Following an offseason of incessant Deflategate coverage, a handful of additional player arrests and a collection of big names like DeMarco Murray, LeSean McCoy, and Frank Gore changing teams, the 2015 NFL season is finally upon us.
As a result, so too is another fantasy season—which will either end in bragging rights or complete and utter disappointment. But for owners that had some of the guys comprising Week 1’s highest-scoring lineup, chances are their fantasy seasons got out to a solid start. Thursday’s season opener is well represented by some of the league’s stars, but some interesting names also made the cut.
If you started the perfect fantasy lineup to start the 2015 season, this is what it looked like.
QB: Tom Brady, Patriots
Fantasy Points (Yahoo Sports Leagues): 27.62
Was anyone really surprised that Tom Brady came out and led fantasy quarterbacks in Week 1 after having his four-game suspension rescinded? The four-time Super Bowl winner had the opportunity to stick it to Roger Goodell with a solid performance, and he delivered in front of his home fans.
The results against the Steelers were four TD passes, 288 yards through the air and yet another W. Owners who drafted Brady in the late rounds before finding out he’d play in Week 1 have to be feeling pretty good about themselves.
RB1: Matt Forte, Bears
Fantasy Points (Yahoo Sports Leagues): 22.60
At 29 years old, Matt Forte may actually be considered “over the hill” by running back standards. He averaged just 3.9 yards per carry last season—his lowest mark since 2009—so there were some warning signs that the dynamic back might be on the decline.
Instead of feeding that bleak narrative, Forte was the catalyst for Chicago’s offense with 141 rushing yards (on 5.9 yards per carry) and one touchdown. He would have had a second TD if not for a superhuman chase-down tackle by Clay Matthews. The Bears still lost the game, but Forte’s fantasy owners should be encouraged by his Week 1 performance.
RB2: Chris Ivory, Jets
Fantasy Points (Yahoo Sports Leagues): 22.00
Much of the chatter surrounding the Jets leading up to the 2015 season involved the quarterback situation—more specifically, Geno Smith having his jaw broken by a teammate’s punch.
Meanwhile, the under-the-radar offensive constant has been Chris Ivory. He entered the season as the go-to running back, and from a fantasy perspective, Ivory was an ideal value pick in the fourth of fifth round. He earned his keep in Week 1 by rushing 20 times for 91 yards and two touchdowns. New York leaned heavily on the running game, as Ivory and Bilal Powell combined for 32 carries, while Ryan Fitzpatrick threw the ball just 24 times.
WR1: DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
Fantasy Points (Yahoo Sports Leagues): 23.80
If fantasy owners crossed DeAndre Hopkins off their draft boards, chances are Houston’s sketchy QB situation was the reason why. But even though Brian Hoyer couldn’t manage to get through one start without being replaced by Ryan Mallett, Hopkins was remarkably efficient.
The 23-year-old out of Clemson caught nine passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback questions aside, Hopkins certainly seems to be the real deal.
WR2: Antonio Brown, Steelers
Fantasy Points (Yahoo Sports Leagues): 27.62
Last year’s leader in receiving yards picked up right where he left off in Thursday’s season-opener against the Pats. Brown caught nine passes for 133 yards (second only to Keenan Allen among wideouts for the week) and a touchdown.
His play somehow managed to overshadow his quirky hairdo, which is no small feat.
TE: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
Fantasy Points (Yahoo Sports Leagues): 27.40
The unquestioned No. 1 fantasy TE continued to earn his keep in the NFL season opener on Thursday.
Gronk spiked his way to three touchdowns on five receptions. He fell short of 100 yards with 94 of them, but the trio of scores ensured yet another dominant fantasy week for the man-child out of the University of Arizona.
Flex: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Buccaneers
Fantasy Points (Yahoo Sports Leagues): 23.00
Cue fantasy owners everywhere scouring the waiver wire to pick up relative unknown Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The tight end out of the University of Washington finished 2014 with just 21 catches for 221 yards in nine games played. In Week 1 of 2015, he caught five of rookie Jameis Winston’s throws for 110 yards and two TDs.
It’s extremely rare for a tight end to act as the ideal flex, but Yahoo’s top 14 players at the position outscored their projections by an average of 5.9 points. Only Greg Olsen, Larry Donnell, and Owen Daniels failed to live up to their predicted outputs, so this may prove to be a big year for tight ends.
Seferian-Jenkins looked truly silly high-stepping into the endzone with his team down by five scores, but maybe the youngster was just fired up because he’s starting on his own fantasy team. Who knows?
D/ST: Carolina Panthers
Fantasy Points (Yahoo Sports Leagues): 21.00
As was the case last season, playing against the Jaguars is sure to make defenses look elite. Jacksonville’s offensive line once again did a poor job protecting Blake Bortles in the pocket, as Carolina’s D sacked the second-year QB five times.
Add two interceptions (one brought back for a touchdown) to the ledger and the Panthers defense led the way for D/ST fantasy units in Week 1. Carolina could be poised for more solid performances before a tough four-game stretch starting in Week 6 (after the Panthers’ bye week).
K: Brandon McManus, Broncos
Fantasy Points (Yahoo Sports Leagues): 18.00
Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos offense struggled mightily in a ghastly 19-13 squeak-by win over Baltimore on Sunday. Luckily for Denver, kicker Brandon McManus had a perfect afternoon.
The 24-year-old cashed in his only extra point and all four of his field goal attempts (including a 57-yarder). McManus was just 9-of-13 on field goals last season, missing both of his tries from 50+ yards. If Manning isn’t able to get Denver into the endzone with as much consistency this season, McManus will need to tack on as many points as possible with his leg.
Here’s the final recap of the perfect fantasy lineup from Week 1 of the 2015 NFL season:
Tom Brady: 27.62
Matt Forte: 22.60
Chris Ivory: 22.00
DeAndre Hopkins: 23.80
Antonio Brown: 27.62
Rob Gronkowski: 27.40
Austin Seferian-Jenkins: 23.00
Panthers D/ST: 21.00
Brandon McManus: 18.00
Final Score: 213.04 points