Wondering whether or not to start Matt Ryan and C.J. Spiller, or to bench Terrelle Pryor and Santonio Holmes? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.
Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 1 of the 2013 season.
Watch ‘em roll
Andrew Luck, QB, Colts vs. Raiders. We’ll soon find out just how putrid the Raiders are. Luck and his wideouts are coming off a strong preseason and should have their way with Oakland’s sieve-like secondary.
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers vs. Packers. You can bet the Green Bay brain trust has been squarely focused this offseason on how to shut down Colin Kaepernick in the opener; but they’d better not take their eyes off Gore. The veteran still has plenty of tread left on his tires, and he pounded the Packers’ defense the last time these teams met.
Daryl Richardson, RB, Rams vs. Cardinals. Arizona is sporting a re-tooled defense as the new season kicks off, but it will take time to gel. Richardson has two other backs breathing down his neck, so you can bet he’ll do everything possible to solidify his starting job. Given the Rams’ thin receiving corps, a strong running game will be Sam Bradford’s best friend.
Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys vs. Giants. If trends hold, these two teams will score at will and the New Yorkers will leave their home-away-from-home victorious. Romo should have a big game against the visitors’ banged-up secondary, with all his key weapons feasting on a fantasy bounty.
Lance Moore, WR, Saints vs. Falcons. It’s always nice to start players that will be participating in shootouts, and this game certainly qualifies. Both QBs are likely to drive their teams up and down the field with scant resistance. Moore will see his share of targets, most likely including one that concludes in the end zone.
More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Matt Stafford, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Colin Kaepernick, Mike Vick, Matt Schaub; RBs Steven Jackson, David Wilson, DeMarco Murray, Reggie Bush, Ahmad Bradshaw; WRs Jordy Nelson, Reggie Wayne, DeSean Jackson, Antonio Brown, Anquan Boldin.
Roll ‘em back
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers vs. Seahawks. He got off to a slow start last season, and he hasn’t exactly looked sharp during this preseason. Meanwhile, one of the NFL’s stingiest defenses – the same one that held Newton to 141 passing yards and no TDs in Week 5 last year – is coming to town. Don’t be surprised if he begins his 2013 campaign with another stinker.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Cardinals at Rams. Imagine that…an Arizona running back with injury issues. Meet the new back; same as the old back. Given the Cardinals’ offensive line woes and Mendenhall’s balky knee, there’s little hope for optimism that this rushing attack is going anywhere soon.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers at 49ers. With Aaron Rodgers under center, it’s easy for Green Bay to abandon the run when it gets off to a slow start. That’s the fate that likely awaits their rookie runner, who draws a stout rush defense in his debut outing. Lacy will have his days; but it won’t be Sunday.
Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins vs. Browns. Ryan Tannehill has yet to demonstrate a strong rapport with his new receiving toy. Meanwhile, Wallace will be shadowed by shutdown corner Joe Haden. He’s a tough sit, but consider it if you have safer options.
Greg Jennings, WR, Vikings at Lions. Christian Ponder is no Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers, as his new wideout has undoubtedly learned. Jennings is an accomplished veteran, but it could take him a few weeks to get in sync with his mediocre quarterback.
More thumbs down: QBs Jay Cutler, Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton, Sam Bradford, Josh Freeman; RBs Darren McFadden, Ryan Mathews, Lamar Miller, Monte Ball, DeAngelo Williams, Chris Ivory, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, all Steelers RBs; WRs Steve Smith, DeAndre Hopkins, Malcom Floyd, Kenny Britt, Sidney Rice, all Jets and Raiders WRs.
TAKING A FLIER
Zach Sudfeld, TE, Patriots at Bills. It’s a little early to trust a rookie tight end, but those waiting for Rob Gronkowski to return could do much worse than his replacement. Sudfeld is coming off a strong preseason, and aside from Danny Amendola, Tom Brady’s receiving options are all unproven. You know that won’t keep him from slinging it around in the opener.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…thinks it’s too early to scan the pre-game inactives list. Several fantasy stars have Qs and Ds by their names heading into Week 1, and teams will be reluctant to risk a season-long setback to their key players. As always, I’ll be tweeting prior to the games to alert you to any eleventh-hour developments.