Hey fake footballers, I’m going to be writing the Start/Sit column for the Fake Football this season and I’m looking forward to having a successful year together. In this article, I will try to dig deeper and provide readers with starters and sits that aren’t obvious. Don’t be afraid to post on this article or hit me up on Twitter @BraudeM with any questions you have about your lineups! Without further ado, let’s get to it…
QB: Jake Locker vs. NE
Most owners should have a quarterback locked in as their starter this week but if you’re desperate need of an option, I would suggest Jake Locker. He’s going against the Patriots, who gave up the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks last season and he has some exciting play-making ability. While he isn’t an ideal option, he does have a nice matchup to exploit.
RB: DeAngelo Williams at TB
If Jonathan Stewart sits out this week, DeAngelo Williams is an elite option. He’ll be in for a monster workload and the Buccaneers porous run defense gave up the most points to opposing tailbacks last season. Cam Newton could certainly steal some goal-line carries but there will be lots of running room and little competition for carries. If Stewart sits, don’t miss out on this opportunity, he’ll be in for a big week.
Stevan Ridley at TEN
Stevan Ridley has impressed throughout training camp and preseason and this week should be his breakout party. The Patriots will have control of this one and Ridley will receive plenty of carries as the only true between the tackles runner on the Patriots (besides Brandon Bolden, who is unlikely to see anything more than a few garbage time carries). Ridley will receive the goal-line carries and likely won’t have to worry about Shane Vereen because of his lingering left foot injury. Start Ridley as an RB2/flex and you’ll be satisfied with his production.
Doug Martin vs. CAR
Yes, I know, you’re skeptical about rookie running backs… I totally understand. Still, this is as safe as it gets. The Buccaneers traded up to draft Martin and he’s already passed LeGarrette Blount on the depth chart, drawing comparisons to Ray Rice along the way. Facing a Carolina defense that yielded the 2nd most points to opposing running backs, this is certainly not the week to sit your young stud.
Kevin Smith vs. STL
Last year, aside from his sprained ankles, Kevin Smith was phenomenal – running for 4.9 YPC, catching passes, and scoring 7 touchdowns in 7 games. Yes, he sprained his ankle again this preseason but he participated in practice on Tuesday and looks ready to roll against the Rams in Week 1. With the Lions high-powered offense, Smith has some scary upside with little competition. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s facing the Rams, who gave up the 3rd most points to opposing tailbacks.
Ronnie Brown at OAK
There are several handcuffs that may draw significant playing time in Week 1: Toby Gerhart, Rashad Jennings, Robert Turbin, and Ronnie Brown to name a few. I’m not the biggest Brown fan but he’s an option that’s likely available to owners who may be stuck with Ryan Mathews or Maurice Jones-Drew. Grab yourself one of these handcuffs and you can escape with a productive performance.
WR: Kendall Wright vs. NE
I don’t recommend sitting your starters in Week 1 but if you’re desperate, Kendall Wright is shaping up as an intriguing option. With Kenny Britt suspended in Week 1, the Titans first-round draft pick will draw the start against the Patriots defense that ranked dead last against the pass last season. He’s an interesting player to roll the dice on.
Justin Blackmon at MIN
Justin Blackmon proved he was NFL ready right from the start of preseason, catching four balls for 48 yards and a touchdown in his debut, then following up that performance with four catches for 72 yards in his next game. Jaguars beat writer John Oehser predicted over 80 receptions for the rookie. There’s no doubt he’s the most talented receiver the Jaguars have and he looks ready to go. Don’t be afraid to start the youngster against a Vikings defense that gave up the 2nd most points to wide receivers last season – he may reward you.
Pierre Garcon at NO
Pierre Garcon wasted no time this preseason showing that he will be RGIII’s primary passing target and deep threat. He isn’t a really special talent but Shanahan will get him the ball, even saying “he’s everything we’re hoping for” during the preseason. The coaching staff has raved about him plenty and he’ll play the “X” position in Kyle Shanahan’s offense – providing us with reason to believe he’ll be a target monster. The Redskins will likely be in a shootout against the Saints this weekend – giving Garcon plenty of chances to start the season off on a good note.
Titus Young vs. STL
Titus Young is another fantasy darling that has impressed throughout the offseason. SI.com’s Chris Burke believes Young “continues to look like he’s on the verge of a huge season.” Coach Jim Schwartz conceded Young is “an important part” of the coaching staff’s plans this season. Don’t look any further than mini-DeSean Jackson against the Rams if you need a fill-in starter this week.
TE: Kyle Rudolph vs. JAX
Out of all the fantasy sleepers, few have been hyped more than second-year tight end Kyle Rudolph. He’s been called the MVP of Vikings training camp and according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Rudolph had “10-foot fishing nets for hands” throughout the first week of training camp. Since he’ll be an every-down player this season, there isn’t a tight end with better breakout potential in the league. Rudolph will be a solid start this week against the Jaguars who gave up the 4th most points to opposing tight ends last season.
QB: Phillip Rivers vs. OAK
While questions of diminished arm strength and a possible pre-mature peak, have haunted Rivers’ offseason, I have stayed away from him in all of my drafts. For week 1 against the Raiders, I’m warning owners for the last time – if you have other options, avoid him this week. By next week, we’ll have a better idea of how healthy he is.
RB: Cedric Benson vs. SF
While I am a fan of where owners are picking up Benson’s cheap goal-line carries, this is a week to stay away. He’s facing the 49ers No. 1 ranked run defense and even if he gets a lucky score, this isn’t going to be a good yardage week for Benson. There are better options out there for Week 1.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis at BAL
I’m already biased against Green-Ellis because of his plodding tendencies, I’m more partial to high-upside guys who can break a long run from anywhere on the field. The Law Firm’s longest run last season, with Tom Brady keeping defenses honest, was 18 yards. He’s going to have a much harder time this season, especially this week against Baltimore’s defense that gave up the 2nd fewest points to running backs last season.
Donald Brown at CHI
I’m not necessarily against Donald Brown but I do believe he’s a mediocre talent. I see the Colts surprising a lot of people on offense this season because of some guy named Andrew Luck. Facing a Bears defense that gave up the 5th fewest points to running backs last season, this isn’t exactly an ideal matchup to test your 3rd running back – leave the plodder on your bench.
Maurice Jones-Drew at MIN
Due to the holdout, I’m advising owners to sit Maurice Jones-Drew. I know many of you guys drafted him as your RB1 but without a solid grasp of the offense it has been reported that he’ll be just a rotational third-down back in Week 1. Rashad Jennings will start and Jones-Drew will likely receive just 7-12 touches. It takes time to get into football shape, give your star at least a week.
WR: Greg Little at PHI
While Greg Little does have some appeal this season, it’d be best if he starts the season on your bench. Likely squaring off against Nnamdi Asomugha, he’s going to have a difficult time getting open this week. There are a lot of guys that I’d rather start – Austin Collie, Justin Blackmon, and Titus Young to name a few.
Mike Wallace at DEN
Last time Mike Wallace played the Broncos was the Wild-Card round of the playoffs last season, he saw a lot of Champ Bailey and was held to 3 catches for 26 yards and no touchdowns. After holding out, he likely doesn’t have a firm grasp of Todd Haley’s offense. If you have other options this would be a great week to keep him on your bench.
DeSean Jackson at CLE
Like Wallace, this sit has a lot to do with the other options you have on your team – not everyone has the luxury of sitting a DeSean Jackson. That said there’s a good chance Jackson will draw Joe Haden in coverage and surprisingly the Browns gave up the 3rd fewest points to wide receivers last season. Guys I would start over Jackson: Torrey Smith, Pierre Garcon, or Reggie Wayne.
Denarius Moore vs. SD
After sitting out the whole preseason with an injured hamstring, Denarius Moore missed practice again on Tuesday. While he may suit up, with little practice time and no preseason games under his belt, he’s a very risky start.
TE: Jacob Tamme vs. PIT
I’m not sold on Tamme’s ability and this week against the Steelers isn’t a good time to test him out. He’s the kind of option that I’d rather see perform well before I plug him into my lineup. I’d rather start Greg Olsen, Jared Cook, or Kyle Rudolph this week.