Why is it called "Players to Watch for"? Starts and Sits can be very dependent on who you have on your roster. Consider this: Joe Flacco has a tough match-up against the vaunted Jets defense. But can you truly sit him if your backup compares to the likes of Garrard or Orton?
With that said, here are some options to look into for Week 1 of the NFL Season, and how they might compare with players of similar caliber.
Jay Cutler vs. Detroit
There are two types of fantasy owners: those who will take a chance on Cutler, and those who have been burned by him in the past. This week, unless you already have an elite option, make sure Cutler is in your starting lineup. The Detroit secondary is weak and already banged up, with three of the four starters nursing injuries. This makes for a dream match-up for Cutler, who should be carving up the Lions all day long.
I would prefer him over Kevin Kolb (vs. Green Bay), Brett Favre (@ New Orleans), and Joe Flacco (@ NY Jets).
Donovan McNabb vs. Dallas
McNabb is obviously eager to prove his worth to his new team, and against a division rival too- there’s no questioning that. There are plenty of other issues, however. Last year, McNabb threw just 1 touchdown, averaging a mere 68.4 passer rating in two games, against the Cowboys. And that was with the Eagles- this season, as opposed to weapons like Celek, Jackson, and Maclin, McNabb must rely on Cooley and Moss to get the job done. Combine that with a nagging ankle and McNabb is not someone you should expect much out of in Week 1.
I would still start him over Carson Palmer (@ New England) and Derek Anderson (@ St. Louis). However, if you have options like Matt Ryan (@ Pittsburgh), Eli Manning (vs. Carolina), and Joe Flacco (vs. NY Jets), I would look to them for this week.
Ronnie Brown @ Buffalo
It seems the guy can never stay healthy, but this being Week 1 he’s as fresh as he’ll ever be. With the Bills ranking near the bottom in rushing defense in ’09, it’s easy to see him putting up gaudy numbers. It’s also worth noting that the Bills were second only to the Jets in passing defense, so the Dolphins will be running even more than usual. And with newly acquired Brandon Marshall attracting attention, expect a good day for Brown.
I would start him over Shonn Greene (vs. Baltimore), especially in PPR leagues. Others include Joseph Addai (@ Houston), LeSean McCoy (vs. Green Bay), and Beanie Wells (@ St. Louis).
Jahvid Best @ Chicago
Best is by no means the workhorse in Detroit. He is, however, by far the most explosive back, and with Kevin Smith likely out Week 1 figures to get plenty of touches. The matchup against the Bears, who ranked 23rd in rushing defense in ’09, is favorable to say the least. Best figures to get plenty of looks in the passing game, further increasing his value, especially in PPR leagues. It’s reasonable to be nervous about taking a chance on the rookie right out of the gate. But in the most unpredictable week of the season, why not?
Play Best over Pierre Thomas (vs. Minnesota), Jonathan Stewart (@ NY Giants), Shonn Greene (vs. Baltimore), and Joseph Addai (@ Houston) as a great RB2 option.
LeSean McCoy @ Green Bay
McCoy’s matchup is by all means one to avoid. The Packers allowed an average of just 83.3 yds. per game on the ground, and a mere five rushing TD’s the entire season. Factor in the big backs the Eagles like to use near the end zone, and McCoy doesn’t look like a great play for Week 1.
Still, McCoy provides some value as a receiver out of the backfield and figures to get a decent amount of touches. Unless you have options like Jerome Harrison (@ Tampa Bay), Arian Foster (vs. Indianapolis), or Knowshon Moreno (@ Jacksonville), keep McCoy in the lineup and hope for the best.
Malcom Floyd @ Kansas City
Malcom Floyd is probably not the flashiest option this week. But the situation he’s in, with Vincent Jackson suspended, screams huge points. Facing a suspect Kansas City secondary that will have to focus on the beastly Antonio Gates, Floyd should get plenty of catches. The idea that Floyd is merely a deep threat is inaccurate. In seven targets against the Saints in preseason, only two were deep passes. While preseason shouldn’t be given too much weight, Rivers’ frequency in looking for Floyd in shorter patterns shows he’s going to be involved quite heavily in most situations, not just deep bombs.
I would start Floyd very confidently as a WR 3/Flex in most leagues, and maybe even a WR2. This week, I prefer him over receivers like Mike Sims-Walker (vs. Denver), Jeremy Maclin (vs. Green Bay), and maybe even Anquan Boldin (vs. Darrelle Revis)
Wes Welker vs. Cincinnati
Although you can expect Randy Moss to get plenty of attention in Week 1, Welker just isn’t a great play against a very solid Cincinnati defense. He’s going to be limited in the game as well, so to expect more than five catches is a bit of stretch. Simply put, there are better options to look for this week.
Players like Pierre Garcon (@ Houston), Michael Crabtree (@ Seattle), and Santana Moss (vs. Dallas) are probably better options while Welker heals up.
Zach Miller @ Tennessee
Miller was one of the top TE sleepers coming into the season, and for good reason. Taking into account the lack of offensive threats, and a generally incompetent signal caller, Miller did pretty well. Now, with Jason Campbell, who is at the least an average QB, Miller should get plenty of more catches. It really doesn’t hurt that he is playing the Titans, who ranked 31st in yards allowed to opposing tight ends in ’09.
I would only sit him if you have an elite option like Antonio Gates, Brent Celek, Jermichael Finley, Vernon Davis, etc.
Owen Daniels vs. Indianapolis
The match-up looks relatively desirable with Indy ranking 20th in yards allowed to opposing TEs, but the big issue here is his health. It was recently reported that Daniels wouldn’t play more than a third of the offensive snaps on Sunday. So until he plays full time, I wouldn’t consider him a very viable tight end option in Week 1.
I would probably start a guy like Visanthe Shiancoe (@ New Orleans) or Zach Miller (@ Tennessee), but if you drafted Daniels as your unquestioned No. 1 TE, try some options that could be on the waiver wire like Heath Miller (vs. Atlanta) and Kevin Boss (vs. Carolina).
Best of luck in this first week of the season, and remember to take all advice with a grain of salt!