The Grogan Verdict by Dan Grogan (9/7/12)

Week 1


Larry Fitzgerald: 3 catches, 62 yards; Marshawn Lynch: 33 yards rushing; Percy Harvin: 2 receptions for 7 yards.

My predictions for Week 1?

Hardly.

These are just a few of the statistical results from Week 1 of last year.

I present these to illustrate the point that not all goes according to form in fantasy football - and there's no reason to push the panic button when it doesn't.

Fantasy players, however, aren't known for their patience. We're eyeing our bench or waiver wire after one of high picks disappoints. I'm not saying that you should stick to your guns even in the face of repeated failures. Think Chris Johnson last season. But I am arguing for understanding the "why" and "how" a guy ended up with the numbers he got.

Sometimes the matchup is just unfavorable, but often it's even deeper than that. I call it the "tempo" or "pace" of a game. A sub-par QB can put up great numbers if he has to throw a lot. Miami QB Chad Henne amassed 416 yards and 2 scores on opening day last year. His opponent? New England who scored 38 points in that game. Henne put the ball up 49 times. The Pats, by the way, scored at least 30 points in 12 of their 16 games last season. It was no wonder that 11 opposing QBs topped the 300-yard mark against them including guys like Jason Campbell (344), Vince Young (400) and Dan Orlovsky (353). Everyone had to throw!

By the way, against Houston in a 23-17 loss the following week, Henne managed a fantasy-poor 1-TD, 170-yard outing. I wonder how many fantasy owners started him based on what he did on opening day.

Bottom line: Understand why a guy's stats exceeded or fell short of expectations. While it's always possible that a highly drafted guy will turn out to be a season-long dud.


Random thoughts for Week 1.

Indianapolis at Chicago
There's a good chance Andrew Luck will have to throw in this one, but unless you play two QBs, I can't see starting him just yet.

Philadelphia at Cleveland
Not excited about starting RB Trent Richardson considering that he missed nearly all of camp with the knee injury. Besides that, it remains to be seen how the Browns fare with rookie QB Brandon Weeden.

New England at Tennessee
Ordinarily, I would like Tennessee's upside in the passing game in what could be a catch-up game, but consider this. QB Jake Locker is making his first NFL start. If I were the Titans, my game plan would be to run Chris Johnson in an effort to slow the pace of the game down and keep Tom Brady off the field.

Jacksonville at Minnesota
Would I start Maurice Jones-Drew? Here's my assessment. I don't think he'll see his usual compliment of touches. The Jags said they'll limit him mostly to third down duty, but I suspect we'll see a bit more than that. The Vikings aren't easy to run on. Just three backs topped 100 yards against them last year and this defense gave up just 9 rushing TDs all season....it's a little ironic that we have a similar dilemma for another back on the other side of the field. I don't think we see Adrian Peterson with his full compliment of touches either. My guess is 10-15. Ask yourself if that's enough to warrant a starting assignment.

Washington at New Orleans
Given the Saints' ability to light up the scoreboard, I think the Redskins will have to throw more than they'd like. This will likely hurt the running game, but I'm gun-shy with QB Robert Griffin III in his first start.

Buffalo at NY Jets
No team comes into the season with more questions on offense than the Jets. Are you going to trust any fantasy player here in Week 1? Neither the first nor second team offense scored during the preseason. I doubt many fantasy owners are looking to start Mark Sanchez, but I have my doubts about WR Santonio Holmes, TE Dustin Keller (he's battling an injury too) and RB Shonn Greene until they get some time under their belts. New York is talking about the Wildcat with Tim Tebow more than anything else. If I have Greene, I'm concerned that Tebow will be stealing away an opportunity or two.

Miami at Houston
It's hard to get excited about any offensive player for the Dolphins. You've got a rookie QB (Ryan Tannehill) and a no-name receiving corps. Given Houston's potential for scoring, how much ground action will Miami get for Reggie Bush?

San Francisco at Green Bay
Although the Niners might have the best defense in the NFL, I still wouldn't be hesitant to start Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson. They might not get their usual numbers, but you can't over think this.  The Packers' ground game (Cedric Benson, Alex Green) doesn't excite me in this matchup against a very tough run defense.

Seattle at Arizona
If you're willing to roll the dice, Seattle RB Robert Turbin might make for a nice play if you've handcuffed him to Lynch...and isn't that why you drafted him?

Carolina at Tampa Bay  
History doesn't always repeat, but it's hard to ignore the fact that Carolina ran for 7 TDs and for 433 yards in their two matchups against Tampa last year. Cam Newton accounted for 4 of those scores.


Guys I'm watching that may be free agents:

Jonathan Dwyer/RB/PIT

He came on at the end of the preseason with both Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman sidelined. Mendenhall won't play this week, but Redman might return.

Kendall Hunter/RB/SF

If the Niners are serious about cutting Frank Gore's action then Hunter may offer flex or bye week value.

Knowshon Moreno/RB/DEN

The Broncos have selected Moreno over rookie Ronnie Hillman as the backup to Willis McGahee. Two things cost Hillman. First was that he missed a lot of camp with an injury and second, he has not shown much ability in the pass protection department - a highly prized asset for any back here with Peyton Manning at the helm.  

Jacquizz Rodgers/RB/ATL

Atlanta has said they want to reduce Michael Turner's workload. If that's the case, I want to see if Rodgers gets enough touches to be a flex or bye week option.

Andre Roberts/WR/ARZ

I know there's a lot of concern for Arizona's offense, but after Larry Fitzgerald there's not much. Roberts is a deep threat receiver.

Brandon LaFell/WR/CAR

Carolina has said they want to involve him more this season. Let's see what happens in Week 1.

Stephen Hill/WR/NYJ

Hill was the Jets second round draft choice this year and has earned a starting job opposite Santonio Holmes. He's big (6'4"), but he's also raw. Worth keeping an eye on since the Jets were impressed and never made a move all preseason to bring in a veteran receiver.

Brandon Tate/WR/CIN

Tate won the starting job opposite AJ Green, but he's probably third in the pecking order for passes behind Green and TE Jermaine Gresham.

Randy Moss/WR/SF

It appears the Niners will start him, but his fantasy value will depend on how much action he sees. Earlier this summer Coach Harbaugh said he wanted to limit Moss' plays to 25-30.


Ogletree and Bennett?

After the numbers they put up in Wednesday night's game, is it worth grabbing Dallas WR Kevin Ogletree or Giants' TE Martellus Bennett if they're free agents in your league?

As far as Ogletree is concerned, I'd weigh adding him at the expense of dropping a WR4 or later player. His stats the other night reflect a few things like TE Jason Witten not being 100%, the fact that the Giants focused mainly on Dez Bryant and Miles Austin and an injury-weakened New York secondary. I don't think we're looking at another Laurent Robinson who was the Cowboys' third receiver last year and had a terrific season. I give Robinson plenty of credit, but he also amassed 5 of his 11 TDs while Austin was out with an injury.

My guess is that Ogletree is going to be very pricy in a competitive free agent bidding market. But as I said, I'd take the chance if I could replace a WR4 player with him in an add/drop format.  

I think Bennett still belongs in the TE2 category and don't see him as a fantasy starter. As athletically talented as he is, Bennett can be his own worst enemy at times making mistakes that drive coaches nuts. Ask Dallas about that. If you're weak at your backup TE then sure, go ahead and make the move.


Concerns after just one game.

Dallas RB Felix Jones didn't see a single carry against the Giants.

There were high hopes for New York RB David Wilson who's playing behind Ahmad Bradshaw. However, that costly first half fumble by Wilson was the reason he didn't see a single carry afterwards.


Good luck everybody!


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