The NFL returns and 2014 is set to kickoff right with the defending champion Seattle Seahawks hosting the Green Bay Packers. Fans of both teams, and the NFL in general, still have those final moments from their matchup in 2012 fresh in their minds. There’s no way you forgot about this one…
I can only imagine how much play Russell Wilson’s Hail Mary will get on all of the highlight programs, pre-game shows and during the game itself tonight. But while we remember the wild outcome of that game, the absolute beat down the Seahawks put on the Broncos in the Super Bowl, and whoever won your Fantasy league last year (begrudgingly), today marks a clean slate for everyone.
With a new season come new traditions. Each week I will take any Fantasy Football questions you may have and answer them the best I can before Thursday Night Football. Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, or emailing me at email@example.com, I’ll help with any roster questions you may have to set your lineup for game time. If you don’t get your question in before the weekly post, have no fear…you can still ask me on social media if you’d like. With Wes Welker getting some extended time off, I’m sure you’re wondering who to pick up in his place…
Now we’re ready to start!
Jumbo Joe on Facebook “Witten or Gates and Stacy or McFadden?”
Let’s start with the TEs. Jason Witten and the Cowboys will open the season at home against a depleted 49ers defense. Regardless of whether or not defensive lineman Ray McDonald is suspended this week for his domestic violence charge, the 49ers are without inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman (knee injury), defensive lineman Glen Dorsey (bicep injury), and defensive end Aldon Smith (9 game suspension). Both 49ers cornerbacks, Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver, are making their first opening day start and new safety Antoine Bethea is returning from a preseason concussion. This should be a great opportunity for Tony Romo and his targets. That includes Witten…On the other hand, Antonio Gates is on the road against a Cardinals defense that gave up the most points to tight ends last season. I think you have a good problem on your hands in Week 1, but also keep in mind Phillip Rivers has Ladarius Green as a TE option. Go with Witten knowing that Romo loves to throw his way and that his pass calls will be increased in the Scott Linehan system.
In regards to the RBs, with Sam Bradford going down (again), Zac Stacy becomes the most important player on the Rams offense. The Rams have a solid stable of running backs with Benny Cunningham and Tre Mason in the mix, but Stacy is the Rams’ feature back…Darren McFadden is an interesting case. We know McFadden has the ability to be a top end RB, but his injury history has proven him to be unreliable over the course of a season. The Raiders have him listed 2nd on the depth chart behind newly acquired Maurice Jones-Drew. While I think both RBs will get their fair share of touches, especially with a rookie quarterback at the helm, they are going against a Jets defense that was ranked 3rd against the run a year ago. Start Stacy against a Vikings D that gave up the 9th most fantasy points to running backs.
Alberto Arreola on Facebook “Ellington or Murray? And Gronk or Olsen?”
In his 2nd year, Andre Ellington is being talked up as a possible breakout star by multiple Fantasy experts. In 15 games and 1 start last year, 1,023 total yards from scrimmage and 4 touchdowns (3 rush, 1 rec). He is a pass catching running back that will be depended on as the full-time guy for the Cardinals. But can he handle the increase in workload?…DeMarco Murray starts his contract year against the aforementioned depleted 49ers defense. Murray is a top 10 RB when healthy and should see a boost in his receiving stats with Linehan making pass calls. Linehan loves throwing to his running backs. Start Murray at RB but have Ellington available for your flex spot if your league has one.
Rob Gronkowski says he’s ready to go for week 1for the Patriots, and if Gronk wants to football…Gronk will football (yes, that was intended in caveman voice). Some wonder how limited Gronkowski’s snaps will be, but if Tom Brady gets to the red zone, you know who his favorite target is…Greg Olsen is looking like one of the few reliable guys in Cam Newton’s passing attack and will be a test for Lovie Smith’s new Buccaneers defense. However, having seen the damage Gronk can do in Fantasy Leagues when healthy, start him.
Andrew Hirt on Facebook “Andy Dalton or Ben Roethlisberger”
These are a pair of AFC North quarterbacks who proved to be fairly comparable last year in terms of yardage and TD/INT ratio. Andy Dalton faces a tougher pass defense on the road in Baltimore than Ben Roethlisberger does at home against Cleveland. Dalton has AJ Green. Roethlisberger has Antonio Brown. My heart says Dalton but my head says Roethlisberger at home.
Emmet Fairfield on Facebook “For a W/R/T spot: P. Harvin, Chris Johnson, or Fred Jackson…League is .2 PPR, 1 pt per 20 punt return yds, and otherwise standard.”
I’m glad you mentioned you are in a PPR league. I’d like to ask everyone else to distinguish the same when submitting questions this season…I like the combo you have for your flex spot but I think one of them stands out the most in Week 1. I see Chris Johnson really getting a chance to shine with the Jets but to start he’ll be a part of a running back-by-committee system with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell. RBs also didn’t catch many passes in Marty Mornhinweg’s system last year with Geno Smith at quarterback…I think Fred Jackson will be a solid option down the stretch, but Week 1 is going to feature a lot more of a healthy CJ Spiller against the Bears. He may also lose carries to Bryce Brown in that crowded backfield…I think tonight will be a big one for Percy Harvin. You’ll get your return yard points from him, and he’ll be Russell Wilson’s primary target against a defense that ranked 4th giving up fantasy points to wide receivers last year. Start Harvin tonight, but don’t sleep on Johnson in upcoming weeks.
Again if you still have Fantasy Football questions, feel free to Tweet @Mike_PiFF03.