Drew Brees was his typical self here, completing 28-of-42 passes for 423 yards and four touchdowns. Brandin Cooks (6-143-2) and Willie Snead (9-172-1) were the focal points on offense for the Saints. Both were extremely efficient and look primed to put together fine seasons. The return on investment on Snead in particular is going to really be nice for his owners.
Mark Ingram seemed to miss his invite for the party, as he managed 87 yards on just 14 touches. With all the scoring here it would have been nice to see more, but if this is what you can count on him in terms of a bad game, I am sure most owners would take it. Colby Fleener was the real disappointment for the Saints, catching just one of his four targets for six yards. Those preseason rumblings about his troubles absorbing the playbook are sure to grow louder now. He should be planted on Fantasy benches until we see something positive from him.
From the Raiders’ perspective it was hard not to like what we saw from Derek Carr. He took this team on his back and led them to 22 fourth quarter points in their come-from-behind victory. He ended up completing 24-of-38 passes for 319 yards and a touchdown along with the game-winning two-point conversion attempt to Michael Crabtree. Sure, the Saints’ defense is weak, but this was a statement game for the young signal caller.
Amari Cooper (6-137) and Crabtree (7-87) accounted for 20 of Carr’s targets and will clearly dominate the looks in this passing attack. From a rushing standpoint, Latavius Murray looked solid with 72 total yards and a touchdown on 15 touches, but he may have to start looking over his shoulder. Jalen Richard, the rookie out of Southern Miss., ripped of a 75-yard touchdown run and looked extremely explosive with the ball in his hands. DeAndre Washington may have just lost his backup job, as Richard definitely earned some extra touches with his effort.
All through the offseason the New York media was pushing the fact that Matt Forte would yield plenty of work to Bilal Powell. Fantasy owners were listening, as his ADP had him coming off the board towards the end of the fourth round in drafts this summer. The Jets, however, had different thoughts as they gave Forte 27 touches that he used to pick up 155 yards and a touchdown. The aforementioned Powell received just four carries and added another two catches. Forte owners have to be salivating after this one, as he looks primed for 20-plus touches per game for as long as he stays healthy moving forward. With that type of workload, he should now be considered nothing worse than a high end RB2. Most of the time he should be a rock solid RB1. Forte should have no issues topping 1,000 yards on the ground and catching 50-plus passes this season based on what we saw this week.
Devonta Freeman participated in 36 offensive plays this week. His “backup,” Tevin Coleman, logged 32. During the preseason, the Falcons deployed a similar usage pattern and it has definitely carried over into the regular season. Coleman severely outplayed Freeman this week, racking up 117 yards on 13 touches against Freeman’s 40 yards on 15 touches. Sure, it was just one game, but this was surely enough to put Freeman on notice. Many are quick to forget that as a rookie, Coleman opened the 2015 season as the Falcons’ starter but got injured in Week 2, allowing Freeman to run away with the job. From an eye test perspective, I see Coleman as the more explosive option and because of this, it’s hard to envision a situation in which he doesn’t get at least 10 touches per game. As things stand now, you cannot view either of these backs as anything more than a FLEX option. Freeman can’t afford to let Coleman outplay him like he did on Sunday, or else he could end up on the short side of this platoon in a hurry.
There were some nice showings from rookie wide receivers this week. Will Fuller hauled in five passes for 107 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets. Sterling Shepard caught three passes for 43 yards and a score. Michael Thomas caught six passes for 58 yards. But the player I am most intrigued by is Tajae Sharpe of the Titans. He caught seven of his 11 targets for 76 yards against Minnesota. Sure, he failed to find the end zone, but he was clearly working as the team’s number one passing option in his first game as a pro. The buzz on this kid has been nothing but positive, and he backed it up with a really strong performance. The Titans may not want to throw a ton, but there is no reason not to expect Sharpe to see 140 targets this year. That would make him an easy WR3 and quite possibly the most valuable rookie receiver this year. Right now, he is available in 58.3 percent of leagues on ESPN and should be a priority addition off the waiver wire this week. If you already own him, get this kid active with confidence. If you have no room for him as a WR3, trade a receiver for an area of need and get him into your lineup.
Heading on the road to face off against Arizona in their home opener would be difficult for any quarterback. Doing so in your first career NFL start in place of the legendary Tom Brady piles on that much more pressure. None of this bothered Jimmy Garoppolo, though, who led the Patriots to a 23-21 victory. He looked like he belonged. He was decisive, showed some pretty nice mobility and was able to deliver the big throw when it mattered most. He finished the night 24-of-33 for 264 yards and a touchdown and added another 12 yards on the ground. Those numbers might seem pedestrian on paper, but when you take into consideration that only four quarterbacks surpassed that 264-yard total against the Cards during the regular season last year, they look much better. This is a good defense, folks. With Brady being 39 years old, Garoppolo now sees a huge spike in value in dynasty leagues. His solid performance will likely keep him on a good number of rosters in redraft leagues over and above being Brady insurance. With three home games coming up against above average defenses, Garoppolo won’t be a QB1, but he has definitely shown enough to be rolled out in two-quarterback leagues until Brady returns.
A.J. Green absolutely went off against the Jets, catching 12 of his 13 targets for 180 yards and a touchdown. While this would be big news in any week, it’s even bigger when you consider the fact that the Jets had Darrelle Revis shadowing him all over the field. In all his time in the league, I can’t recall Revis getting taken out behind the woodshed quite like this. Andy Dalton showed zero fear in attacking him, and Green had zero issues creating separation. Green is going to embarrass plenty of other cornerbacks this season, but with Revis now being 31 years old, it’s officially fair to start wondering whether Revis Island is no longer open for business. Personally, if I have a number one receiver facing off against the Jets, I am going to run with him. All you Sammy Watkins owners better be trotting him out there against Revis next week in Buffalo. After what we just saw, Revis no longer gets the benefit of the doubt.
Lamar Miller spent his first four seasons with the Dolphins, and over that time frame he never touched the ball more than 24 times in a game. In his first game as a member of the Houston Texans, he got 32 touches. He racked up 117 yards but failed to hit paydirt. Don’t let that discourage you if you are an owner. Miller hardly came off the field, as no other running back on the team logged more than one carry on the afternoon. There is no reason to expect this pattern to change moving forward. Combine his workload with his ability as a dual-threat option out of the backfield, and it’s really hard to see him finishing the season as anything but a Top-3 scorer at the position. Let’s just hope his body can hold up to the beating he is about to take every week.