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NFL Fantasy: Week 1 Top Performers

In a collection of bold predictions last month, I said Tampa Bay’s Ryan Fitzpatrick would create a quarterback controversy by winning two of the Buccaneers’ first three games (against New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh).

Even in that crazy article, I never imagined Fitzpatrick throwing and rushing for five touchdowns in a game. My scenario involved a surprising showing by the defensive backfield, a big contribution from Peyton Barber, and the discovery that Fitzpatrick was paying performance bonuses to all of them.

At the end of the article, I also conceded it was more likely the Buccaneers start off 0-5 and bench both Fitzpatrick and Winston by the end of the season.

But here we are after Week 1, and Ryan Fitzpatrick leads all NFL Fantasy players with 42.3 standard NFL Fantasy points. Anyone who says they predicted that is lying. Fitzpatrick is 3% owned and was started in less than one-percent of one-quarterback leagues.

New Orleans was one of the most popular picks in survival pools.

QB-1 Ryan Fitzpatrick? (42.3 points)

Fitzpatrick not only spread passes around, hitting three different receivers for four touchdowns, he showed some mobility in running for a score, as well as securing the game-clinching first-down.

All in all, it was 417 passing yards and 36 rushing yards for the bearded wonder. If his offensive line can repeat the job they did against New Orleans next week (0 sacks, 2 QB hits), we could be in store for more fireworks in Week 2.

Let’s see who else made NFL Fantasy owners happy in Week 1:

QB-2 Drew Brees 31.56 standard points

Lost in Ryan Fitzpatrick’s big day was the QB-2 finish of Drew Brees. His 439 passing yards and three touchdowns kept the Saints close. If the Saints’ defense made a stop at the end, who knows who gets top headlines this week?

One thing we do know is that the New Orleans passing game is alive and well. Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr were the top receivers again, along with Alvin Kamara. Maybe the new guys (Ben Watson, Cameron Meredith, and Mike Gillislee) will have a bigger impact next week.

QB-3 Phillip Rivers (28.96) vs. QB-4 Patrick Mahomes (28.34)

The top four NFL fantasy quarterbacks played each other in Week 1. Mahomes and his Chiefs jumped out in front early and never fell behind. Mahomes was not affected by the Chargers’ defense in a performance many of us didn't see coming. Tyreek Hill was a huge help as Mahomes threw for four touchdowns and 256 yards.

Rivers in a catch-up mode threw for over 400 yards and three touchdowns. Mahomes’ 21 rushing yards almost made him the third highest scorer, but a two-point conversion gave Rivers’ owners the last laugh and a half-point difference

QB-5 Aaron Rodgers (24.94) and the rest

We’d be remiss not to mention Aaron Rodgers “back-from-the-IR-dead” effort against Chicago. A huge fourth-quarter comeback propelled him to the fifth-highest NFL fantasy point total.

With four passers still to take the field, we already have ten quarterbacks with over 20 standard NFL fantasy points. Only four QBs achieved that total in Week 1 last season.

WR-1 Tyreek Hill (29.3 standard points)

The most amazing thing about Tyreek Hill’s 29.3 NFL Fantasy points is that they don’t represent everything he did Sunday. His 7 receptions (in 8 targets) for 169 yards and a pair of touchdowns was impressive enough to give him the top standard wide receiver score.

But those who play in leagues where return yards count picked up 9.5 more NFL Fantasy points. Hill’s touchdown added 6 points to the Kansas City D/ST score, too. All-in-all, the connection between Hill and his new quarterback appears fine. Hill will be a top wide receiver play every week.

WR-2 DeSean Jackson (26.6)

DeSean Jackson probably would have had a bigger day if he didn’t leave early with a concussion. But he played enough to be a beneficiary of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s big day. A pair of touchdown receptions made Jackson’s 146 receiving yards the second highest NFL fantasy points total among wideouts.

WR-3 Kenny Stills (22.6)

Ryan Tannehill had time to throw. When Tannehill has time to throw, he likes to throw deep. When he throws deep, he likes to throw to Kenny Stills. Their four connections accounted for 106 yards and two touchdowns against Tennessee.

WR-4 (and WR-1 in PPR)- Michael Thomas (22.0)

Michael Thomas only caught one touchdown from Drew Brees, but an unbelievable 16 receptions on 17 targets made him the top PPR receiver in Week 1.

Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans (20.7) and Green Bay’s Randall Cobb (20.2) also tallied 20 standard NFL Fantasy points.

RB-1 Alvin Kamara (34.10)

Alvin Kamara only ran for 29 yards Sunday. But his two rushing touchdowns, along with 112 receiving yards, a receiving touchdown, and a 2-point conversion made him the second-highest overall scorer in standard NFL fantasy leagues.

There might be something to this “draft receivers who can catch” theory.

RB-2 James Conner (29.2)

James “Who needs Le’Veon?” Conner took a slightly more traditional running back approach, rushing for 135 yards and two touchdowns. His 57 yards receiving offset his lost fumble on what was a great day for the Steelers rusher.

Joe Mixon (20.9), Adrian Peterson (20.6), and Jay Ajayi (20.2) rounded out the top five NFL Fantasy scoring rushers.

TE-1 Will Dissly (16.5)

Rookie Will Dissly, drafted and largely touted as a superior blocking tight end, showed pretty good hands in Seattle’s loss to Denver Sunday. Russell Wilson needed someone new to step up when Doug Baldwin got knocked out of the game early. Dissly was the guy.

Dissly caught 3 of his 5 targets for 105 yards and a touchdown. One of his catches went for 66 yards. Before you rush to the waiver wire, remember Austin Hooper had more points in last season’s first game. Hooper went on to become the most added and most-dropped tight end of the season.

TE-2 Rob Gronkowski (16.3)

It’s safe to say more people recognize this name. If he is still available on your waiver wire, you might want to pick him up. (He isn’t- I’m just being sarcastic.)

Gronkowski scored New England’s first touchdown of the season on his way to 123 receiving yards.

Another pair of familiar names, Eric Ebron (11.8) and Jordan Reed (10.8) were the only other tight ends to score more than 10 standard NFL fantasy points.

D/ST-1 Minnesota Vikings (18 points)

Much was made of the Baltimore Ravens’ (17 pts) dismantling of the Bills this weekend, but Minnesota’s defensive touchdown pushed them in front as Week 1's top NFL standard D/ST scorer.

A whopping 13 defenses scored 10 or more points this week.

And then there were these guys:

We’ll give Marcus Mariota (1.62) a break since he missed half the game, but what was the excuse for Sam Bradford (2.82) or Nick Foles (4.08)?

It was a bad day for a lot of hyped rookie wide receivers, but veterans Chris Hogan (1.1) and Mohamed Sanu (1.8) probably received some ire from their owners for pedestrian games.

If you bought the Alfred Morris (1.0) hype, you are probably as upset as LeSean McCoy’s (2.1) owners. But at least you knew they faced good defenses. Derek Henry (3.1) was regarded as a shoo-in for an RB-2 kind of day.

When you are drafted as an “elite” player and have people debating what round to grab you in, you are generally expected to catch more than one of your six targets, Travis Kelce (0.6). And what are you laughing at Jimmy Graham (0.8)?

Out of the kindness of my heart, I won’t mention the Chargers (-3.0) or Saints’ (-4.0) D/STs.

Keep coming back all week for updates, Week 2 advice, and more!