Red Zone

Fantasy fools: Opening week shockers in the NFL are just part of the game

It might be a could time to pick up running back Ahmad Bradshaw.
It might be a could time to pick up running back Ahmad Bradshaw. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Chad Henne to Allen Hurns. I told you to expect a huge game from this dynamic duo.

Jamaal Charles amasses 34 combined yards against the Titans. As predicted here.

Two rushing scores for Cleveland running back Isaiah Crowell. Yes, that Isaiah Crowell.

What, you didn’t read those predictions? From me or anybody?

That’s because no one on the planet saw them coming. They’re what we in the fantasy guru biz call “aberrations.” And the good news is, they are unlikely to happen again this year. If ever.

So avoid the knee-jerk reactions that your league-mates are about to have.

On the other hand, we shouldn’t dismiss everything we saw throughout opening weekend.

Doug Martin’s pathetic 1-yard-per-carry rushing performance before exiting in the third quarter with an apparent knee injury set a new low for the over-rated tailback and should send shivers through anyone who used a premium draft pick to acquire him.

Matt Ryan proved that top-shelf receivers really do make a difference, while Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson proved they can’t do much when their quarterback is lost, on his back or gun-shy.

Ben Tate’s starting role in Cleveland may be very short-lived.

It could be a loooong season for the St. Louis offense.

And here’s a question you may want to ponder: If you insist on owning a Colts running back, why wouldn’t that be Ahmad Bradshaw?

Free-agent picks and pans

To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch ’em while you can

AHMAD BRADSHAW, RB, Colts. Need depth at running back? Bradshaw is available in four out of five leagues and shows more promise than Trent Richardson in the Colts offense. He won’t carry your team any more than he will Indy, but he offers gritty, underrated consistency as long as he’s healthy.

BOBBY RAINEY, RB, Buccaneers. If you own Martin and haven’t handcuffed him with Rainey, you’re nuts. Rainey out-played the starter last year when given the chance, and he could get another opportunity sooner than expected if Martin’s injury proves to be significant.

JOSH GORDDON, WR, Browns. If he’s available in your league, grab him pronto. Pending changes to the NFL’s drug-testing policy could reduce — possibly even eliminate — Gordon’s season-long suspension. Last year’s top fantasy wideout would be a nice addition, no?

KELVIN BENJAMIM, WR, Panthers. Even with Cam Newton on the sidelines, the rookie showed why Carolina invested a first-round pick on him. Benjamin is clearly the class of the Panthers’ ragtag WR corps. Available in more than 60 percent of all leagues, he’s worth grabbing and stashing.

MARKUS WHEATON, WR, Steelers. Lost amid Antonio Brown’s stellar outing was the key role played by Wheaton, a second-year wideout. With six receptions for 97 yards, Wheaton gave just a hint of what’s to come in his new starting role. Grab him now, before your competitors notice.

Don’t be fooled

ALLEN HURNS, WR, Jaguars. Sorry, I’m just not buying it. Undrafted rookie wideouts, especially those playing on offensively-challenged teams, just don’t become fantasy studs overnight. (Remember Frisman Jackson? Of course you don’t.) With all due respect to Hurns’ four-catch, 110-yard, two-TD debut, I can’t in good conscience recommend investing a roster spot in him in anything but the deepest of leagues. (Note that he was shut down, and out, in the second half.) Let someone else take the bait.

Ladd Biro was named Football Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for two consecutive years (2010, 2011). He was a finalist again in 2013. Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (fantasy-fools.blogspot.com), on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).

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