An early oblique injury to Chester Taylor opened the door to the most-impressive fantasy debut of 2007. Adrian Peterson took over and carried 19 times for 103 yards and added a 60-yard touchdown on a screen pass. Taylor couldn’t have picked a worse time to get hurt, and oblique injuries tend to linger. Even if Peterson doesn't start in Week 2, he'll get the bulk of the carries and might never look back.
Brandon Jacobs sprained his MCL early in the opener, and was surprisingly replaced by Derrick Ward and not Ruben Droughns. Jacobs could miss up to five weeks, meaning Ward, who had 89 yards rushing and 27 yards receiving, should be a popular free-agent pickup this week. In the next game, Droughns will likely get more than the one carry he received Sunday, but Ward should start and get most of the playing time.
Chris Brown won the first round of one of the best preseason battles. He utilized his speed and cutting ability on his way to a career-high 175 yards on 19 carries. LenDale White started the game and finished with 66 yards on 18 carries, but looked much slower than Brown. They’ll continue to share the load, but don’t be surprised to see Brown start next week.
Despite all of the talk that Jesse Chatman could steal his job, Ronnie Brown started Opening Day as expected. Brown didn’t do much on the ground (32 yards on 11 carries), but he caught six passes for 40 yards and outplayed Chatman, who gained only 15 yards on seven carries and lost a fumble. Chatman also caught six passes, and it looks like the both Brown and Chatman could be valuable as receivers out of the backfield this year.
Both DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams played well in the opener against the Rams. While Williams had 62 yards on the ground and 13 through the air, Foster had more than 100 total yards, including 94 on 17 rushes. Williams had 15 rush attempts, and it looks like they will continue to split carries in this fashion for the near future.
Cadillac Williams left the opener in the third quarter with bruised ribs and is questionable for the Sept. 16 game against the Saints. Earnest Graham or Michael Pittman will get a lot of reps this week, and it looks like the two will share the load if Williams is out.
Warrick Dunn started and carried 22 times, but only gained 55 yards. Jerious Norwood picked up where he left off last year with 33 yards on just five rushes. The disparity of carries is troubling for Norwood owners, but the yards per carry should give them hope that he’ll eventually overtake Dunn. Be patient.
Although Vernand Morency returned to practice last week, he was inactive in the opener. Brandon Jackson carried 15 times for just 40 yards, but did catch four passes for 35 yards. It wasn’t a great day for the rookie, but the job is clearly his until Morency is healthy.
With Kevin Jones still a few weeks away from returning, Tatum Bell started and played like he deserved it, gaining 87 yards on 15 carries, including a game-clinching touchdown. It will be interesting to see how the Lions handle Jones’ return.
The Denver running backs had 28 carries in the opener, with starter Travis Henry accounting for 23 of them. Selvin Young, who won the backup job over Cecil Sapp, only carried twice. If Week 1 is any indication, it looks like coach Mike Shanahan is going with Henry as the workhorse, with Young and Sapp only picking up the scraps.
Lamont Jordan had 70 rushing yards and 89 receiving yards Sunday, putting to rest any notion that he’ll lose the starting job when Dominic Rhodes returns from his four-game suspension. After catching only 10 passes last season, Jordan had nine receptions Sunday.
The Charlie Frye experiment didn’t last long, as the ineffective Frye was replaced by Derek Anderson in the second quarter. Anderson’s numbers were respectable, but he did not look good putting them together. Brady Quinn should be licking his chops at the chance to play, but if the Cleveland offensive line doesn’t show improvement soon, there isn’t a quarterback in the league who would look good there.
There are conflicting reports about the severity of the injury to Eli Manning’s shoulder. One report said Manning would be out a month with a separated shoulder, but Manning and the Giants denied the report and downplayed the injury. Jared Lorenzen will start in Week 2 if Manning can’t go.
Chad Pennington played well Sunday, completing 16 of 21 passes for 167 yards and two scores, but he rolled his ankle in the third quarter and was briefly replaced by Kellen Clemens. Pennington had an MRI on Monday, but the injury is not considered serious. Clemens is already breathing down his neck, so Pennington can’t afford to miss any time.
Even though he was outplayed by Daunte Culpepper during the preseason, Josh McCown started against Detroit. McCown threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns, but he was also intercepted twice. He’ll continue to start as long as he plays well, but both quarterbacks are keeping the seat warm for JaMarcus Russell, who signed on Sept. 10.
Steve McNair left Monday night’s game after aggravating an earlier groin injury and was replaced by Kyle Boller for the final drive. McNair stuggled for most of the game, so Boller, could be in line to start next week.
Randy Moss may have missed most of the preseason, but he was the league’s best receiver on Sunday with 183 yards receiving on nine catches – including a 51-yard touchdown. He looks safe to start, especially with the surprising lack of production from fellow starting receiver Donte Stallworth, who only caught one pass. Meanwhile, Wes Welker caught eight passes and a touchdown. The Patriots offense was clicking, and there should be a lot of balls to go around, but Stallworth’s opening-day struggles are worth keeping an eye on.
Devery Henderson started the opener and caught three passes for 34 yards. His closest competitor for the job, David Patten, only hauled in two catches for 18 yards, while fourth receiver Terrance Copper was shut out completely. It looks like Henderson and Marques Colston will remain the starters for what should be a very solid offense this year.
Ike Hilliard started and was clearly Tampa Bay’s top choice at flanker, with four receptions on six targets. Michael Clayton was next in the pecking order with three targets. Maurice Stovall played but wasn’t targeted and David Boston missed the game with a sore foot. With Boston possibly facing a league suspension due to his August 23 arrest and subsequent revelation that he use anabolic steroids, the “flanker by committee” strategy could already be breaking down.
D.J. Hackett sprained his ankle in the first quarter Sunday and could miss at least a month. Nate Burleson and Bobby Engram figure to get increased chances with him out. However, the Seattle passing game really struggled with Hackett off the field (starter Deion Branch was shut out), so none of the Seahawk receivers look like good fantasy plays this week.
Keary Colbert started the opener but was overshadowed by Drew Carter. Colbert caught only one pass for nine yards, but Carter got three – including two touchdowns – and could be the receiver the Panthers look for in the red zone. With Steve Smith on the other side of the field, Carter could get a lot of touchdowns against single coverage this year.
Detroit’s high-powered offense could make as many as four wide receivers worth having on your team. Roy Williams, Calvin Johnson and Shaun McDonald each caught touchdown passes Sunday, and starter Mike Furrey, who led the NFC with 98 catches last season, had five receptions in the opener. The big sleeper is McDonald, who had a great summer and then led Detroit with six receptions for 90 yards in the opener.
Eddie Kennison strained his hamstring in the first quarter Sunday, which gave Samie Parker and rookie Dwayne Bowe a chance to show what they can do. Parker started opposite Kennison and finished with four catches for 48 yards. Bowe had three receptions for 42 yards, and with Kennison already out for the Sept. 16 game, Bowe likely moves into the starting lineup.
Terry Glenn will miss the season if he elects to have microfracture surgery on his knee, meaning Patrick Crayton, and to a lesser extent, Sam Hurd are about to get huge increases in fantasy value. Hurd caught a 51-yard touchdown in the opener and Crayton, who will be in the starting lineup as long as Glenn is out, had three catches for 51 yards. The Dallas passing game still goes through Terrell Owens and tight end Jason Witten first, but Crayton and Hurd are worth a look in deep leagues.
Thanks to a hamstring injury to Greg Jennings, rookie James Jones started the opener and caught four passes for 29 yards. Jennings’ injury doesn’t look serious yet, but it would not be surprising to see Jones steal the job from him outright.
Jerramy Stevens could be facing an NFL suspension because of off-field problems. Alex Smith, who caught two passes for 23 yards in the opener, will inherit the starting job if Stevens heads to the sidelines.
Article first appeared 9/18/07