From studs to duds, sleepers and more, Michael Fabiano breaks down all of the biggest fantasy stories of the week.
1. Drew Brees throws six touchdown passes against Detroit.
Wow. That's about all you can say when you look at Brees' stat line against the Lions. The fantasy star completed 26 of 34 passes for 358 yards and six touchdown passes in a 45-27 win. The six scores tied a franchise record and were more touchdowns than Jay Cutler, Brett Favre, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Carson Palmer and Matt Schaub had combined. Brees spread the ball around in the pass attack, finding five different receivers three or more times. Devery Henderson posted monster numbers, but he's an all-or-nothing fantasy player. His value remains limited until he shows more consistency.
TE Jeremy Shockey could be heading for a career season if he stays healthy. He hauled in four passes for 31 yards and two for touchdowns. He should be considered a surefire fantasy starter. WR Marques Colston scored a touchdown of his own, but he had just three receptions. If you drafted Lance Moore, I hope you didn't expect him to duplicate in 2008 totals. He was at best the third or fourth option in the pass attack. As for Brees, he could be on the verge of another 5,000-yard season.
2. Adrian Peterson rushes for 180 yards and three touchdowns.
Isn't it interesting that Peterson posted such a monster stat line in his first regular-season game with a legitimate quarterback under center? I'd expect more of the same this season from A.P., who should have been the top overall pick in both standard and PPR drafts. The offense remains run based even with Brett Favre under center, and defenses just can't focus on stopping the run anymore. Look for Peterson to post another enormous stat line in Week 2 against the Lions defense which allowed 143 rushing yards to Mike Bell. He'll lead countless fantasy leaguers to yet another win in what could be a real blowout.
It was hard to gauge the Vikings' pass attack because of Peterson's success on the ground, but owners shouldn't expect Favre to be anything more than a matchup-based No. 2 fantasy option. At his extended age, he's probably thrilled to have a stud like A.P. to hand the ball to week in and week out. Bernard Berrian was active but didn't catch a single pass, which could be an indication that his hamstring isn't 100 percent. Percy Harvin scored his first NFL touchdown and should see his role increase week to week.
3. Several superstar fantasy running backs failed to produce.
Owners who drafted Matt Forte, Steven Jackson, Chris Johnson, Clinton Portis, Steve Slaton and Michael Turner were left scratching their heads. None of these six runners did much between the white lines -- Jackson had the most rushing yards of the group with 67 -- but it's far too soon to panic. Coordinators will view game film, make adjustments and get these stars back into the limelight sooner than later. However, it might take another week for some of these stars to shine to their full potential. Johnson (vs. Texans), Portis (vs. Rams) and Turner (vs. Panthers) have favorable matchups, but the rest could struggle.
Forte, who failed to catch a pass against the Packers, heads home to face the Steelers and their stout run defense. Jackson is in Washington, where he'll face DT Albert Haynesworth and the Redskins. Slaton heads to Tennessee, where he'll face the Titans run defense which didn't look like it missed Haynesworth in the season opener. Despite the matchups, fantasy owners have to stick with their studs for better or worse. You'd have to have some serious backfield depth to ever bench one of these running backs.
4. The Eagles defense helps fantasy owners take home a victory.
Fantasy leaguers who had Brees and Peterson likely took home a win in Week 1, but the Eagles defense actually outscored both of them in some formats. Philadelphia held the Carolina Panthers to just 10 points and 169 yards of total offense. Their defense also recorded five sacks, five interceptions, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one touchdown on a 2-yard fumble return from DE Victor Abiamiri. If your league also uses special teams points, the Eagles gave you two touchdowns -- the second came on DeSean Jackson's 85-yard punt return for a score in the second quarter.
On a negative note, the Eagles did lose QB Donovan McNabb due to a fractured rib. While nothing has been confirmed, early report indicate that the veteran quarterback will miss next week's game against the Saints. That leaves Kevin Kolb to start (Michael Vick is not eligible to return), so owners should downgrade all Eagles wide receivers. Brian Westbrook, who looked no worse for wear from ankle and knee surgeries and didn't share carries with LeSean McCoy (his carries were in garbage time) should be heavily involved.
5. Tony Romo is still a fantasy star even without Terrell Owens.
As a self-admitted Cowboys fan, I was a little worried about Romo's production after the release of T.O. But after one week, it's hard to argue with the results. Romo threw for 353 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-21 win over the Buccaneers. The Polks exploited what was a weak defensive backfield for long touchdown passes of 42 (Miles Austin), 66 (Roy Williams) and 80 (Patrick Crayton) yards, leaving Dallas fans saying, "Terrell who?" While it's hard to expect Romo to post a similiar stat line next week against the much more formidable Giants, it's clear that he can still post monster numbers this season.
It was also pretty clear, at least in this game, that Marion Barber is still the featured back. He showed great power and burst and is a good bet to find the end zone 10-plus times in 2008. Felix Jones will no doubt see his share of work as the season progresses, but the fact that he saw just six carries makes it hard to start him in Week 2. Tashard Choice, who is clearly third on the pecking order behind Barber and Jones, carried the ball just twice and has little fantasy relevance at this point.
Notes:Bengals WR Laveranues Coles remains a starter, but he was mostly invisible against the Broncos. In fact, Andre Caldwell was the better fantasy option. I wouldn't rush to add Caldwell, but Coles should be on fantasy benches for now. ... Broncos RB Correll Buckhalter started in Week 1, but he shared carries with RB Knowshon Moreno. RBs LaMont Jordan and Peyton Hillis were also in the mix, so a committee could be in play for a few weeks. ... Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart saw 11 carries against the Eagles and looked decent despite missing the preseason with a sore Achilles. He even saw three straight goal-line carries ahead of RB DeAngelo Williams, though he failed to convert. Stewart should be seen as a potential flex starter in fantasy leagues. ... Seahawks RB Julius Jones was the team's featured runner against the Rams. He had a nice stat line (117 yards, TD) against the Rams and should be seen as a low-end No. 2 fantasy back next week in San Francisco. ... Cardinals QB Kurt Warner looked very old against the Niners. The fact that RB Tim Hightower had 12 catches showed that Warner was checking down more often rather than taking chances downfield. I wonder if he'll be able to avoid injuries for 16 games. ... Colts WR Anthony Gonzalez will miss several weeks with an injured knee, so fantasy owners should consider adding WR Austin Collie. He'll have some value while Gonzalez recovers. ... Texans QB Matt Schaub was pressured throughout Sunday's contest against the Jets. If his offensive line doesn't do a better job in pass protection, Schaub won't last the season. That would push QB Rex Grossman into a prominent role and do serious damage to the value of WR Andre Johnson. ... Buccaneers RB Earnest Graham seems to have been phased out of the running back. In fact, he's not even worth a roster spot in leagues with 12 or fewer teams. As it stands, RBs Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward are the best options. However, neither is more than a fantasy flex starter in the majority of standard and PPR leagues.