Week 1 isn't some far-off thing, gamers. We're in it. Your fantasy season is happening.
The Ravens and Broncos open the 2013 NFL season on Thursday night in Denver, which means that someone — maybe you, maybe your opponent, Baron Von Munchak — will actually hold a lead at the end of the day. That's awesome.
For obvious reasons, the fantasy community's attention be focused on the Broncos' backfield on Thursday, but that three-headed mess isn't the only storyline of interest. Tonight, we'll get some early fantasy returns from a pair of widely available pass-catchers who starred during exhibition play. Let's review (and possibly add)...
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Julius Thomas, TE, Den (31 percent owned) — Thomas had himself a busy preseason, catching 12 balls for 123 yards, surging past Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen on the depth chart. Before you completely dismiss Thomas as the fourth option in a crowded receiving corps, take note of the 2012 target totals for Denver's tight ends: Tamme saw 85 balls, Dreessen 58. Sure, it's reasonable to expect some of those chances to go to Wes Welker in the year ahead, but not all.
Like all the trendy tight ends, the 6-foot-5 Thomas has a hoops background (Portland State), so he clears that hurdle. He has a terrific opportunity to make noise on opening night; it doesn't hurt that he's tied to a high-yield offense. Thomas should already be rostered in deeper formats, particularly those where you can flex tight ends. With a decent showing on Thursday, he'll enter the conversation for those of you in 12-teamers.
Marlon Brown, WR, Bal (1 percent) — This kid has basically emerged as the Ravens' version of Kenbrell Thompkins, but with zero fantasy buzz (and no Tom Brady. I get it). Brown caught 10 passes for 169 yards and two scores during preseason play, seeing time with the first-teamers. Thompkins caught 15 balls for 166 yards and no TDs. Marlon is just 1 percent owned; Kenbrell is at 77 percent and climbing. So it goes.
Brown has ideal height (6-foot-5), but a less-than-ideal injury history (shoulder, ankle, ACL). He was a well-hyped prep player who never quite blew up at Georgia — a talented underachiever, basically. He's been sensational during exhibition play over the past month, however, and he's not blocked by anyone too intimidating in Baltimore. (Jacoby Jones, Brandon Stokley, rookie Aaron Mellette). I've snagged Brown in the late rounds of plus-sized leagues, so I'm invested here. If he does anything notable on Thursday (in a good way), prepare to make a move.