Well, ladies and gentlemen, after what seems like an eternity, the 2017 NFL season is upon us. After an off season of suspensions, reinstatements, and player movement, NFL teams and fantasy teams alike are gearing up for the long haul. With the exception of two Monday night games and one game postponed until Week 11 due to Hurricane Irma, Week one is in the books. While many of the usual suspects populate our list, there are a few surprises (some pleasant, and some not so much.) So without further ado, here we go.
Rise of the week: Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
There can be no doubt about who takes this spot after Week one. Kareem Hunt’s stellar opening night performance against New England earns him top honors. Hunt carried 17 times for 148 yards and added five receptions for another 78 yards and three total touchdowns. Fantasy owners who had him in their starting lineup reaped the rewards. Hunt solidified his standing as the number one back in Kansas City and should see the majority of the work out of the backfield. After making a mockery of the vaunted New England defense, Hunt will face Philadelphia in Week two. An Eagles defense that limited Washington to 64 total rushing yards should present a decent challenge for Hunt. Hunt remains a must start, however.
Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams
If not for Kareem Hunt’s explosion, Goff would be considered a near lock for Rise of the Week. The Rams completely demolished Indianapolis from the onset. Goff racked up a career high 306 yards on only 29 attempts as he won his first game as an NFL starter. The Colts defense proved no match for the Rams as Goff had a field day. Week two should be a nice follow up as the Rams welcome in a Washington team that just got handled by Carson Wentz and the Eagles.
Terrance West, RB, Baltimore Ravens
West will see an increased role in the Ravens’ backfield after Danny Woodhead was carted off the field in Week one. After assuming lead back duties, West carried 19 times for 80 yards and a touchdown. While Woodhead’s status going forward is unknown, West will most likely see an increase in touches. Baltimore travels to Cleveland in Week two and West will face his former team and a defense that limited Le’veon Bell to 35 yards in its opening matchup. Historically the Browns have struggled in the run game against the AFC North so West could have a big game.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Fournette’s NFL debut can be considered a successful one. Fournette ran for 100 yards on 26 carries and one score in his first game out of Louisiana State. The Jaguars offensive line had the upper hand against a tough Texans defense. Fournette showed his strength early on as he pounded in the game’s first touchdown. Jacksonville is home against the aforementioned Tennessee Titans in Week two. The Titans were pushed around by the Oakland offense in Week one, indicating Fournette should have a decent matchup this upcoming week.
Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Yet another beneficiary from Kansas City’s opening night explosion, Hill rewarded fantasy owners with 133 yards on only 7 catches adding a touchdown in the second half. Hill remains one of Alex Smith’s top targets and this should pay big dividends going forward. Kansas City takes on Philadelphia in Week two, and a key injury to follow up on is that of Ronald Darby. One of the Eagles’ key defenders, Darby was carted off the field in the first half of Sunday’s game and his status may play a big role in how well Kansas City can throw the ball in Week two.
Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons
While only managing two receptions in Week one, Hooper made the most of it. On those two receptions, Hooper racked up 128 yards and a touchdown for the Falcons in their Week one victory over Chicago. Going into the game, Hooper wasn’t looked at as one of Matt Ryan’s primary targets but you have to believe that going forward Ryan will be more inclined to look his way. Atlanta faces a tough task in Week two as they take on Green Bay on Sunday Night.
Los Angeles Rams, D/ST, Los Angeles
While in most cases you won’t see a defense/special teams unit make this list, Los Angeles’ performance from Sunday can’t be overlooked. While it has to be mentioned that Andrew Luck wasn’t a part of the game, L.A. completely dominated the Colts. Indianapolis only managed 225 yards of total offense and the defense provided two touchdowns for the Rams. Week two sees a Washington team come in that allowed a defensive score to Philadelphia in Week one, so the potential is there for another big week.
Brandin Cooks, WR, New England
While New England definitely had a down week to start the season, Cooks remains on the rise in what many consider to be the most potent offense in the league. With the pre season injury to Julian Edelman the Patriots are going to need someone to step into the role and become Tom Brady’s primary target. That’s not a bad situation no matter who you are. Even in the loss, Cooks caught three passes for 88 yards in Week one giving him a respectable fantasy line.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
Stafford is a quarterback who fantasy owners must love. With an average draft position in the lower single digit rounds, Stafford provides incredible value for where you can get him. Stafford had another huge day in Week one against the Cardinals, Completing 29 passes for 292 yards and four touchdowns. The one interception drops his scoring a little bit but the production was definitely there. Detroit heads to New York for a Week two matchup against the Giants who had a difficult time with Dallas in Week one. Stafford looks to be able to provide owners a boost again next week.
Fall of the Week: T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis
Going into opening week of the season, Hilton was one of the top drafted WRs in fantasy leagues. While being drafted in the second and third rounds in most leagues, Hilton was forecasted to have a huge year. However, Week one told a different story. Granted, once Andrew Luck returns, the offense in Indianapolis should improve greatly. However, Hilton struggled mightily in Week one as the Colts were throttled by the Rams. While 57 yards isn’t an incredibly depressing stat for Week one, the three receptions are a huge detriment in PPR leagues. For his draft position, Hilton killed fantasy owners who passed on other quality receivers to take him.
Le’veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
While he had far from the worst week of the running backs in the league, Bell makes the list purely because of his status atop the list before the season. While Bell went in the top three picks in most drafts, he had a surprisingly mediocre start against a Cleveland team he has historically produced well against. Bell only managed 32 yards on ten carries against the Browns. Week two looks to provide a much tougher task against a Minnesota team that looks to have one of the top defenses in the league.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
While Dalton wasn’t considered a starting QB on many fantasy teams going into Week one, he definitely won’t be going forward. Dalton was manhandled by the Ravens defense, only amassing 170 yards and four interceptions. Week two doesn’t look to get much better as Cincinnati faces a tough Texans defense on a short week. Houston’s defense held Blake Bortles to 125 yards passing in Week one.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Tennessee Titans
Murray fell flat in Week one against a Raiders defense that many considered suspect. Murray struggled to find any ground as he only managed 44 yards on 12 carries. Tennessee struggled much of the game to find any offensive rhythm and fantasy owners need Murray to step up and produce the numbers they expect from a mid-level RB1 in most leagues. Murray goes up against a brutal Jaguars defense in Week two that roughed up Houston’s Lamar Miller on opening day.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals
While much of Cincinnati’s struggles in Week one fell onto Andy Dalton’s shoulders, Eifert had a hugely forgettable week right alongside him. Eifert managed one catch for only four yards on the day. Absolutely brutal considering Eifert’s high draft position in most leagues. Cincinnati’s Week two matchup against Jacksonville doesn’t improve fantasy his outlook for fantasy owners.
Darren McFadden, RB, Dallas Cowboys
McFadden has to be included in the fallers category because his value in fantasy leagues has all but disappeared. McFadden was slated to be the replacement for Ezekiel Elliott during his suspension, but now that Elliott will most likely play the full season, McFadden has become an afterthought, barring an unforeseen injury or legal breakthrough. It was also Alfred Morris handling backup duties on Sunday night versus the Giants, not McFadden.