Alex Smith, Quarterback, Alex Smith
Smith's performance in Thursday's 42-27 win over the defending champion Patriots was something to behold. He completed 28-of-35 passes for 368 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Statistically, it was the best performance of Smith's regular season career.
Whether Smith can continue anywhere near this pace moving forward remains to be seen. Obviously, regression to the mean is in the card here over the short-term. But it's readily apparent that he has an expert-level understanding of the Chiefs' offense, which could lead to fantasy relevance this season.
Matthew Stafford, Quarterback, Detroit Lions
Fresh off becoming the NFL's richest man, Stafford turned an early-game pick-six into a stellar overall performance against a stout Cardinals defense on Sunday. He finished the Lions' 35-23 win with 292 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.
Stafford has finished each of the past two seasons as a top-10 fantasy quarterback. But based off what we saw against a top-three pass defense on Sunday, he might be nearing top-five status this season.
Leonard Fournette, Running Back, Jacksonville Jaguars
If we were worried about the Jaguars somehow easing this rookie into things, we don;t have to be concerned anymore. Fournette touched the ball a whopping 29 times, going for 124 total yards and a touchdown in the process. It was good enough for him to finish Sunday's action as the best fantasy running back.
We absolutely love the Jaguars' new balance on offense. As to where Fournette attempted 26 runs, Blake Bortles threw just 21 passes. It led to a solid all-around performance against the best defense in the NFL in the form of the Houston Texans.
Kareem Hunt, Running Back, Kansas City Chiefs
When all was said and done, the numbers were awe-inspiring. Hunt gained 148 yards and a touchdown on 17 rush attempts for an average of 8.7 yards per attempt. He also added five caches on 98 yards with two touchdowns. Doing the math, this means the rookie third-round pick gained 246 total yards on 22 touches for an average of a whopping 11.2 yards per touch.
That came against a Patriots defense that many expected to remain elite again this season. Sure there were injuries upfront for New England, but that in no way discounts what Hunt did in his regular season NFL debut.
Kenny Golladay, Wide Reciever, Detroit Lions
After impressing big time during the preseason, this rookie mid-round pick continued it into Week 1. Golladay might have only caught four passes for 69 yards, but he was able to add two touchdowns to the mix to finish as one of the top fantasy receivers on the day.
This also came against a Cardinals defense that, as we mentioned above, ranked as one of the top units against the pass in the NFL last season. With what promises to be an opportunity to play a huge role moving forward, this rookie could very well be worth a waiver-wire pickup for Week 2.
Tyreek Hill, Wide Receiver, Kansas City Chiefs
Yet another member of the Chiefs on this list. Hill proved once and for all that the team moving on from Jeremy Marlin wasn't a bad idea. Following an electric rookie season, Hill is now Kansas City's unquestioned No. 1 receiver.
That came out and then some Thursday against the defending champs. Hill caught seven passes for 133 yards and a touchdown on just nine targets. He has big-play ability. He will be targeted a whole heck of a lot. He's a WR1 option in the fantasy world, and that's no longer in question.
Jesse James, Tight End, Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh didn't necessarily give James a vote of confidence when the team traded for Vance McDonald following the preseason. All James did in Week 1 was respond by putting up six receptions for 41 yards with two touchdowns.
Granted the Steelers were taking on a Browns defense that was among the game's worst against fantasy tight ends last season. But this was a solid opening week performance from a player some should consider picking up on the waiver wire.