Fantasy football is played on paper (or online ... whatever). If real football followed suit, this whole thing would be easy. But since flesh-and-blood men play the game, you can never quite tell what you're going to get from week to week. Take Week 1 for instance. The NFL lived up to its name as the "No Figure League" with a number of surprises. Now that the week is over, we'll decide whether what we saw was for real.
Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets
Week 1 stats: 266 pass yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT (20.64 fantasy points)
fantasy-football-andrew-luck-will-be-challenged-in-debut), I wrote that if there was ever a week to start any New York Jets in your lineup, then it was probably Week 1 against the Bills. But no one expected Sanchez to light up Buffalo's secondary for three scoring throws. The Bills were in the middle of the pack last season in allowing fantasy points to quarterbacks, although they were supposed to be better with the addition of Mario Williams. That didn't happen. Perhaps Rex Ryan was right when he said that his team was much better than anyone was giving it credit for, but I'm still not buying it. Next week is a date with the Steelers. That should bring this high-flying Jet in for a rough landing.
Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins
Week 1 stats: 96 rush yards, 2 TDs (21.60 fantasy points)
Could Alfred Morris be the silver bullet that finally lays Shanahanigans to rest? After a big opening week, the Washington Redskins coach says Morris is set to be the team's starting running back. Of course, he added the qualifier ["right now"](http://blogs.nfl.com/2012/09/10/mike-shanahan-rb-alfred-morris-starter-for-
now/), which means things are always subject to change. But Morris opened plenty of eyes in the preseason and followed it up with a very nice day against the Saints. His next test is against a Rams team that didn't get much of a challenge from a non-existent Lions running game. Morris' stock is rising ... right now.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills
Week 1 stats: 169 rushing yards, 1 TD; 25 rec yards (23.40 fantasy points)
Before sitting down on NFL Fantasy LIVE, Spiller was running wild through the New York Jets defense (albeit in a losing effort). The former Clemson star continued the evolution that began when he took over for an injured Fred Jackson near the end of last season. Spiller's Week 2 opposition -- the Kansas City Chiefs -- bottled up the Atlanta Falcons running game, but struggled against the pass. The good news for Spiller is that he's effective catching the ball as well. As long as Jackson's on the shelf, Spiller's going to produce.
Kevin Ogletree, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Week 1 stats: 114 rec yards, 2 TDs (23.40 fantasy points)
Fantasy football owners were treated to the season's first surprise in the season's first game. Ogletree continued a recent trend of Cowboys No. 3 receivers posting surprise numbers, coming after Miles Austin and Laurent Robinson. He'll be harder for defenses to overlook going forward, but because Dallas has such a wide array of weapons, opponents won't be able to concentrate too much energy on Ogletree, either. The Seattle Seahawks are up next for the 'Boys and while their secondary isn't particularly generous, Ogletree has shown with his play in the preseason and Week 1 that he is worthy of a roster spot in most fantasy leagues.
Blaine Gabbert, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 1 stats: 260 pass yards, 2 TD (19.00 fantasy points)
Gabbert certainly exceeded the expectations of many with his Week 1 performance against the Vikings. The highlight of his day was easily the 39-yard touchdown toss to Cecil Shorts. But beyond that, it was very much a rollercoaster day for the young QB. He had the luxury of going against a lackluster defense -- something he won't have next week when the Houston Texans come calling. Jags fans were quite vocal in the preseason about defending their quarterback, but until his decision making gets better, he's not going to be a consistent fantasy option.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
Week 1 stats: 221 pass yards, 1 INT; 11 rush yds (5.94 fantasy points)
Bengals fans and A.J. Green owners alike are hoping Dalton can excel again in 2011. So far, however, what you see is what you get with the Red Rocket. Dalton struggled against the top defenses last season and it was more of the same to open 2012. He should have some nice games sprinkled throughout the season, but there's nothing to indicate he's ready to take that big step forward.
Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
Week 1 stats: 4 rush yards; 47 rec yards (5.10 fantasy points)
According to Titans coach Mike Munchak, some of Johnson's struggles can be blamed on quarterback Jake Locker making the wrong choice on several run/pass options. Unless Munchak is going to give Locker clear instructions on when to hand the ball off, this is going to keep happening. Or maybe 2009 was just a fluke. Four of Tennessee's next five opponents -- San Diego, Detroit, Houston and Pittsburgh -- are all stingy against the run. We might be seeing the end of Chris Johnson as a legitimate fantasy RB1.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Week 1 stats: 63 rec yards (6.30 fantasy points)
For most of Sunday, Fitzgerald was harder to find than a snowman in the desert. He finally made a cameo in the fourth quarter after Kevin Kolb entered in relief of an injured John Skelton. I've recently shied away from the "someone has to catch the ball" theory of fantasy receivers, although I always believed Fitzgerald was one guy you could count on in any circumstance. While that belief is being shaken by the Cardinals' crummy QBs, I'm not giving up on Fitz yet -- especially because of Seattle's tough secondary. Next week, the Cardinals tangle with the Patriots, whose secondary was much more forgiving last season. Keep calm and carry on.