This is the start of my new weekly fantasy football blog. I hope to give injury updates and predictions throughout the season.
I called the column The Sock Exchange in honor of my favorite team New York Jet “Sack Exchange.” I must give them partial credit for the name.
On to the games:
1. Tennessee at Pittsburgh
Titans: The vaunted running game of Chris Johnson and LenDale White will face perhaps their toughest task of the season against the stingy run stuffing defense of the Steelers. White’s terrible towel antics from last year’s game will be remembered I am sure and the fans as well as the Steelers will be extremely ready for his every move. I am not sure that Kerry Collins or any of the receivers on the team are anything other than a bye week play, which means none of them should be in your starting lineup this week. The Titans defense played the Steelers well in the game last year at Tennessee even without Haynesworth. I see no reason why they cannot keep this game deadlocked into a low-scoring affair throughout the evening.
Steelers: The defending Super Bowl Champs open with a tough contest with a well disciplined Titans team. I see Willie Parker coming out to this game with some attitude and producing 80 yards rushing along with a TD.
I also foresee a late scoring drive led by clutch QB Roethlisberger and a TD pass to Hines Ward to win the game. The Steelers defense should be a good play against the one dimensional attack of the Titans.
2. Miami at Atlanta
Dolphins: Ronnie Brown should be a decent play against the Falcon defense. He could amass 100 yards and a TD. Chad Pennington and the passing game should also do well in this one. Look for him to possible connect with Ted Ginn for a score. Anthony Fasano could be another decent play at TE in this contest. I would shy away from starting the Dolphins defense in this one as they face an explosive offense starting the season on their home turf.
Falcons: This will be a huge day for Michael Turner probably turning in a 150 yard performance with 2 TD. Ryan should also connect with either Tony Gonzalez or Roddy White for a score in this one as well. I would not recommend starting the Falcons defense this week.
3. Denver at Cincinnati
Broncos: I think this is a team that could surprise us offensively, especially in Week 1 versus a weak Bengals defense. It will be interesting to see how Coach McDaniels handles the RB workload in this one seeing that Knowshon Moreno missed most of camp and the preseason due to holdout or injury. I foresee Correll Buckhalter getting most of the carries in this game and doing an admirable job with it. Eddie Royal could also be a nice fantasy play for this game. I am not sure I would start the Broncos defense even against the Lions and Raiders of the world.
Bengals: This should be a 3 TD performance for Carson Palmer. Look for Chad Ochocinco and Chris Henry to have 100 yard performances with a TD in this one. This is also a good matchup for Cedric Benson as well. He may even add an 80 yard effort with a TD to the cause. I would not start the Bengals defense in most games this season however.
4. Minnesota at Cleveland
Vikings: Adrian Peterson certainly gets a delicious matchup in week one versus the Browns. As long as Favre can move the chains efficiently, look for Peterson to have 175 yards and 2 TD in this one. Look for Favre to just have a so-so day completing most of his passes to Schiancoe and Chester Taylor out of the backfield. The Vikings defense is a solid start against a weak Browns team that still has yet to name its starting QB (Quinn, dummies).
Browns: How do you try to forecast how a team will play when you don’t even know who is leading the ship into battle. Maybe Mangini is trying some of that old Belichick secrecy. Doubt it works for you Eric, because you still have a horrible team. I would not start any on the Browns offensive players in week one. Yes Braylon Edwards’s owners, you can surely find a better option at the WR position. The Browns are another of those almost unstartable defenses this year. Their only saving grace is the points you get from a Josh Cribbs TD.
5. Jacksonville at Indianapolis
Jaguars: Maurice Jones Drew is a must start in this one because he has had sensational games throughout his career against the Colts. This game typically is a nai- biter that comes down to the end. Perhaps Josh Scobee is a solid play here as he hits the game winning field goal late.
The Jaguar defense is an average play as they usually play well in this interdivisional battle.
Colts: Peyton Manning never seems to hit his full stride against this team for some reason. He may have to rely more on the running game of Addai and Brown to make something happen this week. Look for Addai to have about 60 yards rushing and a score. Look for Manning to connect with Dallas Clark for a score in this one. The Colts defense is also an average play in this contest.
6. Detroit at New Orleans
Lions: Look for the Lions to use a heavy dose of Kevin Smith to ease the burden of rookie QB Matt Stafford. Smith is a must start this week. The rest of the offense may struggle with Stafford under center for his first meaningful game as a pro. The Lions defense is unstartable any week.
Saints: All of your Saints players that are healthy should be in your starting lineup week one. Please keep in mind Pierre Thomas owners that it is looking like he may be a game time decision come Sunday. You should keep watch on his health situation; if he does play put him in the lineup as well. The Saints defense may not be a bad plug and play option this week as they face Stafford in his first pro game, where he is bound to make some mistakes (i.e. interceptions).
7. Dallas at Tampa Bay
Cowboys: Felix Jones and Marion Barber should turn in solid performances this week versus the Bucs. In fact I would play my other Dallas starters this week in Romo, Witten and Roy Williams as well. The Cowboy defense is a solid play going against the lowly Bucs offense.
Buccaneers: The 2-2-1 series with the Tampa RBs make almost all of the Tampa backs fantasy irrelevant until someone goes down with an injury or Coach Morris departs from this strategy. That makes them bye week fillers only for now. Don’t start them. The passing game is not that effective either. It should be a long season for the Tampa offense this year. I also would stay away from the Bucs defense in this one as they play a very efficient Dallas offense.
8. Philadelphia at Carolina
Eagles: For some reason over the years the Panthers have always given the Eagles fits when they play them. Brian Westbrook is always a decent play when he is healthy, which they proclaim he is to start the season. Other than that I would probably not start any of the Eagles this week including McNabb if you have other options available. I also do not recommend the Eagle defense this week.
Panthers: I would start DeAngelo Williams and Steve Smith for sure this week. You may even want a spot start out of Delhomme this week as he usually plays well at home. For some reason I see the Panthers winning this game so I would consider the defense a start if no other better alternatives were available.
9. Kansas City at Baltimore
Chiefs: What a game to draw for Coach Haley’s first game. I would not start any of the Chiefs in this game including the defense.
Ravens: Look for Ray Rice to shine in his debut as the starter putting up 110 combined yards and a TD. Joe Flacco should also be able to find perhaps Derrick Mason for a TD in this one as well. Ravens defense against the Chiefs is a must start situation.
10. New York Jets at Houston
Jets: And the roller coaster ride with Mark Sanchez at QB this season begins. Look for him to do some positive (a TD pass to Stuckey) and also some negative (two interceptions) in his rookie debut. Thomas Jones and Leon Washington are ok plays this week, but if you can do better by all means do it. The Jet defense actually is just an average play as Houston has a fair offense and will be with the home crowd for this one.
Texans: I would start the studs Slaton and Andre Johnson this week. Give Matt Schaub a chance too as he has something to prove this year. The Texans defense could be another plug and play defense like the Saints as they will take advantage of Mark Sanchez’s first game rookie mistakes.
11. Washington at New York Giants
Redskins: Look for this contest to be one of your typical NFC East slobber knocker slugfests. Clinton Portis has historically done well in these early season contests and look for him to do more of the same. Chris Cooley may also be a factor as safety play needs improvement for the Giants. The Redskins defense may not be a bad play here as well as these interdivisional games are low scoring affairs for the most part.
Giants: Look for the Giants to pound the rock with Jacobs and Bradshaw for most of the game and for most of this season for that matter. I would keep Eli Manning on the bench for this one if you can. The Giants defense is also start worthy for the same reason that the Redskins are above.
12. San Francisco at Arizona
Niners: It will be Frank Gore, Frank Gore and more Frank Gore under Coach Singletary this season. They will also use him to try to control the clock and keep Arizona’s high powered offense on the sidelines. Will it work, I seriously doubt it. The Niner defense is a definite bench here in week one.
Cardinals: Defending NFC Champs have looked sluggish in the preseason. They need to turn that around and become the offense they are capable of in this one. I would start all of your Cardinals in this one as they should do well against an improving but still not stellar Niner defense. The Arizona defense is another one of those promising plug and play options for this week.
13. St Louis at Seattle
Rams: If you have Steven Jackson, you should be starting him this week. Other than that I don’t see anyone of fantasy value on the Rams this week including the defense.
Seahawks: Matt Hasselbeck is almost a must start this week against the porous Ram defense. Now that he has Houshmandzadeh and some healthy receivers, he should shine in some games this year and this happens to be one of them. You might want to take a chance on the Seahawk defense as well as Steven Jackson is the only legitimate threat offensively for the Rams.
14. Chicago at Green Bay
Bears: Matt Forte should be a solid start against a team that gave up a lot of yardage on the ground last year. The Packers defense has looked much improved with Dom Capers now in tow, however and I don’t see a big effort from the Bears in this one. I would bench the Bears defense this week.
Packers: Aaron Rodgers has looked like a skilled surgeon in leading the offense this preseason. If he can carry that into the regular season, this is an offensive juggernaut in the making. Look for Rodgers to throw for two scores and run for another, and Ryan Grant to add another score in an all out blow out the division rival Bears. I would also start the opportunistic Packer defense this week
15. Buffalo at New England
Bills: I once thought this game was going to have “getch your popcorn ready” excitement. After seeing the Bills anemic offense this preseason on several occasions I would bench all be Bill players (including TO) until they show me something on offense. The Bills defense should be on your bench this week as well.
Patriots: Start them all, just like the Saints, in what should be a blowout to start the season for Tom Brady and the Pats. Even the Pats defense is a solid start against the lowly Bills offense.
16. San Diego at Oakland
Chargers: LaDainian Tomlinson should get off to that fast start he was looking for against the weak Raider run defense. Rivers should also be able to hook up with Gates on several occasions in this one. I would sit Vincent Jackson this week because facing Nmadi Asomugha is a daunting task for even the best of receivers. The Charger defense is a solid start this week.
Raiders: Not sure any of the Raider players are start worthy even on better matchup weeks. Darren McFadden and Zach Miller figure to be the key players on offense in this contest. Bench the Raider defense this week.