Stars of Week 1

QB: Alex Smith, KC: 28-35, 368 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs

RB: Kareem Hunt, KC: 17 carries, 148 yards, 1 TD 5 catches, 98 yards, 2 TDs)

WR:     Stefon Diggs, MIN: 7 catches, 93 yards, 2 TDs

TE:      Austin Hooper, ATL: 2 catches, 128 yards, 1 TD

While not shocking to have two players from the victor of the Patriots-Chiefs game land here, the Chiefs providing those players does come as a surprise. Alex Smith turned in the QB performance of the week in the season opener, flashing a deep game that we rarely see from him. While never having been more than a QB2 for fantasy purposes, color me intrigued to see if Smith has a career year.

Kareem Hunt boisterously introduced himself to the NFL world, and we’ll take a closer look at him below.

Stefon Diggs carried many of his fantasy teams to victory with his strong Monday night performance, and don’t be surprised if the Vikings passing game takes a leap this year now that Sam Bradford enters his second year with the team.

Finally, my tight end sleeper Austin Hooper led all tight ends in scoring, which included an 88 yard TD pass from Matt Ryan. Hooper helps make my point that you don’t need to pay for tight ends – good options are always available in the back part of your draft.

Week 1 Takeaways – A Closer Look

Each week we take a closer look at a handful of performances and sort out what such performances mean going forward. 

- Carson Palmer, QB – ARZ: 27-48, 269 yards, 1 TDs, 3 INTs

Analysis: We look at both the good and the bad in this space, and unfortunately I felt compelled to look a potentially troubling situation. Carson Palmer was viewed as a great first-month fill-in for Andrew Luck, with a favorable schedule in terms of passing defenses. Well, the best intentions don’t always go as planned. Palmer looked all of his 37 years on Sunday against the Lions, with several inaccurate throws, a few of which were caught by the Lions, and not much help from his receivers. Next, David Johnson suffered a serious injury, one that will likely knock him out for majority of the season. Palmer has an absolutely juicy matchup with the Colts next week, but his new circumstances really give me pause to recommend him. So on that note, Palmer will be a high QB2 this coming week against the Colts, and will drop to mid-level QB2 (or lower) in coming weeks. Look elsewhere for your QB needs.

- Kareem Hunt, RB – KC: 17 carries, 148 yards, 1 TD (5 catches, 98 yards, 2 TDs)

Analysis: While I was not alone in drooling over Kareem Hunt in my draft guide, now you see why. After losing a fumble at the end of his first NFL carry, Hunt put on a debut to remember against the Patriots. As a runner, Hunt has a keen ability to cut on a dime and is tough to tackle. On top of that, one of the key reasons I love Hunt is his pass catching ability. Against the Patriots we saw Hunt run several routes on the receiver tree, and in Andy Reid’s offense, Hunt will have the opportunity to explode. Those of you who were savvy enough to draft Hunt, you are safe to expect RB1 numbers for the duration of the season – and it would be no surprise if he finishes the season as a top 5 RB. Kareem Hunt is a stud.

- Mike Gillislee, RB – NE: 15 carries, 45 yards, 3 TDs 

Analysis: I saw a few “highly reputable” fantasy writers struggle with placing fantasy value on Mike Gillislee after his 3 TD game against the Chiefs. Was it a flash in the pan, I saw them wondering? C’mon man! You saw in my draft guide that I also stumped for Gillislee, as I saw a talented RB with the natural fit to take over LeGarrette Blount’s role – namely goal line opportunities and the lead committee ball carrier. After the opening game, that’s exactly the role Gillislee had. Gillislee won’t score three TDs every game, but he will continue to be the goal line guy for the Pats, who fortunately find themselves near the goal line quite frequently. We look at every aspect here, so it’s important to note that there will be some boom/bust element to Gillislee’s weeks, especially as he’s not involved in the passing game. I expect Gillislee to average 14-16 carries a game and find the end zone 12-15 times this year. That’s a very good, useful player. So for now, view Gillislee as a clear RB2 in good matchups, and no less than a flex option again tougher run defenses. 

- Jordan Howard, RB – CHI: 13 rushes, 52 yards, 1 TD

- Tarik Cohen, RB – CHI: 5 rushes, 66 yards, 0 TDs (8 catches, 47 yards, 1 TD)

Analysis: Jordan Howard was drafted by owners as a team anchor, and he went in the first round in several fantasy drafts, and no worse than the second round. Thus, Howard’s owners have a right to be nervous after watching rookie Tarik Cohen, a rookie RB from North Carolina AT&T, outscore Howard in week 1. So what does this all mean? Howard owners, don’t fall into an all-out panic – Howard will remain the primary ball carrier. That said, Cohen has positioned himself to serve as the third down back, and also to get 5-8 carries a game. Howard’s season outlook does drop a bit, but he’s still a solid starting weekly RB. As for Cohen, he has fantasy value as well, especially in PPR leagues. Let’s continue to keep an eye on the Bears’ RB distribution, but if you have Howard, breathe. If you need an RB, then put in a claim for Cohen this week – he can be a flex option in PPR leagues, and a solid backup and bye week fill-in for standard leagues. 

- Kenny Golladay, WR – DET: 4 catches, 69 yards, 2 TDs 

Analysis: The Lions made Kenny Golladay a third round pick this year after he starred at Northern Illinois. Golladay made noise during training camp and the preseason, and now has further fanned the fantasy flames in his first regular season game as a pro. Not only did Golladay find the end zone twice against the Cardinals, but both TDs were hauled down in spectacular fashion. Golladay has great body control and the ability to win jump balls – with these traits lending themselves favorably to scoring touchdowns. Stafford targeted Golladay seven times, so the rookie has Stafford’s eye. You should rightfully be excited about Golladay, but remember that rookie wide receivers are usually inconsistent from week to week. So here’s the deal - Golladay should absolutely be added if you need a WR, but he should be viewed as a matchups play for now – until we have more of a book on him. Those of you in dynasty leagues, stash Golladay asap.

- Cooper Kupp, WR – LAR: 4 catches, 76 yards, 1 TD

Analysis: I promise I’m not intentionally writing about my draft sleepers – rather these guys demanded it with their week one performances. Cooper Kupp set several all-time NCAA receiving records at Eastern Washington, and came into the NFL as the most polished rookie WR from the 2017 draft. Well, add Sean McVay’s dynamic passing offense and young QB Jared Goff’s need for a safety valve, and you have a WR who should haul in 75 passes and find the end zone roughly two-thirds of a dozen times this year. If you watch Kupp’s tape, you’ll notice that he runs such precise routes that he’s virtually always open. I have no problem starting Kupp as a flex or WR3 option, especially in PPR leagues.

Rapid Fire Pickups 

Each week we throw out potential free agent pickups from each position for deeper leagues, in each case 1) someone who has NOT been referenced above, and 2) a player available in most leagues.

QB: Sam Bradford, MIN

RB: Chris Carson, SEA (he’ll be the lead back at some point – stash now)

RB: Buck Allen, BAL

WR: Corey Davis, TEN

WR: Zay Jones, BUF

TE: Charles Clay, BUF

Week 2 Rankings


  1. Tom Brady, NE (at NO)
  2. Aaron Rodgers, GB (at ATL)
  3. Drew Brees, NO (vs. NE)
  4. Russell Wilson, SEA (vs. SF)
  5. Matt Ryan, ATL (vs. GB)
  6. Derek Carr, OAK (vs. NYJ)
  7. Jameis Winston, TB (vs. CHI)
  8. Cam Newton, CAR (vs. BUF)
  9. Philip Rivers, LAC (vs. MIA)
  10. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (vs. MIN)
  11. Marcus Mariota, TEN (at JAX)
  12. Carson Palmer, ARZ (at IND)
  13. Kirk Cousins, WAS (at LAR)
  14. Matthew Stafford, DET (at NYG)
  15. Tyrod Taylor, BUF (at CAR)
  16. Eli Manning, NYG (vs. DET)
  17. Sam Bradford, MIN (at PIT)
  18. Carson Wentz, PHI (at KC)
  19. Alex Smith, KC (vs. PHI)
  20. Joe Flacco, BAL (vs. CLE)

Running Backs:

  1. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (at DEN)
  2. Le'Veon Bell, PIT (vs. MIN)
  3. Melvin Gordon, LAC (vs. MIA)
  4. LeSean McCoy, BUF (at CAR)
  5. Devonta Freeman, ATL (vs. GB)
  6. Marshawn Lynch, OAK (vs. NYJ)
  7. Jay Ajayi, MIA (at LAC)
  8. Kareem Hunt, KC (vs. PHI)
  9. Todd Gurley, LAR (vs. WAS)
  10. Leonard Fournette, JAX (vs. TEN)
  11. Ty Montgomery, GB (at ATL)
  12. DeMarco Murray, TEN (at JAX)
  13. Jordan Howard, CHI (at TB)
  14. Dalvin Cook, MIN (at PIT)
  15. Lamar Miller, HOU (at CIN)
  16. Mike Gillislee, NE (at NO)
  17. C.J. Anderson, DEN (vs. DAL)
  18. Christian McCaffrey, CAR (vs. BUF)
  19. Isaiah Crowell, CLE (at BAL)
  20. Jacquizz Rodgers, TB (vs. CHI)
  21. Carlos Hyde, SF (at SEA)
  22. Terrance West, BAL (vs. CLE)
  23. Mark Ingram, NO (vs. NE)
  24. Jonathan Stewart, CAR (vs. BUF)
  25. Robert Kelley, WAS (at LAR)
  26. Ameer Abdullah, DET (at NYG)
  27. Tevin Coleman, ATL (vs. GB)
  28. Bilal Powell, NYJ (at OAK)
  29. LeGarrette Blount, PHI (at KC)
  30. Kerwynn Williams, ARZ (at IND)
  31. Frank Gore, IND (vs. ARZ)
  32. Tarik Cohen, CHI (at TB)
  33. James White, NE (at NO)
  34. Paul Perkins, NYG (vs. DET)
  35. Javorius Allen, BAL (vs. CLE)
  36. Joe Mixon, CIN (vs. HOU)
  37. Thomas Rawls, SEA (vs. SF)
  38. Theo Riddick, DET (at NYG)
  39. Adrian Peterson, NO (vs. NE)
  40. Darren Sproles, PHI (at KC)
  41. Matt Forte, NYJ (at OAK)
  42. Chris Carson, SEA (vs. SF)
  43. Chris Thompson, WAS (at LAR)
  44. Duke Johnson, CLE (at BAL)
  45. Derrick Henry, TEN (at JAX)

 Wide Receivers:

  1. Julio Jones, ATL (vs. GB)
  2. Antonio Brown, PIT (vs. MIN)
  3. Jordy Nelson, GB (at ATL)
  4. Mike Evans, TB (vs. CHI)
  5. Brandin Cooks, NE (at NO)
  6. Amari Cooper, OAK (vs. NYJ)
  7. Michael Thomas, NO (vs. NE)
  8. A.J. Green, CIN (vs. HOU)
  9. Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (vs. DET)
  10. Doug Baldwin, SEA (vs. SF)
  11. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (at IND)
  12. Tyreek Hill, KC (vs. PHI)
  13. Michael Crabtree, OAK (vs. NYJ)
  14. Demaryius Thomas, DEN (vs. DAL)
  15. Keenan Allen, LAC (vs. MIA)
  16. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (at CIN)
  17. Stefon Diggs, MIN (at PIT)
  18. Terrelle Pryor, WAS (at LAR)
  19. Alshon Jeffery, PHI (at KC)
  20. Davante Adams, GB (at ATL)
  21. Dez Bryant, DAL (at DEN)
  22. Golden Tate, DET (at NYG)
  23. Emmanuel Sanders, DEN (vs. DAL)
  24. Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (vs. BUF)
  25. Martavis Bryant, PIT (vs. MIN)
  26. Sammy Watkins, LAR (vs. WAS)
  27. T.Y. Hilton, IND (vs. ARZ)
  28. DeSean Jackson, TB (vs. CHI)
  29. Devante Parker, MIA (at LAC)
  30. Jeremy Maclin, BAL (vs. CLE)
  31. Chris Hogan, NE (at NO)
  32. Randall Cobb, GB (at ATL)
  33. Jarvis Landry, MIA (at LAC)
  34. Jamison Crowder, WAS (at LAR)
  35. Adam Thielen, MIN (at PIT)
  36. John Brown, ARZ (at IND)
  37. Pierre Garcon, SF (at SEA)
  38. Cooper Kupp, LAR (vs. WAS)
  39. Ted Ginn, NO (vs. NE)
  40. Tyrell Williams, LAC (vs. MIA)
  41. Corey Coleman, CLE (at BAL)
  42. Marqise Lee, JAX (vs. TEN)
  43. Brandon Marshall, NYG (vs. DET)
  44. Mike Wallace, BAL (vs. CLE)
  45. Corey Davis, TEN (at JAX) 

Tight End:

  1. Rob Gronkowski, NE (at NO)
  2. Travis Kelce, KC (vs. PHI)
  3. Greg Olsen, CAR (vs. BUF)
  4. Zach Ertz, PHI (at KC)
  5. Jordan Reed, WAS (at LAR)
  6. Kyle Rudolph, MIN (at PIT)
  7. Jimmy Graham, SEA (vs. SF)
  8. Delanie Walker, TEN (at JAX)
  9. Martellus Bennett, GB (at ATL)
  10. Tyler Eifert, CIN (vs. HOU)
  11. Coby Fleener, NO (vs. NE)
  12. Austin Hooper, ATL (vs. GB)
  13. Charles Clay, BUF (at CAR)
  14. Hunter Henry, LAC (vs. MIA)
  15. Jason Witten, DAL (at DEN)
  16. Cameron Brate, TB (vs. CHI)
  17. Jared Cook, OAK (vs. NYJ)
  18. Antonio Gates, LAC (vs. MIA)
  19. Eric Ebron, DET (at NYG)
  20. Jesse James, PIT (vs. MIN)

Defense/Special Teams:

  1. Seattle Seahawks (vs. SF)
  2. Arizona Cardinals (at IND)
  3. Baltimore Ravens (vs. CLE)
  4. Carolina Panthers (vs. BUF)
  5. Cincinnati Bengals (vs. HOU)
  6. Houston Texans (at CIN)
  7. Oakland Raiders (vs. NYJ)
  8. Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. TEN)
  9. Denver Broncos (vs. DAL)
  10. New York Giants (vs. DET)
  11. Los Angeles Rams (vs. WAS)
  12. Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. MIN)
  13. Los Angeles Chargers (vs. MIA)
  14. Kansas City Chiefs (vs. PHI)
  15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. CHI)