Decisions, decisions; each week we are faced with many decisions on who to start and who to sit. Here is my week one list of who to start and who to sit:
Miami Dolphins at Atlanta Falcons
Start: Ted Ginn Jr., WR (MIA)
Explanation: The Atlanta secondary is below average heading into the 2009 season, so Ginn should see plenty of opportunities to get involved in the Dolphins offense. Look for Ginn to use his speed on the outside to make big plays downfield and wear down the secondary.
Sit: Matt Ryan, QB (ATL)
Explanation: Haven’t you heard of the sophomore slump? I am a bit skeptical about how good Ryan will do in 2009, but maybe he can prove me wrong. The Miami defense is a very stout defense that will put pressure on Ryan throughout the game. If the Falcons have trouble establishing the run game, then it will lead to a long, long day for Ryan.
Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers
Start: DeSean Jackson, WR (PHI)
Explanation: ackson has established himself as the go-to wide receiver this preseason for the Eagles. He may also be used in the Wildcat formation, as he was last season. Either way, the Eagles will find ways to get the ball in this playmaker’s hands, despite the fact that it is an average matchup on the outside with Carolina’s cornerback.
Sit: Jonathan Stewart, RB (CAR)
Explanation: Stewart was limited in practice this week, but looks as if he is going to play. His reps should be limited, after missing significant time with an Achilles’ tendon injury, so look in a different direction to fill your roster spot.
Minnesota Vikings at Cleveland Browns
Start: Visanthe Shiancoe, TE (MIN)
Explanation: The Browns secondary in atrocious and will be picked apart by Brett Favre. Favre loves to target his tight ends, especially in the red zone, and will most likely look Shaincoe’s way throughout the game.
Sit: Jamaal Lewis, RB (CLE)
Explanation: After barely holding on to his starting job in the preseason, Lewis heads into week one to face one of the best defenses in all the NFL. This is an absolute nightmare of a matchup for a horrible team, especially with an aging running back. Avoid using Lewis or any other Browns running back at all costs.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts
Start: Mercedes Lewis, TE (JAC)
Explanation: The Jaguars come into week one with something to prove, and they will really need to establish a passing game to balance out their superb running attack. David Garrard is one of the most efficient passers in the NFL, which comes with short passes to running backs and tight ends. Look for Lewis to be targeted many times on Sunday around the end zone, as the Jaguars try to live up to last year’s hype.
Sit: Joseph Addai, RB (IND)
Explanation: A lot of people are down on Addai this season, and I am one of them. The Colts would not draft a running back in the first round if they weren’t hesitant about their featured running back. It is unknown as to what role Donald Brown will have heading into week one, but he should get plenty of reps, which means Addai will lose reps. To go along with that, the Colts have not been running the ball that well in the preseason, so try to look in another direction to fill your roster spot this week.
Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Start: Felix Jones, RB (DAL)
Explanation: Although Jones is not the number one running back, he will still see plenty of touches in week one. The team has said that they will try to get him on the field in multiple capacities to utilize his athletic ability. Tampa Bay is still trying to adjust to their new defensive approach, so look for the Cowboys to capitalize on that with a special player like Jones.
Sit: Carnell Williams/Derrick Ward/Earnest Graham, RB’s (TB)
Explanation: Earlier in the week, Carnell (Cadillac) Williams was named the starter for week one, after beating out both Derrick Ward and Earnest Graham for the spot. It is still unknown what the workload for each running back will be, so just stay away from any of these players this week.
Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens
Start: Ray Rice, RB (BAL)
Explanation: Rice is now the number one running back for the Ravens and should get the bulk of the carries. The Chiefs defense is a bit shaky so expect a big day out of Rice week one.
Sit: Matt Cassel, QB (KC)
Explanation: Cassel is listed as questionable heading into week one. He was able to practice on Thursday, but with a knee brace. He should be avoided this week, although he receivers match up well against the Ravens cornerbacks.
Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals
Start: Chris Henry, WR (CIN)
Explanation: Henry has looked great this preseason, and is matched up against a poor Broncos secondary. With the departure of T.J. Housmandzadeh, the Bengals will be looking for Henry to step up as the number two receiver. Expect quarterback Carson Palmer to target him often and early on Sunday.
Sit: Knowshon Moreno/Correll Buckhalter, RB’s (DEN)
Explanation: It is unclear as to who will get the workload, so let’s just see how many carries each of them get before placing them into a starting lineup.
New York Jets at Houston Texans
Start: Andre’ Davis, WR (HOU)
Explanation: Kevin Walter did not practice once again on Thursday, which leads me to believe he will not play on Sunday. This will promote Andre Davis to the number two receiver spot and matchup him up against Lito Sheppard, who has been horrible this preseason. With a great corner back covering Andre Johnson, expect to see Davis get plenty of targets.
Sit: Jerricho Cotchery, WR (NYJ)
Explanation: It’s not that I dislike Cotchery, but I don’t like to start receivers that have rookie quarterbacks (unless you are Calvin Johnson). Just wait it out this week and see how Jonathan Sanchez handles himself before implanting Cotchery in your starting lineup.
Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints
Explanation: Besides Calvin Johnson, Smith is the best playmaker on the Lions team. He will get a steady dose of carries against a sub-par defense this week and will also become a receiver out of the backfield once the Saints turns this game into a blowout. Start him with no worries in week one.
Sit: Pierre Thomas, RB (NO)
Explanation: Thomas once again missed practice on Thursday and most likely will not play on Sunday. Go in another direction for week one.
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals
Start: Josh Morgan, WR (SF)
Explanation: Morgan is going to be relied on as the number one receiver this season, and will get a good matchup in week one to prove that. Expect the 49ers to balance out the running attack of Frank Gore with some deep passes to Morgan.
Sit: Beanie Welles, RB (ARI)
Explanation: I am really high on Welles this season, but I want to see just how he will be used in this offense before I start using him as a starter. If you have a safer option, look that way.
Washington Redskins at New York Giants
Start: Ahmad Bradshaw, RB (NYG)
Explanation: With the loss of Derrick Ward in the offseason to free-agency, the Giants are looking for Bradshaw to step up and fill his void left in the backfield. Bradshaw had a great preseason and has implanted himself as the change of pace back for the Giants. The Giants love to run multiple backs each week, so as long as he can produce, expect him to contribute in the Giant’s offense week one.
Sit: Jason Campbell, QB (WAS)
Explanation: This is a horrible matchup for a quarterback trying to establish himself after a preseason to forget. The Giants pass rush will cause problems for Campbell all day long, which will be the difference maker in this game. Go with another option this week at all costs.
St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks
Start: Julius Jones, RB (SEA)
Explanation: Jones in the clear-cut starter for the Seahawks this season, and will be used in goal line situations with the departure of T.J. Duckett. The Rams defense is very suspect, so expect Jones to have a great day on the ground attack.
Sit: Donnie Avery, WR (STL)
Explanation: Avery suffered an injury in the preseason, but will play in the season opener. The matchup is good, especially since Marcus Trufant out with an injury, but too risky to start with a Quarterback coming off of an injury as well.
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
Start: Jay Cutler, QB (CHI)
Explanation: It is now time to start the “Cutler era” in Chicago. This game should be a slugfest, in which both teams should score a lot of points. Cutler will be throwing the ball all over, which will complement well with the running game of Matt Forte. Expect a big game from Cutler in week one.
Sit: Donald Driver, WR (GB)
Explanation: Although Diver can still get it done, I think he should be looked past this week. The matchup isn’t the best and Driver just doesn’t have the game-changing ability he once had. If you have another option, look that way.
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots
Start: Fred Jackson, RB (BUF)
Explanation: This is a no-brainer here. Jackson will be starting in place of suspended running back Marshawn Lynch as he looks to show the Bills he can get the job done at a number one running back. The Patriots defense isn’t what it once was, so Jackson should have a good game.
Sit: Sammy Morris/Fred Taylor/Kevin Faulk/Laurence Maroney, RB’s (NE)
Explanation: I don’t think you need much of an explanation here; too many running backs, and not enough carries to go around. Wait a week or so to start any of these running backs, just to see how the Patriots plan on splitting up the carries.
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders
Start: Darren McFadden, RB (OAK)
Explanation: McFadden comes into the season at the team’s number one running back. He will now have to prove that he was worth a high draft pick and get the job done. The Raiders will have to establish the running early in this game, if they even want to compete. So expect to see McFadden get enough carries to have him in your starting lineup.
Sit: Vincent Jackson, WR (SD)
Explanation: Jackson is matched up against the best shutdown cornerback in all the NFL in Nnamdi Asomugha, who will torment Jackson the whole game. He may get a few catches here and there, but nothing special. If you have another reliable receiver to go to, then go that way.
Check back next week as I assist you in your fantasy lineup decisions!
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