2013 Fantasy Football Preview: Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos

By Dustin Manko
Ravens Broncos
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Are you ready? The  fantasy football season kicks off tonight when the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens visit the Denver Broncos. Owners need to make the call today if they will be starting or sitting players from either team.

I am not particularly high on the Ravens’ secondary tonight. Peyton Manning already had a very respectable receiving corps with Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas, and the additions of Wes Welker and the emergence of Julius Thomas only adds to the fantasy value of Manning.

The Ravens’ defense has been almost completely revamped, and if there is any hesitation or second-guessing on defensive assignments by the Ravens, Manning will find and exploit it.

Ladarius Webb should cover Welker underneath, which could pose matchup problems for Welker, but he is still a must-start. If that holds true, expect very respectable results from Decker and Thomas as the Ravens’ secondary shouldn’t be able to contain them. Start all of them.

The Ravens’ front does offer some serious upside. Everyone knows Terrell Suggs is a beast, and now the Broncos offensive line also needs to account for Elvis Dumervil. Both could have big games. In IDP, start them both.

The Broncos look like they will be using Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno in the dreaded committee approach, but with a suspect offensive line, whichever Broncos running back can offer the best protection for Manning will likely emerge as the lead horse for the evening.

If I had any of these backs on my team, they would all be sitting this week, as each will limit the others’ touches. If you have to start one, the smart money is on Ball.

The Ravens’ offense should offer a heavy dose of Ray Rice with a dash of Bernard Pierce to start off with. The Ravens are certainly aware that they rushed twice as much in the playoff win than they did in the regular season loss to Denver last season. Look for Baltimore to pound the rock in an effort to set up the deep threat.

You drafted Rice high, you need to start him. Pierce is a risky flex play this week, one I would sit rather than start, but could have value if the Ravens can maintain a lead.

Von Miller is out for Denver, meaning Joe Flacco should have plenty of time to find Torrey Smith, the only viable fantasy receiver for Baltimore. Champ Bailey has also been ruled out, leaving Dominique Rodger-Cromartie, to cover Smith, and the Ravens receiver has the clear advantage.

I’m interested to see how Marlon Brown is used tonight. The rookie has been making a name for himself, and it is clear that Jacoby Jones is not the no. 2 receiver the Ravens need to replace the loss of Anquan Boldin. Brown could emerge as the second option for Baltimore. Deep league/dynasty owners might want to grab Brown now.

As always, I welcome your comments. If you think I’m wrong, I’m willing to listen. Just back it up with some facts and solid evidence. Thanks for reading and good luck this season.

Dustin Manko is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DustinManko, ”Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

Read more on opening night at http://www.rantsports.com/fantasy/2013/09/04/week-1-fantasy-football-opening-night-love-hate/

Read more from Dustin here.

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