I watched all 60 minutes of this snoozer Sunday, and just as I was ready to give myself a lobotomy with a corkscrew I witnessed one of the strangest plays of the day. But let me backtrack a moment. If you read my Week 1 Start and Sit Team Defense article, you already know I picked Cincy to win, 24-10. I even recommended their defense as a worthy plug and play option this week. Sure enough, through three quarters, the Bengals defense limited the Broncos offense to a couple of field goals. What I never considered was Denver's woeful defense limiting what should have been a fairly solid offense to zero points through 59 minutes.
When Palmer connected with Chris Henry for 18 yards, and Chad Ochocinco for 22 yards on his first two passes, I thought, here we go. However, that turned out to be Chris Henry's only catch of the game. I guess Palmer missed out on Henry's preseason hype. Instead Palmer targeted his WR4, Andre Caldwell for much of the game, and his new receiver, Laveranues Coles, who dropped the first three balls thrown to him.
In the end, the Bengals managed to put seven points on the board in the final minute of the game to win it 7-6. Dullsville. I mean what chance does weak armed Kyle Orton have of throwing a Hail Mary game winning pass to save the day? None. Well, almost none. With 20 seconds to go, no make that 38 seconds, (because of some technicality), the Broncos took the field one more time, hoping for a deep pass play to get them into field goal range for kicker Matt Prater. Orton threw the ball up and Bengal's corner Leon Hall tipped the ball away, game over...Except it popped up and right into the hands of Denver receiver, Brandon Stokely, who ran the ball in uncontested and stole the victory on his only catch of the day. Head coach Josh McDaniels is handed a get out of Cincy free card and the cheers in the Rocky Mountains cause an avalanche.
So sure was I that the Bengals would take this game, I picked them in my Survivor Pool. Bengals fans, I feel your pain. But let's look at the fantasy implications from this first contest.
--Denver Broncos - Week 1 Fantasy Implications--
The Denver Broncos Defense looked tremendous. but alas, looks can be deceiving. I attribute today's efficiency to Bengal's inefficiency.
Brandon Marshall looked rusty. Several passes slipped right through his hands, though he did manage to hang on to four. Given Marshall's elite abilities and success in practice this week I expected a better performance. Not to fear. By season's end he'll have his 80-100 receptions and about 1000 yards in the books. I was more surprised that Eddie Royal was practically non-existent in the game. However, it's only one game.
Kyle Orton looked like, Kyle Orton. If you drafted him, start drinking now. By week three he'll start to look good.
Knowshon Moreno did play, which in itself is good news for fantasy owners. He and Correll Buckhalter split carries pretty evenly, but between the two of them they didn't muster much more than 65 yards total. Those who thought Peyton Hillis might prove of value were wrong, at least for this week.
Orton targeted TE Daniel Graham several times, while only hitting Tony Scheffler once. Graham is more of a blocking tight end, so today was probably unusual. Neither put up worthwhile stats.
There were no IDP highlights to speak of. New Broncos addition, DB Brian Dawkins managed 7 solo tackles to lead the team.
--Cincinnati Bengals - Week 1 Fantasy Implications--
Chad Ochocinco is back. He was one of the few fantasy highlights in a rather dismal day. He only hauled in five passes for 89 yards, but one set up the lone touchdown. More important is this performance is a sign that the 85 of old is back to the joy of fantasy owners everywhere. Chris Henry looked great. Unfortunately, Palmer dismissed him for Andre Caldwell. More concerning is that Laveranues Coles dropped three of the four balls thrown his way. It may simply be a fluke. Coles is too good to be that bad.
The other fantasy highpoint from this game was Cedric Benson who put up over 100 total yards rushing and receiving, and one touchdown. That's certainly not earth shattering, but it was a solid day. I wouldn't expect too many days like this from Benson though. If you can get someone to bite after today's performance, unload him.
The Cincinnati Bengals Defense. I have high hopes for these guys and think they could be fantasy viable certain weeks this season, as they were Sunday. Young kids like Keith Rivers and Rey Maualuga are going to be solid fantasy performers in IDP leagues, and continue to improve this team defense.
Fortunately this bizarre football game is over and sadly no fantasy team is richer for its having been played, except maybe the hopeful few who drafted and started Benson.
Now if I could find a way to get this corkscrew out of my forehead.
Enjoy the tip that won the game (until YouTube yanks it):