Perhaps what we knew about the NFL fantasy football universe isn’t turned on its head after one week of play in 2015, but DFS and season-long owners alike have learned things aren’t quite as they seemed before the season.
Some potential studs previously thought to be every-week dominators have fallen back down to earth following paltry Week 1 showings, while unexpected performers have taken their place in the world of fantasy. But it’s easy to simply reflect back on a great or not-so-great week—the hard part is knowing which performances are geared to last.
With that in mind, let’s look closer at three key fantasy names who are headed in the right—or wrong—direction entering Week 2.
Martellus Bennett, TE, Chicago Bears ($4,500)
As what’s left of the Chicago Bears passing attack crumbles to dust, tight end Martellus Bennett has remained its greatest weapon and much more than Jay Cutler‘s security blanket. He stepped up in the Bears’ Week 1 defeat versus Green Bay, catching five balls for 55 yards and a touchdown.
Early-season dominance is nothing new for Bennett; in fact, he’s caught fire in September over the last four seasons, with a combined 11 touchdown catches in those 13 games. He happens to be going up against a Cardinals defense that gave up the fifth-most ESPN points to tight ends last season.
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Detroit Lions ($4,500)
The Detroit Lions’ plans for utilizing Ameer Abdullah as a premier rusher over Joique Bell were apparent when they drafted him, but few expected him to break out so fast with a 24-yard touchdown on his first NFL carry. That had him finishing among the top 10 running backs in fantasy for Week 1.
Abdullah did only finish with 11 total touches, but that’s enough to fulfill his value and then some with his electric ability. As the Lions face a Minnesota Vikings defense that was just gashed by another young rusher in Carlos Hyde, expect more big things from Abdullah on Sunday.
Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers ($5,100)
Speaking of Hyde, his stock isn’t just up—it’s sky-high. No fantasy running back, or any player for that matter, did quite as much as the 49ers’ second-year back, as he finished with 168 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1.
Hyde will continue to get his touches (26 last game) in a 49ers offense that is still built from the ground up, and that shouldn’t stop against a reeling Pittsburgh Steelers defense.
If the Patriots’ Dion Lewis can put up 4.6 yards per carry against the Steelers, just imagine what Hyde could do.
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants ($7,100)
With his bank account freshly padded, Eli Manning didn’t give a Week 1 performance indicative of the big money he’s now being given by the New York Giants. Up against a paltry Dallas Cowboys secondary, Manning finished with just 193 yards and no touchdowns.
As defenses swarm on Odell Beckham Jr. and leave little room for Manning’s other weapons, the Giants are becoming more of a run-first team and less of a passing one. That shouldn’t change against the Falcons, who made life difficult for the Philadelphia Eagles for much of their season opener.
Frank Gore, RB, Indianapolis Colts ($4,800)
Stretching all the way back to the days of Peyton Manning and continuing into the era of Andrew Luck, running backs in the Colts offense are just no good. Fantasy owners who nabbed Frank Gore for Week 1 learned that lesson again, the hard way.
Gore had just 10 total touches for 31 yards in Week 1 against the Bills. Buffalo is no joke up front, but the Colts’ Week 2 opponent—the New York Jets—are even better and will force Luck into a pass-only mentality, further diminishing Gore’s impact.
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Cleveland Browns ($4,400)
Despite being undoubtedly his team’s best playmaker on offense, running back Isaiah Crowell isn’t getting a fair shake in Cleveland as the offense continues to sputter. Crowell struggled mightily in his season opener, getting 12 carries but only going for 20 yards.
Even more discouraging for Crowell is the fact rookie Duke Johnson is budding into his touches, getting nearly an identical number of carries as Crowell in Week 1. The Tennessee Titans are fresh off shutting down the Bucs’ Doug Martin and should flex their interior muscle again Sunday.
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