6 Players Who Mattered: nF's Week 1 Fantasy Recap

After a wild week 1, numberFire takes a look at some big fantasy football names and why they overperformed or underwhelmed compared to nF projections.

Lions and Bears and Redskins, oh my! It's an RGIII world and we're just living in it: his takedown of the Saints was the highlight of an incredible Sunday of football. Perhaps even more surprising than leading his Redskins to a 1-0 record was how he took over the fantasy world. 24 fantasy points in a standard ESPN league? That's third all-time among rookie QBs in week one, behind Cam Newton's 422 yard, 3 TD effort in week one last season and Fran Tarkenton's 250 yard, 4 TD effort on Opening Day 1961. (Most popular fantasy team name that year? A tie between "Frank Gifford's Greatest Hits" and the now highly-ironic "The Eagles Will Win Again".) But RGIII wasn't the only player to make waves; here's your week 1 roundup.

Locked on Target, Sir

Kevin Smith - Detroit Lions
Week 1 Final Points: 20
numberFire Projected Points: 12.78

I will fully admit, I was one of those who rolled his eyes when numberFire projected Kevin Smith to be a top ten fantasy back this week. Sure, he was facing the Rams defense, but he was not even projected to be a top-30 back in the preseason draft kit. Having Mikel LeShoure and Jahvid Best out would not make too much of a difference, right? Wrong. The Lions offense struggled to get going at times, but Smith was the clear #1 back throughout the entire game. In fact, nobody else on the Lions even had more than one carry. Before his game-winning TD catch, Smith was sitting right at 14 fantasy points, about what numberFire expected on the day. The touchdown reception was just gravy for fantasy owners who listened to nF. And considering that his yearly projection saw Smith with 281.2 receiving yards and 2.1 receiving TDs as well, we saw his receiving ability out of the backfield coming as well.

Steve Johnson - Buffalo Bills
Week 1 Final Points: 11
numberFire Projected Points: 9.03

One of the underrated fantasy stories entering the weekend was the decision from many fantasy owners whether to start or sit Johnson. With an average fantasy draft position around the sixth round, Johnson was already on the tipping point; his status as questionable in week 1 pushed him over the edge for many. However, numberFire did not share that view; we had him as the #18 WR on our projections. Where did he end up finishing? Tied for 19th with 11 fantasy points. Boo-yah. Johnson could have easily done better, as his 4-for-10 catch rate in week 1 is somewhere bordering atrocious and vomit-inducing. But Ryan Fitzpatrick did have faith in him, even while slightly injured - his 10 targets were three more than any other Bills player.

Low Expectations, High Performance

Matt Ryan - Atlanta Falcons
Week 1 Final Points: 31
numberFire Projected Points: 14.38

Does everybody want to get off of numberFire's back now about having Ryan ranked ahead of Matthew Stafford as the #5 QB in our fantasy draft kit? He proved why on Sunday. In a week where even numberFire was projecting a bit of trouble against 2011's #11 defense, Ryan went off for the most fantasy points of any single player this week (31). The main reason, as expected, is the incredible targets he has to pick and choose from. Julio Jones finished second among all receivers with 22 fantasy points, numberFire favorite Tony Gonzalez finished tied for third among all tight ends, and Roddy White finished with 87 yards of his own. As long as Ryan can keep his 74.2% completion percentage from week 1 consistent, there is no reason this can't be the Year of the Dirty Bird Passing Attack.

Adrian Peterson - Minnesota Vikings
Week 1 Final Points: 20
numberFire Projected Points: 5.73

Think the rest of the NFC is a bit scared right now? It's safe to say that All-Day is back. numberFire did not project nearly as many carries (we had five) for Adrian Peterson as actually happened (17), which accounts for the big discrepancy in points. This severely limits Toby Gerhart's already tenuous fantasy value going forward and vaulting Peterson right back up into "If you don't start him, you don't deserve a fantasy team" category. Peterson was numberFire's #5 Fantasy RB entering the year for a reason, and as I said in that article, "75% All-Day is better than 100% most backs". And next week, he gets to take off the reins against the Indianapolis Colts. He has regenerated.

But You Were Supposed To Do So Well!

Vincent Jackson - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 1 Final Points: 4
numberFire Projected Points: 11.40

Vincent Jackson was the #34 receiver on our draft kit, an absolute "Beware!" neon light with flashing strobes. If there was a ever a week to play him, however, it would have been against the not-so-stellar Carolina secondary, part of a defense that finished #30 in numberFire's rankings in 2011. For a combination of weak opponent and the targets he was likely to receive, Jackson went into week 1 as one of numberFire's expected fantasy surprises. The targets were there; Jackson's 10 targets were 42% of the team's total on the day. However, he couldn't convert them into catches, with only four receptions for a 40% catch rate on the day. Considering his 52% catch rate in 2011 was one of the main reasons we had Jackson so low on our initial draft board in the first place, call us less than optimistic for his chances moving forward.

Wes Welker - New England Patriots
Week 1 Final Points: 1
numberFire Projected Points: 13.02

Could we be seeing Welker as the victim of a New England offense that has too many weapons? Welker was projected to be the #2 WR on the week, but that was along with Rob Gronkowski projected as the #1 TE (he was second) and Aaron Hernandez our surprise tight end pick as our #3 TE (which is where he finished). The unexpected part, however? Brandon Lloyd taking the lead in the Patriots offense, with Tom Brady looking his way for eight targets, the most on the team. Brady only looked Welker's way on 16% of his passes, way down from the 28% in 2011 or the 24% in 2010. I expect an increase back to the mean next week, with Welker getting closer to that 25% mark in targets. However, seeing just how volatile those looks can be should be a bit disconcerting to Welker owners, who may see more of an up and down season than originally anticipated.