Every week inside fantasy land, players will rise, players will fall and players will come out of nowhere as super sleepers. This will cover players who to start and who to sit but will not cover the obvious starts and sits like Adrian Peterson (start) and Mark Sanchez (sit).
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Let’s get started.
Start of the Week
Matt Ryan at New Orleans Saints: It’s almost always a barnburner when the Falcons and Saints square off. That’s good news for Ryan, who has thrown for 370-plus yards in each of this last two road starts in New Orleans, has also thrown the ball 50-plus times in three of his last four against them overall. The opportunity for Ryan to score will be there and with weapons like White, Jones, Gonzalez and Jackson to throw to, he’s a terrific option this week.
Matthew Stafford vs. Minnesota Vikings: In Stafford’s last nine home games, he has racked up plenty of yards at Ford Field, averaging just under 350 passing yards. The Vikings surrendered an average of close to 20 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks on the road last season, which makes Stafford even more attractive this weekend.
Tony Romo vs. New York Giants: Romo might not get much respect in terms of real football, but he can be a valuable fantasy asset; he’s puts up a great amount of fantasy points. He has thrown for 300-plus passing yards in four of his last six games against the Giants, who struggled to stop quarterbacks in 2012. To top it off, Romo finished his last seven home games last year with an average of 365 yards.
Terrelle Pryor at Indianapolis Colts: Pryor is basically a carbon copy version of Tim Tebow. He isn’t the most accurate quarterback in the league, but he can score fantasy points with his legs and in a contest where the Raiders could find themselves behind against the Colts (almost every game), Pryor could see some garbage-time success.
Sit of the Week
Andy Dalton at Chicago Bears: This guy is my super sleeper going into the draft and throughout the season but this week’s matchup in Chicago is anything but attractive. In fact, the Bears allowed an average of fewer than 13 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks at Soldier Field in 2012, whatever the stat line ends up being, don’t look for Dalton to score high fantasy points this week.
Joe Flacco at Denver Broncos (Thu): Ok, so Flacco put up great numbers against the Broncos in Denver during the 2012 postseason; there’s a reason they call it “historic” because it happened and probably won’t happen again. But, as we all know Flacco was not at all reliable on the road during the regular season last year. In fact, he scored more than 17 fantasy points just once in eight road contests. He shouldn’t be used on Thursday night even if you start two quarterbacks.
Jay Cutler vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Cutler has received a lot of hype with new offensive-minded coach Marc Trestman calling the shots, against the Bengals stout defense, don’t look for the usually unreliable Cutler to light up points. This defense has tremendous talent, allowing an average of fewer than 14 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks on the road in 2012.
Be Warring Of Cam Newton vs. Seattle Seahawks: If you have another option at QB like Rodgers, sit Cam but anything short of him you shouldn’t sit Newton but just be aware he threw an uninspiring 141 passing yards with no touchdowns during a Week 5 loss at home to the Seahawks. He also only rushed for just 42 yards and lost a fumble in the contest.
Start of the Week
Stevan Ridley at Buffalo Bills: The Bills have have struggled to stop the run in recent seasons, surrendering the third-most fantasy points to runners on their home field in 2012 and believe it or not the Patriots also have an impressive 16 rushing touchdowns in their last 11 games in Buffalo. Look for a good start to the season for Ridley.
Steven Jackson at New Orleans Saints: Jackson’s value is on the rise, and he should make quite a splash in his first real game with the Saints. In his last five games against this new NFC South rival, Jackson has found the end zone six times. Oh and let’s not forget about the Saints have one of the worst run defenses in the entire league.
David Wilson at Dallas Cowboys: The loss of backfield mate Andre Brown makes Wilson a true featured back and a virtual lock to post nice totals against the Cowboys, who struggled to stop the run last season. Dallas allowed an average of close to 20 fantasy points per game to opposing runners at the Jerry Dome in 2012. Wilson will have the opportunity to shine with the potential to be an every down back.
Daryl Richardson vs. Arizona Cardinals: Richardson might not leave the field for the Rams this week with Isaiah Pead suspended and St. Louis showing little faith in anyone else in this backfield. The Rams will rely heavily on their passing attack in Week 1, but they won’t completely abandon the run. And Richardson could be at least a useful flex option against a Cardinals defense that allowed 12 running backs to either score or reach 100 total yards last season, including seven in a row to close the year.
DeAngelo Williams at Seattle Seahawks: Williams has seen his value increase with Jonathan Stewart on the PUP list, but starting him against the Seahawks still isn’t advised. Their defense allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points overall to opposing running backs last season, and held Williams to six yards on six carries in Week 5.
Rashad Mendenhall at St. Louis Rams: Mendenhall is slated to start this week for the Cardinals but I don’t think he should start this week for your fantasy team. Mendenhall has scored double-digit fantasy points just once since the end of the 2011 NFL campaign. Mendenhall has the potential to be a flex option this season when he’s healthy and has a favorable matchup but this isn’t one of those weeks. Don’t be surprised if Arizona abandons the run early and starts throwing the ball all around the dome, limiting Mendenhall’s touches.
Be Warring Of Eddie Lacy at San Francisco 49ers: There is a good chance you’ll need to start Lacy this week, especially if you use a flex position. Just keep in mind he could get a very rude welcome to the pro game in San Francisco who allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to running backs among home teams in 2012. Lacy shot up the rankings in the preseason when DuJuan Harris was lost for the year. He’s definitely going to play a prominent role this season, but this isn’t the week to start Lacy in the majority of leagues.
Start of the Week
Marques Colston vs. Atlanta Falcons: Colston and the Saints should be in a shootout this weekend against the Falcons who have some new and inexperienced members in their pass defense. Colston has also had some success against this NFC South foe, scoring a touchdown in three of his last four home games against these Dirty Birds.
Antonio Brown vs. Tennessee Titans: If Brown is going to have a breakout season, it should be 2013. With Mike Wallace gone, he’ll take over as the top option in the Steelers pass attack for Big Ben. He’s a nice option against the Titans, who allowed the seventh-most touchdown receptions to wideouts last season. This is a good week to consider Brown a starter since the running game in Pittsburgh is a mess, and the Steelers should have success throwing against the Titans.
DeSean Jackson at Washington Redskins (Mon): I personally have issues with Jackson but this week he is an attractive fantasy option. He’ll see plenty of targets from Michael Vick and Washington’s pass defense surrendered the third-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts last season. As long as Vick is healthy and Jackson seems motivated, this duo should be able to produce.
Miles Austin vs. New York Giants: Austin has had success in the past against the Giants; in fact, he’s scored four touchdowns in his last seven games against this team. In Week 8 of last season, he went for nine catches and 133 yards against the G-Men. When Austin is healthy, he produces. He combined for 13 catches, 206 yards and one touchdown in the two games against the Giants in 2012. His hamstring problems appear fine now, and the Giants have a banged up secondary.
Sit of the Week
Steve Smith vs. Seattle Seahawks: Smith is coming off his second straight 1,000-yard season, however, he’s tough to trust against a tough Seattle defense. In a Week 5 matchup against the Seahawks last season, Smith scored a pretty meager four fantasy points. Smith is clearly on the downside of his career, but he’s still capable of being a solid stat producer when the matchup is right. Seattle has arguably the best cornerback duo in the NFL in Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner and they should be able to contain Smith.
Steve Johnson vs. New England Patriots: This is not due to Johnson having a lack of talent and the Patriots don’t have a solid pass defense, but you just can’t trust Johnson to produce against them with a rookie quarterback under center? The Kentucky product has also failed to score a touchdown in three of his last four home games against New England. This isn’t a good week to gamble on him in your starting lineup and it’s clearly a risk-reward option this week.
Cecil Shorts vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Shorts actually has a lot as a talent; he’s a third-year receiver, and he was a standout Fantasy option last year. But the quarterback situation is a huge red flag especially since Blaine Gabbert will be playing with an injured thumb.
Be Warring Of Vincent Jackson at New York Jets: Unless you are loaded at wide receiver, you probably won’t have a choice but to start Jackson. Regardless of how you feel about the Jets team, management and offense, keep in mind the Jets were one of the toughest defenses against wide receivers last season.
Start of the Week
Tony Gonzalez at New Orleans Saints: If you notice a trend of Falcons and Saints players in the start ‘em portion of this column, well, it’s because that contest has all the look of an absolute shootout. This is great news for Gonzalez, who has scored four touchdowns in his last four contests against New Orleans. He is a must-start option!
Vernon Davis vs. Green Bay Packers: Davis was awful for a good portion of last season and while fantasy owners still have some trust issues with him, the veteran is a virtual must-start against the Packers. Hopefully the rapport he seemed to lack with Colin Kaepernick is in the past.
Kyle Rudolph at Detroit Lions: Rudolph should be considered a quality option for fantasy owners this week. He has a great matchup against the Lions who allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends overall in 2012. Rudolph also scored double-digit fantasy points in his last contest against the Lions. Rudolph scored in five of eight road games last season, and he should remain a viable red-zone target for Christian Ponder.
Brandon Myers at Dallas Cowboys: Eli Manning has always liked to use his tight ends in the offensive attack, so Myers has some definite appeal as a potential No. 1 fantasy option. He’s a nice choice in what could be a high-scoring game against the Cowboys, who allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends during home games last season.
Sit of the Week
Jermichael Finley at San Francisco 49ers: Finley is entering a contract year and has seen his fantasy value rise after showing some flashes of his past self during the preseason. However, he’s no lock to open 2013 with a strong performance against the Niners. No other team allowed fewer fantasy points to tight ends in home games during 2012.
Greg Olsen vs. Seattle Seahawks: Olsen is coming off his best statistical season and remains a viable No. 1 fantasy option in all formats, but this week’s contest against the Seahawks isn’t a favorable one. In fact, their defense allowed just three touchdowns and the third-fewest fantasy points overall to opposing tight ends this past season. Olsen could also be asked to help block in this matchup to slow down Seattle’s pass rush. Olsen is going to have some great games this season and remains a starting tight end most weeks. But this isn’t a week to consider him a must-start option if you can avoid it.
Owen Daniels at San Diego Chargers (Mon): The Texans got good news that DeAndre Hopkins is healthy and ready to play, but that could mean he should see a few less targets in what could be a tough matchup. In 2012, San Diego allowed four touchdowns to opposing tight ends, but only Tony Gonzalez and Dennis Pitta reached double digits in Fantasy points. Daniels closed last year with 50 yards or less in his final six games with one touchdown over that span.
Be Warring Of Jermaine Gresham at Chicago Bears: Gresham is coming off the best statistical season of his career, but his statistical arrow is pointing down after the addition of rookie Tyler Eifert and the return of Mohamed Sanu to the pass attack. Furthermore, a difficult matchup against the Bears makes Gresham even less attractive.
Greg Zuerlein vs. Arizona Cardinals: The man known as “Legatron” or “Greg the Leg” was one of the better surprises in 2012 when he converted 23 of 30 field goals and all 26 extra points, including seven field goals from at least 50 yards. He made 12 of 14 field goals at home, and the Rams offense has been upgraded this season, which should help him shine. This week, Zuerlein faces a Cardinals defense that allowed the most field goals in the NFL last season at 35. Zuerlein was just 2 of 3 on field goals against them last year, but expect a better performance from him this week.
Alex Henery at Washington Redskins: Expect the Eagles offense to play at a high level this season under Kelly, but I haven’t seen how his system will translate to the NFL in a real game yet. Because of that, there should be some uncertainty in trusting any of the Eagles outside of the proven stars in Vick, McCoy and Jackson. Henery could end up as a top-tier kicker, but he struggled in 2012 with 27 of 31 field goals and 25 extra points, including no kicks from 50-plus yards. He closed the season with five games in a row with no double digit games in Fantasy points, including a one-point outing against the Redskins.
Buccaneers defense at New York Jets: Here’s a rule of thumb for the entire season, start any defense playing against the Jets. The Buccaneers draw that favorable matchup in Week 1, and will face rookie quarterback Geno Smith and an offense that doesn’t have much firepower.
Colts defense vs. Oakland Raiders: The Raiders offense is a mess heading into Week 1 and they just named Pryor the starting quarterback. The offensive line is in shambles and starting tight end David Ausberry has been unable to practice. McFadden is the only real threat, and that depends on what side of the McFadden fence you’re on. The Colts D/ST isn’t going to be a starting unit most weeks, but based on this matchup at home they are a good one-week option.
Packers defense at San Francisco 49ers: The Packers have the potential to be a top-10 fantasy defense this season, but it’s tough to trust this unit against Colin Kaepernick. In 2012, opposing defenses averaged fewer than seven fantasy points per game against San Francisco. We all remember the playoff matchup last year in San Francisco when Kaepernick dominated the Packers. The 49ers had 579 yards of total offense. Now, the Packers will obviously be better prepared this time around, but it’s still risky to consider them a starting D/ST on the road for this game.
Ravens defense at Denver Broncos (Thu): The Ravens have seen a lot of personnel changes on the defensive side of the football, losing two superstars in Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. This unit will need time to become a cohesive squad, and facing Peyton Manning and the Broncos on the road is going to be a very tough litmus test. Look for Peyton to utilize all his new weapons and get revenge for last year’s debacle.
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JA Dukes is a NFL writer for footballandfutbol.com.
Follow me on Twitter @TheJADUKES
Davis was awful for a good portion of last season and while fantasy owners still have some trust issues with him, the veteran is a virtual must-start against the Packers. Hopefully the rapport he seemed to lack with Colin Kaepernick is in the past.