Fantasy Football 2013: Highlighting Best Matchups for Week 1

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 2, 2013

Aug 25, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans running back Ben Tate (44) celebrates scoring a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints during the first half at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy drafts are just about over, giving way to the weekly preparation that sets apart the best owners from the rest.

Week 1 of NFL action is actually one of the more difficult scenarios to prepare for in fantasy as it is the first look owners will get at teams and individual players in meaningful scenarios.

It is a tricky situation to say the least. While the prepping for the draft is highlighted by finding sleepers and avoiding busts, the best strategy above all in Week 1 is to go with proven names.

Fantasy leagues are not won or lost in Week 1, but it always helps to get an early start toward the playoffs.

Week 1 offers plenty of sure-fire matchups that will give owners big production. As difficult as Week 1 can be to predict, the following are juicy matchups fantasy owners need to take advantage of to get off to a hot start.


Ben Tate vs. San Diego Chargers

Normally a backup is a player to avoid at all costs in Week 1, but this is not a normal situation as the season begins.

As coveted as Houston Texans running back Arian Foster was in drafts, he has been dealing with a string of nagging injuries dating back to May.

These issues have piled up, ultimately resulting in Foster not being fully prepared for Monday Night Football against the San Diego Chargers. Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said Foster's role will be limited, per ESPN's Tania Ganguli:

No kidding. Foster has carried the ball 1,061 times in the past three seasons alone.

Foster's loss is backup Ben Tate's gain. Tate is on fresh legs, flirted with 1,000 yards two years ago on just 175 carries and will see 15-20 touches against a shaky San Diego defense.

This preseason alone Tate averaged 5.7 yards per carry. That production will continue in Week 1 as Tate begins his journey for a new contract and makes his case for a serious timeshare with a hobbled Foster against a mediocre front seven.


Reggie Wayne vs. Oakland Raiders

Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne may not be the Wayne of old in terms of fantasy production, but at the least he will look like his old self in Week 1 against the Oakland Raiders.

There are concerns about Wayne's age (34) and the departure of Bruce Arians' vertical-passing attack (he's now the head coach in Arizona), which is giving way to Pep Hamilton's more efficient West Coast approach—meaning shorter passes.

Wayne put those worries to bed in Week 3 of the preseason with seven receptions for 79 yards. The presence of big plays down the field are gone, but Wayne is as viable as ever in this type of offense as he's a reliable target. PPR-wise, Wayne will be difficult to play against in the new offense, but he's valuable in standard scoring as well.

Wayne is still a sneaky must-start in Week 1. Oakland is a team in a serious rebuild mode with rookie D.J. Hayden and journeyman Tracy Porter starting at corner.

As far as No. 1 receivers go, none rise above Wayne in Week 1.


Jimmy Graham at Atlanta Falcons

Fantasy owners may be bitter with Jimmy Graham after he fell from over 1,300 yards receiving to just 982 from 2011 to 2012, but it's time to put the resentment aside.

Graham is the top tight end play and a must-start in Week 1.

Furthermore, he's due for a major game against the porous Atlanta Falcons defense. Atlanta boasts a defense that has a weak spot for tight ends.

Last year in the postseason, Seattle's Zach Miller posted 142 yards receiving and a score on eight receptions. After that, San Francisco's Vernon Davis would go for 100 yards and a score as well.

A lot can change in a year, but Graham is the best in the NFL at what he does, and the Falcons will be spread thin dealing with all the weapons Drew Brees has at his disposal.

Here's the kicker: Graham may have had a down year in 2012, but certainly not against Atlanta—in two games, he posted 11 receptions for 205 yards and two touchdowns.

Graham is set for another huge performance and represents one of the best matchups the new season has to offer in its opening week.



Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling