We all get things wrong in life. It’s a part of the learning curve. Take me for instance. On Thursday night I looked at my team and somehow convinced myself that Wes Welker, as good of an option as he is, would be better suited on my bench. 9 catches and 2 TDs later I look and feel like an idiot. I know what you’re thinking, what moron sits Wes Welker right? This moron (pointing at myself) I was convinced his ankle was still going to give him problems and thought he may not be very effective in his first real game time moment on his new team. All reasonable concerns, but 30+ fantasy football points later I am getting ridiculed by my fellow team owners and rightfully so. What does this have to do with you? I don’t want anyone else making a bonehead mistake to start to year so I will go over a few appealing matchups and then some less attractive ones and hopefully it will keep some of you from benching the winning margin of your week like I may have.
Cheerleaders, tailgating, BBQ and favorable matchups in fantasy land.
• (PIT) QB Ben Roethlisberger Vs. Tennessee Titans – Big Ben has been one of the most prolific passers when scrambling. Expect more of that this season. With no running game to speak of and a weak offensive line, the Steelers will be forced to pass the ball nearly all game. The Titans are not a formidable defense this year, especially their corners and safeties. This should give Ben a good chance at firing up some long passes for completions. With no real pass rush in Tennessee even Pittsburgh’s weak line should be able to keep Roethlisberger upright. Start him as a low end QB1 this week, but it only gets more difficult for Big Ben as he plays the Bengals and Bears the next two weeks. This will be his best chance in the first month of football at making a difference for your fantasy team.
• (IND) QB Andrew Luck Vs. Oakland Raiders – Luck has been trending since his playoff berth last year. He is far from a sleeper in fantasy but this week he has more value than he will most weeks. This has a lot to do with the inept Oakland defense. Indy has a new offensive coordinator in Pep Hamilton who was part of Andrew Lucks Stanford staff and from what I have read will be bringing a quick hitting west coast offensive plan. This bodes well for such an accurate passer like Luck. He is going to put up some serious numbers this season. However he may never have a matchup better than this. Indy does play the Jaguars twice this year, but other than that their schedule includes a few premier defenses. Look for Luck to torch the Raiders. His value may be the highest it will be all season after this game, so if you’re a Luck-y owner, keep that in mind.
• (CLE) RB Trent Richardson Vs. Miami Dolphins – Richardson has been getting talked up a lot! As he should be. Cleveland doesn’t have too many offensive weapons. So the natural trend here should be to get Richardson the lion share of offensive plays for the Browns all year. His injury history will always be a concern but were not talking about injuries here, were talking about guys who have favorable matchups. Another point that should be made is the strength of Cleveland’s Defense. They are a very underrated D and will keep Miami in check all day. This will lead to more offensive plays for the Browns and Richardson. Miami is projected to be a middle of the road defense. They are talented, but will have a tough time stopping T-Rich from making his fantasy owners feel well… T-“Rich.”
• (HOU) WR Andre Johnson Vs. San Diego Chargers – Let this be known. I am not an Andre Johnson fan. Too many injuries, risky QB in Schaub. However, I can’t help but look at this match up and almost drool. We know the Chargers are going to look different this year under their new leadership. But a GM, HC, and OC can’t fix the talent level of a team. Not in a season anyway. Look for Johnson to have a tremendous first half. By halftime the score may be so lopsided that the Texans just run the ball. The kid they drafted this year Hopkins has suffered from concussion like symptoms since week 2 of the pre-season and is still probable for the game. Keshawn Martin, Lester Jean and DeVier Posey aren’t even relevant in their offense and Owen Daniels will have his share of catches. Beyond that it is Johnson all day in the passing game. The Chargers will eventually double team him, but by the time they do he could have 80 yards and a TD.
• Tampa Bay Defense Vs. New York Jets – Tampa may be on the waiver wire in most leagues. This is a one-time deal where I will be recommending them, but there is sooo much in their favor that it needs to be mentioned.
o (1) Darrelle Revis – Traded from the Jets to the Bucs in this off-season will be a major motivating power for not just Revis, but for the defense as a whole.
o (2) Geno Smith – Much has been written about this young man without anyone seeing him in action. But if you set up a guy worse for his debut to the world in the NFL I’d like to hear it.
o (3) Jets Offense as a whole – The left side of his offensive line is good. Beyond that the Jets stink worse than your running shoes. Smith threw for 59.5% in the pre-season. He doesn’t even have a weapon to throw to now that Dustin Keller is gone. Other than that they should do well this year. (HA!)
If you’re asking why I didn’t cover the TE position there is a reason. It’s simple really. Few TE’s deserve a roster spot on most teams. As a matter of fact other than Graham, Gonzalez, Witten and Davis few guys will ever score you more than 10 points. Will you have a Julius Thomas like guy every week? Yeah but did you see that coming? I’m an author not Nostradamus. Predicting the future isn’t really my “Forte” and I don’t mean Matt. Reading information and deciphering it is. Let’s look at some less attractive matchups.
• (ARI) QB Carson Palmer Vs. St. Louis Rams – Palmer is going to have a good year. He has a chance to finish with some very effective numbers for fantasy teams to covet. However, he is not a good play this week. Even with Bruce Arians at the mic, the Cardinals lost their first round pick G Jonathan Cooper to a leg injury and his offensive line is not going to stand up to the pass rush Jeff Fisher will be bringing. St. Louis is a damn good defense. Fisher is a terrific defensive minded coach. Look for St. Louis to be covering Fitzgerald and Floyd hard, while the LB will be coming for Palmers head. Palmer won’t pass for a low end QB1 this week.
• (SEA) QB Russell Wilson Vs. Carolina Panthers – This absolutely kills me to write because I own BOTH Wilson and the Panthers D in my big money league. (same one I sat Welker in to make this worse) Wilson is projected to have a great year, but the real story here is the Carolina defense. Luke Keuchly is a tackling monster and the Panthers have spent some high draft picks on their front 7 players for a few years now including Keuchly in the first round. They have a chance to not only slow Wilson down, but Marshawn Lynch too. Still Wilson will flirt with 250 yards total, and will probably score a running and passing TD, but his day will be far from easy. Look for him to give low end QB1 numbers in week 1.
• (MIA) RB Lamar Miller Vs. Cleveland Browns – As I mentioned before, I believe in the Cleveland defense. They’re going to be owned in most leagues by years end. Miller had a tough time separating himself from Daniel Thomas in pre-season. Miami also has some serious offensive line concerns which will limit where and how they run the ball. They are going to regret letting Jake Long walk. Still according to NFL.com Miller is projected to have 80+ yards and a TD. I think there is very little chance that really happens. He is a low end FLEX player this week, and unless he separates himself from this running back by committee crap, he may disappoint more often than not.
• (GB) WR Jordy Nelson vs. San Francisco 49’ers – The Niners unlike the Ravens are a better team than they were last year. The pieces they lost were not of a Ray Lewis like importance. Nelson is coming off a minor knee surgery of which he seems to be fully recovered from, but if I was SF I’d be targeting his legs every tackle. Wear him out early. Rotoworld has Nelson listed as the 14th best WR for week 1. I doubt he has top 20 #’s this week. Not to say there is anything wrong with his numbers, but he won’t lead you receivers in points after Sunday. At least I hope not.
• (NO) WR Marques Colston Vs. Atlanta Falcons – the former Hofstra star (before they tore down the football program) has been plagued with injury concerns for the last few seasons. The Falcons picked up Osi Umenyiroa who we are all familiar with and drafted a CB named Desmond Trufant who was highly touted during the weeks before the draft. Colston will get his opportunities, but he won’t be a WR1 by any means. NFL.com predicts 5 catches for 77 yards. I would expect less targets and catches and in turn less yardage.
Good luck to you all this week! May the fantasy football GODS smile upon you.