Posted: Sunday September 9, 2012 9:13PM ; Updated: Monday September 10, 2012 10:26AM
Eric Mack
Eric Mack>INSIDE FANTASY FOOTBALL

Peterson showing his fantasy prowess, more Week 1 analysis

Story Highlights

It was almost the A.P. of old on Sunday; he rushed for 84 yards and two scores

Robert Griffin III had a great debut and winning in New Orleans is no small feat

Many other rookie quarterbacks looked like exactly that ... first-time signal callers

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Adrian Peterson
Adrian Peterson's big day helped the Vikes edge the Jags in overtime.
Brace Hemmelgarn/US PRESSWIRE

So much for starting off slowly with Adrian Peterson.

Even if you are pulling out your hair for sitting him -- under the expectation his return from major knee reconstruction would leave him a limited contributor -- you have to love what you saw. With Toby Gerhart stepping aside, Peterson rushed 17 times for 84 yards and two touchdowns. Wowzers.

"My legs are loose. Seriously, I'm feeling really good. I'm ready to carry the load," Peterson said.

Music to the ears, even if you have less hair above them. Peterson is a fantasy monster again, almost just like new.

In this day of timeshare running backs, Peterson is a rare workhorse -- even at what, 80 percent? Ninety maybe?

"I told him afterward: 'I'm not sure you weren't just faking that ACL,'" Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "He looked pretty good to me."

There won't be a Peterson owner in fantasy who won't have him active in Week 2 against the Colts' poor run defense.

Week 1 taught us plenty about A.D. (All Day) and many others. We break it down in our weekly Fantasy Football Fast Forward:

Game-changers

1. RGIII > Andrew Luck -- OK, yours truly was wrong, real wrong, in Week 1. Robert Griffin III got off to a lightning start in his debut and did nothing to give it away late in a huge upset of the Saints in the Super Dome. No one wins there. RGIII did it in his first start and looked great out of the gate.

He finished 19-of-26 for two TDs and 320 yards passing. He added 42 yards rushing and didn't mail it in when his leading receiver, Pierre Garcon (88 yard TD, four catches for 109 yards), was out for the game.

"It's great for any quarterback to get a couple of easy passes at the beginning of a game so you can get into a rhythm," said Griffin. "They were giving us those looks and I took advantage of them."

He clearly is a must-start in all leagues, especially with the Rams on the schedule for Week 2. Fire up those Cam Newton comparisons: RGIII is a fantasy monster right away.

Luck, meanwhile, threw three picks (23-for-45, 309 yards and a garbage-time TD). He faced a much-tougher defense, sure, but he isn't the sure-thing fantasy starter Griffin is right away. Week 2 against the Vikings should be a lot better for Luck. The Vikings made Blaine Gabbert look like a capable NFL starter.

2. Spiller into action (after) Jackson -- Fred Jackson's loss (knee, MRI to come) is C.J. Spiller's and, perhaps the Bills', gain. Spiller was dynamite in relief, rushing for 169 yards on just 14 carries, including a 56-yard TD, against one of the best run defenses in football. The Bills and fantasy owners are in great hands (legs?) with Spiller as a starter.

"Fred doesn't look as bad as David [Nelson, who left with a knee injury]," Bills head coach Chan Gailey said. "We don't know how bad David is, but it doesn't look good right now. We'll get a further evaluation [Monday]."

If Jackson is out any significant time, or even just Week 2 against a pretty good Chiefs run defense, Spiller is a must-start in all fantasy leagues. He has game-changing speed and the Bills won't abandon the run. In fact, they will rely on it more in future weeks.

3. Morris gives us rare Shanahan-igan clarity -- Could it really be? Did Mike Shanahan give us reason to trust Alfred Morris in all leagues? The Redskins sure didn't give Evan Royster or Roy Helu much work.

Morris went for 96 yards and two TDs on a hard-earned 28 carries. He looks like a solid start in all leagues against that Rams run defense next week. There should be more garbage time to pile up yards and red-zone scores. Only Helu might take some third-down back receptions. Otherwise, Morris is the bell cow for Shanahan, who never renders one of those for us so neatly in fantasy.

4. Oogling Ogletree -- Here is the best way (only responsible way?) to break down Kevin Ogletree's opening night coming out party: With the Cowboys' leading receivers banged up all preseason and unable to take the first-team reps, Ogletree developed a great rapport with Tony Romo. Those practice reps become game-day play calls and loads of targets against an elite defense overcompensating for the elite receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin.

With Bryan, Austin and soon tight end Jason Witten healthy, Ogletree will be relegated to being the fourth-best target again. Yes, you have to try to get him off waivers, but your expectations should be kept in check.

He can be this year's Laurent Robinson, but only if Bryant and Austin are last year's Bryant and Austin. They won't be. Bryant and Austin are going to be top 12 fantasy wide receivers on a weekly basis.

5. Williamses go bust -- If DeAngelo Williams cannot rush against the Bucs' suspect run defense, he shouldn't be counted on against anyone. Jonathan Stewart's absence was supposed to help. Instead, Williams went for -1 on six carries and mustered just one catch for five yards.

Then, over in Arizona, Ryan Williams lost a fumble on his second carry and managed nothing against the Seahawks' run defense. He rushed for just nine yards on eight carries and had two catches for 17 yards.

They could have been Week 1 studs in their matchup(s), as the two worst teams in fantasy against RBs a year ago were facing each other. Instead, they are among the biggest Week 1 duds.

There is no chance you can trust Ryan Williams against a Pats run defense that stuffed Chris Johnson. Beanie Wells either, for that matter. And, we are already accustomed to not expecting much out of DeAngelo Williams, especially if Stewart returns to the fold against the Saints.

The good: Matt Ryan to Julio Jones, Falcons

Remember that criticism from SI.com's bold predictions? We said reach in the fourth round to draft Ryan. That looks like a stroke of genius right now.

Ryan went for 299 yards and three TDs and added a rushing TD. It sure didn't take long for Ryan and Julio Jones to look unstoppable. Jones caught six passes for 108 yards and two scores, while Roddy White went for six catches and 87 yards. Even the old tight end, Tony Gonzalez, got into the mix with 5-53-1.

That Falcons running game wasn't productive and Michael Turner's carries were indeed limited, as the Falcons promised they would be. Turner received just 11 touches and Jacquizz Rodgers was a non-factor.

Jones might now be the second-best WR in fantasy to Calvin Johnson, while we might have to make room in the crowded top five at QB for Ryan, a burgeoning fantasy superstar.

The bad: David Wilson, Giants

Wilson fumbled away his big opportunity to earn fantasy pertinence out of the gate with the Giants. He coughed up the football on his second carry and wound up in Tom Coughlin's doghouse the remainder of the game, relegated to kickoff duties the rest of the way. This is bad news for Wilson owners. The Giants just cannot trust him and he had fumbling issues at Virginia Tech.

Wilson had set a goal to not lose a fumble this year. He also wanted to rush for an average over five yards per carry, have six 100-yard games and 10-plus TDs. Those goals would have made him a fantasy star.

He's a useless bench flier now until something happens to Ahmad Bradshaw.

The ugly: Terrible rookie QB 'picks'

As entertainingly awesome RGIII was and serviceable Luck was, due to garbage time, the low-end rookie QBs looked like messes. Brandon Weeden was just 12-of-35 for 118 yards and four interceptions, while Ryan Tannehill was marginally better at 20-of-36 for 219 yards and three INTs. To their defense -- if you can defend them at all -- they were facing two elite NFL defenses.

Neither matter in fantasy, barring desperation in two-QB formats. Weeden at least has some talent at WR to throw to. Tannehill has Reggie Bush and nothing else. It is going to be a long year for both, or a short one if the turnovers continue at this rate. They probably belong holding the clipboard. They definitely don't belong on fantasy rosters. Drop them like hot potatoes.

Weeden should be especially embarrassed. Colt McCoy, the 2011 starter and backup, hasn't had a four-INT game in his career. Heck, he hasn't had a four-INT month! That is a bad job by the Browns. McCoy should have been given a better opportunity.

Week 1 observations

Quarterbacks

Peyton Manning, Broncos -- In the preseason it looked like he never left and it looked the same against the best team in fantasy against QBs a year ago. Move him back into the must-start category in all leagues, regardless of the matchup. It should be a shootout in Atlanta next Monday night. Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Jacob Tamme look like must-starts in all leagues, too, if only for Manning's presence alone.

Tony Romo, Cowboys -- You all shouldn't have slept on Romo on draft day. He proved he is an elite fantasy QB, even if he isn't an NFL postseason winner. With his array of weapons, he is headed for at least 4,000 yards and 30 TDs. He might even be a threat to break that holy grail 5,000 yards and 40 TDs group that is only Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford and Dan Marino. Seriously. Romo is a must-start in all leagues, regardless of the matchup. Among the clear top five fantasy QBs, Romo is the only one with an elite running back. That means a lot of trips to the red zone.

Michael Vick, Eagles -- He salvaged an embarrassing day with 317 yards and a pair of passing TDs. The four picks show he isn't the passing QB he looked like in a spurt in 2010. He is a marginal fantasy starter going forward. There just are so many more QBs who can throw the ball better. "I thought he was rusty," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "But he kept competing, kept shooting. He's our quarterback and he had to work through it. He had to play, had to endure and had to tough it out." So, no, rookie Nick Foles isn't a waiver option outside of being a Vick handcuff.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills -- He salvaged his potentially awful day with three garbage-time TDs. This will be the story of his year. He is mostly one of the worst QBs in the league, but the fact the Bills won't be going to Tarvaris Jackson as their QB gives Fitzpatrick plenty of chances for late fantasy points. The Bills figure to play a lot more low-scoring defensive struggles in future weeks, so don't trust Fitzpatrick as a fantasy starter.

 
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