Week 1 Start Em Sit Em: Breaking Down Matchups That Will Ruin Top Players
Fantasy football owners are always keen on starting some of their best players for Week 1 of the NFL season, but there are some matchups that will leave top players producing little to nothing in their respective season openers.
The Carolina Panthers will open up the season against the Seattle Seahawks and that could present plenty of problems for their offense. The lowly Oakland Raiders will be going with Terrelle Pryor and there's no question it will be an uphill battle against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Detroit Lions have one of the highest-rated pass rushes on paper in the NFL this season which should make the Minnesota Vikings' job through the air that much more difficult.
Let's take a look at a key player from each of these teams and why they won't be worth starting in Week 1.
Steve Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers (vs. Seattle Seahawks)
The only thing going for Steve Smith in this contest is the fact that he's home. After that, there isn't much to be happy about if you're an owner who has Smith.
Not only are the Panthers going up against one of the best defenses in the NFL in the Seattle Seahawks, but Smith will also have to deal with excellent cornerbacks. Whether it's Richard Sherman or Brandon Browner taking on the responsibility, Smith will have his work cut out for him.
In a showdown with the Seahawks last season, Smith only recorded four catches for 40 yards and failed to get into the end zone. Much of the same can be said for Smith whenever he faced a solid defense last season.
Granted, Smith will no doubt put up solid fantasy numbers all year and should break the 1,000-yard mark for his third consecutive season. But you're best off realizing that the fantasy season is a marathon and not a sprint, and that Smith will have plenty of better weeks ahead of him.
Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders (at Indianapolis Colts)
The Raiders have decided to start Terrelle Pryor behind center in the first game of the season and that couldn't be worse news for Darren McFadden.
The jury is very much still out on Pryor who didn't impress anyone during the preseason. Things only figure to get worse for the signal-caller as he goes up against first-team defenses all game long and his ability to throw the ball with consistency hasn't been established.
Indianapolis doesn't have a great defense by any stretch, but not having to deal with a quarterback who can throw the ball will be a big help. This will allow the Colts to cheat against the run by stacking the box in anticipation that McFadden and the Raiders will be running.
If that's the case, McFadden will get stuffed more often than not as Pryor fails miserably to get something going through the air. Now that's not to say this will last all season, but it certainly won't end until the Raiders send in a quarterback who can add some credibility to the passing attack.
Greg Jennings, WR, Minnesota Vikings (at Detroit Lions)
This one could go either way for Greg Jennings and the Vikings, but if all things fall into place for the Lions, it'll be a long day for Minnesota's new receiver.
Christian Ponder will be lining up at quarterback once again for the Vikings this season after what was a horrific showing in 2012-13. The Vikings had no semblance of a passing attack and an already struggling Ponder had little to work with.
It's all well and good that the Vikings added some depth at receiver, but what good is it if Ponder can't get these new players the ball? That's the first problem Jennings and company face in this one.
The second problem is the incredibly talented pass rush the Lions are sporting. With Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley up the middle, as well as Jason Jones and Ezekiel Ansah on the edges, the Lions defensive line should enjoy plenty of time in the Vikings backfield.
Ansah is listed as questionable for this game, per ESPN.com, but Kyle Meinke of MLive.com reported that the rookie returned to practice Thursday. Ponder, who is already a question mark at QB, figures to be even worse with less time to throw.
On top of all that, if problems persist, the Vikings will do what got them to the playoffs last season: They will give the ball to Adrian Peterson all game long and get out of the way. That approach will further inhibit Jennings' production in Week 1.
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