The NFL marketing team knows what it’s doing apparently. All last night’s game did was whet my appetite for Sunday… in other words, they gave me just a little taste, showed me just a little bit of football, and what did it do? Made me want MORE FOOTBALL!!
So the bright side to this relatively new trend of the Opening Night taking place on a Thursday: three fewer days we have to wait for real NFL football, and, as if it was necessary, getting even more fired up for the first Sunday of the season. But, the downside: three fewer days to schedule your fantasy football draft or to make those last second waiver claims and lineup decisions, and more importantly, no Ravens and Broncos available for this week in your daily fantasy football contests at DraftKings.
But when week 2 rolls around, I don’t want these players to be the forgotten entities, the guys who fell off your radar just because they didn’t make it to your potential draft lists in week 1. There certainly are enough fantasy options on the two teams to make them interesting choices, and enough interesting questions about individual players that having a game to see how everything shakes out can only help you make more informed decisions when these players ARE available, next week.
The Options: Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker; Ray Rice, Torrey Smith.
- Both “options,” fine – but who’s better, Welker or Decker?
- Is Rice going to start losing carries to Pierce? Does Pierce have value?
- What RB matters for Denver? If they all do, then, really, do any of them?
- Is there another WR worth owning on the Ravens? Were the last four games of last year a turning point for Flacco?
To try to answer these questions, and maybe more, I am writing this Thursday night, sitting here watching the game… and as I see something that sheds any light, I’ll make a note of it… and next week, you can refer right back here when you’re deciding who to get in your DraftKings lineup.
- RB on the field when Denver takes the field for the first time is Knowshon Moreno… and he plays the entire drive, with one nice carry mixed in there.
- Peyton’s first completion? Wes Welker, first down on an option route on 3rd and ten – looked familiar (but Thomas and Decker have both had one target so far as well).
- Drive 2 for the Ravens begins with Pierce in the backfield, and he rips off a first down run immediately, but Rice is right back in there a couple of snaps later. Rice played the entire first drive as well, and looks to still be the centerpiece of the Ravens offense.
- Long completion to Torrey Smith – no surprise there – he is pretty clearly their best option.
- On the second Ravens drive, Flacco looks good, completing a bunch of balls and converting a couple of third downs on his way to the first points of the 2013 NFL season – a TD pass to Vonta Leach.
- Drive #2 for the Broncos– more Moreno.
- Manning, 4 completions – Welker, 4 catches. All he does is get open.
- Second RB in the game for Denver: Hillman.
- Jacoby Jones leveled by his own teammate while Jones is trying to corral a punt… Jones hyperextended knee. Tough play – he never saw that hit coming.
- Peyton Manning ties this game up in a hurry following a Flacco interception with a long TD pass to the young TE Julius Thomas! That is his second catch, and third target, and he looks like a player. To blatantly use a cliché`, he passes the eye test. He looks like Shannon Sharpe out there in that bright orange uniform – a big, athletic, match-up nightmare.
- Update: Julius Thomas = monster, apparently. He now has 4 catches for 97 yards and 2 TDs in the first half.
- Demaryius Thomas shows why he is still Denver’s “Number One” receiver with an athletic catch and run for a big gain down the sideline.
- Manning looks like his old self with his third TD pass of the night, a perfectly thrown deep ball down the sideline… to Andre Caldwell? I thought they only had three receivers… um, right?
- Ho hum. Handed a short field on a blocked punt, Manning throws TD pass #4. To Wes Welker.
- #5. To Welker. Quickly.
- #6, Demaryius.
- #7… yes, SEVEN… Demaryius.
That second half got less informative in a hurry. Peyton is on pace to throw 112 TDs this year. Don’t know if you can judge the Ravens all that well based on this game. That was an onslaught.
- Wes Welker just gets open. He looks involved. And yeah, maybe he is lucky, going from Brady to Manning. But for all those people who assumed the targets just couldn’t be there for him with so many other options… maybe he is just good. You might not be able to count on the TDs, but the eight catches – that’s repeatable. If it is just the system, this now appears to be the second consecutive system he’s in for which he seems to be a mighty good fit.
- Oh yeah, Peyton is Peyton, until further notice. SEVEN TOUCHDOWNS?!?!?! (Peyton’s Night: First 7 TD game since 1969, tied Brett Favre for most 4 TD games ever, and tied Drew Brees for most ever 5 TD games… not too shabby).
- In the Denver backfield, all three guys got some run, and all three looked good, which is good for the Broncos, but not for your fantasy lineup. But as for two quick observations you can use: Moreno was in there the most, and Hillman looked good catching the ball, and probably had the most burst. Ball ended up with a nice statline, and looked like he has the ability to be a really solid back, but these carries all came late. It may be too early to trust him completely. The Broncos offense looked like a juggernaut, but unless you have some inside information, in the short term you might have to be ok with the only Broncos fantasy options you are truly confident with being in the passing game. That could still mean 4 or 5 relevant Broncos every single Sunday between the 3 WRs (no, I am still not thinking of Andre Caldwell), a newly emergent TE, and Peyton.
- It appears, not surprisingly, that the Ravens offense did not become a fantasy juggernaut overnight. They are a team who got hot at the right moment, won a championship, but who are not all of a sudden going to dominate the regular season, in terms of wins or fantasy production. The upside of their best players is limited only by the overall upside of their offense. You can feel comfortable starting Rice and Smith, but there will not be any weeks where FOUR different receivers get to double-digit fantasy points like they just did for Denver.
You know all about our huge Week 1 cash prizes at this point, and you still have a couple of days to get in on the fun, but have you heard about Week 16? The 2013 Fantasy Football Millionaire Grand Final is going to turn one fantasy football player into a millionaire as part of more than $3 million in guaranteed prizes in that one week alone. That means almost $5 million in guaranteed prizes in weeks 1 and 16 only – never mind all the great games and contests and prizes in between. Get started.