Week 1 of the NFL season is officially in the books and we’re already able to see some risers and fallers in terms of both on-field production and fantasy viability. Players will continue to rise and fall throughout the season and we’ll continue to break them down right here. Keep in mind that just because a player is rising, that doesn’t necessarily mean he deserves a roster spot. If you’re stacked at the running back position, you shouldn’t necessarily drop one of your guys for a rising RB, for example. Conversely, if you need help in a certain position, look some at some of the guy on theis risers list.
Fallers could be dealt with in a couple of ways. If it’s someone who you think will bounce back in a few weeks, perhaps you trade for them right now when their stock is down. Or if one of these fallers is on your team, perhaps you might want to pick up his backup as a handcuff.
Let’s get into it then, shall we? The risers and fallers heading into Week 2:
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers
Many people were down on Cam Newton, myself included, heading into 2014 due to a lack of receiving threats. It appears as if that won’t be as big of a concern with the emergence of rookie wideout Kelvin Benjamin. Even with Newton out in week 1, Benjamin stepped up in huge way with six catches for 92 yards and a TD with Derek Anderson slinging passes. Look for him to continue his solid play all season, with or without Newton in the lineup.
Marqise Lee, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars and Allen Hurns, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
We got a twofer here with Lee and Hurns. Both Jags had noteworthy week 1’s, especially Hurns who had over 100 yards and two TDs. While Lee’s stats paled in comparison (62 yards, no TDs) he’s probably the stronger get going forward. He’s the more talented receiver and should have better stats that Hurns on a weekly basis. The good news for both of them is that the Jag’s top wideout, Cecil Shorts III, might continue to struggle with hamstring issues, leaving the door open for one of them, if not both, to continue to rise.
Justin Forsett, RB, Baltimore Ravens
As Taylor pointed out on Monday, the Ray Rice story is ugly and definitely bigger than football, fantasy included, but nevertheless, we must discuss the roster implications of his recent firing. While Bernard Pierce technically started the game in week 1, it was Forsett who dominated the carries and proved to be the most reliable back in Baltimore. Pierce’s stock rises too, but Forsett looks to be the bigger Raven rising at the moment.
Markus Wheaton, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Emmanuel Sanders had a great debut in Denver, but so did his replacement in Pittsburgh, Markus Wheaton. The second year player caught six passes for 97 yards and showed great elusiveness and versatility. Antonio Brown is still unquestionably the Steelers top wideout, but Wheaton proved he should be owned in all leagues as well.
Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With his paltry nine rushing yards and seven receiving yards in week 1, Doug Martin made it three straight years in which he has started slow. What’s even more troubling is that he’s already banged up. He’s a small guy who takes a lot of beating, so it’s concerning when you have a slow start mixed with a poor outlook of improvement.
Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams
Stacy, with 43 yards on the ground and eight through the air, put up slightly better numbers than Martin, but I’d actually be more concerned as a Stacy owner than a Martin owner. The reason? Martin is somewhat established while Stacy was a surprise breakthrough last season but was still somewhat “the best option we got.” Well, that might not be the case anymore as backup running back Benjamin Cunningham only had two less total touches than Stacy. The situation in St. Louis appears to be much more of a timeshare than Stacy owners wanted.
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Perhaps trading Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins right before the season started wasn’t such a great move for New England, and especially not for Tommy B. Yes, he has Gronk back, but Brady was 2 for 18 on throws at least 15 yards downfield in week 1. His 16 incompletions on deep throws are the most by anyone since 2006 according to Stats & Info.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
Robert Griffin III was ineffective on Sunday to say the least. His average completion traveled a paltry 3.7 yards downfield (only 0.8 yards in first half). The weapons are there, so this fall might not last very long, but the adjustment to a new offense appears to be much more difficult than Griffin owners would have hoped. Perhaps most troubling of all, Griffin didn’t run the ball once in week 1. For fantasy owners, that’s his biggest asset. It appears as if he’s taking this emphasis on being a pocket passer a little too literally.