Freeman has increased his season-high for passing yards in each of the past two weeks. Credit: Getty Images
Hooray, it’s finally time for some 2013 fantasy football start ‘em, sit ‘em analysis!
After an exciting bout between the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night (where they combined for 76 points), that game certainly woke everyone up that the NFL is back. Ahead, we break down each position with one player to start and sit entering this weekend’s matchups.
It’s also important to know that the following aren’t going to be extremely obvious. Without question it’s smart to have Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers as your No. 1 quarterback each week regardless of opponent. The same can be said for Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson.
All that being said, let’s check out which players may be on your start ‘em/sit ‘em fence, and whether or not they deserve the green light in Week 1.
Start: Josh Freeman, Buccaneers (at Jets)
Leading the charge for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Josh Freeman faces a vulnerable defense in the New York Jets. Gang Green has only one proven coverage player in Antonio Cromartie, and Vincent Jackson and co. can take advantage of that. Factor in Doug Martin on the ground and Tampa’s balance will keep New York honest, which in turn, will let Freeman spread the field with ease.
Sit: Cam Newton, Panthers (vs. Seahawks)
Cam Newton is still developing as a pocket passer and Carolina’s offense has a rough matchup in Week 1. The Seattle Seahawks field pro football’s best defense and have amped up their pass rush for 2013. Although Newton is a dual threat, he’ll be easily isolated on the edges from scrambling and limited in the passing game. Seattle’s talent is just too good overall, not to mention its ability to lock-down in man coverage.
Start: Darren Sproles, Saints (vs. Falcons)
In a game that will feature plenty of scoring, the New Orleans Saints need to rely on Darren Sproles as an added dimension. Whether it’s for slamming the trenches to punish the line of scrimmage, Sproles’ athleticism to make plays in the passing game will be beneficial as well. Atlanta’s defense is improved, but Drew Brees’ spreading of the field will keep the Falcons on their heels. As a result, Sproles will find solid open space underneath.
Sit: Ryan Mathews, Chargers (vs. Texans)
Ryan Mathews is a dependable back for the San Diego Chargers when he’s on the field. Unfortunately, he has yet to play a full season for the Bolts. And entering the 2013 campaign, Mathews and Philip Rivers get to face J.J. Watt, Ed Reed and the Houston Texans in Week 1. In short, Houston’s pass rush and forte for suffocating the line of scrimmage will isolate Mathews on the ground and out of the backfield.
Start: Pierre Garcon, Redskins (vs. Eagles)
The Philadelphia Eagles’ pass defense was an atrocity in 2012. And it won’t be completely solved in one offseason. Therefore, Pierre Garcon of the Washington Redskins is a solid option this week. Despite the great paring of Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris, a passing game has to exist for consistent ball movement. This is where Garcon enters the equation as the Redskins’ most reliable and explosive target.
Sit: Santonio Holmes, Jets (vs. Buccaneers)
The New York Jets are going to have a long season. First off, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, rookie quarterback Geno Smith is getting the start:
No surprise here: rookie Geno Smith will be the New York Jets’ starting quarterback for Sunday’s opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Jets announced the decision Wednesday morning on their website in a story featuring quotes from coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg praising Smith, the second-round pick from West Virginia.
Factor in Darrelle Revis suiting up for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Santonio Holmes isn’t going to have a good day.
Start: Kyle Rudolph, Vikings (at Lions)
Christian Ponder did develop in 2012 and, not surprsingly, tight end Kyle Rudolph received the most targets from him. Well, that sets everything up nicely for Rudolph in 2013 and especially against the Lions defense for Week 1. Detroit is improved, but still vulnerable against the pass, not to mention the Lions still need to worry about stopping Adrian Peterson. The focus on keeping Peterson in check will open things up for Ponder and Rudolph.
Sit: Jermichael Finley, Packers (at 49ers)
In the postseason matchup against the San Francisco 49ers Jermichael Finley was held to just 35 yards on four receptions. As for the 2013 opener, don’t expect anything more drastic. The 49ers remain one of pro football’s best defenses and have the offense to run the rock and control the tempo. Without question Finley will be targeted, but yards will be tough to find.
Start: St. Louis Rams (vs. Cardinals)
The Arizona Cardinals had the NFL’s worst offense in 2012 by a wide margin. And don’t anticipate the addition of Carson Palmer to have much of a factor improving that. The St. Louis Rams finished last year with 52 sacks, so the pass rush will be effective. In addition, the Rams can double cover Larry Fitzgerald all game long. What’s worse for Arizona is that St. Louis actually has strong cornerbacks to assist the pass rush by pressing at the line and disguising things pre-snap.
Sit: New York Giants (at Cowboys)
The New York Giants have the names on their defense to make them appealing. Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Corey Webster are just a few of their top guys. However, Big Blue also lost Osi Umenyiora, Chris Canty and Chase Blackburn this offseason. Those are three major contributors from a defense that wasn’t all that impressive in 2012. Week 1′s contest on the road versus the Dallas Cowboys is an unfavorable matchup. Dallas has the receivers to stretch the field, and a running back tandem to change the pace and keep New York off balance.
Start: Garrett Hartley, Saints (vs. Falcons)
Tons of extra points aren’t always appealing in fantasy football when it comes to kickers. Now Garrett Hartley of the New Orleans Saints will get his opportunities against the Atlanta Falcons, but it should be known that the Dirty Birds tighten up quite well with their backs against the wall. Meaning, New Orleans will drive, but it won’t be easy reaching the end zone. In turn, expect the Saints to call on Hartley more than once in a high-scoring affair.
Sit: Caleb Sturgis, Dolphins (at Browns)
This Week 1 dual will not be pretty between the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns. And in regards to Miami kicker Caleb Strugis, his opportunities for extra points and field goals will be limited. Cleveland has an upgraded defense all around. Now even though the Dolphins brought in Mike Wallace to stretch the field, it lost tackle Jake Long. As a result, the Browns will get added pressure on Ryan Tannehill to force ill-advised throws and create turnovers.
Follow John on Twitter @Rozum27
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