Fantasy football is all about putting out the best lineup on a weekly basis. This sometimes means that you need to bench players you are counting on to produce a lot this season.
Owners often fall in love with high draft picks in fantasy football. They feel like someone selected in the first five rounds will be a constant starter every week and will only need removal in a bye week. This is simply not true.
A good fantasy player is an active one who is unafraid to make tough decisions. Based on matchups and other factors, these highly rated stars should stick on your bench for Week 1, assuming you have someone better to replace them.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
In average drafts, Cam Newton was the fifth quarterback selected behind the elite group of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. It is weird to think of the Carolina Panthers quarterback in this group, but he earns that distinction in fantasy football.
His ability as both a passer and a runner help him be among the best at the position virtually every week.
However, he has his toughest matchup of the year right away in the Seattle Seahawks. This defense allowed the fewest points to opposing quarterbacks last season, holding players to only 14 touchdowns all year.
The Seahawks also have a strong enough defensive line to handle Newton's rushing ability.
Newton was held to only seven fantasy points last year against Seattle, which was his worst start of the season. You would be better off starting other quarterbacks like Michael Vick or Ben Roethlisberger, who have better matchups in Week 1.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers
The Denver Broncos showed us a lot in their dominant win over the Baltimore Ravens, but one thing to take note of was the minimal use of rookie Montee Ball. The second-round pick only had eight carries, and they were mostly late in the fourth quarter.
While Eddie Lacy is likely to have a bigger role than his fellow rookie, you never truly know until the team plays its first game. Considering how often Green Bay loves to pass, the running back could end up getting fewer than 10 carries right away.
The team could get even more pass-heavy in Week 1 in an effort to stick with the San Francisco 49ers on the scoreboard.
Of course, there is no guarantee of success even if he gets carries. The 49ers have one of the top run defenses in the NFL, ranking fourth in the league last season. The linebacking corps can prevent even the best running backs from having big weeks.
Fantasy owners would be better off starting a true starter like Daryl Richardson despite the fact that he went about four rounds later in average drafts.
Mike Wallace, WR, Miami Dolphins
Despite a down year in 2012, Mike Wallace has proved to be one of the top deep threats in the NFL. In the past three seasons, the receiver averaged about 1,095 yards and nine touchdowns per year.
After joining the Miami Dolphins in the offseason, Wallace is expected to become a true No. 1 receiver to help Ryan Tannehill and the offense. However, fantasy owners will have to rely on the young quarterback to make a big jump this year after ending his rookie year with a 76.1 quarterback rating.
Additionally, Wallace will be covered by Joe Haden in Week 1 as his team takes on the Cleveland Browns. The cornerback is one of the best in the league at his position, and he has the ability to shut down the receiver throughout the game.
Tannehill would be better off targeting other players on the roster, leaving Wallace to have a poor fantasy day. Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson can expect to have a bigger week against the New England Patriots.
Owen Daniels, TE, Houston Texans
The San Diego Chargers struggled for most of last season, but they did a good job of covering tight ends. Opposing players only averaged 5.5 fantasy points per game last year, which ranked fourth lowest in the league.
Still, a bigger thing that will hurt Owen Daniels this year is the potential emergence of rookie DeAndre Hopkins.
The tight end has succeeded in the past due to the fact that the Texans had no one to throw to besides Andre Johnson. When teams covered the big receiver, Daniels was there to make a play.
All of a sudden, quarterback Matt Schaub will have another option in the rookie receiver, and it will lead to fewer targets for Daniels. This is in addition to the fact that Houston will continue running the ball as much as possible with Arian Foster and Ben Tate.
Instead of starting Daniels, you would be better off going with Zach Sudfeld, who could be the top target for Tom Brady in Week 1.
Note: All stats courtesy of ESPN unless otherwise noted.
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