2013 Fantasy Football News and Notes: Week 1

Up To Date Injuries and Relevant News from All 32 NFL Teams Heading into week 1

Buffalo: E.J. Manuel gets the start after being able to practice this week. While not recommended as a fantasy play, expect Manuel to have to throw the football a lot more than the Bills wanted him to the first week of the season as he faces the Patriots. C.J. Spiller and Stevie Johnson are the only recommended fantasy plays from Buffalo this week.
Miami: Despite the evidence which clearly shows Lamar Miller to be superior to Daniel Thomas, the Dolphins insist that Thomas will be part of the game plan and will get his share of a split situation with Miller. This could just be coach speak or it could prove to be true. If coach speak, Miller is primed to prove himself a capable fantasy play. If true, it caps his upside. I'm not sure what to believe but I'm thinking Miller makes a low end fantasy RB2 week 1 while we wait and see what really happens.   
New England: TE Rob Gronkowski is officially listed as Doubtful and is not expected to play. The Patriots likely will hold Gronk out of week 2 as well since the Patriots have the short week and play the Jets Thursday night. Zach Sudfeld will be the primary receiving TE and makes a nice low end TE1 this first week. Danny Amendola's groin injury is nothing of consequence and he is Probable. He makes a low end fantasy WR1 this week with higher value in PPR. Stevan Ridley should be heavily involved and he should be a strong RB1. Shane Vereen is a good high end RB3. Tom Brady should never sit on a fantasy bench. We'll find out whether Kenbrell Thompkins can produce in real games as he should get the majority of the starting work opposite Amendola. WR Aaron Dobson is Questionable with a hamstring injury and while expected to play should be kept on the bench until we see how the WR rotation will work in New England.
New York Jets: Rookie Geno Smith starts and likely will need to totally faceplant to not be given the chance to grow through his mistakes throughout the season. Mark Sanchez is out a few weeks with a shoulder injury. The Jets say Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell will be splitting time at RB week 1 but I figure as long Ivory stays healthy his superior talent will give him the majority of the snaps over Powell. Santonio Holmes is Questionable as he tries to recover from foot surgery. Even if active Holmes is likely to be limited and not near the same WR he was pre-injury. I wouldn't want to start anyone from the Jets week 1. At all. Period.
Baltimore: WR Jacoby Jones suffered a sprained MCL Thursday night and will miss 4-6 weeks. Undrafted rookie Marlon Brown (who was fairly impressive in preseason and training camp) steps into the starting lineup in his place and is definitely worth considering as a roster add. Brown has some size and strength and could be a surprise starter the rest of the season as Jones is miscast as a starting NFL WR. I certainly hope the Ravens don't abandon their rushing game so easily in coming games. It seemed to me that with a 17-14 lead in the 3rd quarter, they got cute and threw the ball more than was necessary for having such a close game.
Cincinnati: While I expect BenJarvus Green-Ellis to get the official "start" week 1, I won't be surprised if rookie Giovani Bernard proves to be the better fantasy play. If the Bears can stop the rushing game of Cincinnati, Bernard offers far superior hands as a pass catching weapon for the Bengals in their passing game. It's not going to take long into the season for Bernard to usurp BGE as the Bengals starter and push him into just a complementary role.
Cleveland: Davone Bess is expected to start in place of Josh Gordon. Gordon is serving a league imposed 2 games suspension to start the season. We're going to learn very quickly whether the great preseason's by QB Brandon Weeden and TE Jordan Cameron were a sign of great things to come in 2013, or a mirage brought about by the fact it was the preseason. One thing I have no doubts about though is that Trent Richardson is a stud. We've been saying it since late spring: Richardson is going to challenge for elite fantasy RB status in 2013.
Pittsburgh: Rookie RB Le'Veon Bell will miss week 1, and probably weeks 2 and 3 as well as he recovers from a preseason mid-foot sprain. It's believed he has avoided a dreaded "Lisfranc" injury and if so should be able to recover nicely and take back over as the Steelers featured RB when he eventually returns. Isaac Redman starts and will be the primary RB in his place and backed up by both Felix Jones and La'Rod Stephens-Howling until Bell can return. TE Heath Miller avoided the PUP list to start the season but he's still believed to be out until week 4 as he tries to get back from the torn ACL he suffered back in December 2012.
Houston: Rookie WR DeAndre Hopkins has passed his concussion tests and is expected to be fine for Monday night's game against San Diego. RB Arian Foster has been practicing all week in full and will be fine as well. Foster caused some concern in preseason by missing al of training camp and preseason action with a "back" injury that was somehow connected to the "calf" injury he suffered back in OTA's. But I think this is going to turn out to be a lot of bluster about a lot of nothing. Even though the Texans say that Foster will be "eased" into game action, I'd be shocked if he didn’t lead the Texans in rushing attempts week 1. Foster is a strong RB2 week 1. Ben Tate makes a decent RB3 as it also wouldn't be a surprise to see Houston have a nice lead late on the Chargers and then use Tate to chew time off the clock while letting Foster rest.  
Indianapolis: I doubt if it will take long before the Colts change their minds about having Darrius Heyward-Bey starting over T.Y. Hilton. It may take a couple of games, but DHB has proven to be a talented WR who drops way too many passes in games while Hilton was one of the most pleasant surprises of the 2012 season proving to have both big play capability and sure hands. Ahmad Bradshaw is expected to start for the Colts, but be in a time share with Vick Ballard for the first week or two. Bradshaw needs to get his game legs under him as he has missed most of training camp and all the preseason as he recovers from off-season foot surgery. Bradshaw's foot injuries have been chronic the last few seasons and he finally had surgery to take care of the problem, but he hasn't fully recovered yet. Still, he will start, gets a great matchup, and could be a nice (albeit risky) low end RB2 play this week with upside to be better.
Jacksonville: Blaine Gabbert is expected to start despite being listed as Questionable on the injury report with his thumb injury. Gabbert appears to have earned some sort of trust with the organization as they are really giving him every chance to be their guy in 2013 despite having shown very little reason for it. I fully expect they'll be sinking with him at QB in 2013. Maurice Jones-Drew figures to be in for a heavy workload every game all season and with him being in a contract year, don't be surprised if MJD produced some quality yardage totals. I just wonder how often he'll be able to get into the end zone without much help from the QB position. WR Justin Blackmon is serving a league imposed 4 games suspension to start the season. A combination of surprising rookie Ace Sanders and second year undrafted veteran Mike Brown will pick up the slack opposite Cecil Shorts.
Tennessee: While there has been concern about WR Kenny Britt's knee, he isn't on the injury report and will be fine week 1. The pecking order at WR for starters appears to be Britt and Nate Washington starting, with Kendall Wright as the #3 and Damien Williams the #4. Rookie Justin Hunter needs more time to develop and likely will be a regular inactive on game days. This is truly the make or break year for Jake Locker at QB as he needs to start showing he can be an effective NFL QB. I have my doubts.  
Denver: Thursday night was a coming out party for TE Julius Thomas. Even when Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen get healthy they will be afterthoughts to Thomas and his far superior athleticism and talent. However, with so many hands to feed in the Denver passing attack, it needs to be remembered that each one is going to take a turn being on the outside of the box score looking in. Week 1, it was Eric Decker on the outside. Who it is each will rotate. It also wasn't a good sign for fantasy owners that the RBBC between Montee Ball, Knowshon Moreno, and Ronnie Hillman played out exactly as feared: no one worth considering for a start. The situation needs to shake itself out in coming weeks before any of the Broncos RB's should be trusted in a fantasy lineup.
Kansas City: The new Andy Reid/Alex Smith era begins in Kansas City this week. I have my doubts about Smith being a guy who can put up big stats even throwing the ball 35-40 times per game, but weapons like Dwayne Bowe and a checkdown option of Jamaal Charles could certainly make Smith look better than he really is. Don't be at all surprised if Charles leads all RB's in receptions in 2013.
Oakland: Terrelle Pryor is expected to start week 1 but there's a chance we could also see Matt Flynn get into some action. We may even see undrafted rookie QB Matt McGloin. The Raiders are a mess. Rod Streater and Denarius Moore will be the starting WR's. Streater is a possession style guy while Moore is a playmaker who is very inconsistent. The only Raiders worth considering is Darren McFadden. The Raiders will rely on their rushing attack to mask the deficiencies of their passing game. McFadden will be leaned on both to provide a rushing threat ad as a valuable checkdown option for Pryor. McFadden is an injury waiting to happen but until it happens, he's worth considering as a fantasy RB2.  
San Diego: The Chargers expect to have both Malcom Floyd and Eddie Royal back from their preseason injuries and able to play week 1. Their return does nothing good for fantasy owners as the presence of both hurts the prospects of superior talent Vincent Brown. It's not going to take Brown long to prove that he should be starting opposite Floyd and that Royal is nothing more than the #3 WR for the Chargers. We're going to learn a lot early in the preseason about Phillip Rivers and whether he truly has lost that zip on his passes that he used to possess. Rivers is a low end QB2 unless he shows he has some of his old arm strength back.
Dallas: Lance Dunbar is OUT week 1 with a foot injury. Dunbar had shown well enough to earn the top backup spot to DeMarco Murray, but this injury has allowed rookie Joseph Randle to get back into contention. WR Miles Austin has managed to avoid the hamstring issues that have plagued him in previous preseasons. Austin could be a nice sleeper play as more than a middling WR3 if he can stay healthy. Dez Bryant is going to challenge Calvin Johnson for the top fantasy producing WR spot in 2013.
New York Giants: With RB Andre Brown on the IR/designated for return list, David Wilson will be the featured RB for the Giants. It's unknown whether Wilson can handle a featured RB's load, but at least until the Giants find out whether either of Da'Rel Scott or Michael Cox (or maybe someone they sign after week 1 is over) can be effective in a complimentary role, Wilson gets to be a strong consideration as a RB2. Hakeem Nicks isn't on the injury report at all week 1 despite there having been some recent concerns about his knees. Victor Cruz is Probable with the heel injury that he suffered in preseason but he will start without issue. Cruz is the more sure thing between him and Nicks, but Nicks has the higher, near insane type of upside. If Nicks stays healthy this season (which is a contract year for him), he could go from risky WR2/3 to strong fantasy WR1 every week.
Philadelphia: The Chip Kelly era begins. The offense is really Mike Vick friendly and that bodes well for his chances of producing quality fantasy points on a regular basis and being a strong fantasy QB1. His passing and penchant for injury are Vick's biggest concerns. Even though Jason Avant is a better receiver, the Eagles plan to keep Avant in the 3rd WR role and start Riley Cooper opposite DeSean Jackson. LeSean McCoy should be in for a monster workload and providing he can handle it he makes a strong fantasy RB1. Backup Bryce Brown is likely to get a good amount of work as the Eagles figure to be one of the more run heavy offenses, but until we see exactly how that's going to work on the field in the regular season Brown can't be trusted.
Washington: RG3 has had a remarkable recovery from his January torn ACL and will start week 1 without issue. It remains to be seen whether the Redskins will cut down on his rushing attempts at least for the early weeks of the season but you'd have to imagine they certainly would be careful the first game. Roy Helu has won the top backup spot to Alfred Morris and will also operate as the 3rd down RB as he is a superior receiving RB. Helu could find himself in borderline flex territory if h e proves reliable each week for receptions and receiving yards. TE Fred Davis appears to be healthy and ready to show that he is completely over the ruptured Achilles injury that ended his 2012 season in October last season. Pierre Garcon also appears to be fully healthy after being bothered with a foot injury all last season.
Chicago: Brandon Marshall's hip is such a concern he isn't on the Bears injury report for week 1. As a matter of fact Chicago listed NOBODY on their week 1 injury report. That's very unusual and a good sign that the team is at full strength heading into the regular season. We'll see if QB Jay Cutler takes to new coach's Marc Trestman's offense. We'll also see if he trusts either new TE Martellus Bennett, or WR Alshon Jeffery enough to throw passes their way. Marshall is usually a target machine for Cutler. RB Matt Forte should also catch a lot of passes. It was nice to see Forte get goal line opportunities in the preseason and do well. If that carries over into the regular season Forte could be ready for a breakout season.
Detroit: Nate Burleson continues to start opposite Calvin Johnson but it's Ryan Broyles who has the superior fantasy upside as the season progresses. Joique Bell beat out Mikel Leshoure to be the top backup to Reggie Bush. Bell has the size, speed, and receiving ability to be fantasy relevant if anything were to happen to Bush and is a recommended handcuff.
Green Bay: Eddie Lacy is going to be the Packers featured RB but a week one matchup against San Francisco isn't good for his fantasy outlook to start the year. The injuries suffered by WR's Jordy Nelson (knee) and Randall Cobb (biceps) weren't even severe enough to get them mentioned on the injury report so they are okay to consider this week.
Minnesota: Jerome Simpson is keeping the seat warm at starting WR until the Vikings feel comfortable enough with rookie Cordarrelle Patterson taking over. That shouldn't take long though as Patterson is a superior talent to Simpson. Christian Ponder is going into a make or break season. HIs needs to prove he can make up for arm strength limitations by being more cerebral and accurate with his shorter to intermediate passes. If he doesn't, it may not take long into the season for his more experienced clone (backup Matt Cassel) to get a chance to start games.
Atlanta: Roddy White has never missed a game in his career and I don't think he'll miss week 1 despite being listed as Questionable with that preseason ankle injury he suffered 3-4 weeks ago. White will be fine. RB Steven Jackson is o going to love playing in Atlanta. The Falcons rode a tired and worn out Michael Turner the last 2 seasons and Jackson not only has more left in his tank than Turner did, he also is a far superior pass catcher and pass protector. Jackson is going to be a dual threat weapon for Atlanta and also get plenty of goal line opportunities. A matchup against New Orleans week 1 ensures there will be fantasy points to be had by all the starters in Atlanta.
Carolina: Mike Tolbert is Probable and will play despite a minor hamstring issue. Tolbert is the top backup to DeAngelo Williams. Rookie Kenjon Barner is OUT with a foot injury. Jonathan Stewart is on the PUP list and even when eligible to return may not be able to as he has had problems recovering ankle surgery on both feet. Williams has a clear chance to regain fantasy glory. A matchup against Seattle isn't likely to yield many points but will give us a barometer on whether DW is more than a fantasy RB3 in 2013.
New Orleans: After Marques Colston and Lance Moore at WR the rotation is not set. Kenny Stills, Nick Toon, and recently reunited Robert Meachem are all in the running for playing time in 3 WR sets. However, none of them are going to be better than the 5th option on any given play with Colston, Moore, TE Jimmy Graham, and RB's Darren Sproles or Pierre Thomas on the field. The RB situation is the thing to really pay attention to. Sean Peyton said after watching all last season he noticed they had gotten away from running the football and that he wants to do it more. That should bode well for Mark Ingram's fantasy outlook, but only if the Saints are being truthful about running it more. A matchup against Atlanta usually provides a lot of great fantasy points for the Saints QB, WR's, and TE, but at RB it's a little less clear as Ingram, Sproles, and Thomas all have roles but how often they are on the field is unknown.
Tampa Bay: Martin is completely over a preseason "blow to the head" that the Bucs insist was never considered a concussion despite his sitting out the last 2 preseason games because of it. Martin is fine now though and ready to compete with Trent Richardson to be the second best fantasy RB in 2013. Another season in the same offense with the same weapons is supposed to be good for QB Josh Freeman as he looks to prove detractors wrong. He had 4,000 yards and 27 TD's last season but was also very turnover prone. If he can cut those down and improve on critical situation decision making Freeman could be a top flight fantasy backup QB. Personally, I bet he will be a lot better in those departments.
Arizona: Despite a lot of concern about his knee, Rashard Mendenhall is Probable on the injury report and will be fine for week 1. TE Rob Housler has been ruled OUT with his ankle sprain. The biggest problem the Cardinals will have is protecting Carson Palmer. If they can do that, Palmer and the Cardinals should be fine. Problem is that in week 1 they go against one of the most aggressive attacking defenses in the league: St. Louis. But one player who should be happy is Larry Fitzgerald. A harried and harassed Carson Palmer is still light years better than any QB he had throwing him the ball the last couple of seasons.  
St. Louis: Too many expect Tavon Austin to be a whole lot better than he will be. Austin is the Rams #3 WR and will be more focused on returns then being a regular at WR. Chris Givens is the Rams top WR and TE Jared Cook is going to be big for the Rams this season. RB Daryl Richardson has won the primary RB job and while I doubt he'll hold up long as a featured RB at 5'11", 195 lbs. But for now, he's the guy and makes a nice RB3 play this week. This is supposed to be Sam Bradford's breakout season as it's the first time he'll have been in the same offensive system for a second consecutive season since coming into the league.
San Francisco: Kyle Williams, Quinton Patton, Marlon Brown; they are the trio of WR's trying to fill the shoes week 1 of Michael Crabtree. While eventually Jon Baldwin may work himself into consideration, for right now it's these three. While Williams is expected to start and Moore has been starting, neither is the exciting player that rookie Patton is. Patton is the one to keep an eye on for fantasy purposes. We're going to find out right away in a week 1 matchup against the high powered Packers whether the reported uncanny connection QB Colin Kaepernick has with WR Anquan Boldin and TE Vernon Davis is real, or a dream of optimistic reporters.
Seattle: With Percy Harvin out at least the first 6 weeks and quite probably the first 10 or 11, Golden Tate gets to start and while some think Sidney Rice is still the Seahawks #1 WR, it will be Tate who proves to be the better for fantasy. Question is whether that shows right away or not. The Seahawks will still be a very run oriented offense more so than a big strike passing offense and that bodes well for Marshawn Lynch having another strong fantasy RB1 season. The big question is what would happen if Lynch were to get injured? The Seahawks have two RB's behind Lynch in Robert Turbin and Christine Michael that probably could start for about 10 other teams in the league.