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Cullen: 50 Points on NFL Week One

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Scott Cullen
9/9/2013 11:35:13 AM
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A look at Week One of the NFL season, including Peyton Manning's seven touchdowns, rookies making a mark, veterans showing they still have something left and rising stars off to fine starts, all in 50 Points.

1. Broncos QB Peyton Manning (27-for-42, 462 YDS, 7 TD) got off to a spectacular start, abusing the Ravens, particularly in the second half. Baltimore's defence wasn't great least season, ranking 17th in passing yardage against per game and per play. While getting CB Lardarius Webb back from injury was supposed to provide a big boost, the Ravens also had signficant defensive losses in the offseason, including FS Ed Reed, and were no match for Manning in Denver Thursday night.

2. 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick (27-for-39, 412 YDS, 3 TD) was outstanding in a win over Green Bay, and did it primarily with his arm, rushing for just 22 yards on seven carries.

3. With Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham out of the lineup, the 49ers needed receivers to step up and step up they did. WR Anquan Boldin (13 REC, 208 YDS, 1 TD, 17 targets), who cost the Niners a sixth-round draft pick to acquire him from Baltimore, and TE Vernon Davis (6 REC, 98 YDS, 2 TD, 9 targets) were the top targets for Kaepernick.

4. Patriots WR Danny Amendola (10 REC, 104 YDS) and undrafted rookie WR Kenbrell Thompkins (4 REC, 42 YDS) were both targeted by Tom Brady a game-high 14 times against Buffalo, with decidedly different results. Julian Edelman (7 REC, 79 YDS, 2 TD) had the most productive day among Patriots receivers for fantasy owners.

5. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (111 YDS, 3 TD, 22 touches), but after a 78-yard touchdown on his first carry, Peterson was kept under wraps (aside from two more touchdowns) by the Lions, gaining 33 yards on his next 21 touches.

6. The running back that was busting loose in the Vikings-Lions game was Lions RB Reggie Bush (191 YDS, 1 TD, 25 touches), who was complemented nicely by Joique Bell (92 YDS, 2 TD, 11 touches) as Mikel Leshoure was scratched from the lineup.

7. Targets for Broncos wide receivers: Demaryius Thomas, 11; Wes Welker, 11; Eric Decker, 7. The early concern is that Decker, who scored 13 touchdowns a year ago, will be the one to lose looks now that Welker is in Denver, but it's not just Welker. TE Julius Thomas (5 REC, 110 YDS, 2 TD, 7 targets) is another option to get looks from Manning.

8. Jets QB Geno Smith was maligned through the preseason, particularly after throwing three interceptions in a half against the New York Giants, but fared well (24-for-38, 256 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT, 6 RUSH, 47 YDS) in his NFL regular-season debut. While none of the Jets' receivers are top notch, Smith's competence could increase the appeal of Santonio Holmes (1 REC, 13 YDS, 3 targets), Jeremy Kerley (3 REC, 45 YDS, 4 targets) and Stephen Hill (6 REC, 39 YDS, 9 targets).

9. Jets TE Kellen Winslow (7 REC, 79 YDS, 1 TD) , who played just one game for the Patriots in 2012, made a good impression in his first game with the Jets. He's listed second on the Jets' depth chart, behind Jeff Cumberland, at tight end, but Winslow had 75 catches for 763 yards while playing for Tampa Bay in 2011. If he is capable of staying healthy enough to do that again, he could be a really valuable addition for the Jets and work his way into fantasy relevance.

10. Touches for Broncos running backs: Knowshon Moreno, 12; Montee Ball, 8; Ronnie Hillman, 6. Like Ball most long-term out of that trio, but until it's settled, ugh.

11. Bills rookie QB E.J. Manuel (18-for-27, 150 YDS, 2 TD) kept to a conservative gameplan, much like the preseason, but was reasonably effective. Until the Bills open up, however, it's going to be difficult for WR Steve Johnson (3 REC, 39 YDS, 1 TD, 5 targets) to achieve full value as a productive wideout.

12. For all the concerns about his passing accuracy, Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor (19-for-29, 217 YDS, 1 TD, 2 INT) didn't have real problems with that against Indianapolis and his running ability (112 YDS, 13 carries) made the Raiders at least a little bit dangerous on offence.

13. Falcons RB Steven Jackson (122 yards, 16 touches) had an efficient, productive game in his first game with Atlanta, even if he didn't end up finding the end zone.

14. Moving into the starting role vacated by Steven Jackson, Rams RB Daryl Richardson had 96 yards from scrimmage on 25 touches.

15. RB David Wilson (19 YDS, seven carries) lost a pair of fumbles and was benched in favour of Da'Rel Scott, who finished with 74 yards on 10 touches. Wilson was banished for fumbling early last season but, particularly with Andre Brown out due to a broken leg, the Giants don't have promising alternatives right now.

16. Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey and RB LaRod Stephens-Howling and ILB Larry Foote all suffered season-ending injuries. Pouncey tore his ACL and MCL, and figures to be replaced in the starting lineup by Kelvin Beachum, a seventh-round pick out of SMU in 2012. Stephens-Howling tore his ACL, hardly what the Steelers' running game needed (more in the next point). Foote, the 33-year-old veteran, ruptured his bicep and will likely need surgery. Vince Williams, a sixth-round pick out of Florida State, is Foote's probable replacement in the starting lineup.

17. Steelers RB Isaac Redman had nine yards and a lost fumble on eight carries, some of which could be attributed to the loss of Pouncey. It's easy to wonder how much worse Jonathan Dwyer -- who the Steelers cut at the end of camp -- would have been, but with Stephens-Howling out, it looks like the Steelers will be re-signing Dwyer.

18. Rams TE Jared Cook has been a popular breakout candidate for the last couple seasons and maybe the opportunity in St. Louis is going to work better than his time in Tennessee. Against Arizona, Cook had seven catches (10 targets) for 141 yards and a pair of touchdowns, fumbling once near the goalline when he was caught from behind by Cardinals FS Tyrann Mathieu.

19. Ravens TE Dallas Clark (7 REC, 87 YDS, team-leading 12 targets) played a big role for Baltimore, though he had some drops. There are reports that the Ravens are going to give TE Jake Ballard, a late cut from the Patriots, a look as they try to fill the void created by Dennis Pitta's preseason injury.

20. For all the talk about how the Bills would feed the ball to RB C.J. Spiller, he had 22 touches (55 YDS) compared to 17 touches for Fred Jackson (108 YDS). The Bills may be more effective with the two-headed running back approach, but if Spiller is going to be an elite fantasy producer, he needs a greater percentage of the touches.

21. Patriots RB Shane Vereen (159 YDS, 21 touches) thrived with Stevan Ridley (46 YDS, 9 carries) getting benched after losing a fumble. Vereen was a nice value play entering the season, as a complement to Ridley, and that's still his role, but Vereen could put up quality yardage even in a secondary role.

22. Falcons WR Roddy White, who was listed as questionable (due to an ankle injury) had two catches (on two targets) for 19 yards against the Saints. Harry Douglas (4 REC, 93 YDS, 6 targets) and Julio Jones (7 REC, 76 YDS, 1 TD, 9 targets) led the Atlanta wideouts.

23. Bengals WR A.J. Green (9 REC, 162 YDS, 2 TD, 13 targets) was, naturally, the preferred target for QB Andy Dalton, while tight ends Tyler Eifert (5 REC, 47 YDS, 5 targets) and Jermaine Gresham (5 REC, 35 YDS, 5 targets) were the next most-productive receivers against the Bears.

24. Giants QB Eli Manning passed for 450 yards with four touchdowns, but contributed three interceptions to the Giants' six turnover effort. With Eli throwing for 450 yards, the Giants had three wide receivers -- Victor Cruz (5 REC, 118 YDS, 3 TD, 8 targets), Hakeem Nicks (5 REC, 114 YDS, 8 targets) and Rueben Randle (5 REC, 101 YDS, 6 targets) -- go for more than 100 yards.

25. While top Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (4 REC, 22 YDS, 8 targets) was mostly invisible, WR Miles Austin (10 REC, 72 YDS, 12 targets), TE Jason Witten (8 REC, 70 YDS, 2 TD, 9 targets) led the way in the Dallas passing game.

26. Browns TE Jordan Cameron (9 REC, 108 YDS, 1 TD, 13 targets) was maybe the only bright spot for Browns as QB Brandon Weeden (26-for-53, 289 YDS, 1 TD, 3 INT) didn't inspire confidence. Dolphins CB Dmitri Patterson had two of the three picks against Weeden.

27. Dolphins WR Brian Hartline (9 REC, 114 YDS, 1 TD, 15 targets) had a big day, but there were other issues in the Miami receiving corps. Free agent acquisition Mike Wallace had one catch (five targets) for 15 yards. He wasn't happy about his role, especially when third receiver Brandon Gibson had seven catches (10 targets) for 77 yards.

28. The hope for the Cardinals coming into the season was that QB Carson Palmer would rejuvenate their passing attack. After all, he threw for 4,000 in Oakland last season and the Raiders didn't have Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald (8 REC, 80 YDS, 2 TD, 14 targets) did reap immediate rewards, but so too did WR Andre Roberts (8 REC, 97 YDS, 9 targets) and WR Michael Floyd (4 REC, 82 YDS, 6 targets).

29. Steelers WR Jerricho Cotchery (4 REC, 34 YDS, 1 TD), who scored their only touchdown, was targeted seven times, the same as Antonio Brown (5 REC, 71 YDS), who is the Steelers' No. 1 receiver. Emmanuel Sanders (7 REC, 57 YDS) was targeted a dozen times against Tennessee.

30. Touches for Saints running backs: Darren Sproles, 14; Pierre Thomas, 13; Mark Ingram, 9. Same as it ever was.

31. One of my preferred value plays on draft day was to get Jets RB Bilal Powell (64 YDS, 16 touches) as a third or fourth running back. Given that he's getting more touches than Chris Ivory (15 YDS, 10 carries), Powell has some value, but he's still trying to establish that he can be a viable starter for the Jets, let alone for fantasy owners.

32. Bucs WR Vincent Jackson (7 REC, 154 YDS) was targeted on 13 of QB Josh Freeman's 31 pass attempts as the Bucs didn't shy away from Jets CB Antonio Cromartie, who is thought to be a strong cover corner, but had few answers for Jackson.

33. The Packers passing game focused on WR Jordy Nelson (7 REC, 130 YDS, 1 TD, 10 targets) and WR Randall Cobb (7 REC, 108 YDS, 1 TD, 12 targets). James Jones, on the other hand, had no catches and was targeted twice.

34. Packers rookie RB Eddie Lacy gained 72 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on 15 touches, though none of the Packers' runs against San Francisco were for more than seven yards.

35. Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray had 125 yards from scrimmage on 28 touches. Philip Tanner was the only other running back to get touches and he had one carry and one pass reception.

36. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (25-for-33, 320 YDS, 1 TD) led Seattle to a road win. As great as Wilson was as a rookie in 2012, his only 300-yard passing game was in the playoff loss to Atlanta (when he threw for 385 yards).

37. With Percy Harvin sidelined, Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin -- not Sidney Rice, not Golden Tate -- led the Seattle passing attack with seven receptions (eight targets) for 91 yards.

38. Panthers QB Cam Newton (16-for-23, 125 YDS) didn't get the ball deep, completing one pass for longer than 15 yards and not connecting once with deep threat WR Brandon LaFell.

39. Taking advantage of Jonathan Stewart's absence Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (100 yards, one fumble lost, 20 touches) had a productive day, though a fourth-quarter fumble inside the Seahawks' 10-yard line preserved Seattle's five-point win.

40. There was lots of preseason hype for Dolphins RB Lamar Miller (3 YDS, 10 carries) and while his first game was no prize, it's not like Daniel Thomas (14 YDS, 1 TD, eight carries) was effective running against the Browns' defence either. Wait and see how they do against a different opponent, but Miller will obviously need to do more to solidify his hold on the position.

41. Vikings WR Jerome Simpson (7 REC, 140 YDS, 8 targets) is not yet ready to cede his starting spot to rookie Cordarrelle Patterson (1 REC, 10 YDS, 1 target).

42. With Ryan Broyles out, Nate Burleson was a productive option (6 REC, 78 YDS, 6 targets) at wide receiver for the Lions.

43. Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert (16-for-35, 121 YDS, 2 INT) struggled, which didn't come as a surprise. Chad Henne (3-for-6, 36 YDS) might be a better option, considering Gabbert's ineffectiveness and injuries -- he entered the game with a broken thumb and then suffered a gash that required 15 stitches in his hand. Any kind of upgrade would help Jaguars receivers Cecil Shorts and, when he returns from suspension, Justin Blackmon.

44. Ravens WR Marlon Brown (4 REC, 65 YDS, 1 TD, 6 targets) is an undrafted free agent out of Georgia who saw more playing time in the absence of Jacoby Jones, the return ace who was finally getting an opportunity to start at wide receiver before getting hurt. Jones suffered a sprained MCL, which will keep him out for the next four-to-six weeks, a good opportunity for Brown to establish himself as a reliable target for QB Joe Flacco.

45. There was plenty of preseason talk of Giovani Bernard taking the Bengals' starting running back job from BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but The Law Firm had 15 touches, compared to Bernard's five, in Week One. Of course BJGE gained 29 yards on his 15 touches and Bernard gained 30 on his five, so maybe the allocation is due to change.

46. Jackie Battle had eight carries, for 25 yards and a touchdown for the Titans, getting more touches than Shonn Greene as the secondary option behind Chris Johnson.

47. Prior to committing the last-minute penalty that gave the Jets the opportunity to kick the winning field goal, OLB Lavonte David was a beast for Tampa Bay, recording 8 total tackles, one sack, one interception and two passes defended.

48. The Chiefs' leading receiver in their win over Jacksonville was FB Anthony Sherman (4 REC, 44 YDS), a third-year pro out of Connecticut who had 13 catches for 111 yards in 28 career games entering the game.

49. Playing in place of injured TE Marcedes Lewis, Allen Reisner had three catches for 31 yards. In 10 previous games with the Minnesota Vikings, Reisner, undrafted out of Iowa, had two catches for 18 yards.

50. An undrafted free agent who spent last season on the practice squad, SS Duke Ihenacho led Broncos with a dozen total tackles and three passes defended in the win over Baltimore. Patriots OLB Jerod Mayo led the Patriots-Bills game with 15 total tackles and Colts SS LaRon Landry had 15 total tackles against the Raiders. Broncos OLB Shaun Phillips, desperately needed to rush the passer with Von Miller out, recorded 2.5 sacks against the Ravens. Chiefs OLB Justin Houston had three of Kansas City's six sacks against the Jaguars. Rams DE Robert Quinn had three sacks against Arizona. Dolphins DE Cameron Wake had 2.5 sacks as part of a dominant showing against Cleveland. Bears CB Charles Tillman, who had his hands full with Bengals star WR A.J. Green, did register seven total tackles and a pair of interceptions.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Anquan Boldin (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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