Rodgers, Brees find new weapons in season-opening shootout
On Thursday night the NFL crafted the perfect four-hour apology to any fantasy fans still sore over the lockout. Faster than Chris Collinsworth can say "pitch and catch," the season got off to a bang -- lots of them. Kickoff was a fantasy air show for the ages as two top five QBs rang up points with all the ease of playing Madden 12 on rookie. Questions were answered, questions were raised and the one guy in everyone's league who suffered draft day derision for taking the Packers defense/special teams in the late single digit rounds just got the green light for talking trash on message boards everywhere.
Despite the high-flying passing games, both ground attacks left us wanting more.
Just call it a fantasy-pocalypse, Indianapolis style. Even those waiting until the last day before kickoff for their drafts weren't immune to the deal-breaking Peyton Manning news Thursday. For anyone who took Manning late as a strategy to stash him, the dream might be over. And with Manning out for months if not all of 2011, every other Colts player's value should be downgraded (though Dallas Clark is my pick to emerge with some value intact). Kerry Collins has always used his tight ends in the past whether with the Giants or Titans, which should help Clark. Reggie Wayne drops to a low-end WR3 and is still startable, albeit barely. Both Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon should be buried on the bench until further notice. At running back, Joseph Addai falls from a low-end RB3 flex start to a low RB4 bye fill-in (until his next regularly scheduled injury).
1. Can Michael Vick pick up where he left off despite a massive payday, an offensive line shuffle, Jeremy Maclin's preseason absence and a mountain of hype? My guess: yes.
2. Will a back emerge between middle-round draft day hopefuls Felix Jones and Shonn Greene? It's time for the potential of both to start being realized. I have more faith in Jones, but it's now or never with both.
3. Bradford, Stafford and Freeman --- can everyone's three top sleeper QBs get their start on justifying the preseason buzz? Matthew Stafford and Josh Freeman go head to head and Sam Bradford debuts in Josh McDaniels' new offense. I think Bradford is a cut above both, but I love Stafford too.
4. How low can the Colts go? If the Texans batter them like Albert Pujols at a home run derby watch out, it might get uglier in Indianapolis than anyone could have thought. As a wise man once said, "Be afraid, be very afraid."