Fantasy Football

2013 Fantasy Football: What to Watch For Week 1

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Ryan Fowler

Ryan Fowler has spent the past 10 years covering and talking sports on TV and radio, in newspapers and on the web. He joined FOXSports.com as lead Fantasy Sports Editor and also acts as Digital Content Manager at WhatIfSports.com. Follow him on Twitter. Listen to his FOX Sports Team Report Podcasts on SoundCloud and iTunes

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Like an athlete believes he's “in the best shape of his life” heading into training camp, the majority of fantasy football owners believe their team is the squad to beat heading into Week 1. Owners' personalities are a blend of cocky, egotistical, confident and, above all else, ignorant to their flaws. What we don’t know doesn’t scare us and if it does, we bury the fear inside our bellies.

The fantasy football unknown is also where the FOX Sports fantasy department provides a digital olive branch on our fantasy football news homepage and Twitter. We are your fantasy football therapists, happy to diagnose your rosters’ weaknesses if you are willing to accept the remedies.

Each week, Joel Beall, John Halpin, Adam Meyer and I will provide you a variety of fantasy football suggestions based on research and analysis of all 32 NFL teams and their opponents, host fantasy football chats, answer questions via Twitter and email, all with the goal of providing you the best chance to win YOUR fantasy football matchup.

With that said, here are five things I’ll be keeping an eye on in Week 1:

1) Broncos Running Back Situation

Denver’s offensive coordinator Adam Gase just can’t help himself. He’s heading into the regular season with Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball and Knowshon Moreno 1-2-3 on the running back depth chart. So, for the immediate future, fantasy football questions like this will hit inboxes on the regular:

Michael from Cincinnati –
Who will get the most carries for the Broncos?

Michael, even the Broncos’ OC isn’t 100 percent committed to answering that question at the moment. The theory is that Hillman will earn the most carries per game with Ball acting as the goal-line back. This running back by committee is basically on its own version of Survivor. The ones who take care of the ball survive and advance to the next week.

My bet is all three running backs were selected in your fantasy football draft, but if not, it may be worth adding them to the roster now instead of waiting on the waiver wire rat race.

2) Chargers Receivers

San Diego must be thrilled to leave 2013’s training camp from hell in the rearview mirror. Their receiving corps lost Danario Alexander (ACL), Malcom Floyd to a knee injury for a bit, Eddie Royal to a bruised lung for a bit and Keenan Allen was nursing a sore knee throughout.

Floyd and Royal have returned to practice and are scheduled to suit up Week 1 against the Texans. My focus will be on the underneath routes of Antonio Gates and Vincent Brown in Week 1. Head coach Mike McCoy and OC Ken Whisenhunt are partial to the “dink and dunk” game and, at times, my assessment of Rivers is those deep balls of the past will remain there. In the present, Gates and Brown are poised to be the bread and butter options in the Chargers’ passing game.

3) Chip Kelly Offense

Mike Vick is the starter. LeSean McCoy is healthy. I assume DeSean Jackson is happy at the moment. Can Kelly’s up-tempo offense churn out 10-or-more offensive plays per game? Is the fantasy football trio mentioned above in top condition to produce for owners all four quarters or will second-tier options present themselves, while McCoy and Jackson catch their breath? I’m very interested to see this play out against the Redskins (28th in total defense last season). Also, keep an eye on Brent Celek. There were conflicting preseason reports on his role at tight end this season – receiving vs. blocking.

4) Browns Offense

Laugh all you want, but fantasy owners should be watching the development of Brandon Weeden year-over-year. Granted, he doesn’t have Josh Gordon the first two games, but Jordan Cameron (groin) and Davone Bess are two options in the passing game he didn’t have last year. Also, reports out of Cleveland suggest wide receiver Greg Little had his best camp. Could those dropped passes be a thing of the past?

Cameron is available in 57 percent of leagues and Greg Little / Davone Bess are available in over 95 percent of leagues on FOXSports.com.

5) Rams' Chris Givens

I’m all in on the Rams’ Chris Givens this fantasy football season. He caught five passes for 156 yards and a touchdown in the preseason. Givens is obviously Sam Bradford’s top threat on the outside. He’s available in 31 percent of leagues. So, I’m guessing word is starting to spread about his fantasy potential in 2013.

The Rams face a stingy Cardinals’ defense in Week 1 (22 INT vs 20 TD allowed in 2012). What a better way to see how Givens stacks up then against one of the best secondaries in the league.

Bonus: Carolina's Kenjon Barner (OUT - ankle) - can he make some noise with Jon Stewart on the PUP list?  Against Seattle, perhaps not, but all we're looking for are signs of life.

Bonus #2: Can Michael Floyd emerge as a viable option in the Cardinals' passing game?  I love the Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer combo, but CP needs other options with secondaries rolling over to Fitz on a regular basis.

Weekly Fantasy Football Rankings:


QB
| RB | WR | TE | DST | K

Tagged: Browns, Broncos, Rams, Jets, Eagles, Cardinals, Chargers, Ryan Fowler, Malcom Floyd, Davone Bess, LeSean McCoy, Vincent Brown, Greg Little, Michael Floyd, Chris Givens

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