Thursday Night Fantasy Football Theatrics – Baltimore @ Denver

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Week 1′s Thursday night football game pits the Baltimore Ravens against the Denver Broncos in which Las Vegas believes will be fairly lopsided. The game is 7.5 points to the Broncos favor at the time of the release of this article. Don’t fret though as anything can happen and it is definitely not unforseen to see a dog take it to favorite at any point in the season. None-the-less, while watching the game will be exciting, what you really are reading this article for is to find your stars, flops and sleepers for Thursday night’s game. So let’s get to it.

The Stars

Peyton Manning, Quarterback (DEN)  - FFLockerRoom has Manning listed as the third best quarterback for Week 1. With an onslaught of receiving weapons carried over from 2012 while adding veteran Wes Welker to the mix, there is no doubting that health will be the only thing that slows Manning down in 2013. He should kick start the campaign off in great fashion. Only sit Manning if you have Matt Ryan or Drew Brees on your roster as well. And if you do, you have a sickness of riches.

Ray Rice, Running Back (BAL) – Rice, who is the sixth best play among running backs this week in standard and PPR leagues should be an excellent play. As Tom Schriner, our resident Running Back expert states, “Without Von Miller and Dummervill, I think the Broncos have a hard time locking down the Ravens rushing attack.” 

Demaryius Thomas, Wide Receiver (DEN) – While he does have some competition for targets, Thomas should be utilized early and often by Manning who made the fourth year wide receiver a star in 2012. You have to start your studs. Play him. 

Matt Prater, Place Kicker (DEN) – Rated as a mid-tier PK1 for Week 1 of the NFL season, FFLockerRoom’s Dan Gilman describes Prater this week as, “Prater and the Denver Broncos get the new-look Baltimore Ravens to open up the season on Thursday night. Look for Manning and the offense to move the ball at a quick pace up-and-down the field and give Prater chances for a few field goals and extra points in the revenge game from the playoffs last season.”

Justin Tucker, Place Kicker (BAL) – Ranked tenth overall for Week 1, Gilman talks about the Ravens kicker. “Tucker gets the Denver Broncos week one in the thin air, “a mile high.” The Ravens should be able to move the ball against an overrated Broncos defense and give Tucker a chance for a top 10 performance during week one.”

The Flops

Joe Flacco, Quarterback (BAL) – Listed as the 17th best quarterback play in fantasy football for Week 1, Flacco should not be in anyone’s lineup this week. If he is, that means you play in a league that is at least 17 teams deep. Seriously, there is no reason to start Flacco. SIT HIM!!! 

Ronnie Hillman, Running Back (DEN) – The Broncos backfield is something that you will want to try to avoid at all costs this year, but it doesn’t ring any more true than in Week 1 going against a solid Baltimore Ravens rush defense. He is ranked as a mid-RB3 in deeper fantasy leagues.

Knowshon Moreno, Running Back (DEN) – Ranked as a low-end RB3 by FFLockerRoom for Week 1, Moreno should be avoided unless you are playing in a very deep league that utilizes the flex position and you have absolutely no one even on par with Moreno. He should be started as a last resort and most likely will struggle mightily. 

Montee Ball, Running Back (DEN) – Ranked as a low-end RB4 in deeper fantasy leagues, Ball will have to prove that he can not only beat out a good rush defense, but also leapfrog both Moreno and Hillman. That probably isn’t happening in Week 1. Keep him on your bench.  

Bernard Pierce, Running Back (BAL) – Pierce combined for a total of 34 yards in two games against the Broncos last season and rumor has it that his work load is going to be light to start off the season. While it is not known whether or not the Baltimore coaching staff has minimal confidence in the young running back, one thing is almost certain, and that is that the Ravens will most likely be playing from behind for most of the night. That doesn’t bode well for his statistical output. 

Sleepers

Wes Welker, Wide Receiver (DEN) – Rated 15th overall by Jonathan Nardone, Welker looks to get off to a great start against the Ravens. Rated as a low-end WR2, high-end WR3 as a compilation at Fantasy Pros, Nardone sees something in Welker that will make him a sneaky play this week. 

Torrey Smith, Wide Receiver (BAL) – Smith is ranked as a mid-tier WR3 in deeper fantasy leagues, but he could be a surprise play as the Ravens will most likely have to be airing the ball out throughout the game and someone will have to catch it. Smith is a good bet to be Flacco’s main target down field. 

Jacoby Jones, Wide Receiver (BAL) – Much like Welker, Nardone has a sneaking suspicion about Jones and I tend to agree with him on this. The Ravens will need to throw the ball and someone will have to catch it after Dickson and Smith. Jones looks to be the benefactor. If you are struggling for a flex option in deeper leagues, Jones could be a solid option. But in Week 1 you really shouldn’t be struggling for an option unless your league size is enormous. 

Ed Dickson, Tight End (BAL) – Ranked as a high-end TE2 in deeper leagues, Jason Davis believes that Dickson can be a pretty sneaky play. Jason states, “Broncos were a stout defense in 2012 except against the TE’s. With Baltimore limited at WR Dickson could be a sneaky play.”

Honorable Mentions

Eric Decker, Wide Receiver (DEN) – Manning has made a career of spreading the ball around and after a campaign which saw Decker go for over 1,000 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns, it is hard to look past Decker. Keep in mind that Decker had posted double-digit fantasy points in 8 weeks during the 2012 season.

Julius Thomas, Tight End (DEN) – It is hard to get a read on what Thomas will contribute in Week 1, but with his athletic size and ability and Manning’s love for taking advantage of mismatches, Thomas could be a star on the rise in 2013. While we are not predicting a dominant game by any means, he could start to make his mark as early as Week 1. 

Barely On The Radar

Marlon Brown, Wide Receiver (BAL) 

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