Sep 10, 2011
Here’s a look at 10 fantasy football matchups that just might help you and your fantasy team come away with a victory in Week 1.
1. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning versus Washington Redskins secondary
When Eli Manning crosses paths with the Washington Redskins on Sunday, there are reasons to believe the “other Manning,” will jump start his 2011 campaign with a bang. Coming off the most trying of his post-Super Bowl seasons, Manning had a forgettable preseason showing. He’ll also have to deal with a reshuffling of the deck when it comes to his receiving corps. Still, the perennially undervalued Manning has been a solid opening day contributor throughout his career (.579 completion percentage, 12 touchdowns to nine interceptions, and 244 yards per game average). Manning should have a field day in a match up with the ripe-for-the-picking Redskins defense that ranked 30th against the pass in 2010.
2. Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne versus Houston Texans defense
There’s no use denying it—the loss of quarterback Peyton Manning for at least three months is expected to have serious impact on the entire Colts offense. Aside from Manning himself, no Indy player has seen his fantasy stock fall as fast or as severely as wide receiver Reggie Wayne. Fantasy owners who drafted Wayne should not hesitate to use him in Week 1 against the Houston Texans. In 2010, the Houston secondary allowed a league worst average of 267.5 yards per game passing and gave up 33 touchdowns in the air. Wayne is coming off a career-high 111-catch season and while the Colts fill-in quarterback Kerry Collins is well past his prime, he looked surprisingly sharp under center for the Tennessee Titans in 2010. You can be sure that Collins looks Wayne’s way early and often.
3. Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt versus Jacksonville Jaguars defense
Injuries and off field woes are a constant threat to Kenny Britt’s playing status therefore his fantasy owners should take advantage of the times when the talented, yet troubled wideout is available to put in the starting lineup. Britt was limited by a nagging hamstring injury throughout camp, however he returned to preseason action for Week 4. The Tennessee Titans will look to unleash Britt downfield against the Jacksonville Jaguars cornerbacks in what looks to be a huge mismatch. Start Britt with confidence as a WR2 or flex, though he has the potential to deliver more in a highly favorable matchup.
4. Miami Dolphins wide receiver Davone Bess versus New England Patriots defense
Davone Bess has improved steadily over his three-year NFL career, with his finest season to date coming in 2010 when the undrafted former Hawaii Warrior caught 79 balls for 820 yards and five touchdowns. While it remains to be seen whether or not last year’s numbers were his ceiling, Bess draws a beatable New England Patriots defense in the Miami Dolphins’ season opener. He’s one of the best slot receivers in the game and has given the Patriots fits over the years. Bess torched New England with 27 catches for 304 yards and three touchdowns in four games over two seasons.
5. Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden versus Denver Broncos defense
Although Darren McFadden’s 2010 season qualified as a breakout year, he was nevertheless maddeningly inconsistent at times, coupling 100-plus yard performances with baffling stinkers. McFadden’s Week 1 opponent, the Denver Broncos, was the one team that didn’t bear witness to his Jekyll and Hyde tendencies. McFadden lit up the Broncos for a whopping 354 total yards and four touchdowns over two games last season. Denver allowed 154.6 rushing yards per game along with 26 rushing touchdowns in 2010. They’ll be without the services of star linebacker D.J. Williams, making an already favorable matchup for McFadden even more so.
6. Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells versus Carolina Panthers defense
The Arizona Cardinals brass repeatedly touted Wells’ work ethic throughout the offseason, particularly after the team traded running back Tim Hightower to the Washington Redskins and rookie Ryan Williams sustained a season-ending knee injury. Fantasy owners will discover rather quickly whether Wells will rise to the occasion in 2011 and demonstrate that he can handle the workload of a true feature back. He’ll get his chance on Sunday when the Cardinals take on the Carolina Panthers. While Carolina has a reasonably good run defense, they frequently find themselves trailing by double-digits and that allows opponents to rack up lofty rushing totals. The recently signed Chester Taylor shouldn’t have much of a role in Week 1, so Wells should have every chance to start the season off with a bang.
7. Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis versus Cincinnati Bengals defense
Head coach Pat Shurmur recently reassured Cleveland Browns fans and fantasy owners alike that he plans to feature Hillis in the team’s 2011 offense much like he was last season. In case you missed it, Hillis was an every down back who didn’t take a breather on third downs or at the goal line. Hillis was a certifiable beast for 13 games, before grinding to a halt for the final three regular season games of 2010. With an offseason to recharge his battery, the smart money is on a revitalized Hillis sticking it to a middling Cincinnati Bengals defense in Week 1. Last season the Bengals allowed opposing running backs an average of 115.2 yards per game, 4.4 yards per carry and 15 rushing touchdowns, numbers that should pay dividends to Hillis’ fantasy owners on Sunday.
8. Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense
Rookie running back Mikel Leshoure’s season-ending injury during training camp took the wind out of the sails of many fantasy owners who hoped his presence would boost the fantasy value of second-year back Jahvid Best. While Best proved to be a fine pass-catcher out of the backfield last year, he struggled mightily at running in between the tackles. Detroit signed Jerome Harrison as a free agent and claimed ex-Washington Redskin Keiland Williams off waivers and they along with veteran Maurice Morris should help Best do what he does best. The second-year back has a favorable Week 1 matchup against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that that yielded a 4.7 yards-per-carry average to the position in 2010. Look for Best to rack up 15-20 touches on Sunday.
9. New York Giants Defense versus Washington Redskins offense
If real estate moguls preach “location, location, location,” then fantasy owners should be well versed in the mantra, “opponent, opponent, opponent.” Two or three weeks into every NFL season, one particular offense always emerges as the league’s whipping boy, aka LWB. Opportunistic waiver wire trolls seeking to put as many points on the board as possible pounce on the team defense that takes on the LWB each week. Last year, it was the Jimmy Clausen/Matt Moore-led Carolina Panthers. This year, the Washington Redskins with the one-two quarterback punch of Rex Grossman and John Beck may very well contend for the LWB title. While the New York Giants experienced changes among the defensive ranks and continues to deal with injuries, they have a favorable Week 1 matchup against the Redskins. The G-Men forced 10 turnovers and accumulated six sacks in two meetings last season. The veteran Grossman—no stranger to turnovers himself—will be under center for Washington. Look for the Giants to capitalize on their opponent’s offensive weaknesses.
10. Arizona Cardinals Defense versus Carolina Panthers offense
The Cardinals defense performed admirably in 2010, finishing top 10 in fantasy points despite a sputtering offense that constantly left the team in poor field position. While Arizona lacks star power on the defensive side of the ball—save for the dynamic safety duo of Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes)—head coach Ken Whisenhunt and his staff get the most out of this scrapheap of relatively unknown veteran and unproven youngsters. The Carolina Panthers newest franchise quarterback Cam Newton will make his regular season debut on Sunday. It’s safe to say that Newton’s rise to stardom hits a roadblock or two in Week 1. If you’re a fantasy owner whose regular defense has a tough matchup or you prefer to play weekly defensive matchups, then Arizona could be the defensive ticket to ride.