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Ok, it’s finally time for Football, no more drafts, no more auctions, although I know there are some leagues still drafting into this week. Thank god I’m all done because if I saw Coby Fleener or Benard Scott’s name anymore I was going to blackout! But were ready to rock and we get you set with the Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em’s. You won’t see the obvious names on here, that would be pointless. Maybe occasionally to give you a reminder, but rather we are looking to identify some guys that you may be on the fence with and encourage you to either start or sit them. Matchups will be broken down, stats will be used, some projections will be provided and some “gut” feeling will be mixed in. But at the end of the day, it’s your “gut” you need to roll with.
Quarterbacks- Start ‘Em
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
Robert Griffin III @ New Orleans
Griffin gets a great matchup to start the season against New Orleans and regardless of whether he plays great or not, he will put up productive numbers. Three reasons to start RG3 in this game. First, the Skins will most likely be playing catchup to the Saints powerful offense. Second, the Skins backfield is still a hot mess, so the Shahanan’s will most likely be putting the ball in RG3′s hands the majority of the game. Lastly, the Saints secondary allowed the 24th most points to Fantasy QB’s last year by giving up an average of 21 points per game. Simply throw RG3 out there and enjoy the show.
Matt Schaub vs Miami
Schaub has been very undervalued in drafts and auctions this year. Owners no doubt were concerned about his injury potential as well as Andre Johnson’s, while taking into account that this offense now runs through Arian Foster. But this is still a guy who threw for a combined 9,000 yards with 53 TD’s in 2009 and 2010 and last year was on his way to another successful season with 15 TD’s and 2,500 yards before he got hurt in Week 10.
For week 1 at least, Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels and Schaub himself are all healthy and ready to go. The weapons are there, the matchup is there (Miami allowed the 23rd most points to Fantasy QB’s last year) and the Texans are at home on the turf. Schaub also might have a nice little second option this season in second year WR, Lestar Jean. I look for 250 to 300 yards passing with 2-3 TD’s from Schaub.
Peyton Manning vs Pittsburgh
The stats and logic will tell you to sit Manning in this matchup. First game back in over a year, new team, new offense and matched up with the Steelers who will be looking for revenge for their Wildcard loss to the Broncos. Pittsburgh was also number one in pass defense and were the best against Fantasy QB’s last season, allowing just 13 points per game.
Maybe we should just wait and see how he does? Give him a week? Many fantasy “experts” think Manning will be a bust this season, but I disagree. I think he has a very successful season and starts the year off with a bang on Sunday night. This is still Peyton Manning we are talking about, arguably the best QB in the league two seasons ago. In Denver, he’s got the weapons in Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas and Willis McGahee. Then Sprinkle in a little Jacob Tamme and Brandon Stokley to make him feel at home. All systems a go as I look for Manning to approach 300 yards passing with 2-3 TD’s.
Ryan Fitzpatrick @ New York Jets
If Fitzpatrick is your starter in Week 1, you are either are in a two Quarterback league, a 16-team league, really waited long to take a QB or just love the Buffalo Bills. Fitzpatrick has started hot the last two seasons, but he’s going to have a slow week 1 facing the Jets and Darrelle Revis. Stay away.
Matt Ryan @ Kansas City
Obviously Ryan is expected to have the best season of his career with all the glorious weapons he has. I don’t doubt it, I just think this is a spot you might want to consider benching him. Arrowhead Stadium is going to be extremely loud for Week 1 and I expect the Falcons to struggle on offense a bit. The Chiefs are going to using their “ground and pound” strategy with the tandem of Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis and play ball control offense. The K.C. defense is also a young, and talented group who were very stout against Fantasy QB’s last year, ranking 7th best, allowing just 16 points per game.
Joe Flacco vs Baltimore
Like Matt Ryan, Flacco should improve on last season’s numbers, but he needs to be benched against the Bengals. In his last four games against Cincy, Flacco has thrown just four TD’s compared to five Int’s and is averaging a horrific 119 yards per game. The Bengals were also the 5th stingiest in defending Fantasy QB’s in 2011. Cornerbacks Leon Hall, Nate Clements and newly added Terrence Newman will limit Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, capping Joe Flacco’s performance in Week 1.
Running Backs- Start ‘Em
Kevin Smith vs St. Louis
Pretty easy here, Lions will score a ton of points at home in this one and Smith will be a contributor. Mikel LeShoure is out two games with the suspension, Jahvid Best is still on the PUP list, and so this is Kevin Smith’s job right now. When he’s healthy he produces and this is a great matchup against the Rams who allowed more than 150 yards rushing per game last season.
Shonn Greene vs Buffalo
In two games against Buffalo last season, Greene carried the ball 32 times for 154 yards, averaging five yards per carry. With L.T. gone, Greene could approach 20 carries in this game, reach 100 yards and possibly find the endzone against a Buffalo defense that gave up the third most points to Fantasy RB’s last season.
Michael Bush vs Indianapolis
Bush should make for a fairly solid flex play this week matching up with the Colts who allowed an average of 27 points per game to Fantasy RB’s last season, good for 4th most in the league. Matt Forte is still the main cog, but Bush should get a lot of the short yardage and goal-line carries. 40-50 yards rushing with a score is likely.
Maurice Jones-Drew @ Minnesota
Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey has already announced Rashad Jennings will draw the start with MJD being mixed in, maybe getting 7-12 touches. Jones-Drew even stated this week that “he has to get his job back”. Week 2 or Week 3 he should fully regain the reigns, but in the meantime keep him benched while he gets back into the groove of things.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis @ Baltimore
Bernard Scott has ruled himself out for Sunday and the “Lawfirm” will be ready for a big workload, but don’t expect much production against the Ravens. Baltimore was 4th best in defending the RB position last year.
Cedric Benson vs San Francisco
The 49ers had the number one run defense last season and allowed the fewest points to Fantasy RB’s so steer far and clear from Benson this week. Even if they do punch it in from the one yard-line, we could be hearing the Kuhnnnnnnnnn as John Kuhn scores a TD. This could be a frustrating season overall for Benson owners.
Wide Receivers Start ‘Em
Santana Moss, Washington Redskins
Santana Moss @ New Orleans
Moss will be in the slot this year for the Skins, a role I think he can excel in. If you guys have been following me, you know I have been bullish on Moss this year as a nice little sleeper pick. He should get things going in this high scoring affair with the Saints.
Reggie Wayne @ Chicago
Wayne and Rookie QB Andrew Luck showed a nice rapport in the preseason and I expect that continue all year. Wayne is no longer catching passes from Curtis Painter or Kerry Collins, he now has a legit, accurate QB tossing him the rock. Expect Luck to lean on Wayne early and often, in this matchup with the Bears secondary.
Justin Blackmon @ Minnesota
If Blaine Gabbert wants to keep his job, he will need to deliver the ball consistently to the vastly talented Blackmon. We saw it in the preseason with Blackmon and Gabbert hooking up for 136 yards and a TD in about 6 quarters. The Minnesota Defense should make it easy on the duo as they allowed the 2nd most to Fantasy WR’s last year. Blackmon was limited in Wednesday’s practice with an ankle injury, but should be fine for Sunday.
Steve Johnson @ New York Jets
Recommending to sit Johnson here, even though Stevie J (don’t confuse with the producer) actually had his way with Revis last year finishing with 11 catches for 159 yards and a TD in two games. But I wouldn’t bank on Johnson this week, as he is still working his way back from groin surgery. Keep him reserved.
Brandon Lloyd @ Tennessee
We heard tons of hype about the Brady, Lloyd connection in training camp, but we didn’t see much of it in the preseason. This connection could take a few games to fully develop. In the meantime, Brady will be throwing to the usual suspects in Gronk, Hernandez and Welker. With Brady and Lloyd still working out some kinks and the the Titans ranking 5th best in points allowed to Fantasy WR’s last year, I am sitting Lloyd in Week 1.
DeSean Jackson @ Cleveland
No suspension as of yet for Browns CB Joe Haden, as he has appealed, so that means the Browns and their stout secondary should be in full force for the opener. Jackson may be in for a rebound season (I don’t see it), but either way, it would be wise to sit him against the Browns who ranked number one in defending Fantasy WR’s last year.
Tight Ends- Start ‘Em
Coby Fleener @ Chicago
Luck and Fleener (there’s that name again!!) have the Stanford connection working for them and it could show itself early as both get accustomed to the NFL. It also helps that Brian Urlacher isn’t fully healthy and Chicago allowed the 26th most points to Tight Ends last season. If I had to pick between “Fantasy Sleepers” Kyle Rudolph and Coby Fleener in Week 1, I’m going with Fleener. I might just pick Fleener solely on the name. Fleeeeener!!!! To bad Gus Johnson left CBS.
Brent Celek @ Cleveland
Why no love for Celek? Brent finished the season strong last year finishing with 811 yards on 62 catches with 5 TD’s, but still was being under appreciated by Fantasy Owners in drafts this year. Vick loves to go to him and while the Browns are great against Fantasy WR’s, they can’t defend Tight Ends nearly as well, allowing the 16th most points to the position.
Vernon Davis @ Green Bay
After the 49ers kept Davis into block much of year last season which hurt his overall regular season numbers, they finally got the ball in Davis’ hands in the postseason. Davis exploded in his two postseason games finishing with 10 catches for 292 yards and 4 TD’s. I know that Jim Harbaugh is a smart man, so he should be looking Davis’ way even more this season. Davis should pop off in Week 1 against Green Bay who allowed the 2nd most points to Fantasy TE’s last year. Davis also has 308 yards and 13 catches in three career games against the Pack. Start with confidence.
Jared Cook vs New England
Cook is a beast in size at 6’5 250 and could very well have a breakout season, but this a matchup to consider reserving him in. The Pats allowed the 2nd fewest points to Tight Ends last season with just around 10 points per game. Maybe give Locker and Cook a little more time to develop before fully trusting this connection.
Brandon Pettigrew vs St. Louis
Pettigrew should enjoy a nice season playing in this high-powered offense, but the Rams won’t make it easy on him in Week 1. St. Louis ranked numero uno in defending the Tight End last year, allowing a measly 8 points per game.
Jermaine Gresham @ Baltimore
Gresham is still questionable for Sunday, but even if he plays he should be on your bench going against the Ravens Defense. Ray Lewis has also reportedly dropped 20 pounds in order to keep up with the quicker Tight Ends. Gresham’s injury, Ravens Defense, not a good combo, stay away.
IDP Start ‘Em
Cliff Avril, Detroit Lions
DE, Cliff Avril vs St. Louis
Avril broke out for the Lions last year with 11 sacks. He should continue that surge this season and punish Sam Bradford who is being protected by one of the worst pass blocking offensive lines in the NFL. The Rams allowed a league-high 55 sacks last season.
DE, J.J. Watt vs Miami
Watt was one of leaders on Wade Phillips’ top ranked Texans defense last year and will enjoy playing against Miami who allowed 52 sacks in 2011.
CB, DeAngelo Hall @ New Orleans
Don’t like this matchup for Hall who is better in Fantasy than he is in the NFL. Drew Brees will be throwing darts, leaving few chances for Hall to get deflections or an interception.
Cameron Wake @ Houston
The Texans will be running effectively and moving the chains all night. Their offense will be efficient and wear down this Miami defense. Keep Wake benched this week.