Week 1 Where to Put em

Friday, Sep 9, 2011 at 12:00 pm ET

fantasy football rankings
Where to Put 'em is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst matchups for the week. Decisions are based upon the FFN rankings and matchup analysis. Given the known conditions, these matchups are the ones to watch and/or avoid.

This list does not generally include the elite players that you are going to start regardless of matchup. You don't need us to tell you to start Aaron Rodgers, Andre Johnson, or Adrian Peterson. Where to Put 'em takes a look at other players on your team that we believe either have great matchups or should be avoided for multiple reasons. Factors like opposing defense, performance trending, and peer comparisons may influence our decisions.

Put 'em In The Game: Matthew Stafford
The best part about the first week of the season is that just about everyone is healthy (unless you're an elite QB from Indy). Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and Jahvid Best are all healthy and ready to go. Stafford threw for five touchdowns and zero interceptions during the preseason. He should put up decent numbers this week.
Put 'em In The Game: Eli Manning
Here are two reasons why we like Eli's odds this week. 1) The Redskins are not known for their pass defense. Last year, only one other team gave up more yards through the air per game. 2) The Giants defense is riddled with injuries which means that Washington will have some opportunities to score. Manning will most likely have to throw quite a bit and his receivers are solid.
Put 'em In The Game: Kyle Orton
Offenses last year facing Oakland had to deal with superman Nnamdi Asomugha. That's not the case this year and Orton is the main man in Denver. He played well at home last year and there's no reason to doubt a repeat this week.
Put 'em In The Game: Jahvid Best
Jahvid Best was a beast last season until turf toe got in the way. He's good to go, and with rookie Mikel Leshoure out for the season, Best's stock is on the rise. Tampa Bay gave up the 11th most points to fantasy backs last season and that was with Barrett Ruud who is now in Tennessee. Best will do fine in standard formats, but will excel in PPR leagues.
Put 'em In The Game: Beanie Wells
With Hightower out of the desert, Beanie Wells is the featured back. Carolina allowed just over 22 fantasy points on average to opposing backs last season. Consider this the Beanie Litmus Test. If he can't take advantage of Carolina's week rush defense, he may not get our attention in the future.
Put 'em In The Game: DeAngelo Williams
There was a lot of speculation about DeAngelo Williams leaving Carolina this offseason. He's staying put and should redeem last year's poor performance. Seriously - if he can't run wild on the team that has given up the second most fantasy points to opposing backs last season, we've got reason to worry.
Put 'em In The Game: Plaxico Burress
Before you laugh, hear us out. The Dallas secondary isn't what it used to be, and all reports indicate that Sanchez has been given the go-ahead to air it out a lot more this year. Plaxico looked good in his limited action this preseason. He's tall and fast. He's not a WR1 but could make for a nice Flex or WR3 option this week.
Put 'em In The Game: Brandon Lloyd
Brandon Lloyd is the Rodney Dangerfield of WR's this preseason - he gets no respect. The guy was the leading WR last season and has everything going for him (refer to Kyle Orton above). He won't be blanketed by Nnamdi Asomugha and Orton is going to be out to prove that the starting gig is his and his alone.
Put 'em In The Game: Marcedes Lewis
It's hard to imagine Marcedes Lewis doing as well with Luke McCown as he did last year with David Garrard, but there's no doubting his presence or ability. If McCown gets in trouble, Lewis becomes a very attractive target.
Put 'em In The Game: Owen Daniels
Owen Daniels is ready to step up and take what's his this season. Houston should get him involved early against the Colts. Daniels really turned it on when he returned from his injury last season. We're anticipating him to continue that roll.
Put 'em On The Bench: Jay Cutler
Atlanta's defense is no slouch, and while Cutler could end up being one of the top fantasy QB's in the game this year, we're not ready to call him up to starting status. Cutler was actually more efficient last season statistically, but his yards were his lowest ever as a starter and his 11 interceptions in eight home games doesn't inspire much confidence.
Put 'em On The Bench: Joe Flacco
We expect Joe Flacco to do well this season, but we're tempering our expectations this week against the Steelers. We would expect an average stat line this week instead of the normal above-average/good week.
Put 'em On The Bench: Marshawn Lynch
Nobody is going to soon forget Marshawn Lynch's amazing run last year against New Orleans in the playoffs, but don't let that cloud your judgement. He's not going to do that against San Francisco and may very well not be able to do that again.
Put 'em On The Bench: Felix Jones
Don't read into this too much. We love Felix Jones and he could easily be a dominating fantasy force this year. We don't like his matchup. We'd also put Ray Rice into that category so Jones is in good company. The Jets are very tough to run against (they allowed the 2nd fewest points to backs last year) and Jones could very well struggle.
Put 'em On The Bench: Sidney Rice
We're not sure if Sidney Rice will even suit up this week. If he plays, you can bet that San Fran will key in on him. His match up is tough and his shoulder is questionable.
Put 'em On The Bench: Miles Austin
Whether Darrelle Revis focuses on Miles Austin or Dez Bryant, someone is going to be sitting on Revis Island. We say it every year - Revis is that good and he has a history of shutting down elite WR's. Combine that fact with Austin's sore hamstring and the odds are against him having a great game.
Put 'em On The Bench: Zach Miller
It's tough to get excited about Zach Miller this week. Like Sidney Rice, San Francisco is tough against the pass. In fact, the 49ers were the toughest team on opposing TE's last season. That stat is scary enough, however Tarvaris Jackson is the QB which is even scarier.
Put 'em On The Bench: Tony Gonzalez
Tony Gonzalez will go into the Hall of Fame, but this week's performance won't be the reason. If you have another option, you should at least consider using it. Chicago gave up a paltry 3 scores to opposing TE's last season and Gonzalez has by all accounts lost a step.

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