Manning makes huge fantasy splash, too

A look at the Denver Broncos' 49-27 victory over the Baltimore Ravens in Thursday's NFL season opener from a fantasy perspective:

  • Not only did Peyton Manning tie an NFL record with seven touchdown passes, but his 46 fantasy points were the third-most by a quarterback since the merger, according to ESPN Fantasy’s Tristan H. Cockcroft … and 10 more than he had ever scored in a game himself. It was his first game with at least 30 fantasy points since 2004. Not a bad way to start the season for the No. 3 quarterback in the preseason ESPN Fantasy rankings.

  • If you're seeking more historical perspective, here is the link to a story Cockcroft updated last year after Doug Martin's monster game against the Raiders.

  • The Broncos were the only team with three wide receivers ranked in ESPN Fantasy's top 20 at the position (Demaryius Thomas at No. 6, Wes Welker at No. 12 and Eric Decker at No. 20), so it's no surprise that two of them (Thomas and Welker) put up solid numbers.

  • Thomas' 28 fantasy points were a career high, and Welker had 16 in his Broncos debut. But it was third-year tight end Julius Thomas who was the biggest surprise.

  • Thomas, who had only one career catch in his first two seasons, had two first-half touchdowns on his way to 23 fantasy points. The former Portland State basketball forward was the 20th-ranked tight end by ESPN fantasy in the preseason. He is owned in just 26.1 percent of ESPN leagues, and was started in just 9.3 percent of ESPN leagues.

  • Not many positives for the Ravens, but undrafted free agent Marlon Brown took advantage of an injury to Jacoby Jones in the first half and finished with 12 fantasy points. Fantasy first-rounder Ray Rice found the end zone, but did not have a great night, totaling 12 fantasy points on his 20 touches (12 rushes, eight receptions).

  • Danny Trevathan's early celebration not only cost the Broncos (and fantasy owners of their defense/special-teams unit) six points immediately, but probably more than that since the Ravens immediately went downfield for a touchdown.

  • Meanwhile, the Ravens' defense scored minus-6 points. Last season, the unit finished with a negative total only once, in a 43-13 blowout loss in Houston.