In my weekly articles examining players to start and sit; I won’t list obvious starts or sits. For example, I won’t tell you to start Peyton Manning; unless he is playing a tough defense and people are nervous because of the tough matchup. I also won’t tell you to bench the Cowboy’s defense. The purpose of these articles is to give you a push one way or the other for those players on the bubble; not to be captain obvious and tell you I like Calvin Johnson this week. At the end of the day you have to go with what you think, because you are the one who has to live with it. I still talk about the year I missed the playoffs by 1 game. The game I lost was week 1 of Adrian Peterson’s 2000 yard season. I didn’t think the coaches would give him a full workload; I also didn’t know at the time Adrian Peterson was part cyborg. I lost the game by the difference between Peterson and his replacement. I missed the playoffs, but played my team as though I hadn’t. I scored 130+ both weeks and was top scorer in the league both times. It is my “tuck rule”, it is my Achilles Heel of fantasy mistakes, it’s my counter story to anyone who tells me a bad beat in fantasy sports, and to me; it will always be the season that should have been. Enough wallowing on seasons past; seasons present is here and the chance for a title is within our grasp, let’s takes a look at some matchups. Thursday night is chalk full of chances to make bad lineup moves, let’s start there.
Green Bay @ Seattle
All the Packers you normally would; Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Eddie Lacy, and Randall Cobb. Temper expectations, but don’t get cute and bench a stud. Unless you have a reallllllllllly good backup option.
On the flip side, don’t get cute and bench the Seahawks defense. You didn’t overdraft them to ride the pine, did you? If you are considering sitting the Seattle defense, I wouldn’t blame you. But know this: In 2012 when they played GB, you may remember the game as the one that ended the Referee Strike (for some reason) I remember it as the game people called me crazy for starting them and they sacked Aaron Rodgers 8 times in the first half. (yes that was an explaina brag) That was a while ago and Green Bay’s line is better, but not dominant by any stretch of the imagination. I suggest the Jets defense as a good matchup play if you don’t have the grit to start Seattle.
Russell Wilson– Sit him if you have another viable option at QB. He could finish in the top 10 easily; but I think they run the ball often and try to control the clock.
Sit any Seattle receiver not named Percy Harvin. See Wilson, Russell
Oakland @ NY Jets
Start Maurice Jones-Drew as a RB 3/flex. He should get 8 points in yards and has maybe the best chance to score. Oakland will lean on the run with Carr starting.
Eric Decker should be in the top 25 WRs on the day; I wouldn’t be surprised if he was in the top 15.
The Jets Defense should capitalize on the Raiders erroneous ways. I think it is a mistake for Oakland to start Carr week 1, I think the Jets and Rex Ryan are going to eat him alive. Welcome to the NFL rookie! In full disclosure I am a bitter Raiders fan and a Lucky (get it) Colts fan; born in California, I’ve lived in Indiana most of my life. (I get to be a fan of two teams, some people wouldn’t agree)
Start Geno Smith in a deep or 2 QB league; if you are crazy and want to bench Rodgers he is a viable option.
Sit all Oakland players not named MJD; Including the Leg Janikowski. I did like James Jones coming into the season; based solely on volume, keep an eye on him for now.
New Orleans @ Atlanta
Marques Colston should see his fair share of red zone targets now that he is 100%.
Matt Ryan should have a solid day against New Orleans at home. Over his last 6 starts against the Saints he has averaged over 18 points per game. The Saints were the 2nd best defense in terms of passing yards allowed last season; they also played a plethora of mediocre QBs.
Steven Jackson could be a valuable flex play if he practices all week; don’t be scared off by Freeman yet.
Sit both of the other Saint RBs, Khiry Robinson and Mark Ingram. Many people are really hyped on both guys, however; since Sean Payton took over as head coach, only one running back has had 200 carries or 1000 rushing yards. Deuce McAllister did both waaaay back in 2006.
Kenny Stills could have top five weeks; but in a non-bye week I’d hope you have safer options. He will probably be boom or bust all year. Stay away from him as a regular starter until he shows some consistency.
Brandin Cooks: see Stills, Kenny
Minnesota @ St. Louis
Zac Stacy is in a similar position he was last year. I only put him here because I have had people ask me what I think since the Sam Bradford injury. I think he is in no worse of a position than he was most of last season. Do you believe it can get worse than having Kellen Clemens as the QB? Fine, Tim Tebow would be worse, but Shaun Hill is at least as competent as Clemens.
Jared Cook should see the most targets on his team; making him a decent play in a deep PPR leagues.
The Vikings Defense could be a valuable spot start if you don’t believe in Shaun Hill.
If you want to play it safe, sit everyone not named Zac Stacy, Adrian Peterson, Cordarrelle Patterson, or the Rams Defense. Rams Defense is a German name by the way.
Cleveland @ Pittsburgh
Antonio Brown had 15 catches, for 179 yards, and 1 touchdown in his two games against Cleveland last year; don’t be afraid of the “Hadensphere” this week.
However, Markus Wheaton could have a productive day if Antonio Brown does in fact get caught in the “Hadensphere”.
Andrew Hawkins is the number 1 receiver in CLE after all; the guy in that role did pretty good last year…..okay he isn’t Josh Gordon, but he should still see a fair amount of targets this week and this season. You could do worse in a deep PPR league.
Jordan Cameron: If you drafted him to be your starter; this week shouldn’t be any different.
I am a believer in the Brown’s Defense this year, but I am going to play it safe until I see some results.
Ben Roethlisberger: you aren’t this desperate already are you? Even in a 2 QB league there are other guys I’d gamble on. See Smith, Geno.
Miles Austin is one injury away from playing in the CFL. I don’t think many teams will give you a chance once Cleveland cuts you, maybe Oakland.
Jacksonville @ Philadelphia
Jeremy Maclin-start him while you can….
Cecil Shorts looked really good when he was healthy last season and the Jaguars should spend much of this game playing catch up with the Eagles.
Darren Sproles should see some work as a passing down back and could see increased touches in the 4th quarter if this one gets out of hand. Who knows how Kelly is going to use him; although I’m fairly certain he will be used plenty. He is a fine play in deep PPR leagues.
Toby Gerhart: I get it; if you drafted him you are probably going to start him, BUT…..I think the Jaguars are going to air it out after they fall behind early. I think he only reaches double digit points if he finds pay dirt.
Riley Cooper has the potential to win you a game; he also has the ability to lose you one. Last season Cooper failed to reach 5 fantasy points in 8 games. He is also very dependent on the big play; I’ll readdress this situation once Maclin gets hurt. I suppose I would start him in a deep league; but I like to minimize risk as much as I can, especially at a volatile fantasy position like WR.
Cincinnati @ Baltimore
Andy Dalton: if you read my article on value picks, you know I have a man crush on him. He averaged over 17 points in the two games he played Baltimore last season, despite throwing seven interceptions in those games. Start him in deep leagues or 2 QB leagues.
Bernard Pierce isn’t going to make his case to be a starter against last season’s fifth best rushing defense. Avoid him this week.
Torrey Smith will finish the season as a top 20 WR; but he will finish outside the top 20 this week. He posted a total of 73 receiving yards in two starts against Cincinnati last season. Unless he scores, it will be a long day for Smith owners.
Buffalo @ Chicago
C.J. Spiller: If you drafted him, it was for weeks like this. Matchups don’t get much better than the 30th ranked run defense of 2013. Of course you can’t just go off of last year’s numbers; but they still have 5 out of 7 of the same front seven. Spiller is an explosive, big play back who can score from anywhere on the field.
Jay Cutler should have a big season if he can stay healthy. The turnovers didn’t go away last season; but he was still a productive fantasy QB in 2013. Start him in deep or 2 QB leagues.
Sammy Watkins may have a long and productive career in the NFL; but in his first game he will have Charles Tillman chasing him around, he may have a difficult start to said career. Play it safe with him for now.
Washington @ Houston
Jordan Reed was having a really nice rookie season when he suffered a season ending concussion. He should pick up where he left off.
Andre Johnson has HOF resume; I’ll say it again, don’t get cute.
The Houston Texan’s defense is better than it showed last season. The offense should be able to move the ball against Washington’s weak defense and ease some of the pressure off its counter-part. If you are one of the people who don’t believe in the talent of RGIII; I suggest taking advantage of this home matchup for the Texans. I think the Texans will still give up around 20 points; but they can easily make up for it in sacks and turnovers. It really just depends on your league’s scoring format for D/ST.
RGIII may end the season as a top 5 QB or he might not finish the season at all. If you took RGIII, you more than likely have a contingency plan; I might use it this week, at least until we see which RGIII shows up in 2014.
DeSean Jackson is a feast or famine player; but you aren’t going to sit him, I understand. But don’t be surprised if he catches two passes for 37 yards. Once he has his big game, trade him to the highest bidder and be glad to be rid of the roller coaster ride.
DeAndre Hopkins is a quality sleeper this season; but week one isn’t the time to be bold. Take the cautious approach with him and see where it takes you.
Tennessee @ Kansas City
Kendall Wright would have gone 3-4 rounds earlier in drafts if he would have scored a few more times last season. He had 94 receptions and has shown no reason why he shouldn’t do it again. I like him as a flex play this week or a solid WR 2 in PPR.
Bishop Sankey should have a good season; but as long as Shonn Greene is the “starter”, lower your expectations. If I wound up with Sankey as my #2 RB or I was in a deep league I might roll the dice on Sunday; but I think he will see limited work and will be touchdown dependent this week. He should see his workload go up as the season progresses.
New England @ Miami
Shane Vereen-See Edelman, Julian
Brian Hartline has had two quiet consecutive 1000 yard seasons. He should see plenty of targets if Wallace has a stay on Revis Island.
Rob Gronkowski has been cleared and if he plays for New England, he plays for you as well. I put him here in case you are the cautious type like me. This isn’t an instance to be cautious.
Danny Amendola-If you drafted him, you may as well take a swing while he is healthy. I really only recommend starting him in the deepest of leagues; but if you are somehow already hurting at WR, you could do worse and probably have.
Stevan Ridley is listed as the third RB on the depth chart; do you really trust him? We all know how much Bill Belichick likes to mix it up. Maybe it is a ploy, maybe he lights up the box score and has a career day, I’m willing to wait and find out.
Mike Wallace-Revis Island didn’t get devoured by the rising ocean levels; it floats as fierce as ever and is ready to crash into the Miami shore this week. Funny analogies aside (maybe not funny….at least give me creative…fine! it wasn’t creative either…) Darrelle Revis shut down Wallace last season when he was with Tampa Bay. I watched the film; he was all over him like a donkey on a waffle. Wallace was held to 4 catches for 15 yards. We already know he is a feast or famine player; why risk it when he is stranded on Revis Island? Famine runs rapid on the island; I’ll wait for a better matchup, the feast will come, served medium-rare with all the trimmings.
Aaron Dobson is the last pig to the trough in this offense. There might be enough left over for him, but surely you have better options Shirley. Why yes, I did in fact call you Shirley.
Carolina @ Tampa Bay
Start everyone you normally would; Cam Newton, Greg Olsen, Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin, Carolina Defense, Mike Tolbert in a league that starts FB’s. Frankly there isn’t much to analyze in this game. Keep an eye on the TE situation in Tampa Bay; Brandon Meyers or Austin Seferian-Jenkins could become valuable TE options this season.
Tampa Bay Defense – I wouldn’t be shocked if this is a low scoring affair. Albeit not a ton of sacks or turnovers to be had here; a productive day could be in store for this unit nonetheless. At the same time, I wouldn’t be shocked if they scored in the negatives….use with extreme caution.
Jerricho Cotchery saw plenty of love near the red zone last year; don’t be surprised if he gets off to a hot start with his new team.
Again, there isn’t a ton in this game. Let it be known I’m not recommending benching the Carolina Defense; but don’t be shocked if you are looking for a new defense by week 4. It happens every season to a previous season’s top 10 defenses. That is the reason I don’t draft a top defense unless they are an almost sure thing, like Seattle; even then they are usually too rich for my blood.
Josh McCown-Was he that good or is Marc Trestman truly the “QB whisperer”? Many signs point to the latter; especially when you consider the talent in Chicago. I’ll wait for an injury, bye week, or some proof in the pudding before I’m willing to start him.
San Francisco @ Dallas
All 49ers that play offense, maybe even a backup TE or FB. This defense is that bad. “How bad is it” It is so bad that I think Jim Harbaugh would have the best game of his career if he suited up. In all reality I would probably stick to Colin Kaepernick, Michael Crabtree, and Frank Gore. But in really deep or weekly leagues I wouldn’t be surprised if Boldin, Carlos Hyde, and maybe even Steve Johnson had some value.
Terrance Williams is a fine play in deep leagues; even against this defense. The arrow points way up for this young man.
DeMarco Murray plays a large role in the passing game, fret not.
Tony Romo-He isn’t the only guy you grabbed right? RIGHT?!? I hope not. He will have top 5 weeks for sure this season and can easily finish in the top ten. But fresh off the injury, against this defense….are you ready to be disappointed by him already?
Dallas Defense-Unless you are stuck in some kind of “50 First Dates” scenario and think it is the late 60’s or play in “Bizarro World”; don’t touch this defense with a fifty foot pole. I know I said I wasn’t going to point out the obvious…but what do you want me to do; pass up a chance to reference an Adam Sandler movie, DC comics, and make fun of Dallas’s defense in the same sentence? I didn’t think so.
Indianapolis @ Denver
This game isn’t much of a head scratcher; you are going to start the obvious players and bench both defenses. This should be a shootout and I don’t see either D/ST having a big day unless they get a touchdown.
Both of these teams kickers are more than likely available, Brandon McManus and Adam Vinatieri. I know one of these guys has a funny sounding name and the other is a rookie (see what I did there?) but both should see plenty of chances this week.
T.Y. Hilton could fit into either category any week. Since I think this is going to be a high scoring affair, I lean on boom more than bust for him this week. But bust is just as believable, you knew what you were getting into with him when you met; don’t go crying to your girlfriends if he doesn’t call this week.
Trent Richardson scares the hell out of me as a Colt’s fan and as a fantasy owner. I would play him if I had no other options; but I’d rather wait and see with him.
NY Giants @ Detroit
Rashad Jennings seems like a must start to me. He has been involved heavily in the pass game this pre-season and I don’t see the Lions slowing him down. The concern for me is the offense overall; but I know Tom Coughlin is an amazing coach and I say last year’s troubles stay in the past.
Victor Cruz: See the second part of Rashad Jennings.
Joique Bell is the goal line back and converted all but one of his rushing TDs inside the 2 yard line. Although he is much more than that; he is a versatile weapon who catches, blocks, and can score from anywhere. Start him in all formats unless you are stacked at the position.
Golden Tate: Calvin Johnson can’t catch all of the passes can he? I wouldn’t put it past him I suppose.
Eli Manning is at the point in his career where he might start getting some competition for his job. Look, the guy is a clutch player in big games; but he has more turnovers than a Honda. I submitted that joke to the folks at “Fat Albert”; I’m still waiting on a response. If you believe a turnaround is coming, be patient; it is better to be a week late than a week early in these kinds of situations.
San Diego @ Arizona
Carson Palmer could be useful in deep or 2 QB leagues. He was useful many weeks last season and with a year of the offense under his belt; hopefully he can cut down on the turnovers, he usually comes back for a second helping of them. Proceed with extreme caution.
Danny Woodhead is a PPR machine, ask the guy in my league who drafted him and got laughed at the rest of the draft. Ask him, “Who is laughing now?” it wasn’t me the week where his 2nd touchdown was the reason I lost.
Arizona Defense: See Carolina Defense. They are without several of the linebackers who made them a top 5 defense. I’m not saying I would bench them, but I’m not, not saying it either. Like Carolina owners, you might be looking for a new defense before October.
Sit both San Diego TEs: Ladarius Green and Antonio Gates. In an ideal world, this wouldn’t be an issue. But we live in the real world, a place where things don’t always go as planned and one viable TE per team isn’t always the way it is. In this tandem, both guys could start on most teams in the league; but it is what it is. If one of these guys were to not play for some reason one week; the other shoots up into the top 10 instantly.
Good luck this week everyone. I hope you win, unless you are playing me; in which case forget everything you just read.