Here they are, Inside the Redzone’s first Start/Sit candidates of Week 1, 2013. I’ve gone through each NFL matchup and selected the players that I have higher or lower expectations for in week 1. I have to say however, even though this column is called “Start/Sit“, I am not necessarily saying you need to bench your studs. More than likely, you are going to be starting your top draft picks, however, in some cases you will need to lower your expectations on certain players, depending on their week 1 situations.
I’ve structure this column into 3 parts-
Players to Start
Players to Sit (or at least lower your expectations)
Starter Most Likely to Bust
Enjoy. There will be more to come each week in 2013-2014.
Drew Brees and Matt Ryan (QB)
I fully expect a shootout in the “The Big Easy”, and the numbers would agree with me. These are two of the most potent passing attacks in all of football, who will be playing indoors, on a fast turf. Also supporting this notion is the lack of passing defense these teams displayed last year, with Atlanta ranked 23rd, and New Orleans ranked next to last at 31st.
Andrew Luck (IND-QB)
Luck has a lot going for him this week. Ahmad Bradshaw won’t be at 100%, the Colts are playing at home, on turf, Oakland is a below average passing defense (ranked 20th last year), and finally, the Oakland offense is lack-luster at best, which should give Luck a huge share of the time of possession. Expect multiple passing TD’s and possible a rushing TD from Mr. Luck.
Colin Kaepernick (SF-QB)
The Packer’s defense hasn’t been their strong suit in recent years. Also, do you remember what happened the last time Kaepernick met the Packers in San Francisco (a hint: see last year’s divisional playoffs)? That’s right! Kaepernick torched the Packer’s D for nothing short of 263 yards passing, 181 yards rushing, and 4 total TD’s. Expect more of the same this Sunday.
Adrian Peterson (MIN-RB)
If the Vikings are going to win this weekend, it won’t be through the air. Expect 20+ touches for Peterson and plenty of success. In the two games against the Lions last year, Peterson ran for 102 yards in Week 4 at Detroit, and 171 yards in week 10 at home, and the Lions haven’t made enough improvements to stop the man known as “All Day”.
Tom Brady, Stevan Ridley, Danny Amendola and Kenbrell Thompkins, Zac Sudfeld and the Patriot’s DEF
There may be a day when the new Patriots offense will be tested, but it will not be this day. The Buffalo defense is going to have their hands full this weekend. With the Bills starting a rookie quarterback at less than 100%, the Patriots should control the time of possession by a good margin, leaving Brady with plenty of snaps to get it to his playmakers. The Patriots seem to love nothing more than beating up on divisional opponents in recent years, so expect a lot of one-sided scoring in this one. It will be hard to predict who gets the touchdowns from Brady, but each of these guys will get plenty of touches.
Dez Bryant (DAL-WR)
Bryant has looked phenomenal again in preseason games this year and finally gets to play a full game. The Giant’s defense was terrible last year, ranking 28th against the pass, and their team leader in interceptions, Stevie Brown, is out for the year with a torn ACL. There aren’t many CB’s in the league that can cover Dez Bryant, and none of them are on the Giants.
Reggie Wayne (IND-WR)
See Andrew Luck. Luck will have a good day and Reggie is Luck’s favorite target àYou do the math.
Julio Jones (ATL-WR)
I’ve already mentioned Matt Ryan here. I’m mentioning Julio strictly because I like him over Roddy White this week. It’s not that I think Roddy White will have a bad week, but Julio is Atlanta’s greatest weapon at the moment and the most likely player to stretch the Saints weak passing defense and make some big plays in a likely shootout.
Larry Fitzgerald (ARI-WR)
Both Fitz and Carson Palmer have something to prove this week and both are playing the Rams, a passing defense ranked 15th in 2012. The Cardinals will likely need to pass a lot, and it’s obvious Carson Palmer will be thinking “When it doubt, throw it to Larry”.
Jimmy Graham (NO-TE)
See Drew Brees. Brees will need someone to catch all of his touchdowns- it may as well be his favorite target and top fantasy TE from last year, Mr. Graham.
Tony Gonzalez (ATL-TE)
See Matt Ryan. Matt Ryan also needs a red zone weapon.
Playing against a struggling offense with a rookie quarterback, and at home. What more could you ask for?
Tampa Bay (DEF)
Yes, Geno Smith is actually a downgrade from Mark Sanchez. The Tampa Bay defense was #1 in 2012 in stopping the run and, frankly, the Jets are not a passing team.
Players to Sit (or at least lower your expectations)
Cam Newton (CAR-QB)
Newton should be a good fantasy quarterback this year, but he starts the year against arguably the league’s toughest defense. I’m not saying you should bench him, but set your expectations low.
Andy Dalton (CIN-QB)
Dalton is also a good quarterback with a bad matchup this week and is playing on the road. Chicago was ranked 8th against the pass last year and led the league in interceptions. I also have a feeling the Bengals will struggle running the football until they make Giovani Bernard their lead back, so I’m thinking Chicago wins the time of possession in this game.
Ray Rice (BAL-RB)
The Bronco’s defense was ranked 3rd against the run last season and the Ravens are playing on the road. Obviously you are going to start Ray Rice, especially in PPR, but he will likely struggle to get yards in this game.
CJ Spiller (BUF-RB)
The Bill’s will have trouble keeping their offense on the field against a tough Patriots team, and with their rookie quarterback making his NFL debut. Spiller may break a few runs in this one, but I think his yardage totals and touchdowns will be lacking.
Eddie Lacy (GB-RB)
A running back in a pass-heavy offense, going against the 4th ranked rushing defense from a year ago should come with the lowest of expectations.
Ryan Mathews (SD-RB)
I think Ryan Mathews will have a bounce-back year this year, but it likely won’t come against the Texans, who ranked 7th in the league last year against the run.
AJ Green (CIN-WR)
As I said before about Andy Dalton, the Bear’s defense was ranked 8th in the league last year against the pass, was 8th in sacks, and led the league in interceptions. The numbers just don’t look good for the Bengal’s passing offense this week. I have to say that AJ Green is one of the receivers in the league that could have a good day against this defense, but it likely won’t be great.
Steve Smith (CAR-WR)
Steve Smith is not the kind of guy to all of a sudden have a good game against one of the league’s best defenses that ranked 6th against the pass last year. Carolina will likely struggle to move the ball all day, much less score a lot of points.
Jordy Nelson and James Jones (GB-WR)
I’m putting these two here because I think only Randall Cobb will have a respectable day against the 49ers defense. The 49er cornerbacks should be able to cover the X receivers in this one, and the 49ers front 7 should get plenty of pressure on Aaron Rodgers, which leaves the Packers with the only option of quick passes to their slot guys.
Greg Olson (CAR-TE)
See Cam Newton and Steve Smith.
Jermichael Finley (GB-TE)
I like Finley a lot this year and he’s been playing very well in preseason, so this one is all about the matchup. The 49ers were the toughest defense on tight ends in 2012, and that should continue.
This defense is improving, but they play a very talented Lion offense this week, in Detroit. I expect the Lions to score a lot of points with plenty of dump offs to Reggie Bush and long completions to Calvin Johnson. It’s simply too hard to cover everyone on this team.
The Falcons could be a sleeper defense this year after adding depth and major signings like Osi Umenyiora, however, they play on the road this week against one of the league’s best passing offenses, and it is fully expected to be a shootout. I’m predicting over 60 total points scored in this one, and that does not work well for fantasy defenses.
Starter most likely to Bust in Week 1
Chris Johnson (TEN-RB)
CJ2K’s value is already up in the air. He’s running better as of late, but the addition of Shonne Greene and the possible loss of goal line and short yardage carries is a bit worrisome. On top of all of that, Johnson is playing against the #2 rushing defense from a year ago, on the road. If Johnson can’t break a long run, his total yardage will not be good.