Fantasy Football: Week One Pickups
With the season opener only two nights away, all our studying and drafting has now come to an end, and now it is time to start focusing on who may be able to help out team's either in the short-term or long-term future. Like in year's past, each Tuesday I will be releasing a list of players who have gained fantasy value from the previous week and breaking down their future fantasy value. Some players may be on the list solely for their matchup for that given week, so be sure to do your homework before wasting a waiver-claim on someone who may be insignificant in your weekly planning. Let's get it started shall we! Must-Own Players Isaac Redman, RB (PIT)--With Le'Veon Bell expected to miss at least the first month of the season, the Steelers have named Redman the starting running back until he returns to action. The team decided to part ways with Jonathan Dwyer last week, which made their decision a lot easier, but there will still likely be a split backfield after a solid performance by Felix Jones in the preseason finale. Redman was not effective last season when given the opportunity, however, this situation is much different considering he is the No. 1 option rather than a No. 2 or No. 3. His fantasy value will likely only be short-term, but every starting running back is worth owning in fantasy football, so consider adding him if your team lacks depth at the running back position. Knowshon Moreno, RB (DEN)--Entering training camp Moreno was slated to be the Broncos No. 3 running back heading into Week 1. After poor performances by both Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman, the door has opened up once again for Moreno to be a fantasy contributor. The Broncos are going to open the season with a running back committee which will be on a "drive-by-drive" basis, which could get Morneo onto the field more than we expected in the early weeks of the season. Ball is the most well-rounded running back in the Broncos backfield, but Moreno separates himself form the pack with his good pass blocking abilities. Although I have labeled Moreno as a must-own player this week, it is more for his long-term value. If he can outperform his fellow running backs, we could be looking at a potential top 15 running back by season's end. Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR (IND)--After losing Donnie Avery this offseason, the Colts decided to give this former first-round pick a shot in their new West Coast offense, led by Andrew luck. Although he has failed to live up to his lofty expectations in his young career, Heyward-Bey may have found himself in a great situation with his new team. The Colts have Heyward-Bey listed as the team's No. 2 wide receiver sandwiched between Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton. This comes at somewhat of a surprise considering Hilton's success in his rookie season, but the Colts think that he will be better served lining up in the slot than on the outside of the field. This will give Heyward-Bey plenty of opportunities to prove he isn't a bust and salvage what is left of his disappointing career. He should be added as a WR No. 3 for now, but has the upside of a WR No. 2 if he can stay on the same page with his quarterback. Julius Thomas, TE (DEN)--After a solid preseason, the Broncos have anointed Thomas as the team's starting tight end to start the season. Thomas has just one reception through his fist two years in the NFL, but that should not scare potential owners away, considering he had two solid tight ends ahead of his the last two seasons. The biggest question is whether or not there will be enough targets to go around after the likes of Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker receive their share in the Broncos passing game. Expect Thomas to be utilized in short-yardage situations, including red zone packages as the team will likely want to take advantage of his big frame (6'5" 250 lbs). Adding Thomas this week is more of a stash play, so make sure to take a wait-and-see approach with him until we see just how the Broncos decided to use him in their offensive scheme. Solid Additions Felix Jones, RB (PIT)--After not fitting into the offense in Philadelphia, a trade during training camp to the Steelers has given Jones another chance to stay relevant as both an NFL running back and a fantasy football option. Jones is slated to be the team's No. 2 running back entering Week 1, but the Steelers are planning on using both Jones and Isaac Redman almost evenly while they await the return of Le'Veon Bell. It is tough to say if Jones will fit into the long term plans of the Steelers right now, but at least he has minimal fantasy value for the time-being. Redman may be the better player to acquire this week, but if he is gone, Jones is worth a flier considering we just really don't know how these two running backs will be used early on. Santonio Holmes, WR (NYJ)--The Jets passing game may be in trouble with Geno Smith under center, but Holmes has proven in the past that he can work through anything if healthy. A Lisfranc fracture in his foot cut his season short in 2012, and was unsure if he would be able to start the season off of the PUP list. The tide has turned over the last few days, with Holmes not only participating in practice, but appearing to be is game shape. The Jets plan on having him for their season opener on Sunday against the Buccaneers, which would be great for the Jets, considering they would be stuck with Stephen Hill as they No. 1 wider receiver to start the season. Although this isn't a great situation for Holmes to be involved in, there is still a good chance he can put up solid fantasy numbers as the Jets will likely be down a lot this season, meaning more targets for Holmes and the rest of the Jets receivers. EJ Manuel, QB (BUF)--Despite suffering a knee injury during the preseason, there is still a chance that Manuel will be ready to open the season as the Bills starting quarterback. Manuel was able to take snaps with the first team in practice on Monday, leaving the door open for a start against the Patriots. Rookie quarterbacks are hard to trust after making the jump from college to the pros, but Manuel seems to be the best of the first-year starters and has the best situation around him heading into Week 1. The Bills are going to pass the ball a lot, and as long as he can get on the same page as his receivers, Manuel could become a serviceable bye-week fill-in in no time. Digging Deep Quinton Patton, WR (SF)--In the Niners preseason finale, Patton arguably sealed up a spot on the active roster after a solid performance in both the passing game and special teams. Although it usually takes rookie wide receivers a few years to adjust to the pros, Patton seems poised to take a significant step forward in his first year with the team out of the slot. His size (6'0" 204 lbs) will likely keep him in the middle of the field on most of the plays, but that doesn't mean he won't be able to produce big plays in the open field. In terms of fantasy, he is not an immediate starter by any means rather he is a lottery ticket to stash until we see how everything plays out. Brent Celek, TE (PHI)--Despite adding rookie Zach Ertz in this year's NFL Draft, the Eagles expect Celek to be a significant part of their offensive scheme to start the season. Celek went undrafted in most leagues due to another dismal season, but that can't be held solely on his shoulders. The Eagles offensive line was terrible the last three seasons, which had Celek blocking more than running routes. In Chip Kelly's high octane offense Celek is expected to be utilized in ways we have never seen in his six year career, which could result in production closer to his 2009 output rather than 2010-2012. Matchup Play of the Week Indianapolis Colts Defense/Special Teams--Defensive production is sometimes hard to project, but there is no projecting for this week's matchup play of the week. The Colts will face off against the Raiders this weekend, who have anointed Terrelle Pryor as their starting quarterback, despite a below-average preseason performance. The Raiders will likely get behind early in this contest, meaning more pass plays and opportunities for turnovers. Not only that, the Raiders offensive line is atrocious, which will lead to Pryor have to scramble and pass on the run more than he is comfortable doing. The Colts defense has improved since last season, but are still not a must-start group, so this play is clearly a short-term option for those who waited on a defense this draft season. Matthew Beck is a Fantasy Sports Columnist for Rotoinfo.com. If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow him on Twitter @MatthewRBeck for up-to-date Q&A and fantasy information. And, to make setting your Fantasy Football lineup easy, be sure to utilize RotoInfo.com’s new NFL Lineup Grids.
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