Week 1 Flames: Villianized Flacco to flourish once again in Denver

Each week the Noise highlights 12-13 somewhat obscure, un-obvious names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week using the scoring system shown here. If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 1 Flames in the comments section below.

Joe Flacco, Bal, QB (15-percent started)

Matchup: at Den
Over the past week the NFL did a marvelous job reminding everyone in the greater Denver area just how spectacular Flacco really is. His giant-sized image adorned downtown buildings and even the exterior of Sports Authority Field. Considering the wounds from last season's divisional playoff loss are still fresh, the NFL's knee to the groin to the Orange faithful was an act worthy of capital punishment. Hey, blame the Orioles. Though the bull's eye on the Ravens QB is rather pronounced, he's in line to again bombard the Broncos. Yes, he lost roughly 40-percent of his receiving production from a season ago (Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin), but with Torrey Smith and Ray Rice still on roster, he shouldn't flounder when the matchup warrants. Denver presents such an opportunity. Down Von Miller (suspension) and no longer fielding the services of Elvis Dumervil, the Broncos pass rush is far from intimidating, which spells bad news against a QB that typically disembowels Ds when given time. Recall last fall, he posted an impeccable 16:0 TD:INT split on 123 pass attempts beyond 20 yards. More worrisome for Denver, it could be without corner Champ Bailey who remains very iffy with a lingering foot injury. If the veteran is inactive, Chris Harris and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, who last year ranked No. 40 in pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus, will have their hands full. For one night only, Baltimore's 120.6 million-dollar man will be worth every penny.

Fearless Forecast: 20-36, 284 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 5 rushing yards, 22.7 fantasy points

Ahmad Bradshaw, Ind, RB (36-percent)

Matchup: vs. Oak
Incognito for much of the summer, Bradshaw, nursing a surgically repaired right foot, didn't log a single snap in any one of Indy's four dress rehearsals. However, he ramped up his practice regimen, donning full pads two weeks ago. Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, not worried about Bradshaw's sluggish recovery, fully expects him to be ready for the opener against Oakland. Though he did run with the second team earlier this week, the Indy Star predicts the ex-Giant will immediately command the "lion's share" of touches. The Colts gave him a one-year deal for a reason. In other words, Vick Ballard should likely wrest away only 5-8 carries per game, possibly at the onset. When healthy, Bradshaw is one of the game's most underappreciated backs. Tough between the tackles, a quality receiver out of the backfield and superb in blitz pick-up, he's very well-rounded. Remember in 14 games with the Giants last year, he ranked inside the RB top-20 in per game average. In Pep Hamilton's somewhat conservative two-TE offense, he should be a focal point, especially this week. From top to bottom, the Raiders are an abomination. Overly generous to RBs last year (Ninth-most fantasy points allowed), they should again wallow near the bottom of the league versus the run. The last time Oakland finished outside the top-10 in fantasy points allowed to RBs (2002), people actually listened to Nickelback. In what should be a lopsided affair, the Colts rusher ensures Oakland's futility continues.

Fearless Forecast: 15 carries, 71 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 11 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.7 fantasy points

Shane Vereen, NE, RB (17-percent)

Matchup: at Buf
In PPR formats, the Cal product will prove ironclad. Down Rob Gronkowski for at least the first 2-3 weeks of the regular season and with a young, inexperienced WR corps outside Danny Amendola to target, Tom Brady may soon play a game of pitch-and-catch with New England's "joker." Throughout the preseason and training camp, Vereen was utilized all over the field as a multidimensional weapon. He lined out wide, in the slot and caught swing passes out of the backfield. Because of his Reggie Bush-like skill set, he's an extremely difficult assignment, especially operating underneath against zones and in man-on-man coverage. A season ago, the Bills were very fantasy friendly allowing the second-most fantasy points to RBs. Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead, whose role Vereen is taking over, combined for five touchdowns and 288 yards from scrimmage in two games against them. Given his elusiveness, speed and sharp routes, linebackers Kiko Alonso and Jerry Hughes will have their hands full. FLEX him with confidence in 12-team PPR leagues.

Fearless Forecast: 3 attempts, 13 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 38 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 12.6 fantasy points

Emmanuel Sanders, Pit, WR (12-percent)

Matchup: vs. Ten
The fantasy community may be down with Antonio Brown, but few have jumped to the side of Sanders. With Mike Wallace soaking up rays on South Beach, owners should. The third-year target worked in the slot 67-percent of the time last year, posting a respectable 62.5 catch rate. This year he'll work mostly out wide, an area where he could attract 7-plus targets per game, particularly early on. Sans projected workhorse Le'Veon Bell, the Steelers will rely heavily on Ben Roethlisberger's arm. Yes, the offensive line would struggle fending off a slow-charging group of preschoolers, but high-volume situations could become commonplace. Keep in mind the Steelers defense, the crustiest unit in the league, isn't exactly full of spring chickens. Expected to draw Alterraun Verner, a corner local beat-writers feel is an ill-fit for Tennessee's newly installed press scheme, No. 88 could become the apple of Ben's eye. Last year, Verner yielded a bland 63.1 catch rate. Ponder Sanders' services as a WR3 in deeper leagues.

Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 73 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 17.0 fantasy points

Andre Roberts, Ari, WR

Matchup: at StL
Larry Fitzgerald and buzzy sleeper Michael Floyd garnered plenty of attention in drafts this season, but the overlooked Roberts could also make considerable noise from the get go. The Citadel product is a crafty route-runner who can hold his own inside and outside the hashmarks. Despite the revolving door of suck at QB last year, he quietly tallied a laudable 64-759-5 line, including 14 receptions for 131 yards in two games versus the Rams. With Rob Housler very questionable due to a high-ankle sprain and given the offensive line's likely struggles against St. Louis' aggressive pass rush, he could see an uptick in targets working primarily in the short field. If Levi Brown fails to adequately protect the blind-side like he did in preseason action, Carson Palmer will need to get rid of the ball quickly. Even when the passer has time, Roberts should inflict measurable damage. Corners Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins surrendered a combined 67.5 catch rate to their assignments last year, many of those receptions surrendered to slot receivers. Heavily debate his services at WR3/FLEX in competitive PPR formats.

Fearless Forecast: 7 receptions, 84 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 13.6 fantasy points

SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10-percent started)

Terrelle Pryor, Oak, QB (0-percent)

Matchup: at Ind
Pryor is essentially Oakland's version of Tim Tebow or Joe Webb. In reality, he's an incredibly raw passer who would fail to hit the Golden Gate Bridge square in the rivets from five yards out. However, in fantasy, he's a tantalizing dual threat capable of developing into a poor man's Cam Newton. Though woefully inaccurate and relatively inexperienced, he's a strong play in two-QB leagues. Yes, really. With Dwight Freeney no longer on roster, the Colts' pass rush outside Robert Mathis is no longer frightening. If the Raiders shaky offensive line can occasionally stand tall, Pryor could benefit from numerous clean pockets. If not, it may actually improve his scoring prospects. When flushed, the ex-Buckeye is a terrific instinctual runner. He runs with plus-burst, cutting ability and vision. Overlooked by most, Pryor was fantasy fantastic in his lone start last year notching a 150-2, 49-1 line against the Chargers, the seventh-best output by Week 17 passers. Dennis Allen is keeping his starting QB close to the vest, but based on offensive coordinators Greg Olson's recent admission the Raiders need playmakers and a San Fran Chronicle report, Pryor will get the call. In a contest Oakland will almost certainly play from behind in, he's destined for garbage-time greatness. He may only complete 45-percent of his attempts, but his legs will make him one of next week's hottest waiver commodities.

Fearless Forecast: 15-31, 172 passing yards, 1 passing TD, 2 interceptions, 56 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD, 22.2 fantasy points



Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their "Flames" (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?

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