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Dave Richard chat transcript (12/13)

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Player News
Vikings adjust practice squad
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1:44 pm ET) The Vikings signed guard Austin Wentworth to their practice squad and waived cornerback Kendall James from the squad.

T.Y. Hilton a divisive figure Week 1
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1:40 pm ET) T.Y. Hilton is the Colts' most explosive receiver and he opens the season with a projected shootout in Denver. Indy will throw plenty to keep up with Peyton Manning, making Hilton an easy start, right?

Senior Fantasy Writer Dave Richard thinks so, ranking Hilton 13th among wideouts. Colleague Jamey Eisenberg isn't on board.

Eisenberg buries Hilton at 41st in his rankings, noting Hilton's struggles when playing outdoors. Hilton averages 79.9 receiving yards in indoor games, 48.6 yards outside. Hilton averages 7.3 yards after the catch indoors, 4.5 yards outdoors. But he's scored the same number of touchdowns, six, in each setting.

Hilton ranked 16th in the NFL last year with 138 targets; that will be tough to duplicate this season with a healthy Reggie Wayne and Dwayne Allen and Hakeem Nicks' arrival.

But in this game, with Andrew Luck expected to throw 40 times, consider Hilton a high-end WR3 with the potential to go off.


Steven Jackson ready to go for Week 1
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1:38 pm ET) Falcons running back Steven Jackson, who missed most of training camp nursing a hamstring problem, says he's amped up to face the Saints on Sunday.

"I'm extremely excited for Week 1," he told the team's website. "It's been a training camp that I missed the majority of the time, but I've been working hard physically and mentally to prepare for this coming Sunday. I feel good about it."


Julio Jones looking to make up for lost touchdowns
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:26 pm ET) Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, who missed the final 11 weeks last year with a fractured foot, will be taking on the division rival Saints for the first time in nearly a full calendar year when they come to town in Week 1. He scored a touchdown in that last meeting, catching seven passes for 76 yards, and seems eager to do so again.

"That's a big emphasis this year," wide receiver Julio Jones told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "We have to score in the red zone. We have too many weapons to get [stopped] in the red zone."

Jones was referring to last year's season opener -- a game the Falcons lost 23-17 after stalling twice inside the 10-yard line. Given the Jones' size and physicality, the Falcons will obviously look to him in those situations, especially with tight Tony Gonzalez now out of the picture.

Jones has expressed concern recently that he's not quite ready for a full workload yet, but even if the Falcons rest him a little more than usual, you can bet they'll take advantage of his time on the field. Even though the Saints technically ranked second against the pass last year, allowing 194.1 yards per game, you shouldn't hesitate to start Jones in Fantasy. Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard both rank him fifth among wide receivers for the week.


Bill Belichick: No decision on Gronk's status yet
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1:15 pm ET) While Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (knee) said he'll definitely play Sunday at Miami, coach Bill Belichick said no final decision has been made, reports CSNNE.com.

"I'm glad that Rob's optimistic about this situation," Belichick said. "We'll go through the week of practice and take a look at everything, everybody, and see where everybody's at and try to do what we like is best for the team. With all due respect to Rob -- I'm glad he feels the way he does -- but in the end, we'll have to make the decision we feel like is best for the team and we'll do that as we go through the week."


Antonio Brown to return punts
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1:02 pm ET) Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said receiver Antonio Brown will return punts along with rookie Dri Archer. "He's a Pro Bowl-caliber return man, so that's how you play him," Tomlin said of Brown.

Matt Ryan begins with familiar foe
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:58 pm ET) Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan made the most of his opening-week matchup against the Saints last season, completing 25 for 38 passes for 304 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. The hope is he can do something similar with the Saints coming to town in Week 1.

While last year's opener was at New Orleans, this one is at home, where Ryan went without a touchdown against the Saints in Week 12 last year. But he was without star wide receiver Julio Jones in that game. The Saints did rank second against the pass last year, allowing 194.1 yards per game, but against the Falcons, coming off a year in which they threw the ball more often than any other team, that probably won't impact a Ryan's numbers too much. It certainly didn't limit his yardage last year. Even in that Week 12 meeting, he threw for 292.

Bottom line: Based on where you drafted Ryan, you'd need an awfully good reason to consider sitting him in Fantasy, and this matchup against the Saints isn't it. Jamey Eisenberg ranks him ninth among quarterbacks for the week, and Dave Richard is even more optimistic, ranking him sixth.


Real test for Reggie Wayne comes Week 1
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:56 pm ET) Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, 35, looked sharp in training camp in his return from a torn ACL. The comeback continued in the third preseason game, when Wayne suited up for the first time and caught two passes for 11 yards and was targeted a third time. (Both receptions were negated by penalties).

"It felt good," Wayne told reporters. "Everything felt normal and that's what I expected. Coach tells you you've got about 8-10 plays and you feel like that's the perfect number, but once you go out there and start playing and getting involved, you feel like that's not enough.

"It was good to get a real live game under my belt," Wayne added. "There is no way you can simulate that."

Wayne didn't play much, however, and it will be interesting to see if he plays a full complement of snaps in Sunday night's anticipated shootout in Denver. Wayne caught five of eight targets for 50 yards against the Broncos in Week 7 last year before reaching for an underthrown pass midway through the fourth quarter and ripping up his right knee.

Wayne appears ready to reclaim his spot as Andrew Luck's chain mover, but watch his usage closely. Keep expectations in check and start him as a WR3.

Le'Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount will play Week 1 as expected
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:50 pm ET) Steelers coach Mike Tomlin confirmed running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount will play Sunday against the Browns despite their recent arrests on marijuana possession charges, reports NFL.com.

Saints have tough first test
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:39 pm ET) Coming off a season in which they excelled against the pass, allowing the second-fewest yards per game (194.1) while recording the fourth-most sacks (49), the Saints will have a chance to validate that performance when they travel to Atlanta in Week 1 to take on the most pass-heavy offense in the NFL.

The Falcons threw the ball 68.7 percent of the time last year, according to TeamRankings.com, tops in the league. They ranked seventh in passing offense, averaging 265.2 yards per game. The Saints limited the Falcons to 271 yards through the air in their second meeting with them last year, but of course, star wide receiver Julio Jones was out for that game. The Falcons threw for 341 yards in the teams' first meeting.

With Jones back to full health, both Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard expect the Saints DST to struggle in this one, ranking it 21st at the position. Even if the Saints are able to slow the Falcons' passing attack, they're vulnerable against the run, having allowed the fifth-most yards per carry last season.


 
 
 
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