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First Down: RGIII makes cannonball splash, Turner lacks smash

Brad Evans
Roto Arcade

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RGIII was superb in his NFL debut. (USP)

Go ahead and throw yourself into oncoming traffic, jump out of an airplane without a parachute and purposely fall into a den of voracious lions wearing nothing but antelope steaks.

Yep, the season of overreaction has officially arrived. There's no point in living.

To kneejerkers, one quarter of the first preseason game is enough evidence to draw outlandish conclusions. This player is destined for greatness. That one is doomed to fail. Everyone is guilty of doing it. Take this exuberant Yahoo! commenter for example:

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You're right, "Living Legend," Mathews is done. Stick a fork in him. Future first-ballot Hall of Famers Le'Ron McClain and Ronnie Brown are far superior talents. Heck, Curtis Brinkley should be ahead of the busted back on the depth-chart. Dude should just live out the rest of his pathetic days playing bridge in a double-wide at Shady Acres Retirement Park. His eighth-best overall finish among RBs down the stretch last year (Last five weeks) and fantasy friendly setup are completely ignorable.

And Ronnie Hillman, who John Elway recently compared to Darren Sproles, is completely worthless. His hamstring strain that forced him out of action against Chicago will plague him for the rest of eternity. He might as well amputate his leg to permanently quell the pain. There's simply no reason to walk anymore. His long-toothed teammate, Willis McGahee, is slated for a career year at age 30. And Lance Ball is the second-coming of Terrell Davis. The resemblances are uncanny…

Again, a few already have it all figured out.

Still, there were a number of performances, good and bad, that helped owners glean insight into, but not necessarily cement, a player's overall value. To help decipher the meaningful from the meaningless, here are the Noise's biggest winners and losers from Week 1 of exhibition action:


Robert Griffin III — Calm, cool and composed, RG3 looked every bit a future superstar against the Bills. He went 4-for-6 for 70 yards and a TD. Overall, his passes were on time and on target. Again, Cam Newton Part II he is not. "Bob" is a pocket passer who also happens to run when needed. If his transition continues to be seamless over the next couple weeks, he very well may live up to my top-10 billing. Keep stealing him in the middle rounds (79.7 Y! ADP, QB11).

Pierre Garcon — On the 'Skins' lone TD drive, the former Colt was the apple of RGIII's eye. The pair connected three times for 58 yards, including a scoring strike on a simple underneath screen. Outside dragging his foot too early on an out route in the first, it was a marquee effort by Garcon. Assuming Griffin's rapid development continues, the wideout could reach numbers in range of 70-1100-7 this year.

Julio Jones — There was no player more impressive over the weekend than Jones. He and Matt Ryan connected six times for 109 yards and a touchdown, an acrobatic scoring haul bending around corner Cary Williams (See it here). Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald may be the only two wideouts who outpace Julio in per game average this year. Everything is in place for a special season.

Vincent Brown — Brown's sleeper status continues to grow after a four catch, 81-yard, 1-TD versus Green Bay. The homegrown product was solid as a starter last year netting 58.5 yards per game and 18.0 yards per catch. He'll likely be inconsistent at times, but with a 135-plus ADP, he's a late-round lottery ticket capable of cashing a WR3 prize.

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TD kneels, and muscle flexes, could be common for Hillis (AP)

Peyton Hillis — The bulldozer is back. Hillis, looking healthy and ox-strong, exhibited the power and versatility that transformed him into a superstar two years ago with the Browns. On a 28-yard scamper off right tackle, he impressively shed several tackles (Watch run here). He also scored on a 11-yard dump pass. This year, KC's game-plan is for the bruiser to net roughly 12-15 touches per game. If what he accomplished Friday is a preview, he could be more than a flex option in deeper formats.

Antonio Gates — Stated repeatedly this summer, Gates might be the TE position's best value. Against Green Bay he appeared youthful, cutting sharply and getting out of his breaks quickly. His 20-yard scoring reception on a classic out-in slant was throwback. Go ahead and spend exorbitantly on Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham, career-year buyers. Savvy drafters will target a revitalized Gates in the 40s.

Peyton Manning — The four-time MVP's final stat line was far from exceptional (4-7, 44 yards, INT), but he showcased vintage form, delivering the ball crisply and accurately. He still hasn't absorbed contact, which leaves questions about his durability, but it's a step in the right direction. My original 4,000-yard, 25-TD forecast stands.

Kendall Wright — RGIII's former bosom buddy at Baylor will be the virtual game's best rookie wide receiver this year. His three-catch, 47-yard effort Saturday in Seattle supports the claim. Kenny Britt, who met with Warden Goodell last Monday, is due for a lengthy suspension. That combined with what should be a pass-happy Titans offense, could lead the youngster to WR3-level production in 12-teamers. Monitor his progress closely.

Brandon Lloyd — The box score wasn't indicative of the excitement Lloyd stirred in his first game as a Pat. Tom Brady targeted the playmaker several times downfield, a possible harbinger of fantastic results to come. Some fanalysts have predicted wild video game'like numbers for the target this year, equivalent to what Randy Moss achieved in his historic 2007 campaign. That's probably farfetched, but a top-10 finish isn't outrageous.

Ryan Tannehill — Though he only logged 19 starts as a quarterback in college, the rookie gave a glimpse of his potential  going 14-for-21 for 167 yards and a TD. With David Garrard out for the next 2-4 weeks after undergoing a minor knee procedure, Tannehill's odds of unseating Matt Moore by Week 1 are better than most think. Even if he does capture the pole position, he's nothing more than an upside pick in dynasty or two-QB formats.

Andrew Luck — In the battle of No. 1 picks, Luck bested Sam Bradford. He threw well on the run, displayed remarkable zip and accuracy on all throws and even showed off his scrambling ability. His final stat line really jumps off the screen — 10-16, 188 yards, 2 TDs, 9 rush yards. Because the Colts are still susceptible on defense, Luck should be a high-volume passer in 2012. Given his exceptional skill set, versatility and suitable arsenal, he has strong odds of turning a profit (133.2 ADP, QB19). He's a quality QB2 who could flirt with the top-12 come year's end.


Ryan Mathews — Naturally, after he was promoted incessantly by yours truly, the brittle back couldn't survive one lousy carry. Now out for at least four weeks, many are understandably jumping off the bandwagon. However, the Noise's cheeks remain firmly planted. The situation is still ripe. Provided he doesn't step on another bear trap, he will crank out yards in bulk. His ADP may be plummeting, but he's a value buy anytime after pick No. 20. Nut up or shut up, Team Huevos.

Michael Vick — The former fantasy king, who slammed his throwing hand into a Steeler's helmet, may have dodged a bullet after x-rays revealed no significant damage, but it's a reminder of his fragility. Without a doubt, Vick is the ultimate risk-reward pick in drafts. He could carry you to a title or to the toilet. If you're willing to roll the dice on the passer this season, let his first preseason game be a reminder it's a necessity to draft a viable backup. No matter how well he's protected, inevitably he will miss 3-4 games.

Michael Turner — Turner did little to reassure owners he's still a dependable RB2. Versus the Ravens he looked slow, old and clunky, netting just 3.5 yards per carry on seven attempts. Jacquizz Rodgers was far from extraordinary, but he ran harder and displayed excellent power, barreling into the end-zone on a two-yard dive. It may sound like a broken record, but it would be a surprise if Turner logs more than 15 touches per game this season. He's terribly overvalued at his 40.0 Y! ADP (RB15).

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Torrey's ankle injury not nearly as bad as originally reported (USP)

Torrey Smith — The popular mid-round sleeper suffered a nasty ankle injury, a setback that could jeopardize his availability for Baltimore's opener versus Cincinnati and possibly other games. Due to the lingering nature of ankle sprains, particularly at a position where sharp cuts are required, he could be limited well-into the regular season. Knock him down a tier or two. (UPDATE: It appears Smith is the world's quickest healer, the anti-McFadden. He was back at practice today. False alarm.)

Maurice Jones-Drew — Readers might be puzzled seeing MJD's name here. After all, the holdout is nowhere near Jags camp. But  what happened on the field Friday was a blow to his overall worth. Backup Rashad Jennings, who's earned high praise from the Jags staff this summer, displayed eye-catching power and speed. Running with the first team he carried the rock 12 times for 56 yards (4.7 ypc), including a nifty 17-yard sprint up the right sideline. If MoJo doesn't cave soon, Jennings could shine in an expanded role to start the regular season. Frankly, the drop-off from Jones-Drew to Jennings isn't that steep.

Doug Martin — A popular Rip Van Winkle in the early rounds, Martin doesn't have a stranglehold on the starting gig just yet. LeGarrette Blount, repeatedly panned for his poor work ethic, ran with conviction and determination as a first-teamer. The stone-handed back even caught a pass. Post-game Greg Schiano stated his backfield remains "a fluid situation." The more versatile Martin should outdistance Blount in the end, but he's far from a RB2 lock at this juncture.

Frank Gore — Attempting to read between the lines, it appears Jim Harbaugh is trying to light a fire under the veteran. Kendall Hunter, a back hyper Harbaugh pumped earlier in the week, looked much improved Friday night. With Brandon Jacobs and rookie LaMichael James also in the mix, the proposed RBBC could be a sticky situation for Gore. Be leery.

Chad Johnson — On the field Ocho-Stanko was appallingly bad, allowing a perfectly thrown Moore pass slip through his fingers. Off it, he was much worse, arrested late Saturday on domestic abuse charges. Irrelevancy is fast-approaching. On the receiver revival tour, he's merely a roadie for Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. (UPDATE #2: Well, that didn't take long. According to Jay Glazer, Ocho-Droppo was released by the Dolphins Sunday night. Can you say permanently cooked?)

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