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Week 1: Sunday Headlines

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Welcome to Week 1. If you're not excited for today's 13-game slate, you probably don't have a pulse.

We have Rotoworld staffers watching each game, keeping an eye out for injuries, depth chart changes and potential breakout players. If you have a specific question about something going on in a certain game, ask me on Twitter (@adamlevitan) and we will try to get you an answer in this space.

We'll be tracking all the major stories and making observations here all day. Come back often as the page will be updated constantly. You can also hang out with other fans in the Rotoworld Forums.

* Arian Foster (hamstring) is inactive. Derrick Ward will start and Ben Tate will be mixed in often.
* Keiland Williams is inactive. He's not going to fill the Lions' goal-line job yet.
* Austin Collie (foot) is active as a high-risk WR3 play.
* Javon Ringer (hip) is inactive. Jamie Harper will back up Chris Johnson.
* Marcus Easley (illness) is inactive. Donald Jones is locked in opposite Stevie Johnson.
* Marion Barber (calf) is inactive. Matt Forte should get the goal-line work.
* Matt Cassel (rib) is active, as expected.

* The Colts opened up in two-wide sets almost exclusively on their first possession. Pierre Garcon was the No. 2 receiver, not Austin Collie.
* Derrick Ward got the first three carries of the game for the Texans, as expected. Ben Tate came in and nabbed the fourth carry.
* The Jaguars went run-heavy on their first drive. Called nine runs, two passes. Note that Deji Karim got two carries.
* Antonio Brown is playing ahead of Emmanuel Sanders in three-wide sets for the Steelers.
* Jahvid Best got five touches on the Lions' first drive. So dangerous as a weapon out of the backfield.
* The Willis McGahee departure is paying dividends for Ray Rice already. He just scored on an 1-yard run and is getting the goal-line and red-zone work. Rarely happened last year.
* Steven Jackson picked up a quad strain in the first quarter. Severity is unclear, but it doesn't look good. He's questionable at best to return. The backup is Cadillac Williams.
* There is no preferred goal-line option between Derrick Ward and Ben Tate. Both are getting work inside the 5-yard line and converting.
* Matthew Stafford is suffering from drops. Will Heller and Brandon Pettigrew have both cost him dearly so far.
* The Ravens are using Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta like the Patriots use Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. The Ravens are going to involve their tight ends heavily this year.
* Lance Kendricks has two really, really ugly drops already. We'll chalk it up to rookie nerves for now.
* Montario Hardesty got his first taste of NFL action and is looking good. Role should grow as year moves on.
* Hopefully you listened to us and used the Texans' D/ST this week. They are absolutely going off on a predictably inept Colts' offense.
* OK guys, hopefully you listened to us on Matthew Stafford as well. He has 265 passing yards and two touchdowns in the first half and has suffered from drops. If healthy, he could be the No. 1 fantasy quarterback. Period.

* Michael Turner busted a big run up the middle for 53 yards, but would have scored if he were younger.
* Steven Jackson is done for the day. I don't have high hopes for Cadillac Williams as a featured runner, but he's worth an add.
* Andy Dalton appeared to hurt his right (throwing) wrist late in the first half. Bruce Gradkowski has come on.
* Marcedes Lewis is cramping, but is getting an IV and should be back soon.
* Evan Moore is a playmaker in the red zone. We knew that after watching his preseason usage.
* Matthew Stafford is just cramping. Not a big deal, only gave me a minor heart attack for a second.
* Josh Freeman got slammed to the turf from behind on a scramble and appeared to hurt his shoulder. He immediately jogged to the locker room, meaning Josh Johnson is warming up. UPDATE: Freeman was just cramping. He's back.
* Donald Jones, who won the No. 2 WR job after Lee Evans was traded, has a touchdown. Interesting sleeper.
* Chris Johnson is having a dreadful go of it, but it's not his fault. The Titans have barely had the ball and their offensive line is getting destroyed. He's at least healthy.
* Danny Amendola is down with a discloated elbow and his season is in doubt. It should allow Mike Sims-Walker to get involved and maybe Greg Salas will get some slot reps.
* Roy Williams is done for the day with a groin injury. Hello, Johnny Knox.
* Sam Bradford is heading to the locker room with an apparent finger injury on his throwing hand. It was a tough day for him -- tons of drops, but he didn't look sharp.
* LeGarrette Blount was not hurt. He just doesn't play when the Bucs are behind because he can't catch or pass protect. Not an elite player.

* Beanie Wells just bum-rushed the Panthers interior. Great power. This could very well be his breakout game. He's even playing on some third downs.
* Michael Crabtree came on the field for the 49ers' second play from scrimmage. Who needs the preseason?

* The Vikings are using Adrian Peterson as their third-down back early. Big news for PPR owners.
* Nate Kaeding has a left knee issue after trying to tackle Percy Harvin on a kickoff return.
* Cam Newton looks good so far. He's poised in the pocket and not forcing passes. His running ability is special.
* Tim Hightower hasn't even come off the field yet. Mike Shanahan loves him, the preseason hype appears real.
* Vincent Jackson was inches away from a 40-plus yard touchdown. Ball slightly overthrown. Big plays are coming there
* Jonathan Stewart is running like a beast and started the second half ahead of DeAngelo Williams. This is heading for an even timeshare -- you can't leave a talent like Stewart on the bench no matter how much money Williams is making.
* More on Cam Newton: The Panthers got into a goal-line situation and called two straight runs for Newton. He converted the second one. This may be the best matchup Newton gets all year, but he's a very viable QB2. The Panthers' running backs are going to lose GL carries.
* Fred Davis is a player. We had him ahead of Chris Cooley on all rankings as a changing of the guard is happening here. The Redskins are running a ton of two- and three-tight end sets today.
* Mike Tolbert was one of the fantasy heros of the day with three touchdowns. Now he has a leg injury that doesn't look good. Ryan Mathews is a good bet to absolutely erupt if Tolbert misses time.

Adam Levitan is in his seventh season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
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