Week One of the regular season is notorious for unexpected wins and losses as well as individual performances that seemingly come out of nowhere. And, being completely honest, while it is easy to throw out a prediction, it’s impossible to get a read on how head coaches will utilize their personnel until the lights truly come on.
We’re not going to state the obvious and tell you to start Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning or to sit Sam Bradford, Trent Edwards and Jake Delhomme. Just sticking to the less than obvious starts and sits.
Jay Cutler, Bears vs. Lions
In week 17 last year, Cutler lit up the Lions for 276 yards and four touchdowns. The Bears haven’t done much to upgrade their wide receivers since then and the Lions haven’t done much to upgrade their secondary.
Unless left tackle Chris Williams gets dominated by Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cutler, with new offensive coordinator Mike Martz at the controls, should have a big day.
Kevin Kolb, Eagles vs. Packers
The Eagles offense struggled in the preseason and they get the Packers in Week One. Head coach Andy Reid doesn’t like to run much and against the Packers run defense, that’s probably a good thing.
And it’s a good thing for Kolb owners.
There’s even a chance of the Packers turning this one into a blowout and forcing the Eagles to throw even more.
Also the Packers secondary is banged up with two starters out (cornerback Al Harris and strong safety Atari Bigby).
Kyle Orton, Broncos at Jaguars
While there is no love lost between Kyle Orton and myself (he doesn’t even know me but I rail against him plenty), I’m going with him this week to have a good game against a very suspect Jaguars secondary that features the worst pair of starting safeties in the league in Sean Considine and Anthony Smith.
While Reggie Nelson may have been a disappointment, it’s remarkable that he was traded with these two guys in reserve.
Broncos running backs are banged up and the Jaguars ranked sixth in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks.
Carson Palmer, Bengals at Patriots
While Palmer is coming off a truly disappointing 2009 season in terms of his offensive production, he figures to improve significantly in 2010.
In Week One, he gets a Patriots defense that was lit up by Rams rookie Sam Bradford in the third preseason game when teams give their starters the most extensive playing time.
While the Patriots defense was to be feared in previous seasons, it is in serious decline and will start a pair of unproven cornerbacks in second year player Darious Butler and rookie first-round pick Devin McCourty.
The expected starter at free safety (Jarrad Page) was acquired in a trade a week ago.
There are new weapons in Terrell Owens, Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley and Palmer figures to take advantage of them against New England.
Donovan McNabb, Redskins vs. Cowboys
While I discount the effect of McNabb not being up to speed on the playbook due to missing time with an ankle injury, there has to be some concern about his timing with the team’s receivers.
Speaking of which, the Redskins are apparently going to start Joey Galloway on the outside against the Cowboys.
Chad Henne, Dolphins at Bills
There’s no reason to be down on Henne on 2010 but plenty of reason to be down on him in Week One. Simply put, there’s no reason for the Dolphins to throw the ball against a Bills defense that ranked 29th against the run in 2009 and has switched to a 3-4 defense in 2010.
Throw in the fact that the Dolphins have two outstanding running backs in Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, while the Bills have one of the better secondaries in the league and it all adds up to a poor fantasy outing for Henne.
Matt Cassel, Chiefs vs. Chargers
Against San Diego last year, Cassel was 29 of 56 for 276 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions. That was in two games.
If the Chiefs hold out any hope of defeating the Chargers, they will rely on the running back duo of Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles.
Matt Ryan, Falcons at Steelers
Repeat after me. Ryan on the road. Against the Steelers. On opening day. If you have better options, please use them.