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In The Spotlight – Week 1 In Review

Week 1 Fantasy Headlines:

Game Summaries & Fantasy Commentary:

Thursday Night Game:









Fantasy Focus – Baltimore Ravens:

 Ray Rice (12-36-1 rushing and 8-35-0 receiving) touched the ball 20 total times. Some of you, however, are still grumpy about Bernard Pierce (9-22-0 rushing) stealing carries and Vonta Leach (3-12-1 receiving) catching a short touchdown flip that could have been a goal-line carry for Rice. This is the status quo for Rice now; you knew it when you drafted him. Baltimore fell behind and had to scrap its rushing attack, so Rice should have more productive days on the ground in the coming weeks.

Don’t get too excited about Joe Flacco’s passing stat line (34/62 for 362-2-2). It looks nice, but Flacco had to sling the rock 62 times to make it happen. Torrey Smith (4-92-0 on eight targets), as expected, drew a ton of coverage, because he obviously is Baltimore’s top receiving weapon. Smith will continue to face extra coverage going forward. The Ravens used Marlon Brown (4-65-1 on six targets) heavily after Jacoby Jones (3-24-0 on four targets) went down with a knee injury. Jones is expected to miss four-to-six weeks, which would give Brown some fantasy WR5 value. Even with Jones out, Brandon Stokley (4-34-0 on 10 targets) doesn’t look valuable enough to belong on a roster.

Ed Dickson (1-13-0 on five targets) dropped a few passes and had a brutal game. Although Dallas Clark (7-87-0 on 12 targets) dropped a likely touchdown pass and looked old and slow, he was targeted 12 times. Consider Clark a desperation TE2 pickup.

Waiver Wire Prospects:
Dallas Clark, Marlon Brown

Fantasy Focus – Denver Broncos:
Thirty-seven-year-old Peyton Manning (27/42 for 462-7-0) has lost a little juice on his deep ball, but does it really matter? Nope. Manning dazzled us with a historic game thanks to some help from his newest weapons, Wes Welker (9-67-2 on 11 targets) and the surprising Julius Thomas (5-110-2 on seven targets). Demaryius Thomas (5-161-2 on 11 targets) padded his stat line by turning a short pass from Manning into a 78-yard touchdown jaunt in the fourth quarter. Eric Decker (2-32-0 on seven targets) suffered through a terrible game, which included a dropped touchdown pass.

Is J. Thomas a “Week 1 Wonder” or the real deal? Since the league knows about him now, I think Thomas falls somewhere in between. I think the fantasy production J. Thomas, Welker and Decker (don’t give up on him just yet) will vary from week to week, because there are a lot of mouths to feed in the Broncos’ passing attack.

On the downside, the Denver rushing attack is murky right now. Knowshon Moreno (9-28-0 rushing and 3-37-0 receiving) got the start but did not impress. Ronnie Hillman (4-15-0 rushing and 2-27-0 receiving) and Montee Ball (8-24-0 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) didn’t receive any touches until the third quarter. Moreno seems to be the one that the Broncos trust the most, but he is the slowest of the three. Nobody in this trio deserves a spot in your starting lineup for now. Don’t give up on Ball. If he finally nails down the ins-and-outs of pass protection, the starting job will be his.

Waiver Wire Prospect:
Julius Thomas (he probably is owned in your league, but check the free-agent pool anyway).

Early Sunday Afternoon Games:








Fantasy Focus – New England Patriots:
The New England offense played sloppily at times in this one but still got the job done when it counted. Tom Brady (29/52 for 288-2-1) lost a fumble deep in Buffalo territory, but he made up for it by engineering one of his trademark last-minute drives to set up a game-winning field goal. How did Brady’s revamped receiver corps do? It was a mixed bag. Danny Amendola (10-104-0 on 14 targets) left the game in the second quarter with a groin injury, but he returned later to make some clutch catches. The performance of Julian Edelman (7-79-2 on nine targets) was a welcomed gift to anyone who rolled the dice and started Amendola’s understudy. On the downside, rookie Kenbrell Thompkins (4-42-0 on 14 targets) was heavily targeted, but he had some drops and ran some incorrect routes. Undrafted rookie Zach Sudfeld played limited snaps and turned in a goose egg on just one target.

While Brady should continue to be productive, he is not in the upper echelon of fantasy passers at the moment. Don’t give up on the talented-but-inexperienced Thompkins, but park him and Sudfeld on your bench for now.

Here is where things get really interesting: In the second quarter, Stevan Ridley (9-46-0 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) lost two fumbles and was benched for the rest of the contest following the second miscue. Shane Vereen (14-101-0 rushing and 7-58-0 receiving), who started the game as the Patriots’ third-down specialist, replaced Ridley for the rest of the afternoon. Has New England head coach Bill Belichick finally run out of patience with Ridley’s ball security issues? Will Vereen start in Week 2? You’ll have to monitor the situation during the week.

Waiver Wire Prospect:
Julian Edelman

Fantasy Focus – Buffalo Bills:
Led by rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel (18/27 for 150-2-0 passing and 3-23-0 rushing), the new-look Buffalo offense had its good moments but struggled badly at critical times late in the contest. Manuel made some nice throws with a few stinkers mixed in. He also looks like a formidable scrambler. Steve Johnson (3-39-1 on six targets) and Scott Chandler (4-38-0 on six targets) were Manuel’s top targets. Chandler, by the way, committed a bad drop and looked surprisingly slow following his ACL surgery.

As promised, the Bills featured a run-heavy attack with C.J. Spiller (17-41-0 rushing and 5-14-0 receiving) and Fred Jackson (13-67-0 rushing and 4-41-0 receiving) leading the way. However, the 17/13 split in carries between Spiller, who lost a fumble, and Jackson, is not what Spiller owners wanted to see. He did leave the game after taking a shot to the head, which could explain Jackson’s surprisingly heavy workload. Spiller owners should not worry about Jackson’s workload right now. The duo probably will have a tough time getting on track against a solid Carolina Panthers run defense in Week 2.

Waiver Wire Prospect:
E.J. Manuel (matchup QB2 potential)

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