For the next four months, your life is different.
Instead of planning your weekend around a Saturday night, you’re scheduling it around your football team’s game. Rather than cutting the grass on Sunday, you’re doing it on Saturday. And for the religious folk out there, you’re now taking the Saturday night service or mass alternative. After all, you don’t want to miss the big network’s pregame show.
Professional Football is back. And, of course, so is the fantasy variety.
It’s that time of year when you’re at a bar watching the game, checking your phone to make sure Tony Gonzalez scored that touchdown – not your opponent’s Roddy White. It’s that time of year when you find out your starting running back is inactive five minutes before kickoff, and you drop everything – including your own crying child – in order to fix your lineup. It’s that time of year when you despise your best friend because his team “got lucky” when he drafted a breakout star.
With every fantasy football Sunday, especially the first one, you need to be prepared. You need to know who to start and who to sit. You don’t want to be the guy that slots a team defense in his starting lineup that yields negative points.
That’s why I’m here, dudes. I’ve got loads of players, each week, that I’d stay away from. And no, they’re not players like Jonathan Baldwin or Danny Amendola. They’re the always-good ones. They’re the ones that typically carry their teams, but on this particular week, they’ve got a poor matchup.
I go by the philosophy “never bench your studs.” But the next level down, your “hey I’m not quite there yet” guys, can sometimes be benched if you have some depth. That’s what I’m here for. I’m here to tell you, every week until this glorious time of year is over, who is really neat and who should take a seat.
Really Neat Week 1 Players
Titus Young (WR -Det) is really neat.
I love me some Titus this year, and his favorable Rams matchup bodes well for a strong start to the season. Calvin Johnson should garner the Cortland Finnegan looks, while Titus Young will have the pleasure of potentially working against corner Janoris Jenkins. The Rams ranked 25th against wide receivers from a fantasy perspective last season, and I like Titus Young to exploit the porous defense.
Antonio Brown (WR – Pit) is really neat.
My Antonio Brown man crush starts off right away during Week 1 against a Broncos defense that gave up plenty of fantasy points last season to opposing wide receivers. The last game the Steelers played, against the Broncos in the playoffs, Antonio Brown caught five balls for 70 yards, and rushed for 18 more. I expect at least the same this week with Mike Wallace still not completely ready to play.
The RGIII to Pierre Garcon Connection (QB, WR – Was) is really neat.
The Saints ranked 30th against the pass last year, and if the Redskins continue to run the same type of offense under Mike Shanahan, you can expect plenty of attempts from RGIII. And, of course, lots of looks will go to his favorite receiver, Pierre Garcon.
The Bills Teams Defense (D/ST – Buf) is really neat.
While you may be a little nervous because the Jets will surely bust out some of their wildcat looks, feel confident with the Bills against a team that could barely get into the end zone during the pre-season.
Doug Martin (RB – TB) is really neat.
The Panthers gave up the 31st most fantasy points to running backs last season. Doug Martin is the dude in Tampa Bay to get the rock, and I expect a solid opening performance by the rookie.
Aaron Hernandez (TE – NE) is really neat.
I love Hernandez this year, and his matchup against the Titans is juicy. The intrigue with how the Patriots will use him just adds to his fantasy value.
The Seahawks Team Defense (D/ST – Sea) is really neat.
Wouldn’t you like to play against John Skelton and that dreadful Arizona offensive line?
Kendall Wright and Nate Washington (WR – Ten) are really neat.
Kenny Britt is out, and the Titans are playing against last year’s league-worst secondary in New England. The game will more than likely turn in to Tennessee throwing the ball to come back, and Wright and Washington will reap the benefits.
DeAngelo Williams (RB – Car) is really neat.
The Bucs were awful against the run last year, ranking dead last against opposing fantasy backs. With Jonathan Stewart healing from an ankle injury, DeAngelo should be getting the bulk of the carries against the dreadful rush defense.
Malcom Floyd (WR – SD) is really neat.
The main reason I wasn’t big on Floyd coming into the season is because he seems to always find a way to stay off the field. But with Meachem still being the newcomer and Vincent Brown out, I like Floyd to have a nice day against a below average secondary in Oakland.
Rashad Jennings (RB – Jac) is really neat.
Jennings should be a good start this week, getting around 20 total touches. Even with Jones-Drew in the picture, I don’t see Jennings taking the back seat during Week 1 against a mediocre rush defense.
Darrius Heyward-Bey (WR – Oak) is really neat.
Against an average pass defense, Heyward-Bey should be the go-to target for Palmer this weekend. Remember, Denarius Moore is still battling a lingering hamstring injury.
Dez Bryant (WR – Dal) is really neat.
The Giants secondary may have some trouble defending Dallas’ options as long as Miles Austin is healthy and ready to play. I like Dez this week to be Romo’s guy, especially if Witten is out.
Brandon Marshall (WR – Chi) is really neat.
He’s got a favorable matchup against Indy, and the Bears will want to target him early and often to get a solid cushion before running out the clock with their running back duo.
Stevan Ridley (RB – NE) is really neat.
There’s nothing special about the way Tennessee defends against the run, and Ridley could benefit if the Patriots come out early with a lead.
Other really neat players: Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Arian Foster, Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy, Darren McFadden, DeMarco Murray, Matt Forte, Jamaal Charles, Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, Victor Cruz, Percy Harvin.
Take a Seat Week 1 Players
Adrian Peterson (RB – Min) should take a seat.
Not only is AP a questionable start given he didn’t play a snap this off-season, but the Jacksonville rush defense actually ranked 8th against fantasy running backs last season. I think AP should stay on your bench this week unless you have no other option.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (RB – Cin) should take a seat.
The Bengals’ offensive line has issues, and they’re going up against a good Ravens defense. I’m staying away from The Law Firm all year, and especially this week.
Trent Richardson (RB – Cle) should take a seat.
His health is a concern, and if he does end up playing, I expect Richardson to split his carries with Brandon Jackson and Montario Hardesty. I may not feel 100% with Richardson until late September.
Cedric Benson (RB – GB) should take a seat.
Not only are we a little skeptical at how the Packers will play Benson, but they’re going up against the fierce 49ers defense. Stay away from Benson this week and see how he does against this tough matchup.
Pittsburgh Running Backs (RB – Pit) should take a seat.
The Broncos have a middle-of-the-road rush defense, but you should still shy away from Steeler running backs this week for one reason: uncertainty. Dwyer looks to be the best and healthiest, but other guys will surely take some touches from the up-and-comer.
Donald Brown (RB – Ind) should take a seat.
The Bears were 5th against running backs from a fantasy perspective last year, and Donald Brown is entering the season as a slightly overrated running back. I’m seeing more of a time share in Indy, and Week 1 doesn’t bode well for any of the backs.
Mike Wallace (WR – Pit) should take a seat.
Wallace won’t see the field as much as he’s used to during Week 1 due to his holdout. I’m benching him, especially if I have a deep bench.
Demaryius Thomas (WR – Den) should take a seat.
You may be thinking “but Thomas lit up Ike Taylor in the playoffs last year!” That’s correct, but I don’t see it happening again. Decker is my start for the Broncos this week – not Thomas.
Reggie Bush (RB – Mia) should take a seat.
A questionable rookie quarterback playing against one of the best defenses in the NFL. I’m staying away from Bush, and quite honestly, taking a look at how they use him in that offense full of talented running backs.
Steve Johnson (WR – Buf) should take a seat.
While Steve Johnson has been successful on Revis Island in the past, I think it’s smart to move away from him this week if you have a better option. Revis is just that good.
Willis McGahee (RB – Den) should take a seat.
Even without James Harrison, the Steelers front seven is solid as a rock. Casey Hampton is back, and that’s never good for opposing rushing attacks. I’d start McGahee if you have no other option, but if you do, feel free to bench him.
The 49ers Team Defense (D/ST – SF) should take a seat.
For those who decided to reach for the 49ers defense in your draft, you’ve been rewarded with an awful Week 1 matchup. This is the perfect reason why you play defenses by matchup, not by pure talent.
Other take a seat players: Beanie Wells, Frank Gore, Denarius Moore, Greg Little, Sidney Rice, Jermaine Gresham, Coby Fleener, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning