The Great (fill in the blank), coming to a field near you!

Over the weekend, I was checking on one of my rosters after the 1:00 games had finished and noticed that one of my starters had gotten me ZERO points. I was confused at first, as this player was supposed to be the number one wide receiver on a pretty decent passing team. Quickly I thought to myself, maybe they play at 4:00 or something. After checking that, I was wrong. Deion Branch had played the entire game against Tampa Bay and finished with 0 receptions for 0 yards. I then started to notice a trend of some pretty high caliber players pulling off great disappearing acts on my other rosters or on the rosters of other teams in my leagues. Below you will see a list of these players that went AWOL, along with my immediate analysis of whether or not this will be a continuing trend to be worried with, or something to shake off and give them another shot in Week 2…

Masters of the Disappearing Act

Deion Branch (WR-SEA): 0 rec
Overall, it was a rough day for the entire Seattle passing game. I expect Branch to rebound with a vengeance against Arizona next weekend, but MAN what a hurtin’ he put on my team with his 0 point performance (as were lots of other people apparently, like him, him and him).

Lee Evans (WR-BUF): 2 rec, 5 yards
I’m glad I wasn’t an Evans owner after this performance from many teams number one WR. He should rebound nicely though…Denver has the best cornerbacks in the league so a superstar performance wasn’t necessarily expected here.

Mark Clayton (WR-BAL): 0 rec
Baltimore looked horrible against a suspect defense. Expect McGahee to run the ball more in the near future, leaving less balls for the receivers…although I don’t see Clayton getting any less than he did this week. I give Clayton a slight downgrade from where I initially thought he’d be before the season started after this performance.

Vernon Davis: 2 rec, 4 yards
I’m pretty sure that in Men’s Health or some other fitness magazine, Vernon Davis was deemed the “most athletic” player in the NFL. I’d like to think that the most athletic player in the NFL could catch more than 2 balls for 4 yards, but it was a bad offensive night for the whole offense. I expect Davis to rebound off this performance with a solid game next week.

Correction, it was the September edition of Muscle & Fitness.

Other notable disappearances: Fred Taylor (16 rushing yards), Chris Cooley (1 rec, 10 yards), Reggie Brown (1 rec, 14 yards), Joe Horn (1 rec, 14 yards), DJ Hackett (1 rec, 7 yards), Muhsin Muhammad (1 rec, 8 yards), and Anthony Thomas (-1 rushing yards, 1 rec, 8 yards)

The Great Underachievers

Steven Jackson (RB-STL): 58 rushing yards, 1 rec, 3 yards, 2 fumbles
For a guy pegged as the number two draft pick in fantasy leagues this year, he sure didn’t play like it. The Rams offense as a whole didn’t seem to click though, so it can’t all be put on Jackson. The two fumbles are a bit worrisome, but my bet is that he comes back with a big game next week versus San Francisco.

Drew Brees (QB-NO): 192 passing yards, 2 int, 1 fumble, 0 TD
For a guy pegged as the number two quarterback in the league, Brees played more like a quarterback making his first career start. I believe that the Saints offense will take a small step back this season, as the loss of Joe Horn will prove to hurt them, but Brees will obviously play better than this in the future. Don’t worry about benching him anytime in the near future after just one week of poor play.

Philip Rivers (QB-SD): 190 passing yards, 1 int, 1 fumble
I thought he was supposed to have improved with a years experience under his belt? In his defense, it was against the Bears defense. However, when your running back throws more touchdowns than you do, you can’t feel that good about your performance.

Larry Fitzgerald (WR-ARI): 3 rec, 20 yards
Apparently Matt Leinart couldn’t figure out who to throw to between Fitzgerald and Boldin, so he decided to throw very little to either. The two receivers came into the game averaging about 200 combined yards against the 49er’s, but in this contest, they combined for 42…not so great for a pair of top 10 receivers. Fitzgerald was on the short end of Leinart’s very short stick though, as Boldin at least got a touchdown.

Other notable underachievers: Santana Moss (3 rec, 28 yards), Braylon Edwards (3 rec, 49 yards, 1 fumble), Reggie Bush (38 rushing yards, 4 rec, 7 yards), Maurice Jones-Drew (32 rushing yards, 3 rec, 28 yards, 1 fumble), Brandon Jacobs (26 rushing yards*), Cedric Benson (42 rushing yards, 1 rec, 11 yards, 1 fumble), Thomas Jones (42 rushing yards, 1 rec, 6 yards), Deuce McAllister (38 rushing yards, 2 rec, 7 yards) and Jamal Lewis (35 rushing yards, 2 rec, 11 yards, 1 fumble)

The Skilled Shapeshifters
This is a good thing…guys who played like someone better for the day

Chris Brown (RB-TEN): 175 rush, 1 rec, 3 yards
Doing his best imitation of Emmitt Smith (or some other great running back), Brown decided to kick it up a notch and rush for an un-Chris Brown-like 175 yards. Can he keep up this pace into week 2? No. Is he a decent guy to plug in as your second running back if necessary? Sure.

Ronald Curry (WR-OAK): 10 rec, 133, 1 TD
Maybe happy to be out of his shadow in Oakland, Curry decided to put on his Randy Moss super-hero outfit for the day and rack up quite an impressive fantasy performance. If he was on the waiver wire or free agent list in your league (as he was in a few of mine), he looks to be the go-to guy in Oakland, so snatch him up and feel confident using him as a third receiver or a spot start if you need one.

Tony Romo (QB-DAL): 345 passing yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT, 11 rushing yards, 1 TD
Eli Manning (QB- NYG): 312 passing yards, 4 TDs 1 INT
Ben Roethlisberger (QB-PIT): 161 passing yards, 4 TDs
It was apparently Young-Quarterbacks-Performing-like-Peyton-Manning Day for these three guys. Will any of them perform as they did this weekend on a consistent basis? My guess is no (especially not Eli who is on the shelf for about a month after a shoulder injury). Romo will miss Terry Glenn for a while, but should still get some decent numbers in a potent Dallas offense. If the Steelers wide receivers are for real, Roethlisberger should also have a solid season…but don’t use the Cleveland Browns as a barometer for how he’ll perform all year. When Eli gets back, I have to believe he’ll return to his average self though…not the man we saw pre-injury this Sunday.

Randy Moss (WR-NE): 9 rec, 183 yards, 1 TD
I’m praying that this keeps up for the entire year and my Patriots dominate in the fashion they did this Sunday, when Randy Moss was performing like…Randy Moss (pre-2004 that is), which was great for all his fantasy owners. While I don’t see him racking up 183 yards a game this year, he’ll definitely have a solid season and get his touchdowns on a regular basis, so feel confident starting him as long as he stays healthy this year.