Fantasy Football 2013: What We Learned From Opening Night

By Adam Pfeifer
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports


Hey, we waited seven months. What’s another 30 minutes, right?

After an untimely weather delay, the 2013 NFL season kicked off tonight with a rematch of last year’s playoff game between the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos. Fantasy footballers have been anxiously awaiting the day they could switch back and forth between the television and their computer, constantly checking their matchup scores. As for the Thursday night contest, there were a handful of fantasy storylines that needed to be addressed, and I dug up some of the significant aspects of the game for fantasy owners.

Is Knowshon Moreno the RB to own in Denver?

After Ronnie Hillman was listed as the number one back on the Broncos’ depth chart, many assumed he would get the first crack, and then it would follow with a rather ugly committee approach. However, head coach John Fox pulled some “Shanahanigans of his own by starting Knowshon Moreno instead. Moreno was in for 10 of the Broncos first 12 offensive snaps, puzzling fantasy players worldwide. It took almost two whole quarters for rookie Montee Balto see his first snap of the game, in which he was used to block during a play-action pass. The Broncos want to operate a quick, no-huddle offense, especially when at home. Whichever back provides the best presence in that circumstance will likely get the most playing time, and so far, it appears to be Moreno, who wasn’t bad at all towards the end of 2012.Over the last four games, Moreno averaged 89 rushing yards per contest and scored three times. This backfield is still unattractive when it comes to fantasy, but perhaps it just got a bit clearer.

Orange Julius looks good

The drink and the player, of course. Tight end Julius Thomas has gotten a lot of hype during the preseason after beating out Joel Dreesen for the starting tight end job. The kid is a freak athlete, standing at 6’5″, 250 pounds and fitting into that Antonio Gates mold. Thomas wasted no time introducing himself to the fantasy world, catching five balls for 110 yards and two, count it, two touchdowns. Many, including myself, figured it would be difficult for Thomas to get enough looks with the threesome at wide receiver. This kid definitely has some upside going forward, especially catching passes from the likes of Peyton Manning. Sure, many see his opening night explosion and think of Kevin Ogletree from last year, but this isn’t the same. Ogletree wasn’t hyped up during the preseason and isn’t anywhere near the physical specimen Thomas is. He probably won’t have another fantasy outing like this, but he’ll be serviceable.

Peyton Manning could easily toss 50 touchdowns

Too many gosh darn weapons. Manning just displayed a straight up silly performance on Thursday night, throwing for over 300 yards and an out-of-this-worldly seven touchdowns. The Denver offense has just too many weapons, like I said, for defenses to handle. It’s not like you can highlight one or two players because three or four different guys can make you pay. I mean, think about it. Manning threw five touchdowns and both Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker were nonexistent in this contest. Someone will always step up in this offense, and oh yeah, Manning is Manning. I mean, hey. He’s already on pace for over 100 touchdowns!

The Ravens miss Dennis Pitta

I think people don’t fully understand how important Pitta’s presence as a security blanket was for Joe Flacco and that offense last season. During this contest, fill-ins Ed Dickson and veteran Dallas Clark were absolutely miserable. Dickson was targeted five times, resulting in an ugly four drops. Clark, meanwhile, also had some pass-catching issues, dropping an easy touchdown pass, as well as another one over the middle. This passing attack looks very suspect, and although you aren’t starting Flacco in fantasy anyway, it still kills his prospects. If they have to play from behind like they did this evening, Baltimore could be in some trouble.

Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.


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