What a day, huh?
We got a whole serving of NFL action on Sunday, with huge runs, big catches and dead-eye throws from the league’s best players.
Oh, and some disappointment, heartbreak and genuinely heavy tears, too.
Monday night’s games between the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons and the Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers still loom, so the fantasy week is not over just yet.
But most owners are either flying high or slumping their shoulders after the 14 games between Thursday and Sunday.
It’s time to reassemble your army. Whether you won, lost or are waiting on Monday’s games, let’s look toward Week 2.
Beast: Eli Manning, New York Giants
Hold on just a minute there, everyone. Put your pitchforks down and listen.
Eli Manning gave owners a dud on Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys. Big D gave huge attention to Odell Beckham Jr., leaving the freshly re-signed Manning to dink and dunk to the likes of Rueben Randle and the particularly slippery-handed Preston Parker.
What’s going to change? Well, the Giants are going to adjust. The Cowboys always had an extra defender over the top against ODB, so the Atlanta Falcons will probably try something similar. But offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo will figure out how to get Beckham the ball.
Expect a lot more short passes and trickery against Atlanta, which will force the Falcons’ hand and open up the field for Manning and Beckham to air it out.
Dud: Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Yup, another Manning.
Eli’s older brother had an even worse fantasy day than the Giants’ signal-caller, as Peyton and Joe Flacco just traded interceptions and pick-sixes before the Denver Broncos muscled out an ugly 19-13 win in the afternoon.
Things won’t get any easier for the 39-year-old against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.
KC’s defensive line played like hungry dogs against a Houston Texans team wearing meat necklaces. Peyton will (probably) get his fantasy act together soon—think of what Tom Brady did last year—but it won’t be in Week 2.
Sleeper: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Is Andy Dalton great? Nah.
Is Andy Dalton good? Eh.
Does Andy Dalton have an unbelievable amount of weapons at his disposal? You know it.
For that reason alone, the Red Rocket is an interesting play against a San Diego Chargers defense that allowed Matthew Stafford to move the ball through the air in a losing effort.
Beast: LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
Don’t give up on LeSean McCoy just yet.
After a rough start in his Buffalo Bills debut, Shady gets a matchup with a New England Patriots team that let DeAngelo Williams run all over it like a treadmill last Thursday.
McCoy might have lost a half-step, but he’s still shifty as a scared rabbit and could break open some big runs against the Pats.
Dud: Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders
After a respectable showing in the Oakland Raiders’ blowout 33-13 loss to the Bengals, Murray gets a Baltimore Ravens defense that bottled up a talented runner in C.J Anderson.
It’s unknown whether Derek Carr will play, which means that the Raiders could find themselves down big again.
Which also means less carries for Murray.
Sleeper: Jonas Gray, Miami Dolphins
Jonas Gray is a deep sleeper.
Like, I-went-to-bed-at-3 a.m.-and literally-didn’t-hear-my-alarm-at-7 kind of sleeper.
But if you’re desperate, give the former Patriot some consideration. The Jacksonville Jaguars don’t inspire fear in peewee players, and Lamar Miller was a little slow to get moving against the Washington Redskins.
When Gray is fully acclimated to the team, there’s a chance he could get some action against the Jags.
Beast: Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
If you read the Eli Manning segment up top, you know why ODB is here.
Against the Cowboys, Beckham totaled 44 yards on five catches. It was his lowest yardage output since Week 7 of last season.
Beckham’s first pro game came against Atlanta last year in Week 4, and he grabbed four of his five targets for 44 yards and a score. This was long before the legend of ODB was written in stone.
He’s due for a bigger and better breakout at home against the Falcons this season.
Dud: Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
Credit Alshon Jeffrey for playing through pain—and playing well through that pain—against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
He caught five balls for 78 yards while fighting through a calf injury, but that was against the Pack. He’ll be facing the Arizona Cardinals’ elite secondary in Week 2.
Jeffrey needs to be at the top of his game against Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson, and he always seems to be banged up. Expect a decent, pedestrian performance, but nothing of star-caliber.
Sleeper: Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys
With Dez Bryant out four to six weeks with a broken foot, Tony Romo is going to need someone to throw to, and all the balls can’t go to Jason Witten and Cole Beasley.
Last season, T-Will scored three touchdowns over the course of Dallas’ two postseason games. He’s a decent-sized 6’2” with the speed to blow by defenders.
Williams is similar to Martavis Bryant of the Steelers in that he has a nose for the end zone. If he’s unowned in your league, scoop him up. He’s an interesting flex play in what will almost certainly be a shootout between the Eagles and ‘Boys next week.
Beast: Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Barring injury, the Gronkinator will never not be the top tight end.
He’s Brady’s clear go-to target, and that won’t change regardless of what defenses throw at the Pats. Gronkowski is too strong for smaller defenders and too athletic for the bruising ones, so don’t expect his production to dip.
Dud: Larry Donnell, New York Giants
Daniel Fells looks like the tight end to own on the Giants. But he’s really nowhere to be found on most fantasy rankings.
Manning hooked up with Fells three times for 33 yards against Dallas, with most of that coming early in the game. Donnell got three catches for 21 yards.
We know that Big Larry has touchdown potential, but what he lacks is consistency. There’s really no clear top-dog TE on the G-Men’s roster, which is problematic for fantasy owners of either guy.
Sleeper: Owen Daniels, Denver Broncos
Resist the urge to banish Owen Daniels to the waiver wire. Resist it!
Yes, he had two grabs for a meager five yards against Baltimore. But he’s still playing in what is supposed to be a high-powered offense.
Denver’s matchup with the Chiefs is far from favorable, but perhaps Daniels catches a few safety-blanket balls as Manning tries to avoid getting clobbered.
Giants kicker Josh Brown was owned in 6.1 percent of ESPN leagues heading into Sunday, and that number is going to go boom after he nailed four field goals and a pair of extra points for a 17-point outing.
Just like in real football, nobody cares about the kicker until they need him. If you have someone like Josh Scobee of the Steelers, give Brown a look.
If you have a less-than-elite defense, look no further than the opponents to the ones on the waiver wire. For example, the St. Louis Rams are going to feast against Kirk “Captain Interception” Cousins in Week 2. According to ESPN, Cousins averages the fewest plays per turnover in the league.
The Dolphins are playing the Jaguars, too. When in doubt, try to snag whoever is playing the Jags.
Forget Dion Lewis
Dion Lewis will probably be the guy everybody is clamoring for this week.
Owned in just 17.1 percent of leagues, Lewis rushed for 69 yards against the Steelers to go along with 51 yards through the air. He’s small, shifty and so darn quick.
But the Patriots always seem to favor grizzly bears over water bugs. Expect LeGarrette Blount’s return to spell the end of Lewis’ 100-plus-yard days.
Go Get Super Mariota
Titans rookie Marcus Mariota whacked the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on 13-of-16 passing for 209 yards and four—count ‘em, four!—touchdowns in a 42-14 win.
Is he going to do that every game? No chance. But it didn’t look like a total fluke. Mariota seemed comfortable and composed against Tampa Bay, and here’s the other item of note: He only rushed twice.
Mariota’s legs make him a tantalizing fantasy player, but he didn’t even have to use them in his first game. Once he puts the running together with that golden arm, defenses might be in trouble.
And so could the poor souls who see you on the fantasy gridiron.
Rankings and stats are courtesy of Yahoo and ESPN standard leagues, respectively.
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