The NFL season has begun which means some of you are panicking about how you must have been intoxicated to draft this guy while others are ecstatic about their team (until Tuesday, that is). Every week join myself your Big Cat country Fantasy Football Expert to sit down and discuss your options in Fantasy Football Start Em'/Sit Em' for the week. This isn't "Fantasy Football for Dummies" though. If you have a top 8-10 player at a position you should probably play them every week, unless they're injured. After the jump dig into my fantastical mind and analyze my opinions on who to start or sit this week one in NFL Fantasy Football.
Note-Jaguar player-specific fantasy advice can be found here.
Matt Schaub-QB (vs. MIA): Ok...I know we're all in complete agreement in our mutual hatred of Matthew Bartholomew Schaub (not his real name), but the kid puts up good numbers when playing average defenses. Before getting hurt last season he scored approximately twenty points in three of his final four and it probably doesn't hurt that this Miami team seems to be in shambles across the board. His opposing Dolphins D gave up the 11th most passing yards to QBs last year and now is without Vontae Davis in the secondary. The only remaining question is how much will the Texans throw? I'm banking on a lot, in a statement game to the league that Schuab's back.
Toby Gerhart-RB (vs. JAC): I know it's taboo to talk about picking players playing against our squad and all but face it, you'd be insane (or have a pretty good backfield) not to play Gerhart this week. Adrian Peterson will either not play (unlikely) or get maybe 5 or so carries, Gerhart scored 10 or more points 5 times in six starting games last season, and Daryl Smith/Clint Sessions/Derek Cox are all missing from a Jaguars D that hasn't done a very good job stopping the run in preseason as it stands. Play the man.
Stevan Ridley-RB (vs. TN): The Patriots will be without their second-year running back Shane Vereen due to a foot injury. Seeing that Vereen was essentially Ridley's only competition for the lion's share of the touches at least for this week he should be what Green-Ellis was for the Pats last season. Since I expect the Pats to win big in Tenn, I also expect Ridley to get many garbage time opportunities for yardage and TDs. Doesn't hurt that Tennessee has two injured defensive tackles and one DE currently. Even if they play, they won't be 100%. A very solid RB2 option.
Nate Washington-WR (vs. NE): Whenever Kenny Britt is injured/suspended you can bet Washington will get roll over targets in the passing game. Jake Locker loves him. Match that with the Patriots allowing the most fantasy points to WRs last season and you have yourself a bonafide fantasy sleeper for the next few weeks, but most definitely today. If/when the Titans are losing big after halftime start throwing the confetti. That means even more opportunities for the Locker/Washington connection!
Pierre Garcon-WR (vs. NO): I generally don't put much weight on pre-season performances...generally. But with the way that the Saints Secondary played last season, combined with this preseason's awful coverage and tackling you'd be coco not to contemplate starting Garcon. He's seemingly RG3's first option for targets in the passing game and the Saints were the 7th worst team in fantasy points allowed against receivers in 2011. The Saints also have four starters listed as questionable: cornerback Jabari Greer (groin), linebacker David Hawthorne (knee), and linebacker Curtis Lofton(ankle). That definitely doesn't hurt the case to play him.
Greg Olsen-TE (vs. TB): It seems that everyone forgot about Olsen with the emergence of Jeremy Shockey last season in Carolina. With Shockey now jettisoned and Jonathan Stewart being a little banged up you can expect the Panthers to pass just a little more to take a full workload off of DeAngelo Williams. This also means more targets for Olsen. The Bucs may have been the 11th worst team in points allowed to TEs but when you look at the true numbers every game they played against even an average TE they put up 8-15 points. Cam loves his TEs. I'd expect nothing less than 9-10 from Olsen this week.
Lions-ST/D (vs. STL): The Rams...new coach, "new team", same old problems. Sam Bradford had rough outings in every preseason game against even average defenses (the Chiefs suck). Sam Bradford being healthy definitely won't make it an easy task but he frankly has no one to throw it to outside of Amendola, who simply catches the ball and falls down constantly. Though the Lions will have some injuries in the defensive backfield I still see them picking up a boatload of sacks, possibly a few ints, sprinkled in with a fumble recovery or two. Easy starter option.
Ben Roethlisberger-QB (vs. DEN): Been a long time since I mentioned Roethlisberger. This isn't the same Big Ben that we know from last season flinging the ball every which way all game, with a terrible O-line. I mean his offensive line is terrible and banged up again, and Roethlisberger was miserable on the road last season, it's just that their new O-coordinator has stated that he would like to lean heavier on the running game. It's also important to mention that Ben averaged 275 passing yards in eight road games last season, but he had just seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions over that span, with only one game with multiple touchdowns on the road. If it's a close call between Roethlisberger and another QB2 sit him for this week.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis-RB (vs. BAL): Let me pre-face this by saying I have never been a fan of Green-Ellis' game in New England (just being honest). He running style/speed/moves never looked anything special to me. With that being said the Bengals in the offseason mentioned Green-Ellis being in a possible time-share with Bernard Scott and Brian Leonard, their offensive line is banged up, and Green-Ellis missed most of the preseason with a foot injury. While he is fine now and Scott is out for this game, this is still a difficult matchup and Leonard may get the goal line work. The Ravens bring back a defensive unit ranked #5 in points allowed to RBs and the last time Green-Ellis faced the Ravens was in 2010 when he had 20 rushing yards and a touchdown. If you're hoping for 8 points from a RB in week one, your draft likely did not go as planned lol.
Reggie Bush-RB (vs. HOU): This is a very rough spot for me seeing as I own Reggie Bush in two of my three leagues (got him late). Reggie Bush had a phenomenal year last season but even with the year he had he still struggled against the Texans in Week 2 with just 21 total yards. Add in the fact that Bush struggled in the preseason with 12 carries for 36 yards and two catches for 9 yards and there's smoke. The Texans are the #2 defense in fantasy points allowed to running backs last season and the Dolphins are without Brandon Marshall to pull double coverage. And they have themselves a rookie QB on their hands. There's fire. Bush's only upside is that they'll likely be down a lot early forcing them to throw the ball more. He may be able to make up the points in the receiving game or garbage time, but I wouldn't want to base my fantasy win/loss on it.
Willis McGahee-RB (vs. PIT): This is an entirely different offense than what Pittsburgh's run defense saw in the playoffs last year. Remember this fact, generally early in the season NFL defenses have the advantage and offenses catch up with the more tape they have on the opposition. The Steelers run D should again be strong and the Steelers were #4 in fewest fantasy points allowed to RBs last season. If the Broncos start to get pass crazy like they were in the preseason, or if the Steeler D shows up in last year's form expect a very long day for McGahee.
Dwayne Bowe-WR (vs. ATL): A long holdout recently ended, a new offense, and he was limited in the preseason generally don't bode well for a starting week one performance. With Bowe likely to receive a lotof quality time with Asante Samuel all game and the recent budding relationship between Dexter McCluster and Matt Cassell with this new offense you'd be wise to use the wait and see approach with Bowe this week.
Brandon Pettigrew-TE (vs. STL): Pettigrew is a target machine. That's what makes saying bench him even harder. Out of his 5 TDs scored last season every single one of them was scored at home. The Lions are a pass-happy team, but it seems the only effective pass is deep to Megatron (noted in the pre-season game against the Ravens)-they looked dreadful in that game until saying "screw it" and chucking it deep a few times. The positive in this matchup? The Rams have a terrible defense. The negative? The only thing the Rams did well on defense last year was shut down tight ends. In a conference playing twice against both San Fran TEs that's an impressive feat. St. Louis allowed the fewest fantasy points to TEs last season and only gave up a TD to one TE all season long. Bench him until next week 3 when they play Tennesee (next week against San Fran won't be an easy outing either, as they're #5 in points allowed to TEs from 2011).
Jay Cutler (vs. IND): After coming back from being injured last season Cutler had a very up and down preseason. Many of you likely saw the 30 second clips of the renewed Cutler/Marshall relationship but likely missed the final numbers for Cutler this preseason. He didn't look very good on many of the other throws (not deep jump-balls to B. Marshall) throughout preseason at all. This is no longer Mike Martz's system forcing Cutler to throw 40-50 times a game either. Expectations should be tempered. Matt Forte and Michael Bushcan pretty much dominate the Colts all game on their own. Unless Cutler picks up some early TDs they may just hide him behind the running game until next week. He may be an average play, but that all depends on what he does early.
Donald Brown (vs. CHI): LOVE the Brown pick in the draft. Many people got themselves a starting RB in the 6th, 7th, 8th rounds of the draft! The Colts coaching staff have all stated that they will lean much heavier on the running game this season, but that will fly out of the window as soon as they're down 21. Brown will be a very good RB this season but that's one hard matchup to trust a Colts running back to succeed in. The Bears allowed the 7th fewest total points to opposing RBs last season. Love the pick, hate the play. Play him only if you have to or have no better options.
Some Injuries To Note:
Marshawn Lynch RB (vs. ARZ): Unfortunately, Lynch's game doesn't begin until the second slate of games at 4:25 pm, so you would be in a very rough spot if he ends up not playing. While he does have a questionable status for the game, he did end up practicing on Friday. Still, you would be wise to grab Robert Turbin of the wire, if he is still available in your league.
Adrian Peterson RB (vs. JAX): As mentioned above I don't believe that he will play very much if he does at all but word on the street is that he will at least start the game today.
Trent Richardson (vs. PHILLY): NFL.com has confirmed that Richardson will indeed start today though it is not known how much he will carry the load as they have previously hinted about lightening the load on him for his first few weeks.
Arian Foster RB (vs MIAMI): Questionable due to a mysterious knee injury. He did not practice on Friday. Looks like no matter whether he does or doesn't start, you have to consider playing Ben Tate.
Jonathan Stewart RB (vs. TB): Questionable with an ankle injury. He also did not practice on Friday. Add in the fact that his starting center is out for this game, and TB has two questionable corners and I see the Panthers passing a LOT. (see the Greg Olsen description above)
Ryan Matthews RB (vs. OAK): Matthews will be out for some time. Pick up Ronnie Brown off the waiver asap.
So who's in your lineup this week Big Cat Country?
NFL 2012 Football Fantasy; Bomani & Jones episode 44 (via sbnation)