ameer Abdullah, Dion Lewis, DeAngelo Williams and Giovani Bernard also chimed in with strong games. Some of these backs will perform well each week, while others may see the top ranks on a limited basis. Like the quarterbacks, we'll know gain more clarity as the weeks progress.
Run Defenses to Exploit
Minnesota: Was Carlos Hyde that good or was Minnesota's run defense that bad? The flood gates opened quickly and the Vikings couldn't stop the deluge, to the tune of 230 yards rushing allowed and two rushing touchdowns. San Francisco had 14 rushing first downs and averaged 5.9 yards per rush. Minnesota hosts Detroit Week 2
Green Bay: Matt Forte ran all over Green Bay in Week 1. The Packers allowed 189 yards rushing and 5.7 yards per rush with 10 rushing first downs. They also allowed one rushing touchdown. Green Bay hosts Seattle Week 2.
The Dolphins, Browns, Colts and Patriots were also poor against the run allowing big games from Alfred Morris, Chris Ivory, The Bills as a whole and DeAngelo Williams respectively. Week 2 MIA is at JAC, CLE hosts TEN, IND hosts NYJ and NE is at BUF.
Run defenses to stay away from:
Seven defenses held their opponent to 75 yards rushing or less without allowing a rushing touchdown. Arizona, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Baltimore, SanFrancisco, Denver and Washington.
Arizona allowed just 2.7 yards per carry to New Orleans and Cincinnati allowed only one rushing first down to Oakland. The Bills kept Frank Gore in check, Baltimore shut down C.J. Anderson, San Francisco neutralized Adrian Peterson, Denver kept Justin Forsett bottled up and Washington kept Lamar Miller from having a good game. Looking ahead to Week 2, ARI is at CHI, CIN hosts SD, BUF hosts NE, BAL is at OAK, SF is at PIT, DEN is at KC and WAS hosts STL.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
Several wide receivers had big games in Week 1. Target stats say a lot about a player's usage throughout the game. Below are the wide receivers and tight ends who had at least 10 targets. Tight ends are highlighted in yellow.
There are some interesting players on this list. Nate Washington, Jermaine Kearse and Rashad Greene are worth noting and keeping an eye on.
Players in blue play a favorable pass defense Week 2. Players in red play an unfavorable pass defense in Week 2
Players that have my interest in Week 2
Matt Ryan at NYG, Drew Brees vs. TB, Tony Romo at PHI
Ameer Abdullah at MIN, Marshawn Lynch at GB
Julio Jones at NYG, Terrance Williams at PHI
Jason Witten at PHI, Tyler Eifert vs. SD
Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org