2015 1st Round NFL Rookies – Homerun or Done in Week 1?

By Joanne Kong

Twitter: @kongfu4u  NFL Kickoff

There were a lot of surprises in the sports world during this past week.  Serena Williams beat sister Venus Williams.  Serena Williams was defeated in the semi-finals by unranked Roberta Vinci.  Rodger Federer was looking for his first win since 2012, and failed to get it during the U.S. Open finals, losing to Novak Djokovic.  Djokovic captured his 10th Grand Slam title with the win against Federer, and is his third this year.

This past week also marked the first games of the 2015 NFL season.  Yup, we’ve all waited patiently through the long cold winter for this week to come.  We read about the combine, watched the 2015 NFL Draft in Chicago in expectation for the upcoming season and bit our nails during contract negotiations and free agency.

With several playmakers injured, the teams had a lot to work out during Week 1.  Now that the week is done, let’s see how the 2015 first round NFL rookie skill position players (noted with standard Yahoo fantasy league ownership) did in their first NFL game.

1st Overall Pick – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jameis Winston – QB – 29% Owned

James Winston - USA Today Photos

James Winston – USA Today Photos

Although Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were disappointed with the 14-42 loss to the Tennessee Titans, Winston was no slouch in the fantasy world.  Winston was the 13th highest in fantasy points for quarterbacks according to Yahoo Fantasy ‘Who’s Hot’ with 210 passing Yards – 2 TD – 2 Interceptions – 18 rushing yards, falling just above Russell Wilson.

With that said, even Lovie Smith was surprised at how bad the team looked during their opening game.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were anything but ready.  Winston was sacked four times and intercepted twice, once which was returned for a touchdown by 4 year veteran cornerback Cody Sensabaugh.

What does this mean?  Time will tell whether Winston will become the quarterback Tampa Bay slated him to be, and if Lovie Smith will be able to get the team on the same page.  Luckily, Winston will not have to face Mariota, his kryptonite, during the rest of the scheduled season.

2nd Overall Pick – Tennessee Titans

Marcus Mariota – QB – 45% owned
Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota

Mariota had the season opener every rookie quarterback dreams of, and every coach wants to see.  Tennessee Titans quarterback,  Mariota looked like he was right at home behind center as he completed 13/16 attempts, threw for 209 passing yards, ran for 6 rushing yards, had 4 passing TD and 0 interceptions.  A near perfect game any quarterback looks to achieve every game day.  Mariota looked comfortable in the pocket and moved well out of formation, contributing to his game day stats.

In fantasy stats, Mariota finished with the 3rd most fantasy point for a quarterback (as of Sunday) behind Tom Brady and Carson Palmer – which means clairvoyant fantasy players who put Mariota in their line-up were smiling, while those that kept him on the bench were probably cursing.  Fantasy players might be expecting the same outcome in Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns (loss to the New York Jets 10-31), but remember quarterback Josh McCown will probably be back.

What does this mean? There are days when everything just seems to fit perfectly together.  The Titan’s had that kind of day in Week 1.  However, remember that the Titans won 26-10 against the Kansas City Chiefs in the season opener in 2014.  Their only other win during the 2014 season was against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 6, finishing the season with a 2-14 record.  Not to say that history will repeat itself, but the Titians will have harder competition as the season continues to reach the playoff, but they are starting off on the right foot.

4th Pick Overall – Oakland Raiders

Amari Cooper – WR – 98% owned
Amari Cooper

Amari Cooper

Don’t let Week 1 dictate Cooper’s NFL career.  Oakland Raiders’ Derek Carr isn’t considered to be an elite quarterback, but his presence was still missed after he left the game in the second quarter after injuring his hand.   The Raiders lost 13-33 against the Cincinnati Bengals with back-up Matt McGloin under center, throwing for 147 yards, 2 TD and 1 interception. Yikes.

It’s not only bad news for the Raiders, it’s bad news for fantasy owners.  It’s only logical that a wide receiver can only do so much.  Cooper had only 9 targets, 5 receptions, 47 receiving yards and 0 TD.  Although, Cooper has the ability to be a play-maker, turning a short pass into a 24 yard gain during Sunday’s game.  He’ll have a hard road ahead of him (and will need a lot more targets) if Cooper expects to put up Brandon Marshall numbers.

What does this mean? It will be a tough season for the Oakland Raiders and for fantasy owners, but don’t write off Cooper just yet.

14th Overall Pick – Miami Dolphins

DeVante Parker – WR – 39% owned
DeVante Parker - Fox News Photo

DeVante Parker – Fox News Photo

DeVante Parker played only one snap and had 0 targets on Sunday’s 17-10 victory over the Washington Redskins.

What does this mean?  Parker is currently recovering from foot surgery he underwent in June.  Fans and fantasy owners alike are excited to see what the rookie can do.

15th Overall Pick – San Diego Chargers

Melvin Gordon – RB – 98% owned
Melvin Gordon - Getty Images

Melvin Gordon – Getty Images

There were high expectation for Gordon, but his debut might not have been what coaches and fans, alike, expected.   Gordon had 14 attempts and 51 rushing yards, slowly chipping away a few yards at a time with each ball carry.  Gordon had no break-out runs during his 14 attempts, but was a solid contributor to the Chargers 33-28 win against the Detroit Lions.  Gordon also had 3 receiving targets, 3 receiving receptions for 16 receiving yards, 0 TD and 1 Fumble.

Although, Gordon was a solid contributor in moving the ball for the Chargers, fantasy players might not have appreciated the effort.  Gordon totaled 4.7 fantasy points.

What does this mean? The Chargers have a solid offensive line with Philip Rivers behind center.  Rivers signed a 4-year $83.25 million dollar extension with $37.5 million guaranteed during this off-season.  Gordon definitely has a role in the backfield with the Chargers.  Ball handling in the NFL comes with experience.  We’ll be watching.

On a side note: During Sunday’s game, Gordon played against Detroit Lions second round draft pick running back Ameer Abdullah.  Abdullah not only impressed on the field, he had fantasy owners singing their own praised for drafting him.  Abdullah – 95% owned – had 7 attempts rushing – 50 rushing yards – 1 rushing TD – 4 targets receiving – 4 reception for 44 yards – 105 yards returning = 19.60 fantasy points.

20th Overall Pick – Philadelphia Eagles

Nelson Agholor – WR – 92% owned
Nelson Agholor - AP Photo

Nelson Agholor – AP Photo

Nelson Agholor had one target for 0 receptions during the first half.  The Eagles had a disappointing start for their season opener with an inability to get their running and the passing games off the ground.  During the 4th quarter, Agholor caught his first reception a yard short of the first down.  Although the Eagles rallied in the second half, Agholor was a non-factor in the game.

What does this mean? Fantasy owners (myself included) are crying.

It could be worse.  You could be Jordan Spieth, the No. 2 ranked golfer in the world, watching the Giants v. Cowboys game and be totally ignored by the commentator for Tiger Woods, who’s not.  Spieth was in the red cap besides Woods.

Tiger Woods

29th Overall Pick – Indianapolis Colts

Phillip Dorsett – WR – 11% owned
Phillip Dorsett - Colts.com Photo

Phillip Dorsett – Colts.com Photo

Andrew Luck had little name sake on Sunday’s game, losing 14-27 against Rex Ryan’s Buffalo Bills.  Phillip Dorsett made his first NFL rookie reception during the 4th quarter, a short pass up the middle for a gain of 16 yards.  Dorsett had 3 targets, 2 receptions for 45 receiving yards, 1 return yard and 1 fumble.

For fantasy players, Dorsett got 2.54 fantasy points in week 1.  He’s not a starter, so don’t expect his numbers to be greater than 5 points.

What does this mean? Dorsett was a first round draft pick, which means the team expects to take advantage in developing his skills throughout the season.  How much playing time depends on how fast he’s able to adapt to the system.

Players OUT Week 1 Due to Injury

7th Overall Pick – Chicago Bears – Kevin White – WR – 6% owned

10th Overall Pick – St. Louis Rams – Todd Gurley – RB – 89% owned

26th Overall Pick – Baltimore Ravens – Breshad Perriman – 15% owned


Expectations are always high during the opening week of the season — teams and players shine and disappoint alike.  Today, rookies are often expected to immediately fill gaps left by exiting veterans and injured players.  How they fare throughout the season is always unpredictable.  Regardless, the 2015 first round NFL rookies have not disappointed in putting on a show during opening week.