On Thursday night, the 2013 season will officially kick off. It will end the months of boredom and give us fantasy football fans something to live for again.
Each week of the season, I will have a complete love them and hate them list to help you formulate your final fantasy lineups. I will provide several options at each position and will give plenty of analysis for each selection. So before setting your lineup in Week 1, make sure to check out my love and hate list for opening night.
Guys I Love On Thursday Night:
QB Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos – This is Manning’s first game with WR Wes Welker running routes and it should immediately give the quarterback more room to operate. Baltimore also lost the majority of their starting defense in the off-season, so expect the future Hall of Famer to expose the team’s weaknesses all game long.
Projection: 331 passing yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs
RB Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens – In the Baltimore’s postseason appearance against the Broncos, Rice absolutely exploded. He rushed the ball 30 times for 131 yards and one touchdown. Denver didn’t have an answer for the multi-talented back last time around, and considering that OLB Von Miller will be suspended to start the year, Rice should once again be running wild against the Broncos.
Projection: 16 rushes, 94 rushing yard, 1 TD, two receptions, 23 receiving yards
WR Wes Welker, Denver Broncos – Welker was a PPR machine over his tenure with the New England Patriots and the five-time Pro Bowler will fit in perfectly in Denver. He will occupy the slot and will instantly become Manning’s favorite safety blanket. Welker’s first game in Mile High will be one to remember, so you better make sure he is in your lineup.
Projection: 8 receptions, 87 yards, 1 TD
TE Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos – Mr. Red Zone is finally getting some attention this off-season. He is fitting in well with Denver’s spread offense and the tight end led the entire team in receptions this preseason. Thomas should start his breakout fantasy season with an impressive performance on Thursday night.
Projection: 4 receptions, 58 yards, 0 TD
Guys I Hate On Thursday Night:
QB Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens – Flacco may have led the Ravens to a Super Bowl last year, but before that he had another mediocre fantasy season. He only threw 22 total touchdowns in 2012 and the five-year pro has never thrown more than 3,900 yards. Look for another middle of the road fantasy performance from Flacco to open the 2013 season.
Projection: 245 passing yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs
RB Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos – Hillman has already been listed as the starting back for Thursday night, but the fact that the team waited so long to make their decision shows that they are not sold on the idea. Hillman has fumbled the football three times this preseason, losing two of them, so don’t be surprised to see Montee Ball and Knowshon Moreno cut into Hillman’s carries on opening night.
Projection: 14 rushes, 48 rushing yards, 0 TDs
WR Eric Decker, Denver Broncos – This will be Decker’s first game as the third option in Denver and the addition of Welker will ultimately take targets away from Decker in the long run. Look for the veteran to slowly become the third wheel in Denver.
Projection: 3 receptions, 48 receiving yards, 0 TDs
TE Ed Dickson, Baltimore Ravens – The loss of Dennis Pitta for most of the year (hip) immediately left a full-time spot open on the edge in Baltimore and Dickson is the most experienced tight end on the roster. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he will be a reliable week-to-week option. Denver’s defense is great in coverage and will be all over Dickson, so look for someone else to start on Thursday night.
Projection: 2 receptions, 33 receiving yards, 0 TD