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Throwing Pryor into the Fire

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Dose: Pryor Cleared for Week 5
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Nick Mensio checks in on Terrelle Pryor, the Vikings' QB situation, the Rams' RB situation and plenty …

The Raiders are planning to start the ultra-athletic Terrelle Pryor at quarterback, ahead of Matt Flynn, in their Week 1 opener against the Colts on Sunday. The coaching staff has yet to confirm the decision, and we wouldn’t expect them to do so until the weekend. Coach Dennis Allen is citing “competitive reasons,” though if the Colts were smart they would have been game-planning for Pryor all along.

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Pryor is a Tim Tebow-like passer with shoddy accuracy. He relies on his natural abilities as a runner to get him out of trouble and help matriculate the ball down the field. Pryor is a lock to struggle against the Colts and any other NFL defense he faces this season. He completed just 17-of-32 passes for 221 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions against vanilla defenses during the preseason. Pryor also took four sacks behind a porous offensive line. If you’re not starting the Indianapolis defense in fantasy leagues, then you’re doing it wrong.

Pryor’s aforementioned running abilities will keep defenses on their toes more than Flynn would have, so that at least gives a bump to Darren McFadden’s fantasy value. It’s still hard to like DMC as more than a low-end RB2 simply because the Raiders are going to be trailing early and often, which in turn means OC Greg Olson will have to dial up pass play after pass play after pass play. The entire offensive crew in Oakland is a fantasy situation to avoid.

It wouldn’t be a total shock to see Flynn get some reps under center as early as the opener. Pryor is nothing more than a back-end QB2.

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News of the Day #2
The Broncos are sticking with their running back by committee plan for Thursday night’s opener against the Ravens. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, it’s going to be a “drive-by-drive” approach instead of a “play-by-play” attack. We fully expect Ronnie Hillman to open the game as the starter, ahead of Montee Ball and Knowshon Moreno, but it’s anyone’s guess as to who will finish the night with the most touches. If we had to choose one of the three to plug into a fantasy lineup, we’d go with Ball with the hope that he gets a goal-line look or two. Our best advice, though, is to take a wait-and-see approach. The Ravens have a stout defense, while the Broncos’ backfield picture is clear as mud. Hopefully one of the three backs will impress in Week 1 and we’ll have a better feel for the situation come Week 2.

News of the Day #3
Coach Mike Shanahan finally came out and confirmed that Robert Griffin III will start the Redskins’ season opener on Monday night against the Eagles. There was never any doubt, but it was nice to hear the almighty tan one come out and formalize it.

"I feel very good where Robert's at," said Shanahan. "He'll be our starter Monday night. We believe he can do everything that a quarterback is asked to do." Shanahan went on and added that RGIII is “ready to go,” while calling his star quarterback “full speed ahead.”

Griffin is easily a top-ten fantasy quarterback this week against a Philadelphia defense that couldn’t seem to stop anyone in the preseason. Start RGIII with confidence.

Depth Chart Slants
Buffalo signed kicker Dan Carpenter to replace an injured Dustin Hopkins (groin). … The Patriots signed tight end Matthew Mulligan. He’s a solid in-line blocker who will help in that area after Jake Ballard and Daniel Fells failed to survive final cuts. Mulligan is nowhere near fantasy relevance. … Lamar Miller is unsurprisingly listed as the No. 1 running back on the Dolphins’ Week 1 depth chart, ahead of Fumbling Daniel Thomas. Miller is a legitimate RB2. … The 49ers signed fourth-round rookie Chris Harper off the Seahawks’ practice squad. San Francisco reportedly envisions Harper as a tight end, a la Delanie Walker. … Ahmad Bradshaw revealed that he’s been working with the Colts’ second-team offense in practice. Vick Ballard is running with the ones. Neither player is a recommended flex play this week, even though Indianapolis is taking on the dreadful Raiders. … Isaac Redman handled the first practice reps at running back for the Steelers in Monday’s practice. He’ll start against the Titans, but he’s merely a low-end, low-upside flex play. … The Raiders gave up on the ghost of Alex Barron. He was released. Rookie Menelik Watson will try and handle left tackle. … The Jets added Brady Quinn to their quarterback mix and cut Graham Harrell. … Chicago acquired tight end Dante Rosario from the Cowboys for a conditional draft pick. … The Packers signed Seneca Wallace to be Aaron Rodgers’ backup. … Patrick Edwards is running ahead of Ryan Broyles in Detroit. Edwards had an underwhelming preseason, but he’s worth monitoring simply because of the offense he plays in. He’ll see plenty of snaps opposite Calvin Johnson.

Injury Slants
Colts coach Chuck Pagano confirmed Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) will play in the opener against the Raiders, though he failed to specify how much. … Rob Gronkowski (back) participated in team drills Monday. … Victor Cruz (heel) returned to practice, as expected. His Week 1 status was never in doubt. … Heath Miller (knee) is expected back within “a month or so.” He’s not worthy of a fantasy roster spot. … Cowboys backup running back Lance Dunbar (foot) shed his walking boot. He’s still very questionable for the opener. Joseph Randle and Phillip Tanner will likely handle backup duties. … Mike Tolbert (hamstring) returned to Panthers practice after missing much of camp. Look for him to handle short-yardage work with Jonathan Stewart (ankles) on PUP. … Coby Fleener was back at practice after spraining his knee last week. … Justin Forsett (toe) practiced after missing most of the summer. He’s Maurice Jones-Drew’s top backup. … Blaine Gabbert (thumb) did some light throwing. … Dwayne Allen (foot) was a full go at Colts practice. … E.J. Manuel (knee) was upgraded to a full practice Monday. The Bills need him to play on Sunday if they want to have any chance at beating New England. … Santonio Holmes (foot) practiced again Monday, and he appears set to start against the Bucs this week. … Eddie Royal (bruised lung) returned to Chargers practice. … Rashard Mendenhall (knee) was held out of practice. He’s expected to be fine for the opener. … Rob Housler (ankle) missed practice and is doubtful for Week 1 in St. Louis. … Le’Veon Bell (foot) said he’s aiming for a Week 2 return. That would be wonderful. … Joel Dreessen (knee) isn’t practicing for the Broncos. … Earl Bennett (concussion) was back at Bears practice. The slot receiver is fourth or fifth in line for targets.

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