5 fantasy football storylines to watch in tonight's NFL season opener
The NFL's regular season kicks off tonight in Denver with an AFC championship game rematch between the Broncos and Baltimore Ravens.
The Super Bowl contenders take the big stage with a number of top performers in fantasy football. Intriguing storylines will also begin to be answered, from the Broncos' running backs to the Ravens' revamped defense.
1. Broncos backfield: The Broncos start the season with a committee approach, divvying carries between Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno. All three have gotten speculative attention in fantasy leagues, with no real indication how the early relationship will unfold. Ball is the likely longterm winner in this derby, but must shore up his pass blocking and adjust to NFL speed.
2. Torrey Smith's new role: Anquan Boldin was shipped to the San Francisco 49ers in the offseason, making Smith the Ravens' de facto No. 1 wideout. His deep game is a known strength, but Smith's new role will ask for more contributions across the board. Watch how he's adjusted; improved versatility will help define his fantasy value.
3. How Wes Welker fits: Quarterback Peyton Manning adds Welker to his deep arsenal of weapons in the passing game. While Demaryius Thomas is a rising star who should go unaffected, it's important to note the relationship between Welker and Eric Decker. Those two will vie for the same looks in the possession game.
4. Newlook Ravens defense: The Ravens lost Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and a host of others as they retooled their defense in the offseason. Additions of veterans Chris Canty and Elvis Dumervil, as well as rookies Arthur Jones and Matt Elam, could actually make this unit better. Denver's highpowered offense will provide a stiff test.
5. Ray Rice/Bernard Pierce dynamic: The doomandgloom scenario over Rice's fantasy future hurt his draft stock. Pierce has emerged as a topflight backup and figures to carve out a bigger role in 2013. But does that automatically mean Rice will get fewer touches? We'll find out tonight.
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