|OTHER WEEK 1 FEATURES|
|10 Stats That Matter|
|Player Injury Report|
Sammie Coates (PIT) 15, Josh Boyce (NE) 11, Greg Salas (DET) 9, Cobi Hamilton (MIA) 9, Phillip Dorsett (IND) 8, Davante Adams (GB) 7, Josh Bellamy (CHI) 7, Nick Boyle (BAL) 7, Brice Butler (OAK) 7, Gavin Escobar (DAL) 7, Rashad Lawrence (CHI) 7 Rashad Ross (WAS) 7
Zurlon Tipton (IND) 20, Karlos Williams (BUF) 16, James Wilder (CIN) 15, Lorenzo Taliaferro (BAL) 14, Zach Zenner (DET) 14, Tim Hightower (NO) 13, Kenny Hilliard (HOU) 13, Gus Johnson (DAL) 13, Carlos Polk (HOU) 13, Darrin Reaves (KC) 12, James White (NE) 12
Kenjon Barner (PHI) 2, many tied with 1
Chase Daniel (KC) 3, Shaun Hill (DET) 2, 28 tied with 1
103 – Yard kickoff return for Seahawks rookie Tyler Lockett on Friday, which stands as the longest touchdown of the 17 exhibition games played so far. The third-round pick from Kansas State also ripped off a 46-yard kickoff return and finished with 186 yards on four runbacks (46.5 average). He also had one punt return for 18 yards in the 22-20 loss to the visiting Broncos, but the 5-foot-10, 180-pound wideout wasn’t among the 12 Seattle players who were targeted in the passing game. That will change, of course, as Pete Carroll will find ways to get the electric rookie the ball in space, but with the plethora of emerging (Paul Richardson, Chris Matthews), solid (Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Luke Willson) and standout (Marshawn Lynch, Jimmy Graham) weapons at Russell Wilson’s disposal, usable and/or consistent number of offensive touches for Lockett figures to be tough to count on. Meanwhile, though, his return skills make the perennially-attractive Seattle D/ST even more so.
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96.0 – Passer rating for Jaguars’ QB Blake Bortles in the team’s 23-21 win over the Steelers. Bortles completed 11 of 15 throws (73.3 percent) for 118 yards and also capped off a 12-play, 83-yard second-quarter drive with a four-yard scoring run. The second-year QB spent the offseason modifying his throwing mechanics – shortening his overall motion and focusing on tighter and more accurate spirals – in an effort to improve on an up and (mostly down) rookie campaign in which he had only 11 TD passes and 17 interceptions while compiling a 69.5 rating which ranked as the worst mark among the league’s 33 qualified quarterbacks. However, a porous offensive line had a little something to do with that, surrendering a league-most 71 sacks – 13 more than next-worst Washington – but improvements up front, combined with more weapons (TE Julius Thomas, RB T.J. Yeldon), better Bortles’ mechanics and a sharper overall QB IQ after 13 starts last season, could add up to two of the more improved QBs and offenses of 2015.
54 – Yards from scrimmage last Thursday night from Ravens’ running back Lorenzo Taliaferro, who rushed for 36 yards and a TD on 12 carries and added 18 yards on a pair of receptions in a 30-27 win over the Saints. Meanwhile, this season’s fourth-round pick – Taliaferro arrived in the fourth round last season – Javorius “Buck” Allen, gained 35 yards on 11 carries and didn’t catch a pass in their ongoing battle to win the team’s No. 2 running back gig. In short, it’s a position that will likely carry much late-round handcuff value with the myriad doubts surrounding the chances of soon-to-be-30-year-old Justin Forsett repeating his out-of-nowhere career-best (1,529 total yards, 8 TDs) campaign of a year ago.
41 – Combined touches for Texans’ running backs Alfred Blue (9-59 rushing, 0-0 receiving), Chris Polk (10-29, 3-36), Jonathan Grimes (5-4, 1-10) and rookie seventh-round pick Kenny Hilliard (13-39, 0-0) in a 23-10 win over the 49ers on Saturday night. Much like the Ravens’ backfield situation, there were durability concerns surrounding the starter (Arian Foster), only in this case the fears already have come to fruition with Foster’s early-August groin/sports hernia surgery. That surgery could keep the consensus top-10 back out for anywhere ranging from two months to half a season, and even then there certainly are no guarantees Foster holds up or will be able to handle the full No. 1 RB workload from there through the end of the season. So thus, there’s a lot more fantasy intrigue surrounding the running back position than the starting QB derby between Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer in Houston these days.
11 – Rushing yards on six carries for Chargers’ first-round pick Melvin Gordon in his exhibition debut Thursday night against the Cowboys. Gordon also wasn’t among the 13 Bolts targeted in the passing game, and that could be a red fantasy flag which flies all season. The rookie was replaced by Danny Woodhead on a third-down-and-4 situation inside the red zone on San Diego’s opening drive of the game, and the latter promptly scored on an 8-yard draw. Meanwhile, fellow backup Branden Oliver ran for the Chargers’ other touchdown and wound up pacing the team with 53 rushing yards on 10 carries. Woodhead, who missed all but three games last season with a broken leg, finished second among running backs with 76 catches in 2013 while Oliver had 36 receptions as a rookie last season. Gordon, meanwhile, caught only 22 passes in four seasons at Wisconsin and is going to need time to adapt to the pass-heavy NFL. Keep that in mind when fitting Gordon into your running-back ranks, particularly in PPR formats.
8.5 – Yards per touch for Broncos’ back Ronnie Hillman against the Seahawks on Friday night. As expected, Hillman was the third Denver back to get into the game, but he was easily the most impactful, churning out 66 yards on eight carries and catching an 11-yard pass. No. 2 back Montee Ball didn’t fare as well, turning his eight carries into only 26 yards and recording one reception for seven yards. And before C.J. Anderson was C.J. Anderson last season, Hillman got the initial starting call when Ball was lost to injury and responded in strong fashion with an average of 96.8 total yards per game and four total TDs in Weeks 5-9 before his own foot injury opened the door for Anderson. With the highly coveted Anderson coming off the board as a first-round pick in most drafts this summer, keep a close eye on the Hillman-Ball battle for the No. 2 gig as the winner will be a valuable handcuff in Denver’s more-balanced attack under new coach Gary Kubiak.
7 – Team-high seven targets for wide receiver Davante Adams in the Packers’ 22-11 victory in New England on Thursday night. The second-year wideout was only able to snare three of those targets for 17 yards, but he did receive several end-zone looks, and if there are such things as wide receiver handcuffs, Adams would be at or near the top of the list playing behind studs Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. The Pack, in fact, uses quite a few three-WR looks – witness Adams’ 11 starts as a rookie last season when he caught 38 of his 66 targets for 446 yards and three scores – so keep that in mind when mining for late-round WR help.
1 – Touchdown for rookie receiver Nelson Agholor in the Eagles’ 36-10 romp in Indy on Sunday afternoon. The first-round pick finished with three receptions for 57 yards, and his TD was a 34-yard first-quarter catch-and-run grab that gave fantasy GMs a definite glimpse of the 6-foot-1, 190-pound wideout’s athleticism and play-making prowess. Make no mistake, Philly’s No. 1 WR position is still very much up for grabs between Agholor and second-year Jordan Matthews, who caught 67 passes for 872 yards and eight TDs to finish second on the squad to the since-departed Jeremy Maclin in all three categories last season. Still, Agholor, who had a top-10 FBS receiving season last year at USC with 104 grabs for 1,313 yards and a Pac-12-leading 12 touchdowns, is currently being drafted a full 15 WR spots – and three-plus rounds – behind Matthews and offers the better value.