Much of the talk about how the New York Jets lost Monday's winnable home game to the Baltimore Ravens 10-9 will focus on the team's inept passing game. Let's face it, Mark Sanchez and his receivers did not play well. Then again, from a fantasy football standpoint, this can't be totally unexpected, as Sanchez isn't close to being relied upon as a starter. However, Jets sophomore running back Shonn Greene certainly is, and his Monday performance might have been more distressing and have more impact in fantasy.
Greene's fantasy stock takes a hit, even though it came against a top defense. Greene fumbled twice, dropped a screen pass and basically was outplayed by the older LaDainian Tomlinson, who looked spry and ready to take on a larger role. Greene ran for 18 yards on five carries, while Tomlinson broke a few relatively big plays and ended up with 62 yards on 11 rushes. It's just one game, and nobody would be so reactive as to give up on Greene, but it's going to be tough to rely on him as a Week 2 fantasy starter against the New England Patriots after Jets coach Rex Ryan seemed tepid in using him in the second half Monday.
According to ESPN New York's Rich Cimini, Greene didn't stick around to talk to reporters after the debacle, reportedly saying he felt the loss was his fault. There was plenty of blame to go around, but Greene is critical to this offense. The Jets were able to mask Sanchez's deficiencies a season ago because Thomas Jones was second in the AFC in rushing with 1,402 yards, and now Greene must be effective for Sanchez, who threw for a mere 74 yards, and the New York offense to succeed. It's certainly possible Greene will play like the borderline second-round fantasy pick he was in ESPN average live drafts (21st overall), but now his owners are wondering whether a few January playoff performances sent his stock soaring undeservedly. Time will tell.
Here are some other players seeing their fantasy stock altered after one week:
Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinnati Bengals: It remains to be seen whether Palmer and this offense will need to be so free-wheeling in future weeks, but at least Palmer showed he had 345 passing yards and a few touchdowns in him at New England. Last season Palmer topped 271 passing yards just once and threw multiple touchdown passes in only five games. I wouldn't upgrade him to starter status yet, but he certainly could pass Matt Ryan, Donovan McNabb and a few others in the quarterback rankings soon.
Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders: McFadden produced no more than 11 fantasy points in any game last season, so his Week 1 20-point effort was quite the surprise. I'm only kind of buying in, though, because clearly the Raiders want to use Michael Bush when he's healthy again. Still, at least we know McFadden is capable of not only approaching 100 rushing yards, but he caught six passes for 55 yards as well.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants: I have a feeling his value, like that of Houston Texans running back Arian Foster, is going to skyrocket just a bit too much this week, so his fantasy owners should be on the lookout for potentially overzealous trade partners. Nicks did haul in a trio of touchdown passes from Eli Manning, but he caught just one other pass (though he was targeted eight times). The Giants might do this Sunday what the Texans did to the Indianapolis Colts, which is run, run and run some more. Andre Johnson wasn't "held" to three catches as much as the Texans just didn't need to throw the ball. Nicks is interesting, but Steve Smith remains New York's top wide receiver.
Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco 49ers: I wouldn't be so quick to judge Smith or anyone on this offense after merely one week. For one, if you own Smith, it's not likely to be as a starter, and I can't imagine too many better backups sitting on your free-agent wire. Smith isn't a star, but he was considerably better than his five-point opening-game output in the 11 games he played in last season, reaching 17 or more fantasy points four times. Don't start him, but do keep him on your roster.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: The 50-yard overtime touchdown jaunt gave him 120 rushing yards for the day, which might mask the big picture here. Through regulation, he was having an average game, with 70 yards on 21 carries (3.3 yards per carry). The Steelers, already without starting right tackle Willie Colon, lost left tackle Max Starks for a month because of a high ankle sprain. Honestly, I could see Ben Roethlisberger running for his life when he returns. Mendenhall is probably bound for a similar season to 2009, when he ran for 1,108 yards, but I'm guessing many of you expected more.
DeSean Jackson/Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles: As noted in Monday's blog, we just don't know yet who will be slingin' the passes for the Eagles for the next week or two, but fantasy owners are likely panicking about the receiving weapons. I wouldn't. Jackson was targeted 11 times Sunday, though he caught only four passes. Even if Michael Vick is the passer and he runs half the time, Jackson will make big plays. Celek caught only two passes, getting outscored in fantasy by 15 tight ends this week, but it's not like he'll be used more to block. Keep these guys active.