Week 1 holds a surprising amount of intrigue for several fantasy options. Should you start free agent pickup Mike Bell in your flex spot? What about Chris Henry or Cadillac Williams? Is Tony Romo worth a start on the road against Tampa Bay? What about Joe Flacco at home against Kansas City? To some, these may be easy questions to answer, but don't question their importance. With anywhere from 12 to 14 games on the docket for your fantasy football regular season, every decision is critical.
Below, we've listed a healthy chunk of players that you might need help deciding whether to start or sit on Sunday. A few of them (the RB1s, the WR1s, and a couple others) each week will be automatic starts regardless of matchup, but we still wanted to give our opinion on how good they'd actually be.
Normal scoring (passing 20/4, rushing/receiving 10/6) applies. Benchmarks:
QB - 18 points (200 yards passing, 2 TDs; 220 yards passing, 2 TDs, 1 INT, etc)
RB1 - 16 points (100 yards and 1 TD)
RB2 - 10 points (100 yards, zero TDs; 40 yards, 1 TD)
WR1 - 14 points (80 yards and 1 TD)
WR2 - 10 points (100 yards, zero TDs; 40 yards, 1 TD)
WR3 - 8 points (80 yards, zero TDs; 20 yards, 1 TD)
FLEX - 6 points (60 yards or a TD)
TE1 - 6 points (60 yards or a TD)
|RB2||F. Jackson||at NE||Under||Under||Under||Under|
|RB2||J. Jones||vs. STL||Under||Over||Over||Over|
||S. Smith||vs. PHI||Over||Under||Under||Under|
|FLEX||D. Brown||vs. JAC||Over||Under||Under||Under|
|FLEX||F. Taylor||vs. BUF||Under||Over||Under||Under|
|FLEX||M. Bell||vs. DET||Over||Over||Over||Over|
|FLEX||C. Henry||vs. DEN||Over||Over||Over||Over|
|TE||Fasano|| at ATL
• Of the four RB1s, the only one we all agree will have an excellent game is the one you might have drafted as your RB2: Brian Westbrook. The Panthers are without big DT Ma'ake Kemoeatu this season, meaning there will be plenty of room to run inside. 100 combined yards and a TD will be cake for Westbrook, a player who dropped in drafts over concerns of his health.
• At RB2, we agree that Ray Rice is a must-start. He's been getting most of the work with the first-team offense and is primed to have a breakout season in his second year. You probably drafted Rice as your RB3 or RB4, so our prediction has to look pretty good to you. Don't hesitate to bench your normal RB2 if he has a tough matchup or is already a little banged up.
• Despite knowing he'll receive a ton of targets, we're not too optimistic on Dwayne Bowe's outlook for Week 1. He might approach 100 yards, but the Ravens should have no trouble keeping him out of the end zone. If you're stacked at WR, or if you have a nice group of overs at the WR position (say, Eddie Royal and Lance Moore are your other starters, and Derrick Mason is on the bench), sitting Bowe could turn out to be a wise move.
• Sure, Antonio Bryant is healthy enough to play, but we don't think he should be started this week. Like Dallas, Tampa will likely focus on establishing the run and use their own three-headed attack at running back to produce most of the offense. Use caution with Bryant; if he looks healthy in this game, he'll make for a great play next week in Buffalo.
• I'm a big fan of Ahmad Bradshaw this year, and he should make for a great flex play throughout the season. Week 1 is no exception, as we all have him to score at least 6 points against the Redskins. He and Bell should be your first options at flex, with Henry and Seattle's Nate Burleson not too far behind. We like Burleson even though Seattle plans to focus on the run -- I wonder how T.J. Houshmandzadeh would have done in our chart.
• Three of us see Flacco as a QB1 this week, while three of us also see Romo falling short of QB1 numbers. If you have both quarterbacks, you're thinking long and hard about benching your nominal starter Romo this week. With Dallas' plans to be a run-first team and their lack of talent at WR, Romo's road game at Tampa Bay provides the perfect excuse to sit him for a week and see how the Dallas offense performs.