If it felt kind of weird to see the Sunday television landscape once again become dominated with the National Football League. After months of boring Sunday afternoons spent on the beach or somewhere on vacation (or working, yes some of us do have to work on the weekend), it felt rejuvenating to watch 26 teams start their 2013 NFL season.
Sure, a few games were tough to watch. My eyes may or may not have bled during the time I spent watching the Steelers-Titans battle to a 16-9 game that no one outside of the Tennessee or Pittsburgh area cared about. My eyes also filled with joy as the Packers and 49ers played an emotionally charged game that could very well be another preview of an NFC playoff game.
While Colin Kaepernick’s performance was nothing short of mesmerizing and the Saints and Falcons once again played another NFC South classic, most of the happenings from Week 1 will be forgotten about by next Sunday, but that doesn’t mean we’re safe from the overreactions that are sure to occur the day after the first Sunday of the NFL season.
Let’s take a look at some of the performances from Week 1 that may make some people either concerned about their fantasy team or about their favorite team in general:
The benching of Stevan Ridley. Ridley started off the day on the right foot as he gained 46 yards on nine carries during the first 19 minutes of the Pats tilt against the Bills, but his day was cut short after his second fumble of the day was recovered by Buffalo strong safety Da’Norris Searcy and returned for a touchdown, which quickly shifted the momentum needle away from the Patriots (somewhere Bill Barnwell is laughing at my inability to use a word besides momentum). Brady’s fumble on the goal line in the third quarter shaped the rest of the second half, but the purpose of this section is to discuss why you might have to worry about Ridley’s future as the workhorse back for the Patriots, if you do indeed own him in fantasy (like myself).
Shane Vereen came into this season as an interesting weapon for Bill Belichick to use. The everlasting image I have of Vereen from last season was the 45 yard (give or take five yards) streak route that he ran during the Patriots playoff victory against the Texans. He’s the type of player that made Danny Woodhead and to an extent Wes Welker expendable- yes, Welker is a debatable point, because Amendola appears to be a Welker clone, but you can’t tell me Vereen’s ability as a receiver didn’t play into the team’s plans for the future.
After Ridley hit the bench, Vereen ran like a player who is given an opportunity to showcase his skills should. He was shifty, hard to bring down and most importantly held onto the football (he finished the game with 159 total yards, 101 of those came on the ground in just 14 carries). Who knows what will happen this Thursday against the Jets, but I think there is a definitive reason to overreact to Shane Vereen’s emergence against the Bills. He was clearly New England’s best offensive player in Week 1. I’m very curious to see how this situation plays out over the next month.
Maurice Jones-Drew’s fantasy blunders. Heading into the 2013 season, MJD was an easy player to target as a sleeper in the world of fantasy. Even though he missed 11 games last season due to a serious foot injury, his level of play did not falter in those six games. The problem for Jones-Drew in real life and in fantasy is his quarterback, Blane Gabbert. It’s quite simple actually, if Gabbert can’t produce like a functional NFL quarterback, which looks like a difficult task for the former Missouri QB, then it’s time to give the reigns to Chad Henne for good.
If you own MJD, Cecil Shorts, or Justin Blackmon, you’re hoping that Gabbert struggles against the Raiders next week, or that head coach Gus Bradley decides to sit Gabbert down before the game so he can save us all. I really dislike bashing players, but Gabbert’s throw that was intercepted by Chiefs LB Tamba Hali was a high school like decision. It was by far the worst throw I saw during the weekend and that includes college football.
Unless Gabbert morphs into a mediocre NFL quarterback or Henne is named the starter, Jones-Drew may have more days like this. Stay away from the buy low offers for Jones-Drew for the time being, there is no reason to overreact to his 45 yards performance in Week 1.
Colin Kaepernick for MVP. Hey, why not right? I mean the guy only gave the Packers all they could handle, while using his arm this time instead of his legs. Instead of using the read option, Jim Harbaugh let Kaepernick show off his arm strength and torched their secondary for 412 yards. Kaepernick was converted seven of 16 third down opportunities that featured him either throwing or rushing and scored two touchdowns in those situations.
I don’t want to take anything away from the Packers defense as they did a pretty good job bottling up Kaepernick’s ability to make plays with his legs, but this game was an exhibit A of why Ron Jaworski might not be a crazy old man. There are a lot of reasons to overreact to Kaepernick’s performance, but just know that you should.
Do the Ravens miss Anquan Boldin? Hey when you can get a sixth round pick for your quarterback’s security blanket during his Super Bowl run, you have to do it.
Lamar Miller ten carries for three yards, when Daniel Thomas vultures a touchdown from you there is reason to be concerned.
Someone get Mike Wallace some tissues. Usually players complain about their role after their team suffers a loss to an inadequate opponent, but in the case of Mike Wallace, it’s apparently okay to complain to the media after YOUR TEAM WINS A GAME ON THE ROAD. Wallace was the Dolphins key acquisition in the offseason. He turned down a $76 million deal with the Vikings and signed a $60 million deal with Dolphins, so clearly he saw something in Miami that made him believe that they could be contenders right away.
Well contenders have to win football games, but clearly Mike Wallace only cares about his performance on the gridiron. Maybe he drafted himself on his fantasy team. Maybe he drafted himself in every fantasy league he’s in. Maybe there is a major incentive in his contract that he is dead set on achieving this season. Whatever the case, Wallace’s comments after Miami’s victory over the Browns were nothing short of asinine.
Wallace became the focal point of this offense when he decided to sign that contract and now has to live up to the responsibilities that come with signing as a major free agent. Without realizing it, Wallace gave us all a window into why the Steelers decided to let him leave Pittsburgh this offseason. There is a definite reason to be concerned if you’re a fan of the Dolphins.
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