Wondering who the hell you should get in there and who to give ass-splinters to?
Check out our Start Em and Sit Em for Week 1 of the 2012 NFL season
Matt Ryan (@ KC) – There may be no other team/offense I’m more excited to see this opening weekend than the Atlanta Falcons. Moving to this wide-open, up-tempo, no-huddle attack with Matt Ryan tossing the ball to Roddy White and the Falcons Superstar-in-the-making, Julio Jones, couldn’t be more highly anticipated.
The Kansas City Chiefs pass D was pretty darn good last season allowing only one 300-yard game to opposing QBs, but with OLB Tamba Hali suspended, FS Kendrick Lewis banged up and stud CB Brandon Flowers extremely iffy to play, Ryan should be able to have a more than just a little fun.
If new OC Dirk Koetter is allowed to open up the offense from the get-go, Ryan could easily end up with top 3-5 fantasy stats this weekend, if not the best.
Joe Flacco (vs. Cin - Monday Night) – It’s not hard to see why we’d be questioned on this one seeing how Flacco has performed fantasy-wise his first four years in the league, but there’s good reason to believe in Joe Cool this year.
Like the Falcons and Matt Ryan, the Ravens are moving to a new up-tempo, no-huddle offense under OC Cam Cameron in 2012. Watching it in the pre-season, I’m almost as intrigued to see it in action under Flacco’s control as I am with Ryan, especially with Torrey Smith showing elite-status skills of late.
Historically, Flacco has been pretty weak on Monday nights but I expect that to change this season with Joey finally growing into his role of being a ‘team leader’.
Cincinnati’s defense is better than average, but I’m not sure they’ll be ready to face this new offensive scheme the Ravens will be running.
Feel free to shake things up a bit and start Flacco over, say, Peyton Manning against the Steelers this weekend. Bold, yet forward-thinking calls like this are what win you fantasy leagues in the end.
Robert Griffin III (@ NO) – The kid has everything you could possibly want out of franchise QB and most of it could turn him into a fantasy darling as early as Week 1. His arm is incredible; his field awareness is highly advanced for his age; his running ability is off the chart; his work-ethic is fable-worthy and his leadership qualities are off the charts.
How that all translates to on-the-field fantasy success will be seen against the Saints this Sunday as Robert Griffin and the Redskins try to keep up with the NFLs second-highest scoring offense last season (first in point differential).
However, the Saints also allowed seven 300-yard games and didn’t get any better this off-season (for many reasons), so I’m expecting the future top-10 fantasy QB to be off and running right out of the gates in 2012.
Jake Locker (vs. NE) – I absolutely LOVE this kid’s potential. My only problem with him is his experience at the position, which at this point is a whopping 66 NFL passes. That said, how many quarterbacks can say they threw for 542 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions while running for 56 yards and another touchdown… all within their first 31 minutes of on-field play!?!? Not many, I would suppose.
What I’m saying here is that if you’re going to take a chance on somebody this week, Locker is your guy.
The Titans will have to pass the ball this weekend if they want to keep up with the high-flying Patriots and luckily, they’ll be able to do it as the Pats gave up the most fantasy points to QBs in the league last season. Kenny Britt won’t be in the game, but the electric rookie, Kendall Wright, should be able to take up the slack nicely along with Nate Washington, Jared Cook and Damian Williams.
Other QBs You Should Consider Starting:
Ben Roethlisberger (@ Den - Sunday Night)
Jay Cutler (vs. Ind)
Russell Wilson (@ Ari)
Doug Martin (vs. Car) – It may be a bit risky to call a rookie your RB1 in Week 1, but I’m betting the 5’9”, 223-pound Doug Martin hits the ground running in his first NFL game.
Carolina gave up double-digit fantasy points to almost every single running back not named LeGarrette Blount that they faced last season, a deficiency Martin should be able to rectify pretty quickly.
Seven 100-yard games and 22 total touchdowns against them left the Panthers allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing RBs in 2011, so look for Martin to be a gem for your fantasy team this weekend.
DeAngelo Williams (@ TB) – Normally I wouldn’t touch DeAngelo with a 10-foot pole on Sundays, but the stars have aligned for him this weekend so I can’t ignore the matchup. If it turns out that Jonathan Stewart miraculously ends up being fine and plays this weekend, bump Williams back down into the 15-20 range. However, at this point, it looks like he’ll be alone in the backfield and should see a good 20-25 carries against the worst run defense in the league last season.
In Week 16 of 2011, DeAngelo went off for 66 yards and two TDs against these Bucs… ON ONLY SEVEN CARRIES.
Watch to see if Stewart is active and if not, strange as it sounds, you have to start Williams this weekend.
Fred Jackson (@ NYJ) – The Jets have a better-than-average rush D, but they’re especially tough against the pass so I expect to see a healthy workload for Fred Jackson this weekend. Add in that the Bills best receiver, Stevie Johnson, is battling groin issues again and I can pretty much assure you that F-Jax gets at least 20 touches.
Whenever fantasy players get injured the previous season, people tend to forget just how good they were before the injury and slide them down their scales because of it. If that’s the case here with Jackson, let me remind you that Freddy was a top-5 fantasy back before he went down in Week 11 as he was averaging the second-most yards from scrimmage per game at that time.
C.J. Spiller may be used some to spell him at times, but considering Jackson had 21 touches for 120 yards in his only game against them last season while Spiller had 70 yards on 22 touches in his game, I’m betting on F-Jax being the guy in this one.
Kevin Smith (vs. StL) – When Kevin Smith got the chance last season, he impressed mightily, so it's not so far-fetched to think he can do it again in an explosive offense like this. Against a Rams defense that allowed the fifth-most fantasy points and second-most rushing TDs to RBs last season, my guess is that he’ll impress once again.
Without Mikel Leshoure (suspension) and Jahvid Best (PUP) standing in his way, Smith should get a healthy amount of carries and put up some nice fantasy points pretty quickly.
My only concern here is if the Lions go up big early and take out some of their starters to avoid injury once the game is in hand in the fourth quarter. Smith should have put up enough fantasy points by then, though, so no worries.
Stevan Ridley (@ Ten) – BenJarvus Green-Ellis hit free agency and cruised town to Cincinnati where the bucks were found, so there will be a lot of potential in this New England offense for young Mr. Ridley.
Believe it or not, the Patriots have been in the Top-Six in rushing touchdowns each of the last six seasons, a trend I like to continue in Week 1 with the 220-pound Ridley at the helm. Stevan will only have Danny Woodhead to contend with for touches this weekend with Shane Vereen nursing a foot injury, so he should be in line for a good 15-20 touches.
Considering the Titans allowed the seventh-most fantasy points and nine different RBs to rush for 97 or more yards last season, I like Ridley’s chances of putting his stamp on the starting job this weekend.
Other RBs You Should Consider Starting:
Toby Gerhart (vs. Jax)
Robert Turbin (@ Ari) – If Marshawn Lynch is listed as OUT
Jonathan Dwyer (@ Den - Sunday Night)
Ryan Williams (vs. Sea)
Julio Jones (@ KC) – Was this kid really a rookie last season? It sure didn’t look like it. Jones, though only 23 years old, is probably the second-most physically imposing wide receiver in the league next to Megatron. Like Calvin, he’s an absolute freak of an athlete complete with every possible intangible known to man. What he did during the pre-season this year was downright scary and the fact that he’ll never see a double-team because Roddy White lines up on the other side is simply nuts. The Chiefs were one of the better teams against opposing wide receivers last season, but various suspensions and injuries—especially the one to CB Brandon Flowers—will take its toll this weekend. With the Falcons likely going to the fast-paced, no-huddle offense right off the bat, look for Jones to start dominating immediately for your fantasy team.
Wes Welker (@ Ten) – Welker tends to start the year off hot and I believe 2012 will be no different. Each year since joining the Patriots in 2007, Wes has seen double-digit targets in the team’s opening game with his least amount of reception being six. His last two opening day lines have been especially impressive going for eight receptions, 64 yards and two TDs in 2010 and then eight receptions for 160 yards and two TDs last season. His familiarity and consistency is what has led Tom Brady to giving New England a victory on opening day in eight straight seasons, a streak that will continue as long as Brady uses the same formula to make it happen. Look for a good one out of the Slot Machine this Sunday.
Percy Harvin (vs. Jax) – He was a Jack-of-all-Trades in the first place and now Harvin is being told to handle all the kickoff return duties this weekend as well, so there’s no telling just how good of a fantasy opening weekend he’ll have. In fact, we may see even MORE of Percy Harvin this weekend than normal considering the hampered condition of Adrian Peterson and the lack of firepower surrounding him at wide receiver position with Jerome Simpson suspended. His obvious connection with QB Christian Ponder makes him one of the biggest upside guys in the league this weekend, so don’t be afraid to use him accordingly.
Torrey Smith (vs. Cin - Monday Night) – All this kid needed to do this past offseason was learn the NFL route tree and it was obvious he was going to blossom into a high-level fantasy wide receiver. Well, he did it, and it showed in the pre-season when he caught 11 of his 14 targets for 146 yards over limited time during two pre-season games. The Ravens moving to an up-tempo, no-huddle offense will only increase his value as a fantasy WR and I expect it to pay dividends in Week 1. Last year, Smith averaged 5.5 catches for 99 yards and 0.5 TDs against the Bengals. I’m betting he out-performs those numbers this Monday night.
Pierre Garcon (@ NO) – If the Redskins want to win this game, they’re going to have to pass the ball and in all likelihood, pass the ball a lot. Garcon, as he was in the pre-season, will be targeted a ton by rookie QB Robert Griffin III and should come down with at least 6-7 catches because of it. Pierre’s explosive after-the-catch ability should be enough to make at least ONE of those catches count BIG-time, so don’t be surprised to see his numbers look more like WR1 numbers by the end of the weekend.
Other WRs You Should Consider Starting:
Antonio Brown (@ Den - Sunday Night)
Nate Washington (vs. NE)
Titus Young (vs. StL)
Kendall Wright (vs. NE)
Malcom Floyd (@ Oak - Monday Night)
Michael Crabtree (@ GB)
Lance Moore (vs.Was)
Braylon Edwards (@ Ari)
Vernon Davis (@ GB) – Green Bay HAS to be better on the defensive side of the ball this season, but even in 2010 when their defense was dominant, they STILL had trouble covering the tight end position. Last season they let up the second-most fantasy points to TEs (along with the most yards), so look for Vernon to at least get a bunch of love from Alex Smith this weekend. Considering that the ‘Niners will probably have to pass the ball more than normal to keep up with the high-flying Packers, Davis has a really good shot at producing.
Kyle Rudolph (vs. Jax) – Along with Fred Davis, this is my second of three calls this season for “breakout tight end you could have probably gotten later on in your draft”. His 2011 rookie season was a little sporadic as he made a few highlight-reel catches along the way, but never quite had a “breakout performance”. One of the reasons is that he was still dealing with a hamstring injury he suffered in college, thus hampering his awesome athleticism throughout the year. The second is that the Vikings were in a bit of a transitional year and couldn’t quite get to their starting QB of the future (Christian Ponder) until later on in the season. Being on the same page as your QB is a lot more important than you may think and now, after a full offseason of getting to know each other, Rudolph and Ponder are finally clicking. With the Jaguars allowing the fourth-most fantasy points and absolute most catches to tight ends last season, this should be a good place for Rudolph to start his climb up the fantasy tight end totem pole.
Fred Davis (@ NO) – When Fred Davis left the field after 12 games last season to honor his four-game suspension, he was fifth in the league in tight end fantasy points per game. This season, with the Redskins starting a rookie QB under center, he should get even more chances to get up into the top-5 than he did in 2011. Rookie quarterbacks tend to check down to their safety-valve (usually the tight end) quite a bit for fear of turning the ball over going deep. Maybe this happens with Robert Griffin III, maybe he bucks the trend, but against the Saints, you can bet he’ll be throwing the ball a bunch regardless.
Brent Celek (@ Cle) – Cleveland was in the middle of the pack in terms of fantasy points allowed to tight ends last season, but LeSean McCoy should keep the defense’s attention enough for Celek to slip out on some play-action pass routes and continue his late season dominance from 2011.
Other TEs You Should Consider Starting:
Greg Olsen (@ TB)
Dustin Keller (vs. Buf)
Owen Daniels (vs. Mia)
Rob Housler (vs. Sea)
Michael Vick (@ Cle)
Peyton Manning (vs. Pit - Sunday Night)
Ryan Fitzpatrick (@ NYJ)
Andy Dalton (@ Bal - Monday Night)
Donald Brown (@ Chi)
Isaac Redman (@ Den - Sunday Night)
Maurice Jones-Drew (@ Min)
Cedric Benson (vs. SF)
Adrian Peterson (vs. Jax) – Will be limited if active
Marshawn Lynch (@ Ari) – Likely won’t be active but even if he is, he’s likely to be limited
Ryan Mathews (@ Oak - Monday Night) – OUT for Week 1
Jonathan Stewart (@ TB) - Likely won’t be active but even if he is, he’s likely to be limited
Stevie Johnson (@ NYJ) – Not only is he banged up…again…but he’ll be shadowed by Revis Island. I don’t care about his prior success—this just isn’t a good risk to take.
DeSean Jackson (@ Cle) – DeSean will be shadowed by studly CB Joe Haden in (likely) his last game before going on a four-game suspension. The Eagles are going to run all day anyway, so why bother here.
Denarius Moore (vs. SD - Monday Night) – Not being around all pre-season scares me and the fact that he’s just barely getting back from injury, there’s no reason to take the risk.
Greg Little (vs. Phi) – Brandon Weeden doesn’t look all that comfortable as an NFL quarterback yet and with the Eagles pass D able to shut down specific WRs when they want, Little may not have much of a chance in this one.
Santonio Holmes (vs. Buf) – Besides his injuries throughout the pre-season, the Jets run too much and Buffalo will likely double-team him just to take away the threat of a passing game.
Other WRs you should consider sitting:
Laurent Robinson (@ Min)
Golden Tate (@ Ari) – OUT
Jacoby Ford (vs. SD - Monday Night) – Likely OUT
Jermichael Finley (vs. SF)
Jermaine Gresham (@ Bal - Monday Night)
Jacob Tamme (vs. Pit - Sunday Night)
Ed Dickson (vs. Cin - Monday Night)
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