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Fantasy Analysis: NFL Preview - Week 1

Start me, no one else from the receiving corps is going to make it to the game. No, really.
Start me, no one else from the receiving corps is going to make it to the game. No, really.

So here we are in Fantasy Football season once again. First things first: I'll be dropping articles on Tuesday and Saturday weekly. Tuesday will include a weekly recap, and some advanced guidance on starters due to Thursday night football games. Saturday will include updates to Tuesday's article, some question answering, injury updates, and whatever else strikes your interest. Wednesday was kickoff, and the Cowboys got things started right even if the the Giants not named Bradshaw didn't. You might think that makes this a little late (thanks Brendan...) but there are still lots of games ahead and plenty of choices to make, so let's try to salvage what we can after the jump.

Full Disclosure: I am in 4 leagues this season and I'll be sure to let you know how well, or poorly, those are going in a brief one liner each, just so you can feel free to mock my lack of success as I continue to pretend to offer advise to others. My leagues include:

League1: Competitive Money League, 12 Teams, 3 Keepers of different positions +1 Rookie keeper at any position. Its near Dynasty levels.

League2: 12 team WCG League that you will get other updates on from other writers (0.5 PPR)

League3: 10 team Prize-eligible ESPN league

League4: 10 team Family/fun league with full 1pt PPR

Some basics on my thought processes for Fantasy: I believe in statistical adherence, and loathe match-up based choices for anything but a tie-breaker between two equally good (or bad) players. Statistical adherence leads to things people don't often agree with, but I believe in stats for Fantasy Football because it is really an educated guessing game that primarily focuses on... Statistical production. I also loosely support a mix of "steady" and "boom or bust" players, but mostly go for steady unless I feel badly out matched.

Week 1 - Here we are. My #1 piece of advise for week 1 is the same as my advise for week 2 and usually week 3 - Play your draft until you have enough evidence (read statistics) to prove you need to change course. Don't get cute early and bench a 1st-6th round draft pick for a match-up based shot for your round 15 sleeper. If he was that good, he would have gone higher, and until you are proven right, its okay, even if you miss out on points a couple of times...

For this week I am going to keep it very simple.

Top 12 QBs, Week 1: Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, Michael Vick, Cam Newton (who really, really owned the Bucs last year), Matthew Stafford, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Big Ben Roethlisberger....

But wait, that's only 10, and I said...I know, I know - but we don't know if we can trust Peyton Manning and I can cheat and see Weds. stats and know Eli is going to stink this week (not that it will help you at this point)... So I'd say Matt Schaub and Cutler round out my 12 this week. Give me a wait and see on Peyton. Guys to watch: Peyton Manning, Joe Flacco, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andy Dalton, Matt Cassel.

Top 24 (and more) RBs, Week 1: Foster, Rice, McCoy, Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, McFadden, and Murray (cheating again) were must starts. If you drafted them, Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson are too. Fred Jackson, Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, Maurice Jones-Drew (yes, still), Michael Turner, Ahmad Bradshaw, Shonn Greene all have to go in at RB 1/2 if you have them even if they have less luster. Lynch (Questionable) should play and is a must start, so is Sproles for now even if I don't trust him this year. Beanie Wells is until Williams actually takes his job in a real game. Reggie Bush has a bad matchup but you drafted him, play him. The next 4 are more iffy: DeAngelo Williams is a good play this week and so is Kevin Smith. Benjarvus Green-Ellis deserves the start. Stevan Ridley should score. After that, for flex consideration or "I don't have the guys above" spots, look at Donald Brown, Isaac Redman (until Mendenhall recovers), Willis McGahee (who I don't trust, and double don't trust against the Steelers), Doug Martin, Trent Richardson, Ronnie Brown (until Matthews plays), and Cedric Benson. If you are in a real tight spot, Ben Tate and Michael Bush should score this week and Rashad Jennings will at least get carries. I don't trust Gerhart or any other New Orleans RB until I know more.

Top 24 (and more) WRs, Week 1: Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Dez Bryant (Cheater!), Roddy White, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Wes Welker, Steve Smith, Steve Johnson (watch his injury though), and Marques Colston are all automatic starts for me until they prove they don't deserve it. After that, Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace, Miles Austin (Dirty cheaters...), Reggie Wayne, Brandon Lloyd, DeSean Jackson, Dwayne Bowe, Percy Harvin, Vincent Jackson and Torrey Smith are still in my "start em if you have them and don't have 3 people higher on the list" group. After that, you have to make trust and/or flex decisions against RBs for Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Jeremy Maclin, Nate Washington, Santonio Holmes, Pierre Garcon, Malcolm Floyd, Michael Crabtree, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Robery Meachem. If you don't have what you need from that group, well...It's time to start watching to see if someone gets good amounts of targets, and that Ogletree guy I have a feeling about. Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell, Titus Young, Laurent Robinson, Earl Bennett and a handful of rookies deserve watching but not starting (Wright, Blackmon, Jeffery, Yates)

Top 12-15 TEs, Week 1: I have no trust in Tight Ends not named Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Aaron Hernandez, Antonio Gates, or Vernon Davis to produce anything near receiver-ish stats this year. I hope you got one. I think Gonzalez is finally done and will lose targets to Jones more than White does. Witten is usually every year, but until that spleen heals, he just didn't look good. Jermichael Finley, Fred Davis, Owen Daniels and Jared Cook round out guys I would start...After that it is welcome to the 500'ish yard TE club. If you are stuck here, my favorite names are Greg Olsen (yes, it tastes bad), Jermaine Gresham, Jacob Tamme, Heath Miller, Dustin Keller. After that, its a big mix of no one knows and I don't trust the rookie TEs, even if Fleener played with Luck in college. Fleener is, frankly, the 2nd best rookie TE on that team not the 1st. Rudolph and Pettigrew are worth owning and Martellus Bennett showed promise. I won't sleep on Tony Moeaki and Ed Dickson, but I won't start them the next two weeks either.

D/ST: San Francisco is awesome but has a horrible week 1 matchup...but yes, I am playing my draft and hoping for enough special defensive plays to mitigate the scoring that will happen. After that, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Houston, Dallas (curse me again), Cincinnati and Philadelphia make up the ones I'd use most weeks. I like New Orleans, Seattle, Minnesota, and Detroit this week. After that, its kind of a toss up with Buffalo, New York Jets, Carolina (this week), Falcons, Broncos, and Patriots.

Kickers: Yes, use the one you have unless one from a more high powered offense is available, and then drop yours for him.

I'll work on tables and the like for next week, this can't be easy on the eyes. Feel free to hit me up with questions, but try to limit it to "of these 3-4 guys, who should I flex" and point out the basic scoring rules I need to know...Don't just cut and paste your rosters to try and show off, I have enough paper tigers of my own, and if you are that good, you don't need me :)

Injury Tracker: Steve Johnson, Rashad Mendenhall, Ryan Matthews, Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, Beanie Wells, Trent Richardson, Marshawn Lynch, Marques Colston, Dustin Keller - check in early and often to see which of your guys go and which don't.