Finally, it’s back! The NFL is ready to kick off the 2012 season this Wednesday night when the Dallas Cowboys take on the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. Not a moment too soon too, because I have to say as much as I am a fan of all the major sports, none of them shake me and get me fired up quite like a good football game. Not to mention the fact that with football comes my other favorite past time, fantasy football!
So I’m back again, Jeff “The Shark” Porrini here to bring you my little bit of expertise, knowledge and well a tad of the guessing game known as “Start Em/Sit Em”. Sure no one can truly know exactly how great or how bad a player can be on any given day, but it sure helps to have as much input as possible when fielding your team. As this season begins, it is no different from a week 8 game, who is hurt, who is a game-time decision, and what holdouts are having their role reduced. Yes, fantasy becomes a harder and harder game every season, so make sure you are here every week for some insights and advice.
Alright, now that all the love is out of the way, let’s take a look at my week 1 selections:
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions vs. St. Louis Rams: You have to back the guy delivering the ball to a WR like Calvin Johnson, right? You sure do, especially when he is coming off an excellent season and was able to stay healthy through all 16 games last season. The Lions are looking strong on offense this season and have lots of weapons, not to mention they are hosting a Rams team that has been awful on defense the last few seasons. You will see Staffords name here a lot this year, so bank on him.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers: I know many of you out there will feel that Rodgers had an average preseason and that the 49ers have a rough and tough defense, but if you own Rodgers, you never bench Rodgers. Sure this is always an obvious start, and I hate to do obvious, but come on. Rodgers is the best fantasy option at QB, if not the best fantasy choice in all the league. Yes, the 49ers may have the talent to slow him down, but with a weak running game, the Packers will need to throw often, so 3 TDs from Rodgers should be easy.
John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals vs. Seattle Seahawks: Skelton may have won the QB battle in Arizona but did he lose the war? Yes the Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald, more talent at RB this year and rookie Michael Floyd is a nice big target as well, but 2 things I really don’t like: 1. Seattle’s defense is looking very much improved, and 2. Beating out Kevin Kolb is not a great accomplishment, so trusting Skelton will need some proof first. This may not be a solid prediction, but it is a gut feeling that Skelton is not going to light it up here.
Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers: Was I dreaming, or did a team led by Alex Smith go 13-3 last year? This off-season the 49ers added Randy Moss and Mario Manningham at WR, but it is still Smith and the 49ers are a run first team. The Packers do have decent talent in the secondary and should start the season with a big win at home. I have little faith in Smith this week.
Mark Sanchez, New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills: I can’t think too highly of the Bills defense yet, but I am slowly losing any trust at all in Sanchez. The Jets have several question marks on offense, and are usually a run first team anyway. Bringing in Tim Tebow will mean more wildcat and trick plays, and that right there will slow down Sanchez’s game. The Jets can be on a decline year, this will be the first test, and not one to rely on.
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns: One of the best RBs last season is ready to do big things again in 2012. The Browns defense has never been very good against the run, and Eagles QB Mike Vick had a tough preseason, so the Eagles will most likely try and get the ground game cooking. The Browns have a rookie at QB and at RB so the Eagles defense could very well make it a short field and allow McCoy to control the game and pile up the points.
Arian Foster, Houston Texans vs. Miami Dolphins: Just because? Sure that sounds easy enough, but it is a well known fact that you always start Foster. The Dolphins were decent against the run last year, but slowing down Foster is always a tough task, and QB Matt Schaub still needs to find his game after coming off an injury last year. The Texans are coming in as one of the favorites in the AFC, so it will rely on their workhorse to take them there.
Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans vs. New England Patriots: This should be the season where Chris Johnson earns his big contract. The holdouts are over, he had a full camp and even gets more involved in the passing game each season. The Titans have decided to go with Jake Locker at QB and he will need time to grow before the Titans become a pass happy offense. The Patriots will be improved on defense, but this is a tricky start for the run defense here.
The Washington Redskins backfield at New Orleans Saints: It’s not that I don’t like Evan Royster, Roy Helu and company but it’s the fact that I have a hard time trusting head coach Mike Shanahan with RBs. The Redskins have backs they can go to, and the Saints are not the toughest run defense in the league, but any guy you play here can gain one yard and be gone for the game. This is a RB situation that needs to be watched closely and only a huge game by one of them will guarantee them to at least start the following week.
The Carolina Panthers backfield at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: See above. While Mike Tolberts addition is a big one, and DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are good backs, this situation has no true lead man. Not to mention that QB Cam Newton likes to snake touches by the goal line. The Panthers will also be playing the hot hand game week to week, and it will be tough to trust any one guy here unless others suffer injuries. If you own any Panther back, hold on to them and play only when truly needed.
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: A knee injury last season cost Peterson several games last year, and his recovery, while on time has many people in Minnesota playing it cautious. It is just week 1, and the Jags are not much of a threat as well, so this may be a game the Vikings feel they can get by with using backup Toby Gerhart and more of WR Percy Harvin. Peterson will be back soon enough, so there is no need to panic, but also I would not get too excited in using him here.
Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears vs. Indianapolis Colts: Finally, Marshall has the talent at QB and the good offense he had longed for. Marshall is one of the best on the league when his head is straight, and he seems to have matured a great deal, and seems satisfied with his new team. The Colts will have a hard time trying to contend with him and he should prove to be back as a top tier fantasy starter.
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos: Although Mike Wallace is back from his holdout, this match up can be a gem for Brown. He came on last season and showed big play ability and great speed. The Broncos still have a good cover corner in Champ Bailey and he should be busy with Wallace. The Steelers are a little shaky in the running game as well, so they will go to the air more, and I think Brown can have a monster game to start the season.
Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers: We know Jackson can play the game, and is a big physical WR. Now he has some new wrinkles in his game, a new offense, a long-term contract and he will no doubt be the go to guy. The Buccaneers paid plenty of money to rebuild this team and it should pay off quickly. Jackson can be the guy needed to help QB Josh Freeman find his touch again and the Buccaneer offense can be for real this season.
Stevie Johnson, Buffalo Bills at New York Jets: Johnson is the Bills best WR for sure, but he is about to take a trip to Revis Island where very few WRs find smooth sailing. Despite all his troubles last year, the Bills have kept their faith in Johnson, and it will probably pay off, just not in week 1. There are too many good options to use in week 1 to rely on this one here.
The San Francisco 49ers WR at Green Bay Packers: I said earlier that I don’t like the QB, but more important I don’t like the doubt of who exactly is the lead option here. It is a decent looking squad with Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree, but no one can predict as of now who will be the most targeted. Just wait and see, but don’t expect much in week 1.
Anquan Boldin, Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals: For years Boldin has been a really good NFL WR, but as times change so do the roles of players. The Ravens have a speedy long ball threat in Torrey Smith now, and much like a baseball team, Boldin may have now become the set up guy for Smith and his big game speed. The Ravens also will be looking to run a lot against the Bengals, so I won’t but too much into Boldin this week.
Fred Davis, Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints: Cutting Chris Cooley will open some doors for Davis who had a good season in 2011, and the Skins offense loves to rely on the TE. Here is a chance to get a guy that can sneak up on fantasy opponents
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders: With an offense that is banged up and has no real number 1 WR, it is clear that Gates will be the top option here. He should have himself a nice game against rival Oakland, so start him with confidence.
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants: Rumors are swirling that the Cowboys are trying to get him on the field for week 1, but it does not look like it can happen. We all know Witten can deliver, but wait until his status is more clear.
Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans vs. New England Patriots: The Pats always have a talented group at linebacker and Jake Locker will need time to get comfy in this offense. Expect the Titans to run a lot here and Cook to have an average day at best.
Defenses I like:
Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns
Detroit Lions vs. St Louis Rams
Houston Texans vs. Miami Dolphins
Defenses I don’t like:
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
Cleveland Browns vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Atlanta Falcons
Mikael LeShoure, RB, Detroit Lions: He will be back by week 3, and the Lions can finally get him on the field. Also he is behind only the very fragile Kevin Smith, so grab him now before he gets his chance to prove himself and get gobbled up.
Steve Smith, WR, St Louis Rams: An injury can’t possibly make him this bad now can it? Just a few years ago Smith was a guy going over 100 catches and can still play. Last season with Philadelphia he was not used often or properly which hurt his stats, but this year he will be a starting receiver on a team that needs serious help at the position. He is worth a flyer for sure.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks: Wilson is being added by many in many leagues and for good reason. He has shown a great knack for the pro game this preseason and is a very smart player. He has the job for now, and mixed with a good run game and solid defense he has the team that can win.
So this is it for week one fans. Football is back in full swing and we will be here too at CamelClutchBlog.com
If you’d like to hear anything else from me on topics or ideas I can be reached at [email protected]
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