Week 1 of the 2011 NFL season is in the books. Here are some numbers that stood out to me from the Week 1 action that's already happened.
-2 How many owners were screaming at the final play of Sunday night's Cowboys-Jets game when Felix Jones was the last to touch the ball? He was the last of many to lateral the ball as the Cowboys tried to score on the final play from their own 34. And Jones' last touch ended up in the hands of Jets DL Jamaal Westerman. The result will be minus-2 points in many fantasy leagues for the fumble lost by Jones, and perhaps the difference in a win or loss come Tuesday morning.
1 - Targets Green Bay Packers WR James Jones received Thursday night in 20 snaps of action. He turned it into one catch for one yard. Why did he re-sign with the Packers again? Was it just to jumble this receiving corps up even more for fantasy owners?
4 & 1 - Tampa Bay WR Mike Williams and Houston's Andre Johnson were each targeted a league-high four times in the red zone. Johnson caught two of his, including one for a score. Williams caught one of his for a score.
5 -We're down on Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez this year because his numbers have declined. However, he did receive seven targets Sunday against a solid Bears LB corps, and turned it into five catches for 72 yards. All of those numbers are above his 2010 16-game average of 6.8 targets, 4.4 catches and 41 yards per game. Three targets came in the first quarter, three in the third and one in the fourth. He had the third-longest day of the play for the Falcons, a 30-yard catch in the first quarter.
9.75 - Yards per attempt for Chicago QB Jay Cutler, who completed 22-of-32 passes for 312 yards and two scores. He was still sacked five times, which puts him on pace for 80 this season — well above his league-leading 56 last year.
12 - DeSean Jackson, more known for what he is able to do with limited targets, was the go-to guy for Mike Vick Sunday against St. Louis. Jackson was targeted 96 times over 14 games last season for a 6.9 per game average. Sunday, he was targeted 12 times, one behind league leader Roddy White (ATL). Jackson caught six of the targets for 102 yards and a score. He was targeted double-digit times in just three games last season, including the 2010 opener (11), but keep an eye on this trend as it pertains to how Vick sees the field. TE Brent Celek and WR Jeremy Maclin received just three targets apiece.
13 - The Titans ran the ball just 13 times against Jacksonville, and fell to 0-12 all-time when they have rushed 13 times or fewer. Only three times in Jeff Fisher's tenure did the team run 13 times or less.
21.9 - Wes Welker enters Week 2 with his yards per catch nearly double his career average of 10.9 after an eight-catch, 160-yard performance Monday night against Miami. He was at 9.2 before a 99-yard TD catch in the fourth quarter. He also has his average targets per game well above last year's average of 8.2 after Tom Brady went his way 12 times. That's a good sign for Welker owners as he is still a favorite option despite so many mouths to feed.
21.9 - Fantasy points New Orleans Saints RB/return man Darren Sproles had Thursday night. He tied for the team lead in targets (9) and turned it into seven catches for 75 yards to go with two carries for seven yards. On special teams, he had two punt returns for 92 yards, including a 72-yard TD return, and two kickoff returns for 76 yards.
25 - Matthew Stafford was 18-of-25 for 265 yards, two TDs and an interception by halftime. He went 6-of-8 in the second half with 40 more yards and a score. He had already targeted WR Calvin Johnson seven times, TE Brandon Pettigrew six times and Nate Burleson four times in the first half.
25 - Tim Hightower and Cedric Benson led the league with 25 carries apiece on Sunday. Hightower went for 72 yards and a score with his; Benson scored as well, on a 39-yard run, rushing for 121 yards. Hightower added three catches for 25 yards; Benson had one catch for 2 yards. 18.8 fantasy points for Benson, 18.2 for Higtower.
39 - Minnesota QB Donovan McNabb threw for 39 yards. ... Has that sunk in yet? He threw for 39 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception and added 32 yards rushing for a fantasy day of 9.76 points. It's going to be hard for Adrian Peterson, who miraculously had 98 yards on 16 carries, to consistently find any running room with McNabb stretching the field to the tune of 39 yards.
46 - Denver QB Kyle Orton attempted 46 passes in Monday night's loss to Oakland. And it was not all in the second half as the Broncos attempted to come back. The Broncos ran 33 first-half plays, traling by no more than 10 points, yet 23 of those 33 plays were pass attempts by Orton. He attempted 46 or more passes just twice last season under Josh McDaniels. So just because John Fox came to town, and many worried that the forward pass would cease to exist, Orton should still be slinging the ball.
71 -Dallas WR Dez Bryant had three catches for 71 yards and a score in the first quarter. The first two catches and the score came against New York Jets DB Antonio Cromartie, the final catch, a 26-yard play down the sidelines came against Darrelle Revis. It was the last catch of the night for Bryant, despite five more targets.
GREEN BAY • Inside the Locker Room
With Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com
Who is deserving of a higher draft pick: James Starks or Ryan Grant?
Grant. While Starks was a pleasant late-season surprise and showed flashes down the stretch, Grant had back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons before his 2010 campaign ended with a broken ankle at the end of an 18-yard run in the season-opener at Philadelphia. While Starks does figure to take some carries away from Grant in the Packers' pass-oriented offense, rumors of Grant's demise are greatly exaggerated.
Whose value is hurt the most by the return of tight end Jermichael Finley?
Entering the season, the Packers’ offense was designed to flow through Finley, whose size-speed combination created matchup migraines for opposing defensive coordinators. After Finley’s injury, Jennings became the focal point. With Finley healthy again, it stands to reason that Jennings' numbers could drop slightly.
How can fantasy owners expect to see rookie Randall Cobb used in the offense?
With the (expected) free-agent departure of James Jones, who had 50 catches for 679 yards and five touchdowns in 16 regular-season games, Cobb will have a chance to contribute. Still, he's likely to be, at best, the team's No. 4 receiver, and with a healthy Jermichael Finley back in the mix at tight end, his opportunities figure to be few and far between — especially after all the rookie draft picks missed out on the chance to learn the offense in the offseason, thanks to the lockout.
• Fantasy Playoff Run — Weeks 14-16: OAK, @KC, CHI
Does it really matter what the Packers’ playoff schedule is? The Packers are so potent and their weapons are so consistent, that you are advised to take whatever matchup may come their way. Just for the record: Once the Pack gets past the No. 2 pass D that is Oakland, they will face last year’s Nos. 17 and 20 pass defenses, Kansas City and Chicago.
• Athlon Best Bets
Sleeper: James Jones, WR Deep-Sleeper: Randall Cobb, WR Overvalued: James Starks, RB Top Rookie: Randall Cobb, WR Bounce-Back: Jermichael Finley, TE Top IDP: Clay Matthews, LB
• Try to Avoid
Donald Driver, WR
With Jordy Nelson and James Jones stepping up, Jermichael Finley returning and Randall Cobb joining the offense, the 36-year-old Driver’s value is greatly diminished after his worst season in Green Bay since 2001. WAIT UNTIL: 17th RD
• Draft Class Fantasy Impact
The rich simply got richer in the 2011 draft. The Packers gave Aaron Rodgers more weapons with the selections of Cobb, Green and Williams — all intriguing keeper options. Cobb will make his biggest impact right away on special teams. Green will serve as the No. 3 back this season.