BRONCOS RB: It was an unknown going into Sunday just how much rookie Knowshon Moreno would play against the Bengals, but he managed to tie for the team lead in carries with eight. That’s the good news. The bad news is Correll Buckhalter started and outgained him 46 to 19 and also caught two passes. Buckhalter might get one more start, especially if he continues to outplay Moreno, but Moreno should zoom past him soon. LaMont Jordan and Peyton Hillis, by the way, were non-factors.
BROWNS QB: After weeks of speculation, the Browns finally went with Brady Quinn as their starting quarterback over Derek Anderson. Quinn was about as good (or bad, depending on your perspective), as expected, throwing for 205 yards, a touchdown, and two turnovers. Quinn’s leash won’t be too short, but it won’t be too long either.
BROWNS WR: Mike Furrey started and saw most of the action, and Quinn looked for him often on Sunday. He appears to be ahead of Josh Cribbs for the No. 2 receiver right now, but Cleveland is still trying to figure out what they have at the position.
BUCCANEERS RB: The Bucs let Cadillac Williams out of the garage, and he played much better than anyone could have imagine, rushing for 97 yards on 13 carries. Derrick Ward, the primary backup, was 12-for-62 and he added two more receptions for 21 yards. Earnest Graham was a distant third in the pecking order with only one touch on the night. Reportedly, Graham was selflessly ceding carries to his teammates because of their strong performances, but he should remember the wise words: “nice guys finish last.” He doesn’t look worth a roster spot right now.
CARDINALS RB: Beanie Wells made his debut, but the bigger news was that starter Tim Hightower caught an astounding 12 passes for 121 yards on Opening Day. If Wells becomes the workhorse and the goal-line back as expected, Hightower won’t have much to do, but if Hightower proves he can be a threat as a receiver, we might be seeing a nice third-down back here.
CHIEFS QB: Brodie Croyle was in for the injured Matt Cassel, and he wasn’t bad against the tough Baltimore defense, throwing for 177 yards and two touchdowns. Croyle solidified his standing as the top backup to Cassel, who should return next week.
CHIEFS WR: Mark Bradley complemented Dwayne Bowe nicely Sunday, catching four passes for 73 yards, including 50 on one play alone. Bobby Engram and the newly-acquired Bobby Wade (late of the Vikings) figure to be the backups.
COLTS RB: Joseph Addai carried the ball six times more than rookie Donald Brown, caught five passes to Brown’s two, and he even had a three-yard touchdown. Before you give up on Brown, however, consider that Addai also lost a fumble and that Brown was in the game when the Colts were trying to run out the clock in the fourth quarter. Brown will continue to see some playing time, but for the time being it looks like Addai will see the majority of action as long as he’s healthy.
COLTS WR: Anthony Gonzalez will miss two-to-six weeks with a knee injury, so one of the more interesting receiving sleepers will move over for Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie. Collie will probably move into the starting lineup during Gonzalez’s absence.
DOLPHINS WR: Greg Camarillo has momentarily passed Davone Bess on the depth chart, but if Sunday’s game with the Falcons is any indication, Bess should be in the starting lineup soon. Bess had seven catches for 57 yards and the other three wide receivers, Camarillo, Ted Ginn, and Brian Hartline each caught only two passes all day. The Dolphins won’t be a pass-happy offense, this year, but if you’re looking for a sleeper in a deep league, you can do worse than Bess.
EAGLES QB: It’s a good thing the Eagles didn’t need Donavan McNabb in the second half Sunday, because he might have tried to stay in after fracturing a rib. Fortunately the Eagles were cruising at the time, and the Eagles safely replaced him with Kevin Kolb. McNabb will probably miss a start or two, and the Eagles responded by bringing back veteran Jeff Garcia, but the real intrigue starts in Week 3 when Michael Vick becomes eligible to play. Before McNabb’s injury, the Eagles said that Kolb would be the starter if McNabb went down. Well, now we’ll see if they put their money where the mouths are. Kolb should get one game to prove that’s the right decision.
GIANTS WR: The Giants auditioned a lot of receivers in the preseason, but things got a little more into focus in the opener as Steve Smith was targeted a team-high eight times. Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks each had four targets, but Nicks sprained his left foot and will miss the next couple of games. Domenik Hixon, who caught just one pass for 10 yards, should take advantage of Nicks’ absence by seeing a bump in targets.
PANTHERS RB: Jonathan Stewart missed the entire preseason with a sore Achilles, but he got 11 carries on Sunday. He was nearly as involved as starter DeAngelo Williams, but it’s important to note that Stewart got stopped three straight times inside the two in the first quarter. Williams eventually got that TD (from the 11), but Stewart should be the goal-line guy in an offense that isn’t nearly as bad as they were Sunday.
PANTHERS QB: There’s bad, and then there’s Jake Delhomme bad. Delhomme turned it over five times before he was replaced by Josh McCown in the third quarter. McCown’s day was even worse: he suffered a season-ending knee injury. Matt Moore did what he could mopping up, but suddenly the Panthers have quarterback problems. The injury to McCown means Delhomme’s job should be safe, but Carolina picked up A.J. Feeley Monday for veteran depth.
PATRIOTS RB: Coach Bill Belichick kept this one close to the vest all throughout the preseason, but if one looked at Monday’s box score, it would seem that Laurence Maroney (10 carries) and Fred Taylor (nine carries) are in a straight timeshare. Taylor even got the coveted one-yard touchdown. A closer look would show, however, that Taylor did not touch the ball in the last 36 minutes of the game. Look for this battle to frustrate the fantasy world all season.
RAVENS RB: Ray Rice was the workhorse Sunday, going for 108 yards on 19 carries, but a funny thing happened on his way to stardom: Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain both got one-yard TDs. McGahee actually scored twice (a three-yard reception in the first quarter and a one-yard run in the fourth). If Rice is going to just churn out yards but give it up to one of the bruisers in close, he’s not going to score much this year. There were a few other interesting nuggets in the box score: McGahee and McClain combined for seven catches though neither is known for catching passes out of the backfield (unlike Rice). Second of all, McClain got nine touches Sunday. He was expected to be a full-time fullback this year, rather than someone who is as fantasy-relevant as he was last year. Regardless of who gets the ball, the Baltimore offense was clicking Sunday.
SAINTS RB: Pierre Thomas was killing fantasy owners last week. Was he in or out? Meanwhile, smart owners hedged their bets with Mike Bell, who delivered with a career-high 143 yards against Detroit. Thomas claims he’s playing this week, but Bell has earned a spot in the New Orleans running back rotation. One thing’s for certain: Reggie Bush doesn’t appear he will ever be an every-down back. Although he had five catches for 55 yards, he had just 14 yards on seven rushes. Against the Lions.
SEAHAWKS RB: Seattle planned on using Julius Jones 60 percent of the time and Edgerrin James 30 percent, which was about what the breakdown was for the game (Justin Forsett got the other 10 percent). However, Jones was clearly the best Seattle running back Sunday against the wretched St. Louis defense. He had 117 yards rushing on 19 carries, including a 62-yard touchdown. Expect the Seahawks to stay close to their projections most weeks, but if Jones continues to outpace James, he could see even more carries.
SEAHAWKS WR: With Deion Branch sitting out the opener, Nate Burleson got a chance to shine. Burleson hauled in seven catches for 74 yards, including a touchdown. If Burleson keeps those numbers up, he’ll have a good chance of staying in the starting lineup even when Branch is healthy.
STEELERS RB: The Steelers announced before last Thursday’s opener that Willie Parker will be the goal-line back this year. That was a mild surprise as Rashard Mendenhall was expected to have that role. Neither did much against Tennessee, allowing third-stringer Mewelde Moore to see some late-game action. Moore was the primary back during the fourth quarter and overtime when Pittsburgh went to the no-huddle. He probably hasn’t passed Mendenhall (let alone Parker) on the depth chart yet, but considering the brief success he had with the Steelers last year, coach Mike Tomlin has to be happy he has Moore around.
TEXANS WR: The whole Houston offense was out of sync Sunday. It can’t all be blamed on the absence of Kevin Walter, but that sure didn’t help. Andre Davis started in his place, but suffered a concussion late in the game. Walter should return next week, but now it looks like Davis will be the one to sit out.
TITANS WR: Kenny Britt was thrown in as a starter with Nate Washington limited with a hamstring injury, and he responded with four catches for 85 yards against the Steelers. He could be in line for more starts regardless of Washington’s health, as he already has the confidence of his coach and quarterback.
VIKINGS WR: Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice are the starters, and Wade’s release should give them some breathing room. On the other hand, electrifying rookie Percy Harvin caught a touchdown pass and had more receptions (three) and yards (36) than Berrian and Rice put together. It’s only a matter of time before he supplants both as the top receiver in Minnesota.
Article first appeared 9/15/09