We ended the 2013 NFL season with a dominant Seahawks victory, so it's only appropriate we'd start the 2014 season the same way. Sure, it's early, but, other than injury, what's stopping Seattle from repeating as Super Bowl champs? Yeah, yeah, lots can change over the course of an NFL season, yadda, yadda. But let's put it this way ... if you were betting with a friend on the 2014 Super Bowl champion and he picked Seattle first, how many teams would you need to take to make the bet fair? Three? Who would you take? Something like the Broncos, Patriots (they often lose in Miami - I'm not worried), and (insert random third team of choice here). Even then, I'd probably prefer Seattle.
One team I know I'm not taking as that third team is the Colts. Even in a weak AFC South, they're at risk of missing the playoffs. If you disagree, give me any recipe for Colts success that doesn't involve Andrew Luck. Go ahead, I dare you. Nope, sorry, Robert Mathis is out for the year. Fantasy owners should be happy, though, as the set-up is perfect for pinball all year long. Yes, playing the Broncos will make a lot of teams look that way, but with a bad defense and no running game, Indy should be involved in plenty of shootouts. I'm so confident in Luck's volume going forward that I'd consider an even-money bet that Luck outscores Peyton Manning in fantasy this year (particularly if that Denver defense is as improved as some believe). If you can give up Peyton for Luck and upgrade at another position in a two-for-two trade, do so.
Other than Luck, Ahmad Bradshaw is the Indy player I'd be targeting now. As Scott Pianowski appropriately noted on Twitter, what can Trent Richardson do that Bradshaw can't? (Insert joke about home videos here.) Dwayne Allen might be a fantasy TE-1 if the Colts could ever stop over-using the plodding Coby Fleener. I'm not buying Reggie Wayne, though - at age 75, coming off an ACL tear, he looks like he's running in mud. It's a shame the Colts didn't have a first-round pick (given up to acquire Richardson) to give Luck the elite receiver he so obviously needs. Can you imagine Kelvin Benjamin with Luck?
The Falcons also look like they'll be playing pinball throughout 2014 - a top-10 real-life QB, elite receiving options, a dome stadium, and a bad defense should ensure it. But how about two other teams we traditionally don't think of as pinball teams - the 49ers and Steelers? Maybe it's a little early to put these two in that same category, but it's time to at least start thinking about it. Yes, the Niners beat up the Cowboys on the scoreboard, but Tony Romo's 3-INT stinkbomb masked some serious flaws in the 49ers defense. DeMarco Murray went 22-118-1 in a game Dallas was trailing from the outset, proving the Niners run defense we've grown used to seeing isn't around anymore. With an array of solid offensive weapons and a defense on the decline, expect Colin Kaepernick to finish 2014 as a top-7 fantasy QB. As for the Steelers ... if you allow 27 points to a bad Browns offense while putting up 490 yards of total offense yourself, then you might just be a pinball. This ain't the Steelers defense your dad grew up with.
Apparently, LeVeon Bell and LeGarrette Blount weren't the only ones on dope; so, too, were the fantasy analysts (like yours truly) who worried Blount would detract from Bell's value. I still want to see more explosive plays, but with his current usage, Bell sure looks like a top-12 fantasy asset.
The phrase "men among boys" is overused, but J.J. Watt literally looks like a grown man playing with grade schoolers. The only NFL players more valuable than Watt right now, in real-life terms, play quarterback.
Just as I wrote that, Calvin Johnson scored his second touchdown. OK, Calvin, I hear you. You're right behind Watt.
How much does one week move the fantasy needle for players like Doug Martin and Mark Ingram? Everyone says not to over-react after one game, but the NFL season goes so quickly, I fear we as an industry are, if anything, too slow to react. So forget draft positions - I'd trade Martin for Ingram. Remember, Martin struggled last year before getting hurt, and he did both again in Week One. Yes, that Panthers front seven was a brutal matchup, but isn't Ingram more trustworthy right now? Ingram is running angry, which I love, and while he's sharing carries, the Saints offense will ensure there's enough to go around. Martin may have a little higher upside as a potential feature-back, but Ingram's floor is significantly higher. In fact, I see Ingram as a virtual lock for 10 TDs.
Speaking of running angry, Ingram has nothing on Knowshon Moreno. What a beast. And to think nobody (in the entire fantasy industry or real-life NFL) wanted Moreno except Miami. Going forward, we have to prefer Moreno over Lamar Miller in fantasy - the Dolphins coaches certainly do (24 carries for Moreno, just 11 for Miller).
Sadly, running angry doesn't always work out well. After just one game, I'm officially worried about Eddie Lacy's aggressive running style. Concussions in successive years are never good (ask Wes Welker), and while we can sometimes say concussions are random, I'm not sure that's the case with Lacy. Let's put it this way ... other than Carlos Hyde, there aren't many backup running backs I'd want to stash on my bench more than James Starks. Devonta Freeman is on the short list, too; Steven Jackson makes Reggie Wayne look young and spry.
Allen Hurns deserves all the waiver wire claims he'll get this week, but there's always going to be someone willing to spend more of their FAAB than I will. My excitement is mitigated by a crowded Jaguars receiving corps and the sad reality that a Henne-led offense can only feed so many mouths. Going forward, I'd probably rank them Marquise Lee, Hurns, and Cecil Shorts, but that feels subject to change at a moment's notice.
The Jay Cutler as MVP talk in the preseason was silly, and it took just one week to prove why. Cutler was his same, old self against the Bills - throwing off his back foot late into coverage, basically giving the game away. It was so bad that a mediocre Bills team won as a TD-underdog on the road even though they didn't play well. It's not like C.J. Spiller went off or E.J. Manuel had a surprisingly good game - Cutler just handed it to the Bills on a platter. Spiller saved a disappointing day with a goal line touchdown through the air, but I'd be buying here. Fred Jackson barely played in the second half (the highlight-reel stiff-arm in overtime notwithstanding), and Spiller got 18 touches to Jackson's 10. With that division of labor, the big runs will come.
How bad is the NFC East? The Giants, Cowboys, and Redskins are all be bottom-10 teams, and the Eagles were just life and death with the Jaguars at home. Is it too early to bet that none of these teams win a playoff game this year? What kind of odds would you need to bet that an NFC East team wins a playoff game in 2014?
Raiders fans have to feel cautious optimism with Derek Carr's debut. Against a Rex Ryan defense on the road with anemic weapons around him and no running game, Carr could have done much worse than two sacks, no turnovers, and two touchdowns.
I can think of better ways to spend 100(+) million than on a contract for Joe Flacco. Every time Flacco pukes all over himself (virtually every week nowadays), it ticks me off remembering how I faded the Ravens every game of their Super Bowl run.
Is 29-year old journeyman Justin Forsett really the running back to own in Baltimore? I guess so. Bernard Pierce is younger and, theoretically, more talented, but his prolonged period of suckitude and Forsett's Week 1 stats leave me preferring the journeyman.
Rashad Jennings owners had to be happy watching him get successive goal line carries and go 4-50 out of the backfield. I still loathe the Giants offense, but maybe I was wrong about Jennings; perhaps he's a low-end RB1. And to think that the computer auto-drafted Jennings for me in the Stopa Law Firm League when I was temporarily booted offline (which may or may not have precipitated a lengthy session of whining by yours truly).
Chiefs fans shouldn't worry about Jamaal Charles, who has enough of a history to give him a mulligan for one bad game. The Derrick Johnson injury, though, is brutal. Remember, the Chiefs defense fell apart the latter part of 2013 after injuries struck.
If your fantasy WR1 is playing the Cardinals, that's just as big a problem as if he's playing the Seahawks. Though Arizona lacks the overall talent we see in Seattle, the way the Cardinals move Patrick Peterson all over the field (unlike what Seattle does with Richard Sherman) will be a problem for the WR1s all year.
One of the most shocking aspects of Week 1, for me, was the Vikings giving up just six points. Remember, this unit gave up an NFL-worst 480 points in 2013 (prompting most savvy fantasy owners to pick on them the latter part of the year) and made no significant personnel additions on defense. Does the addition of Mike Zimmer at head coach matter that much? Or are the Rams just that bad on offense? I'm inclined to think the latter, but let's see what happens this week.
Does anyone believe the NFL - and, specifically, Roger Goodell - did not see that Ray Rice knockout punch before levying the two-game suspension? Anyone? Rice deserves what he's now getting, but it's bizarre that it took a leaked video by TMZ for us to get there. Can TMZ help us get more just results in all NFL situations? Where's the video of Josh Gordon inhaling second-hand smoke, TMZ? Or please, please show us the video of Goodell watching the Ray Rice knockout punch before he issued the two-game suspension.
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