Week 1 Sit-Start Where to Put em

Thursday, Sep 6, 2012 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 Week 1 of the 2012 NFL season. 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 Ray Rice. 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: DeAngelo Williams
As regular FFN visitors know, it's not uncommon for me to disagree with the FFN rankings. Case in point: DeAngelo Williams. He's ranked 20th (std) and 22nd (PPR) this week and I think he can easily surpass those expectations. If Jonathan Stewart can't go or is limited due to his ankle sprain, Williams should more than tear it up. The Bucs gave up more fantasy points last year to running backs than anyone else. Williams scored twice the last time they played. It's a fantastic matchup!
Put 'em In The Game: Doug Martin
Across the field from DeAngelo Williams will be Doug Martin who performed so well during the preseason that he forced us to say "LeGarrette Who?" Like Williams, Martin has a very favorable matchup. The Panthers gave up the second most fantasy points to rushers last season. This game should see a lot of running from both teams.
Put 'em In The Game: Kevin Smith
The Rams will spend much of this game focused on Megatron and Stafford leaving the running game with some breathing room. Kevin Smith will have to carry the load in that backfield as Jahvid Best continues to recover from his permacussion (very technical quasi-medical term for permanent concussion) and Mikel Leshoure serves his suspension. Based on the matchup against a weak St Louis run defense and the number of touches he should see, Smith becomes a great fantasy option this week.
Put 'em In The Game: Robert Griffin III
Griffin was ranked in the top 12 among QB's in the draft rankings which made him a low end QB1 and that's precisely where we'd put him this week against the Saints who gave up the 6th most fantasy points to QB's last year. There are high expectations for RG3 and he should deliver a good game in what will likely be a shoot out.
Put 'em In The Game: Matt Schaub
Matt Schaub is back and he's healthy. More importantly, his team is healthy. Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, Lestar Jean, and Keshawn Martin are all viable targets for Schaub against a middle-of-the-road Miami secondary. Schaub is no longer a fantasy must-start, but 300 yards passing is not out of the question this week.
Put 'em In The Game: Jay Cutler
Like Schaub, Cutler is no longer a fantasy must-start, but that could change now that old-teammate Brandon Marshall is in town. Cutler and Marshall looked fantastic in the preseason giving the impression that they're ready to pick back up where they left off in Denver. Matt Forte and Michael Bush will force the Colts to focus on the ground game giving Cutler and Marshall plenty of opportunity to go to the air.
Put 'em In The Game: Pierre Garcon
Pierre Garcon is ranked 31st on FFN in both standard and PPR formats. I think that's low. The Saints are quite generous to opposing wide receivers giving them the 9th-most fantasy points last season. The New Orleans offense is so potent that the Redskins will likely be playing from behind and Garcon has been RG3's favorite target all preseason. I'm confident that Griffin will look to Garcon early and often in this matchup.
Put 'em In The Game: Malcom Floyd
With Ryan Mathews likely out in Week 1, Philip Rivers will have to carry the load this week at Oakland. Rivers has a great rapport with Malcom Floyd and will likely take a few shots downfield to him on Monday night. The Raiders gave up the 3rd-most fantasy points to receivers last year and the matchup should give Floyd the ability to outperform his low FFN ranking.
Put 'em In The Game: Justin Blackmon
If you are in need of a WR3 or a flex play, Justin Blackmon may be your guy. We haven't become accustomed to associating the Jaguars with a passing game but Blaine Gabbert has actually played fairly well during the preseason and Blackmon has the speed and potential to outplay his 25th-ranking on FFN. The Vikings gave up an average of 251 yards and the most scores through the air last season. Blackmon may not always be a great start, but his matchup this week is promising.
Put 'em In The Game: Fred Davis
Fred Davis was our TE breakout candidate last year before his suspension. There was some concern that Robert Griffin III didn't target Davis very often during the preseason but that should change now that they'll be on the field for four quarters - particularly against the Saints who have been susceptible through the air. Davis will also benefit from the release of longtime fantasy stud Chris Cooley.
Put 'em In The Game: Greg Olsen
Without Jeremy Shockey, we think Greg Olsen will see a healthy bounce in targets and fantasy scoring opportunities. While Olsen didn't do much against the Bucs last season, the matchup is actually pretty favorable - particularly in PPR formats. Olsen has a chance to end the day among the top 15 fantasy players at the TE position.
Put 'em In The Game: Robbie Gould
The Colts will likely struggle to contain the passing and rushing game of the Bears this week so nobody should be surprised to see Chicago in the redzone frequently. Whether he's tacking on extra points or chipping in a few field goals, the matchup is a good one for Gould.
Put 'em In The Game: Houston Texans
The Houston Texans find themselves the 2nd-ranked defense this week on FFN and with good reason. They are a young, hungry, and aggressive defense facing an offense that has little to no fire. Ryan Tannehill will be starting his first NFL regular season game with no serious offensive threat beyond Reggie Bush (whom the Texans stuffed last year). It's hard to imagine the Dolphins putting up much of a fight this week making the Texans a top option among defenses and special teams.
Put 'em On The Bench: Peyton Manning
I'm as big a Peyton Manning fan as anyone else, but I didn't draft him as my QB1 and I'm not ready to play him as my QB1. That's not the case for everyone though. Many people did and will start him this week against the Steelers who gave up the fewest fantasy points to QB's last season. Manning hasn't played a full game since 2010 so we have some serious question marks as to what kind of expectations we should be placing on him for fantasy. Drawing the Pittsburgh defense is incredibly tough for any QB so we're advising caution this week for #18.
Put 'em On The Bench: Mark Sanchez
With all the drama in New York, it's easy to forget that Sanchez was actually a pretty decent fantasy QB last year. The complaints about his rapport with teammates wasn't particularly vocal until this preseason and the addition of Tim Tebow doesn't strengthen his hand. It's hard to see Sanchez finish in the Top 10 this year let alone the Top 10 this week against a much-improved Buffalo defense.
Put 'em On The Bench: Carson Palmer
The good news is that Carson Palmer doesn't have to carry the offense - Darren McFadden is back. The bad news is that Carson Palmer doesn't have to carry the offense. He has Darrius Heyward-Bey (who was a monster last year against the Chargers) but he doesn't have a fully-healthy Denarius Moore or a fully-healthy Jacoby Ford. We expect to see a healthy dose of RunDMC in this game.
Put 'em On The Bench: Jonathan Stewart
Reports seem to indicate that Jonathan Stewart will suit up this week, but assuming that he's a go, his workload will be questionable. That's too bad as the Bucs are terrible against the run. DeAngelo Williams should see the bulk of the carries leaving Stewart with little/no fantasy relevance this week.
Put 'em On The Bench: Maurice Jones-Drew
I don't know how anyone could feel confident about starting MJD this week. The Jaguars have openly said that MJD will serve as a backup to Rashad Jennings and will likely see the field on third downs. We have absolutely no idea what kind of shape MJD is in after holding out the preseason so concerns about a CJ2K-like scenario are sadly too real right now. Jones-Drew will be an RB1 soon enough - just not this week.
Put 'em On The Bench: Cedric Benson
Cedric Benson looked pretty solid in the limited time that he's been in Green Bay. Rodgers seems to like him and he gives the Pack a legitimate threat at the run game...but not this week. Let's face the facts here. The 49ers were ridiculously tough against the run last year and they have their starting defense back. It is about the worst running situation a fantasy running back could face. Benson may yet break out and have fantasy relevance but it won't be against San Francisco.
Put 'em On The Bench: Steve Johnson
This week Steve Johnson has said that he's close to 90% back to normal after his groin injury. Normally that wouldn't prevent us from plugging him into our lineups but he's facing Darrelle Revis. That nagging injury is what prevents us from believing that Johnson could do a fly-by of Revis Island like he did last year. We anticipate Revis getting the better end of the matchup this week.
Put 'em On The Bench: Santonio Holmes
Ranked one spot ahead of Steven Johnson on FFN this week and standing across the sidelines is Santonio Holmes. If the preseason is any indication of what to expect from the Jets passing game, there is a lot to be desired here. Holmes and company may struggle this week and the addition of some minor injuries means that we can't really count on Holmes as a starting fantasy wideout. The Bills have upgraded their defense in the offseason and will be a tougher matchup than they were last season.
Put 'em On The Bench: Jermaine Gresham
The first of the two tight ends that we're recommending sits on is Jermaine Gresham. He's also one of our favorites for the season. Week 1 is frankly a very tough matchup for him. The Ravens are not very friendly to TE's giving them the 2nd-fewest fantasy points and Gresham is still nursing his knee. He will likely not see solid fantasy production until after this week.
Put 'em On The Bench: Jacob Tamme
Our other TE sleeper pick after Gresham is Jacob Tamme, and like Gresham, his matchup this week is not pretty. Tamme played exceptionally well in Indy with Peyton after Dallas Clark was lost to injury but you wouldn't know it from Tamme's preseason performance. We still like Tamme this season but not against the Steelers.
Put 'em On The Bench: Matt Prater
Projecting kicker performances is like sitting in a rocking chair - it gives you something to do but it never really gets you anywhere. Based on the matchup, Matt Prater and the Broncos will likely have a tough time getting near the redzone. The Steelers held kickers at bay last season giving up the fewest fantasy points to them all year. If you have a better option at K, play it.
Put 'em On The Bench: San Francisco 49ers
When folks drafted the 49ers defense, they didn't do so with the intention of sitting them. San Francisco sat #1 in the FFN draft rankings but sits 21st among all D/ST's for Week 1. This may sound crazy but sitting the Niners against Green Bay may be a perfectly sound decision. They'll do a fine job stopping Cedric Benson and the Packer ground game, but it's the Packer's passing game that has us worried - particularly at Lambeau Field.

Join the Discussion

robi CommentedSep 9, 2012 11:00 am

Jacob tamme or Rudolph from the vikings?

Nerd CommentedSep 9, 2012 11:00 am

In standard scoring, I'd give a slight edge to Rudolph. In PPR, I'd play Tamme.

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