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Monday Night Football: Week 1

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Baltimore 44, Cincinnati 13

Ravens

Throughout the preseason, Joe Flacco had been hinting of a transformation to a high octane, no-huddle passing offense. On the very first play of the game, the Ravens opened up the new aerial attack finding Torrey Smith on a 52-yard bomb. Flacco kept his foot on the gas torching the Bengals secondary all night long including a long touchdown to Anquan Boldin and later finding Dennis Pitta in the back of the end zone.    

The difficulty for fantasy owners was the use of all the Ravens receiving weapons including multiple targets to Jacoby Jones, Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta, Ray Rice and even fullback Vonta Leach. Exiting the preseason Torrey Smith was projected as the Ravens top threat, but only had one target entering the 4th quarter, finishing the game with two receptions. This will leave Smith owners confused on how to interpret this situation, myself included.

If you didn’t already know, Ray Rice is a stud. Enough said.

Bengals

Andy Dalton and the Bengals passing game played admirably early in the contest, but the Ravens defense was too much, forcing two turnovers late in the game and not allowing a passing touchdown all night.

An unexpected surprise was the emergence of Bengals wide receiver Andrew Hawkins. Gaining 86 yards on eight receptions, Hawkins has a similar skill set to Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, immediately morphing into a kick returner once the ball is caught. Hawkins should be viewed as a high end WR5 with upside, meaning he’s worthy of a flier, but not yet safe to start.

Many have deemed BenJarvus Green-Ellis to be a plodding running back unable to rip off long runs, and that may be true. However, he is more like Edgerrin James than Shonn Greene, getting into the second level of the defense averaging just over five yards per carry. Green-Ellis was also impressive when asked to gain short yardage, converting crucial first downs. He will be a goal line monster and should make for a solid RB2 going forward.

San Diego 22, Oakland 14

Chargers

It’s never good when the leading scorer for each team is the kicker (awesome game for Nate Kaeding owners).

Last year’s struggles for Philip Rivers seemed to have carried over as the Chargers only managed one scoring drive. Rivers is greatly missing anybody named Vincent, be it Jackson or Brown.  

Robert Meachem was touted all offseason as the next great Chargers wide receiver, but that has yet to materialize as evidenced by the meager two targets. Instead, it was Malcom Floyd leading the group in production capped off by a six yard touchdown. Hard to recommend starting Meachem, while Floyd remains a mid/low WR3.

Curtis Brinkley and Ronnie Brown shared time in the Chargers backfield with Ryan Mathews still absent. Brinkley was the more effective player, but that’s like saying 'N Sync is the better boy band. Both are merely handcuff material waiting for Mathews' return.

Antonio Gates left leave the game with an apparent rib injury, but later returned. He should be good-to-go next weekend.

Raiders

Special teams play killed the Raiders after losing their long snapper and thus the ability to punt the football out of their own end zone. This resulted in 3-of-4 punts being either muffed or blocked in the 2nd half.

Carson Palmer and the Raiders offense struggled for much of the game as it’s never good when your running back is the leading receiver.

I entered this game hoping Rod Streater would emerge as a possible free agent pickup, but I finished feeling lukewarm on the notion. Streater managed to lead the Oakland receivers in targets also squeezing out a late touchdown and two-point conversion. However, he and Carson Palmer appeared out of sync and unable to connect on a number of throws.   With Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore likely to return shortly, Streater should only be viewed as a possible flier with low-end WR5 value.

Darren McFadden is a stud, but it was obvious the Chargers game plan centered on stuffing the Raiders franchise player. McFadden was able to satisfy his fantasy owners totaling 13 receptions for 86 yards. Better days are ahead.

The play from the Raiders defensive line has been exceptional all preseason, and that carried over to this game. I’m not ready to recommend this unit just yet, but they are certainly on the “watch list”.