Each week during the NFL season FST brings you our Fantasy Football Start’em column, which takes a look at favorable matchups and how they might impact lineup decisions for your fantasy football roster. Let’s take a look at some players that you’ll want in your lineup for Week 1. If you have any start’em sit’em questions feel free to post them in our Fantasy Football Forum.
Fantasy trivia question: Who has led the NFL in pass attempts the last 2 years? The answer: Detroit Lions budding star at quarterback – Matthew Stafford. The lesson is that quantity in fantasy equates to points. It only takes one pitch and catch to set up the Calvin Johnson homerun touchdown. Over 2 games last season against the Vikings, Stafford averaged 23 points. Start him and be rewarded.
Luck’s first season at the helm in Indianapolis, playing in the footsteps of Peyton Manning, was a tremendous success. For an encore and start to his sophomore season he’s matched up against one of the AFC’s most inconsistent doormats, which rank high in areas of football inefficiency. Overlooked is Luck’s new speedy wideout weapon, Darrius Heyward-Bey (former Raider), who will add a nice deep threat to compliment Wayne and Hilton in the Colts passing game. Expect results from Luck at the start.
Fitzgerald and the Cardinals have had an intriguing offseason and with it a new optimism for Fitzgerald to return to the elite of the fantasy wide-receiving pecking order. Under new head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer there figures to be more targets for Larry and more catchable red zone lobs too. Fitzgerald, who just had his jersey retired by his Pittsburgh Panthers this week, is destined to return to form and he’ll have a great shot at it against the beatable Rams secondary in week 1.
When healthy, Garcon is Robert Griffin III’s favorite target in the burgundy and gold. He’s a big, strong and elusive receiver that can change the dynamic of any game quickly. With a clean bill of health, after spending last season mired with a foot injury, this could set up a high-octane offense to excel to new heights beginning in week 1 on Monday night football. The Eagles new personnel could be very busy trying to tackle this flying Frenchman in primetime.
The ageless Steven Jackson is expected to be the same workhorse that will have every chance of cashing in touchdowns in Atlanta’s high-flying offensive attack. I temper those expectations some, given his age, but not this week against a vulnerable Saints defense. Jackson should be primed for red zone visits and goal line plunges. His strong preseason indicates that he’ll be relied on heavily to move the chains. Expect steady production out of the gate for the former Beaver from Oregon State.
CJ2K will bounce back this season the way he is capable of performing. One bad campaign, mixed with an injured offensive line and a first-year starting quarterback made life difficult for this ECU pirate in Nashville last season. Johnson is a true homerun threat every time he takes the field and he’s going up against a defense that isn’t quite the vaunted steel curtain defense that has struck fear in opponents from previous seasons. Expect Johnson to get off to a quick start and that he’ll make his way into open space where he can turn on the 4.3 burners.
New uniform but same results are expected for this bearded and one-time Oakland Raider. Even with an inept offense in Oakland, Myers managed to put up respectable fantasy stats consistently. With Eli orchestrating a more efficient offense, which loves working down the middle of the field, expect Myers to fit into the game plan nicely. The Giants are undefeated at the Cowboys new stadium and if they expect to stay that way then Myers will have his hands full of passes.
In perhaps what should be considered a sleeper, Sudfeld is a must start in all formats this week. Gronkowski is quickly on the mend but until he’s expected back in pads and cleared to play Sudfeld is a sure-fire starter. The Patriots love to utilize the tight ends and exploit matchups. The Bills appear vulnerable at many different levels and this game could get ugly early with a rookie or undrafted rookie free agent leading the Bills in action. Although Sudfeld lacks popularity he could soon be one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets.
HBO’s Hard Knocks with the Cincinnati Bengals has inspired this start for the week. This unit has a rare combination of strength and speed all-around that could cause the Bears fits all day. Defense is all about the matchups and with one of the strongest and most aggressive defensive lines the Bengals should be able to force sizable pressure on Chicago’s QB Jay Cutler. Cutler’s propenicity for interceptions and turnovers increases the chances of a defensive score too.