Here are a few fantasy revelations off the Ravens' 44-13 home demolition of the Bengals, the first of two intra-divisional clashes from Monday Night Football.
To view the revelations for Monday's Chargers-Raiders tilt, click here.
1. Ray Rice is the most dynamic—and safest—asset in points-per-reception leagues
OK, so Rice (93 total yards, two TD vs. Cincy) didn't catch 13 balls like the Raiders' Darren McFadden on Monday night. But I'm still in awe of Rice's reliability every NFL weekend.
For starters, Rice amassed 2,000 total yards in two of the last three seasons. In 2011, he was also a perfect 16-for-16 in games of five catches, 90 total yards and/or one touchdown. And then against the Bengals, Rice needed only 13 touches (10 runs, three catches) to collect 26 PPR points.
Just imagine the type of damage Rice could do in games where Baltimore leans on him in the second half. It goes without saying: Rice is an untouchable commodity in trade circles, short of a blockbuster 2-for-1 or 3-for-1 deal.
Even then, I still might not be properly motivated to pull the trigger.
2. Don't label Andrew Hawkins as the Bengals' No. 2 receiver just yet
As someone who favors targets-friendly receivers, I have no complaints about Hawkins' eight-catch, 86-yard effort against the Ravens. However, I'm not quite ready to proclaim him as a top-50 receiving asset (standard-scoring leagues) week after week.
Hawkins' 27-yard reception was a wonderfully executed bubble screen and his nine targets served as great news for PPR enthusiasts. But Cincy's process of finding one or two long-term receivers has just begun, meaning that rookie Mohamed Sanu (80 yards in the Bengals' final preseason game), Brandon Tate (superb athlete, work-in-progress wideout), Armon Binns and Hawkins (23 catches in 2011) will likely be given every chance to succeed (and fail) this year while lining up opposite A.J. Green (five catches, 11 targets, 70 yards vs. Baltimore).
For deep PPR leagues, I'd happily invest a waiver-wire flier on Hawkins as a No. 5 receiver. But for standard-scoring 12-teamers, Hawkins is not a more palatable option over James Jones, Alshon Jeffery, Kevin Ogletree, Stephen Hill or even Pittsburgh's Emmanuel Sanders.
3. I admire fantasy GMs who loaded up on tailbacks early in drafts...before cementing the Jay Cutler/Joe Flacco handcuff
Looking at the Bears' and Ravens' schedules, I can envision 13 games of highly respectable numbers for Cutler (Week 6 bye) and Flacco (Week 8 bye) from this point forward, with Weeks 2 and 11 serving as the likeliest of bumps in the fantasy road for each quarterback. And since their bye weeks don't conflict, this may prove to be the NFL's most fruitful platoon of the season.
Obviously, fantasy owners couldn't have gone wrong by snagging Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Cam Newton or Matthew Stafford in the early rounds last month. But for those who live and die around the concept of stockpiling tailbacks and receivers early on—and waiting for value picks with quarterbacks and tight ends in the middle rounds—the Cutler-Flacco dynamic is the perfect partnership.
Both passers rolled for 298-plus total yards and at least two touchdowns in Week 1. But the optimism goes deeper than one weekend of flawless production: Chicago and Baltimore are well-stocked at receiver...and both QBs have the luxury of sharing backfield space with high-end rushers (Matt Forte, Ray Rice).
As a result, if you're looking to auction off C.J. Spiller (194 total yards, one TD on Sunday) this week (highest bid wins), please insist on Cutler or Flacco as stealth throw-ins to a blockbuster deal.
4. BenJarvus Green-Ellis will be a top-15 running back for September and October
I may have been high on Green-Ellis (24 total TD with the Patriots for 2010-11) during the preseason, but I admittedly had minimal expectations of fantasy goodness for Week 1.
So much for that wayward assumption. Amid little fanfare, BJGE plowed through the Ravens for 95 total yards (91 rushing) and one touchdown.
And now, the table has been set for the following run: For Weeks 2-6, Green-Ellis will be a prime candidate for 90 total yards and/or one touchdown against Cleveland (twice), Washington, Jacksonville and Miami.
In other words, be sure to clear the lineup decks for five starts in five weeks.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.
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