The drafts are finally done, the rosters have been set, and it’s time to play that first game of the fantasy football season. I am not going to do a waiver wire article this week, because most people are not going to need to hit the waiver wire hard before the start of the season. If you do have a waiver wire question, feel free to ask in the comment section of this article. We will have a Waiver Wire and Start/Sit Article every week beginning in Week 2.
For those of you that are just returning to the website, it has a much different look than it did last year. However, the articles are going to work the same. I am going to pick several players to start and sit each week and will have a comment section where I answer questions. I am not going to waste your time telling you to start Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy or sit New England Patriots TE Visanthe Shiancoe. The players I will try to pick to start or sit are going to be players that are RB2 or WR3 quality.
So you know what to expect for Q&A, here’s how everything will work this season. I will make every effort I can to have a question answered in 24 hours. Waiver Wire I will try to answer more quickly, because I know that you need quick advice when deciding to keep or release players. Please choose to leave comments and questions in the article that best suits your question and avoid leaving questions in last week’s article, as doing so will give you a quicker answer. We will have the new Waiver Wire Article up at noon (Central Time) on Mondays, the Start/Sit Article and Weekly Rankings up at noon on Tuesdays, and the Weekly Pick’em up at noon on Wednesdays. That said, please contact us if you have any questions about article schedules and Q&A. Now on with the show!
Here are my recommendations for Week 1. Good luck to everyone this season, I hope everyone starts the season on a solid note, unless you are playing against me.
Start of the Week
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin – The Carolina Panthers were one of the worst run defenses in the NFL last year. They allowed 1,952 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns to running backs. They also allowed 88 receptions for 782 yards and eight receiving touchdowns to running backs. While they did add LB Luke Kuechly in the draft and MLB Jon Beason is returning from injury; I still think the Panthers have a defense that will be vulnerable to stopping the run.
Enter Doug Martin, who is the top back on the Buccaneers depth chart and is going to be playing in an offense that would love nothing more than to feature the run. They also want to throw to him out of the backfield. I could easily see 120 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. He should warrant a RB1 ranking in the first game of the season.
Other Players to Start
Detroit Lions RB Kevin Smith – I think you start him while you can, because he could be hurt in a couple weeks. The Lions seem to be very good at finding injury prone running backs. However, the Rams are the 28th ranked fantasy running back defense from last year and Smith will be at home. I do not have faith in him as a viable fantasy running back for the season, but I love his opening week match-up and think he is a viable RB2 against the Rams rebuilding effort on defense.
Tennessee Titans QB Jake Locker – The Titans open the season at home and while their opponent is the defending AFC Champion New England Patriots, the Patriots allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks of any defense in 2011. The Patriots did add several rookies and free agents in an attempt to upgrade the defense, but it is still a work in progress. I may change this recommendation if WR Kenny Britt is suspended for the first week of the season, but as of the date of publishing this article Britt appears to have a good chance to play in this game. Even if he does not, they have a number of other good targets to rely upon. Locker is a QB2 with upside playing the Patriots at home.
San Francisco 49ers QB Alex Smith – He is not the flashiest fantasy quarterback, but consider his Week 1 opponent, the Green Bay Packers. The Packers were 31st against fantasy quarterbacks, 31st against fantasy tight ends and 31st against fantasy wide receivers. If Smith is going to have a solid season, he needs to put up numbers against a rebuilding Packers Defense. I think Smith is a solid QB2 this week with upside. It is a tremendous match-up that warrants consideration to start him.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Justin Blackmon – Blackmon had a rocky start to his NFL career with two DUI arrests, but in about five quarters of preseason games, he has tallied eight receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown. He looks entrenched as the Jaguars top receiver, playing in Minnesota against last years 29th ranked fantasy receiver defense. The Vikings gave up 2,834 yards and 22 receiving touchdowns to fantasy receivers last season. Blackmon is a sneaky WR3 this week in a favorable match-up against the Vikings weak secondary.
San Diego Chargers WR Malcom Floyd – It is going to take a while to see which Chargers receiver emerges as the favorite target in the Chargers vertical passing offense. My prediction is it ends up being WR Robert Meachem, but Floyd has the inside track to start the season, because he has played with QB Philip Rivers longer. WR Eddie Royal could also emerge from the slot position. The Chargers should have a big passing day to open the season; the Oakland Raiders were 30th in the NFL last year against fantasy receivers, surrendering 2,839 yards and 21 receiving touchdowns. Rivers should be able to attack this secondary with his wide receivers. Floyd would be the favorite of the three to emerge; I think he has WR2 to WR3 value this week.
Minnesota Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph – Rudolph is a TE2 with sneaky upside this year as the top tight end in the Minnesota Vikings offense. The Jacksonville Jaguars were just 29th against tight ends last year, giving up an average of 9.0 points per game to tight ends. I think Rudolph could be a good candidate to break 50 yards receiving and score a touchdown. He is not an elite tight end, but could have an impressive opening to the regular season.
New York Giants TE Martellus Bennett – The Giants do not feature the tight end much with their impressive wide receiver talent, but Bennett was a talented player that never received a shot playing behind veteran Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten. Bennett faces his old team, which was 27th against tight ends, allowing 8.5 points per game to tight ends. Bennett will have revenge on his mind and has a favorable matchup to have a solid fantasy debut for the Giants.
Sit of the Week
Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning – The NFL Schedule did no favor for Manning in his first game back from four neck surgeries. The future Hall of Famer begins his comeback at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers allowed only 13.9 points per game to fantasy quarterbacks last season. It was the stingiest fantasy quarterback defense in the NFL.
I like what I have seen from Manning and while any player can suffer a season ending injury on any play, he has shown enough that I think he is capable of making it through a NFL season and putting up big numbers. This is not the week to start him though, I expect him to put up mid to low QB2 type numbers. You will have better options in the first week of the season.
Other Players to Sit
Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton – Dalton opens his season against the Baltimore Ravens. He played them twice last season and had mixed success. He did throw for 373 yards in the first meeting, but had only one touchdown and three picks. In the rematch, he had just 232 yards passing with no touchdowns and no picks. He did not top a 70.0 QB rating in either game. I would look elsewhere than Dalton playing Baltimore on the road to open the season.
Green Bay Packers RB Cedric Benson – Benson looks to have secured the starting job and could be a good flex play this season in the right match-up. This is not the right match-up, the 49ers allowed only 1,027 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns to running backs last year. They also allowed 78 receptions for only 612 yards receiving and one receiving touchdown. Their 11.4 fantasy points allowed per game to fantasy running backs was the lowest in the NFL, 2.6 points per game ahead of the Houston Texans. Sell Benson having any impact in his Packer debut.
Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson – Peterson is coming off a major knee injury and has seen no game action in the preseason. He is likely to earn the start, but even if he does, the Jacksonville Jaguars were a respectable 10th against fantasy running backs last year, allowing only 16.7 points to fantasy running backs. I would sell on starting Peterson until we see how many carries he receives and how he looks cutting on his surgically repaired knee. I think he has RB1 potential this year, but starts the season slow coming back from last season’s knee injury.
New England Patriots WR Brandon Lloyd – The Tennessee Titans were a very underrated secondary last year, allowing the fourth fewest points to fantasy receivers with just 17.6 points per game. They also had a terrible tight end defense, ranking 24th with 8.2 points allowed to fantasy tight ends per game. I think the Patriots expose the tight end match-up and stay away from the receivers, especially Lloyd on the deep routes. Lloyd will have WR2 value this year, but probably not in this game.
New York Jets WR Santonio Holmes – The New York Jets have not been able to score an offensive touchdown this preseason and they open up against a Bills defense that was 11th against fantasy receivers last year. Keep in mind, the Bills added LB Mario Williams and rookie CB Stephon Gillmore has been very impressive in preseason. I am selling the Jets scoring a touchdown in this game and I am selling Holmes having a meaningful impact in a season where he needs to redeem himself. He may have WR3 to WR4 value at times this year, but I do not expect to see it in this game.
Detroit Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew – The St. Louis Rams allowed just 3.8 points to tight ends last year, which was tops in the NFL. That was 1.4 points better than the second best team, the Baltimore Ravens. Pettigrew has mid to low TE2 value in this tough match-up.
Cincinnati Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham – Speaking of the Baltimore Ravens, they open up against the Bengals potential breakout tight end. I would stay clear of Gresham on the road playing against the Baltimore Defense. I could see him as a low TE1 to high TE2, but not in this game.