The first Sunday of the football season ended with an improbable comeback by one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL.
On one leg, even.
How many times do you see an injured player taken to the locker room on a cart and return to the game to lead his team to a win from down 20-0?
Aaron Rodgers did just that, shifting the balance of thousands of fantasy football matchups in the process.
Rodgers had just 13 yards passing when he left the game in the first half, leaving fantasy football owners believing they had just lost (or won) their season-opening contest. But Rodgers returned and finished with 286 yards and three touchdowns in the 24-23 win.
He spread the fantasy points around, connecting on touchdowns with Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison and Randall Cobb. Cobb, nearly left for dead in fantasy leagues before the season, scored the 75-yard winner.
No wide receiver had a bigger day than Tyreek Hill, however. He caught seven passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Hill also had a 91-yard punt return for a score on his first touch of the day. His performance helped Patrick Mahomes turn in an awesome debut as the Chiefs new starting QB.
Another quarterback that had a huge day was Ryan Fitzpatrick. He had an unpredictable, outstanding performance against a Saints defense which was very good last season. “Fitzmagic” finished with 417 passing yards, a touchdown pass, 36 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown.
Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson were the beneficiaries of Fitzpatrick’s huge day. Even Chris Godwin caught a touchdown pass.
On the other side of the ball in that game, the trio of Alvin Kamara, Drew Brees and Michael Thomas came up big for fantasy owners. The 48-40 final made for a huge fantasy day.
Thomas caught a league-high 16 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown.
Kamara rushed just eight times for 29 yards and two rushing TDs. He added nine receptions for 112 yards and another score, picking up where he left off last season.
Another running back who eclipsed the century mark in receiving was Melvin Gordon, the workhorse for the Chargers. He gained 166 yards on 24 touches, though he didn’t score.
Kamara and Gordon were expected to do well, but one back who outperformed expectations was James Conner. I suggested him as a start in my start-sit preview and he was outstanding, rushing for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Conner also caught five passes for 57 yards, doing his best impersonation of Le’Veon Bell.
Conner proved he can replace Bell, admittedly based on a short sample size, but the Steelers didn’t win.
The Giants didn’t win either, but Saquon Barkley saved his week with a 68-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against the Jaguars, a tough defense.
Tight end owners had a tough outing, unless you had Rob Gronkowski or Jared Cook, of course.
Jordan Reed owners were happy as well, alongside owners of George Kittle, Eric Ebron and Kyle Rudolph. But Trey Burton and Jimmy Graham had big expectations entering the season, and had bad openers. Meanwhile David Njoku and Evan Engram are on track for sophomore slumps. Greg Olsen reinjured his foot as well.
Leonard Fournette and Doug Baldwin each suffered injuries that disappointed fantasy owners looking to cash in on their upper-echelon talent. Baldwin apparently has a partially torn MCL, according to ESPN’s Adam Shefter, so it’s uncertain how long he’ll be out.
Kenyan Drake, Alex Collins and Derrick Henry each were set up for feature roles but didn’t pay off.
Kareem Hunt, Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce were left out of the fun for the Chiefs.
LeSean McCoy is stuck in a bad situation in Buffalo.
On Monday night, Jared Goff and Sam Darnold had solid outings, but Derek Carr and Matt Stafford were duds.
Todd Gurley had a nice performance. No surprise there, but Isaiah Crowell also put up nice numbers for the Jets.
Despite Stafford throwing four interceptions, his three top receivers had good games. Marvin Jones was the worst of the bunch, but he caught four passes for 54 yards. Kenny Golladay led the team with seven catches for 114 yards.
Quincy Enunwa outperformed Robby Anderson and could end up leading the Jets receiving corps.
Cook put up a surprise performance for the Raiders, catching nine passes for 180 yards. His involvement is an encouraging sign. Another bright spot for Oakland was Jalen Richard’s involvement in the passing game. He could prove valuable in ppr leagues.
Top waiver wire picks:
Chris Thompson, RB, Redskins: He’s as efficient as ever, gaining over 120 yards from scrimmage and scoring. Scoop him up if he’s still available.
Phillip Lindsay, RB, Broncos: He actually had more touches than fellow rookie Royce Freeman. Lindsay matched Freeman in the rushing attack, gaining 71 yards on 15 carries, but he added two receptions for 31 yards and a touchdown.
Kenny Golladay, WR, Lions: He could break out in his sophomore season and has already led his team in receptions and yards Monday night.
Kenny Stills, WR, Dolphins: He caught four passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
Quincy Enunwa, WR, Jets: His return to the field was a successful one as he caught six passes for 63 yards and a touchdown.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buccaneers: Fitzmagic is back. Pick him up now and you could be rewarded if the Bucs think they’re better off with him at the helm even when Jameis Winston returns from suspension.
Jared Cook, TE, Raiders: The Raiders receivers had a terrible game, but if that continues maybe Cook becomes a must-own option.
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Browns: In a game that Taylor should have struggled, he came out with a very solid fantasy score. Of course, rushing for 77 yards helps. It’s why mobile QBs are so valuable.
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars: Monitor the news about Leonard Fournette, who left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury. If he misses time, Yeldon should be picked up by anyone needing running back help.
Phillip Dorsett, WR, Patriots: He caught all seven of the passes Tom Brady threw to him, gaining 66 yards while Chris Hogan had just one catch as the Patriots No. 1 wideout.
Geronimo Allison, WR, Packers: Adams and Cobb had big games, but Allison was targeted eight times and scored. He’s not owned in many leagues, unlike his teammates.
Will Dissly, TE, Seahawks: Surprisingly he was the most targeted tight end for the Seahawks, hauling in three of the five passes Russell Wilson sent his way for 105 yards and a touchdown.
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: Nobody wanted to touch Dalton in fantasy drafts, but he looked decent on Sunday.
Bears defense: Though they fell in gut-wrenching fashion Sunday night, adding Khalil Mack has them scoring points with forced turnovers and sacks.
Case Keenum, QB, Broncos: Though he turned the ball over three times, he threw for 329 yards and three touchdowns. Keenum has three favorable matchups in the next four weeks.
Austin Ekeler, RB, Chargers: If you add him off the waiver wire, keep him on the bench until you see how he’s used in Week 2. Ekeler had 10 touches for L.A. and was involved in the passing game.
Jalen Richard, RB, Raiders: Carr was dumping off to Richard late in the game, but that could be a usual scenario for this Raiders team. He finished Monday’s game with nine receptions, a nice game in ppr leagues.