Yes folks, it’s the dawn of a new season! Like dew glistening and birds singing, drafts are concluded, lineups locked and leagues are set to commence in a rousing, robust cornucopia filled with beer, wings and overall fantasy football zaniness! Yes, life is good for all of us at this time of year.
Not to be the proverbial wet blanket, but there will be busts. It’s inevitable. To quote the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald, Into Each Life, Some Rain Must Fall.
Just think of this as your FP911 umbrella.
Week One Busts
QB Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons – Yeah yeah, Ryan is the sexy fantasy pick at QB this year. Wide receivers Roddy White, and emerging Julio Jones that everyone is salivating over, Ryan will be the man in 2012. Just don’t be so sure he’ll light it up in the unfriendly confines of Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs are notoriously tough. If you are looking for 300+ and 3 touchdowns, it’s just not going to happen. Ryan’s day will be more pedestrian than many think.
QB Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders - Without question, a bevy of dinged up wide receivers never bodes well for the guy at the QB position. If you couple that with a defense in San Diego that is vastly improved, it presents a matchup that could pose more headaches for Palmer than you can imagine. Let’s just hope RB Darren McFadden makes it through Week 1 without grimacing, clutching an extremity and hobbling to the sidelines. That would be a victory in itself. But as far as Palmer is concerned * * yawn * * . He’s just never been the same since the knee.
QB Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos – You have to be excited when a player of Manning’s caliber is able to return to the game and compete. It’s good for the sport and certainly good for fantasy owners. However, I am not so sure Pittsburgh will be as welcoming. Manning’s game is all about flow, all about establishing that rhythm, keeping defenses off balance. The Steelers are all about disrupting that flow. Truthfully, I wouldn’t be overly excited about Manning had he not missed the entire 2010 season – in this case, downright scary. If you have Manning, use Week one as an evaluation period – nothing more.
QB Andrew Luck and QB Robert Griffin III – This week it’s for real, against defenses primed to stop the first and second overall picks in the 2012 NFL Draft. Now let’s be honest, if you are starting either one of these guys you deserve a Dez Bryant baseball-cap slap! In all seriousness, the Bears vaunted defense will give Luck fits all afternoon and don’t be so quick to knock the New Orleans Saints defense against the Redskins. New defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will have some schemes in the works to confuse RGIII all day long. Welcome to the NFL fellas.
RB Arian Foster, Houston Texans – WHAT???? Look, there are all levels of “bust”, so calm yourself. Many think that since the Texans are playing the seemingly lowly Miami Dolphins, Foster is in for a record-setting day. I beg to differ. Foster may have a solid day as a receiver out of the backfield, but he could realistically struggle against an extremely solid Miami run defense. Will he have a good game? Of course he will. Will he bring the house down? Emphatically, no.
RB Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos – There are a few glaring issues that should nudge you ever-so slightly to keep McGahee on your fantasy bench. One, the guy is never, ever 100%. Second, the Steelers defense should be able to thwart him at every turn. Lastly, while I feel the presence of QB Peyton Manning will raise the effectiveness of pretty much every skill player around him, McGahee isn’t one of them. The last time Manning had a fantasy running back anyone could truly rely on was Edgerrin James. I may be wrong, but this week against Pittsburgh I am pretty sure I won’t be.
RB Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Vikings – Sure, we all like Gerhart. He’s a big punishing runner, and has shown the ability to carry the load in Adrian Peterson’s absence. That said, for everything the Jaguars lack on the offensive side of the ball they make up on defense. Gerhart is a cinderblock in cleats, and while that is great, he lacks the elusiveness and shiftiness to frustrate a defense like Jacksonville. Sure he’s the starter this week for Minnesota, but he shouldn’t be the starter for you.
RB Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers – Sprained right ankle is all you need to know. It’s a pretty expensive ankle, not to mention a widely publicized one. If the Panthers are brave enough to play him this weekend, smile, praise them for their moxie, and go with the next guy on your depth chart. He’s one quick pivot away from missing another 3 -4 weeks.
RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars – If the post-holdout production we saw from Tennesee Titans RB Chris Johnson was a precursor of what we can expect from Jones-Drew, you may want to tread lightly in week one. While I think it’s great he took one for the team and decided to report, and while he’s a fantasy-owners dream with all the rah-rah fantasy talk, the fact is he missed camp. Don’t discount the value of this facet of the football season. It’s more than just meaningless pre-season games. While he may get 7-10 carries this weekend against the Vikings, he’ll not factor in quite enough to be fantasy relevant. He held out on you, so hold out on him for a week or so.
WR Eric Decker, Denver Broncos – Just because QB Peyton Manning arrived on the scene a few months back doesn’t make this guy a pale version of WR Marvin Harrison. Now don’t get me wrong, I like Decker, and like him even more with a capable quarterback. However this is just a terrible matchup for Decker and if you are at all able to do so, steer clear. Week two at Atlanta should be much, much better!
WR AJ Green, Cincinnati Bengals – While Green is poised to be a star in his second year in the league with the upstart Bengals, this matchup is not overly conducive for his Week one fantasy success. He is one of those guys you have to start week in and week out, but I would temper your enthusiasm without question. The Ravens surrendered under 200 receiving yards per game in 2011, and I’d look for them to stay well under that number in this matchup. That’s not good news for AJ.
WR Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens – Here we have another solid player whose matchup does not spell fantasy success in week one. Until the Ravens decide to open up the passing game just a little, Smith’s talent will be inconsistent and largely wasted. He is a hit or miss proposition and I think in this matchup against the Bengals, the ground game will rule the day and Smith will offer marginal fantasy value.
WR Sydney Rice, Seattle Seahawks – Aside from the fact that he is a stiff breeze away from straining something, factor in the unknown of a rookie quarterback in Russell Wilson, and that spells disaster to me. Maybe we’ll be lucky enough to see an awe-inspiring rapport born between the two, but I’ll believe that when I see it.
WR Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts – For sure he was a great late value in many fantasy drafts, but come week one, he’ll have to deal with the inevitable ups and downs that come with a rookie QB, not to mention having to deal with the Chicago Bears at home. Wayne is likely your #3 or #4 option at wide receiver, but if you were expecting a little sleeper magic this weekend, think again.
TE Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers – Here is a guy I should have put in my Big Names, Bigger Questions article. He’s a quality performer, but has been running his yap more than running his routes – and TE D.J. Williams, a rookie out of Arkansas has turned more than a few heads. This is a huge test for Finley, playing a quality opponent with a solid defense in the middle of the field. I am not overly confident that he delivers in this spot. If he’s healthy he’s a must start this weekend, but I am leery.
TE Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons – Still regarded as one of the league’s best at the position, I question if Gonzo will even touch those lofty expectations. Reality is he’s getting long in the tooth and clearly plays third receiving fiddle behind wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones. While it makes for a nice story with Gonzales returning to his old stomping grounds in Kansas City, he’ll come up short for fantasy owners in Week 1. Averaging 3 yards after the catch is never overly fantasy friendly.
TE Fred Davis, Washington Redskins – If you are called on to block for the new franchise centerpiece, you aren’t catching passes. Let’s hope this isn’t the case as he is one of the Redskins most talented and efficient weapons at the receiving position. Yielding a ton of sacks in 2011, I expect the Redskins to use any and all measures to keep QB Robert Griffin III upright and intact.
We’ll be chatting up it big time at 9pm EST on Tuesday nights at the FP911 Google+ Hangouts! Stop on by and well, hangout!
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