Biggest Week 1 Fantasy Surprises by Position
After months of breathless waiting and refreshing the webpage (once an hour, on the hour), the numberFire Week 1 Fantasy Projections are finally here. If you couldn't figure out who would be on top of these projections, then you didn't pay close enough attention during your draft. There's Brady, Foster, and Newton right there at the top for what would be the single-greatest Three's Company revival ever (the ladies man, the vegan, and the young guy walk into a bar...). However, once you get past those top names, there might be a few guys you weren't expecting to have a great week one. That's where we come in. Here's one player at each of the main offensive fantasy positions that we're expecting to nab you a surprising amount of fantasy points.
Biggest Week 1 Fantasy Surprises by Position
QB: Michael Vick - Philadelphia Eagles
Projected Ranking: #6 Overall (#4 QB)
Projected Fantasy Points: 19.21
Week 1 Opponent: Cleveland Browns
Having Michael Vick near the top is about as big of a surprise as saying that the Mets are going to start off strong then collapse down the stretch. If Vick is playing, then he's a top QB. Instantly saying that he's going to have a better week than Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, and Eli Manning, however? That takes some justification. The numberFire stats gurus predict an average 227.38 passing yards against the Browns in week one, a conservative estimate that would place Vick 15th among all QBs in our projections. However, as opposing defenses and anybody who has cared even remotely about football knows, that isn't the only part of Vick's game. A projected 28.12 rushing yards for Vick seems entirely realistic when you realize that the Browns defense gave up at least 100 rushing yards in 14 of their 16 games last season and finished the NFL season #30 in rushing defense. When you consider that Vick had 17% of the Eagles' rushing attempts last season, and five of the 76 attempts were scampers of 20+ yards, the odds look even better.
RB: Shonn Greene - New York Jets
Projected Ranking: #19 Overall (#6 RB)
Projected Fantasy Points: 13.99
Week 1 Opponent: Buffalo Bills
The Jets like to run the ball, but often, their production is split over multiple backs. Greene received the majority of the carries for the Jets last season at 57%, but both LaDainian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight stole a fair share. In week one against a Bills rush defense that finished 28th in the NFL last year, however, numberFire sees Greene starting off the season on a right foot. A projected 17.43 carries would mean that Greene would have one of the heaviest projected work loads in week one, but that projection shouldn't be too far off base. In 2011, the Greene Monster played the Bills twice, carrying the ball 19 times in week nine and 13 times in week 12 with three receptions as well. Greene carried the ball at least 18 times in seven of his 16 games played last season as well, with three of those games coming against divisional opponents. Greene may have a tougher road down the stretch, but in week one, he's an excellent play.
WR: Vincent Jackson - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Projected Ranking: #39 Overall (#6 WR)
Projected Fantasy Points: 11.54
Week 1 Opponent: Carolina Panthers
numberFire hasn't been too high on Vincent Jackson the entire preseason, calling him the #34 overall receiver on our draft kit and our #87 player overall. So why is he so high on this week's fantasy chart? It's all about the match-ups, my friend. The Carolina Panthers may have been only ranked 24th overall against the pass in 2011 with a total of 3949 yards in 16 games, but that's simply because teams didn't pass the ball as often against them. In terms of yards per attempt given up, the Panthers were much worse: dead last, in fact, giving up 8.4 yards per attempt last season. As the new #1 option in Tampa Bay, Jackson looks like the best chance to exploit that secondary. We're not expecting too much from him in terms of receptions - only 4.40 catches on the day - but his 18.4 yards per catch average for San Diego in 2011 indicates that he'll be able to get deep in the Carolina secondary just like so many others did last season. Jackson has our fourth-highest projected TD total for a receiver as well, behind only Calvin Johnson, Victor Cruz, and Marques Colston this week. We're in bold new territory here at numberFire: the Bucs may actually have an effective fantasy option.
TE: Aaron Hernandez - New England Patriots
Projected Ranking: #81 Overall (#3 TE)
Projected Fantasy Points: 8.20
Week 1 Opponent: Tennessee Titans
Bill Belichick has many nicknames: the Hoodie, Overlord Bill, Camera Man. But one that doesn't get brought up nearly enough is the tight end maker. You of course expect Rob Gronkowski at the top of any tight end rankings in any given week. However, you may not expect his partner in fantasy points-stealing crime, Hernandez. The Titans were average against the pass last season, finishing 14th in the NFL by giving up 226.8 yards per game through the air. However, that half-decent pass defense didn't extend to opposing tight ends, especially late in the season. Tennessee gave up at least 48 receiving yards to opposing tight ends in four of their final six games last season, not being able to stop the only-one-actual-murderer-row of Kellen Winslow Jr., Scott Chandler, Jimmy Graham, and TE/FB James Casey. Given that Aaron Hernandez tied for 15th in the NFL with 79 receptions last year even with injury troubles, it's not surprising that he takes a top spotlight this week.