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Ahmad Bradshaw’s fantasy value rises with Vick Ballard out for the season

Vick-Ballard-ColtsJust three days ago, we listed Indianapolis Colts running back Vick Ballard as a player you should be looking to grab on the waiver wire this week in fantasy leagues. He had twice as many carries as Ahmad Bradshaw in Indy’s Week 1 win over the Oakland Raiders and looked like the better runner. Things change quickly.

Ballard suffered a knee injury during practice on Thursday and is expected to miss the remainder of the season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. That will thrust Donald Brown back into the primary backup role and likely mean Bradshaw will be leaned on to take the bulk of the carries.

The obvious question is can Bradshaw handle the extra work. The former New York Giant can be explosive when healthy, but he has battled foot problems throughout most of his career. Bradshaw had another procedure on his foot over the offseason that forced him to miss most of training camp, which helps explain why he received only seven carries in the regular season opener.

The Colts will likely be reluctant to increase Bradshaw’s workload from seven to 25 in the span of a week. However, he should make for a high-end flex option and even an RB2 the rest of the way if he can remain healthy. Indianapolis has obviously lost faith in Brown, as evidenced by their decision to sign Bradshaw and bury the former UConn star on the depth chart. If nothing else, the Colts should be taking much less of a committee approach going forward.

LeGarrette Blount not a great fantasy pickup despite Vereen injury

LeGarrette BlountLeGarrette Blount was one of the hot names being thrown around in fantasy football discussions as soon as it was announced that Shane Vereen would be out until Week 11.

Vereen replaced Stevan Ridley in the second quarter of the New England Patriots’ win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday after Ridley lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. The former Cal running back looked great and was one of the best playmakers on the Pats’ offense. He racked up over 150 total yards, but he broke his wrist and was placed on injured reserve/designated to return because he is going to have surgery.

The injury to Vereen leaves the Patriots with fewer options at running back. They will likely go back to Ridley despite the former LSU back’s two fumbles on Sunday (only one was lost). Blount is another option. He rushed for 15 yards on seven carries. We don’t imagine he’ll be seeing enough action to merit a spot on your fantasy team. He would only be a great pickup if Ridley got injured.

The other Patriots backs to keep your eye on are Leon Washington and Brandon Bolden. Washington plays on special teams as a returner and has been a good pass-receiving back during his career. Bolden went undrafted out of Ole Miss in 2012 and rushed for 274 yards and two touchdowns last season. Neither player will be a fantasy factor.

Week 2 fantasy pickups include Julius Thomas, Julian Edelman, Terrelle Pryor

Julius ThomasWith the fantasy season having officially kicked off, we here at LBS are going to try to give you some advice throughout the season to help you win your leagues. Starting last Thursday and continuing into the weekend, a ton of fresh faces and even some older faces emerged as must-have fantasy pickups for Week 2. Those are the players we’ll be highlighting in this week’s column.

Julius Thomas, TE, Broncos: Many of you may have found yourselves checking your stat sheets and saying, “Wait, I thought DeMaryius Thomas was No. 88″ during Denver’s win over the Ravens last Thursday. The No. 80 you saw running all over the field untouched was Julius Thomas, a third-year tight end who — like Jimmy Graham — played basketball in college. Thomas caught two touchdown passes of more than 20 yards each in the second quarter before most of us could even figure out who he was. We now know that he’s a player who plays a very thin fantasy position and clearly has developed chemistry with Peyton Manning during training camp. He should be the No. 1 add heading into Week 2.

Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots: Edelman has been a player Tom Brady trusts for several seasons now, but he could be more valuable than ever this year. Danny Amendola was clearly Brady’s favorite target in New England’s Week 1 win over the Bills, but he is already dealing with a groin issue that is expected to keep him out against the Jets. Rookie receiver Kenbrell Thompkins hauled in only four of his 14 targets against Buffalo and Rob Gronkowski is not expected back just yet. Shane Vereen, who is probably a better pass-catcher than runner, is also out for several weeks with a broken wrist. Someone has to catch balls on Thursday and possibly going forward. Edelman is the safest bet to be that someone.

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Roddy White: Don’t start me in fantasy if I don’t practice

Roddy-White-NFC-PreviewAtlanta Flacons wide receiver Roddy White is dealing with a high ankle sprain that he suffered during his team’s second preseason game. The team initially downplayed the injury, but White admitted after Atlanta’s loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday that the injury did indeed hamper him. He also warned his fantasy football owners that they should be careful about starting him.

White was held to just two catches for 19 yards against the Saints. He was basically a non-factor in the passing game, which is something he said his fantasy owners can see coming if he doesn’t practice during the week.

It would stand to reason that White knows his body better than anyone else. Although, plenty of players have made a fantasy impact after not practicing all week — as anyone who has ever owned Hakeem Nicks would tell you.

Roddy has acknowledged his fantasy owners in the past and even apologized for poor performances. He could be trying to throw off Atlanta’s next opponent — the St. Louis Rams — by getting them to take him lightly, but fantasy owners should probably take his advice if White doesn’t practice much this week. High ankle sprains can be nagging injuries for wide receivers.

The Falcons may not be happy about White tweeting injury updates, but hey, it’s a step up from some of the incredibly idiotic tweets he has sent before.

Stevan Ridley benched after fumble; Shane Vereen goes beast

Stevan RidleyFantasy owners who drafted Stevan Ridley have to be nervous after what happened on Sunday.

Ridley was benched by the New England Patriots after losing a fumble in the second quarter of a 23-21 win over the Buffalo Bills. Ridley had nine carries for 46 yards, but the fumble was his second of the game, though the first he lost. Da’Norris Searcy recovered the fumble and went 74 yards for a Buffalo touchdown, which probably gave the Pats extra reasons to bench the back.

Ridley entered the game with five fumbles (two lost) in his NFL career. He now has seven fumbles (three lost) in 33 career games.

Prior to Ridley’s lost fumble, Shane Vereen only had one rush for 7 yards in the game. But Ridley saw most of the work after that and finished with 101 yards on 14 carries. He also had seven catches for 58 yards.

We don’t expect Ridley to lose his spot as the team’s starter, but this may have opened the door for Vereen and LeGarrette Blount to see more carries in the future. Vereen certainly played like he’s deserving of more action.

Julius Thomas a must-pick up fantasy player

Julius ThomasJulius Thomas was one of the players fantasy owners had their eye on entering the Denver Broncos’ season-opening game against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night, and he proved he is more than worth a spot on your fantasy roster.

Thomas caught five passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns in Denver’s 49-27 whooping over the Ravens. Thomas showed what he could do in the second quarter when he was targeted on consecutive plays. First, Peyton Manning hit him for a 44-yard completion. On the next play, the two connected for a 23-yard touchdown over the middle.

Thomas had four catches for 97 yards and two touchdowns by halftime, which is probably when several owners looked to pick him up in fantasy. If he’s still available in your league, grab him.

Thomas was a fourth-round pick of the Broncos out of Portland State in 2011. He was buried on the team’s depth chart and missed most of last season after undergoing ankle surgery. He entered Thursday with one career catch, but he should post solid numbers this season.

Denver has plenty of receivers competing for catchers in the offense. Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker will all see plenty of passes. But Manning will still throw to Julius plenty, especially when the tight end has single coverage because the other threats are receiving more attention.

Tony Romo: I have ‘discovered something really special’ with my throwing motion

tony-romoFantasy football owners take notice — Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is talking a big game heading into the 2013 season. With as many as 10 quarterbacks being taken ahead of Romo in some fantasy drafts, he could provide great value for those who opt to play the waiting game with drafting a QB. That could be especially true if Romo’s new mechanical discovery means anything.

On Monday, Romo told FOXSportsSouthwest.com that he has “discovered something that is going to be really special” with a change in his throwing mechanics.

“I don’t want to get into all the details of it,” he said. “But I really think it can be a positive change. I really am excited about it. It’s going to be a great thing.”

Romo looked sharp in the preseason, completing 72% of his passes and displaying great chemistry with both Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. He also signed a massive contract extension earlier this offseason, so the 33-year-old will be looking to prove his worth.

[Related: Former NFL defensive lineman calls Tony Romo a 'thief']

From a fantasy standpoint, Romo could wind up being a steal in 2013. Some fans may hate Romo because he has a tendency to choke in the clutch, but he is capable of putting up top-five fantasy quarterback numbers — especially in leagues that are pass-heavy with scoring. Romo has thrown for more than 4,000 yards and 26 touchdowns in each of the last four seasons where he has played all 16 games. If he and Bryant can stay healthy, huge fantasy numbers could be coming in 2013.