Just hours before the start of Week 1 (for most teams) I know many people have questions running through their heads.
Who should I start? Who should I sit?
Let’s take a look at how some of the recent news changes things:
Ben Tate, Houston Texans, Running Back
With Arian Foster looking like a legitimate game-time decision, Tate is suddenly turning into a must-use fantasy option. In just 175 carries in 2011 he managed to accumulate 942 yards. Taking on a Dolphins team that is weak—to put it mildly—Tate would be a legitimate RB1 option should Foster ultimately be scratched.
We will have to wait until game time before we know for sure, so you are going to want to monitor the news and see what ultimately happens. However, with Foster clearly banged up he will likely get a lighter load than normal, regardless.
If Foster isn’t playing, Tate has to be in all active fantasy lineups. If Foster is playing, Tate is still a viable RB2 and a good play as a flex in all formats.
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings, Running Back
Originally, we expected to hear whether Peterson was going to play or not prior to today, but now he is going to be a game-time decision. Fortunately, it is a 1 p.m. game; so, we will know in more than enough time to alter our starting lineups.
However, even if he plays, can we really expect him to get a full slate of carries? According to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (via Twitter):
“Final determination on AP won’t come tile after warmups, but if he plays as expected Vikings aim for 10-15 carries team source says…”
Consider Peterson a low-end RB2 or a flex play, depending on your other options, with Toby Gerhart falling into a similar category. If he is ultimately scratched, Gerhart becomes a must-play option. All owners will need to monitor the news this morning and be ready to make a change.
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles, Wide Receiver
According to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal:
“[Joe] Haden said he will mirror Eagles standout wide receiver DeSean Jackson in coverage, and he’s eager to face his childhood idol, quarterback Michael Vick.”
Haden, who is facing an NFL suspension, has the potential to be a shutdown cornerback. He showed it last season and could take the step into the elite class in 2012.
Jackson was already a questionable pick in two receiver formats, though this news makes him a very big risk. In deeper formats he could still be usable, though Jeremy Maclin is looking like the far better pick among Eagles receivers.
Consider Maclin a must-use option, while Jackson is borderline at best.
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks, Running Back
According to Mike Florio of NBC Sports:
“Like the other big-name tailbacks who are officially questionable but who are expected to play on Sunday, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is questionable — and he’s expected to play.”
With a 4:25 game start, Lynch is a little bit of a riskier play than someone like Adrian Peterson, but it’s hard to consider benching him unless you really are loaded at the position.
Obviously, you would feel much better if you had been able to swipe Robert Turbin off the waiver wire, but this is a “safe” enough play to continue keeping him in your starting lineup.
Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns, Running Back
Richardson is listed as questionable, according to Albert Breer of NFL.com:
“Running back Trent Richardson will start the Cleveland Browns’ regular-season opener Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, team sources confirmed.”
Richardson may get a few less touches this week, but ultimately, he is going to be a workhorse for the Browns. While he is not an RB1 this week, he does have that type of potential going forward.
Consider him a viable option in all formats, unless you are loaded with other options.
Matt Schaub, Atlanta Falcons, Quarterback
With Brandon Flowers listed as questionable, a potentially difficult matchup for the dynamic Falcons receiving duo of Julio Jones and Roddy White could suddenly look significantly more attractive. The biggest beneficiary, of course, should be Matt Schaub.
Instead of only having half the field to work with, he will have the potential to spread things out and really open up the game.
Is he a QB1? Probably not, but depending on your options, I certainly wouldn’t shy away from him.
Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders, Wide Receiver
Moore is officially listed as questionable, and with the Raiders playing on Monday night it is impossible to trust Moore at this point.
The biggest problem is that, if you do depend on him and he ultimately doesn’t play, you are left with next to no alternative (especially with Jacoby Ford already being ruled out). Slide Moore to your bench for Week 1 and hope he can prove healthy enough to play in Week 2.
Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans, Wide Receiver
According to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean:
“The Titans are confident that rookie wide receiver Kendall Wright will be an impact player, but offensive coordinator Chris Palmer cautioned that the first-round pick is not quite there yet.”
Wright has become a popular name for Week 1, especially with Kenny Britt out due to suspension. You may want to temper the excitement for the time being, however. I would consider him more of a flex/deep-league option.
Nate Washington is a much better choice if you are looking to cash in on Britt’s absence.
Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots, Running Back
Shane Vereen is officially listed as out, meaning Ridley should get the bulk of the carries with Danny Woodhead being the third down/change-of-pace back. Yes, the Patriots are always going to be a pass-first offense, but Ridley will be taking on a defense that allowed 128.3 rushing yards per game a year ago.
He isn’t necessarily going to get 20-plus carries, but he should get ample opportunities to produce in a quality matchup. He not only should get some carries, but he also has the ability to haul in a few passes.
As a low-end RB2 or flex play, I would consider him an absolute must-use option. In a high-powered offense it is impossible to have him on your bench. Yes, they have alternatives but as the featured back he is going to get his touches to help soften the defense for the aerial attack.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 1 rankings: