Week 1 Fantasy Football Tips and "Musts"
Published: Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 00:09
Week 1 Fantasy Trifecta: Start Him, Sit Him, Add Him
By now, with the season kicking off Thursday evening in Denver, all of your fantasy football drafts should be completed. After countless hours completing mock drafts, reading up on the rookies and crunching last-second numbers, you feel you gave it all you got in preparation for Draft Day. Better yet, you’re probably chilling on Cloud Nine right now, still in disbelief that Marshawn Lynch or Doug Martin fell into your lap late in the first round.
Stay humble, fellow fantasy heads. Give your league standings a look, and you’ll see that everyone has the same record - even the guy who took two defenses and a kicker before a third wide receiver. I hate to break it to you, but so what if you nabbed Lynch or Martin early, or if you got your favorite sleeper three rounds later than expected?
As much as fantasy football requires skill and the ability to (somewhat) accurately predict a player’s season, a little luck is involved, too. Injuries, poor play calling, a lack of surrounding offensive weapons and a tough schedule are just a few of the obstacles that fantasy owners have to cope with throughout the year. For example, what if Doug Martin has been hanging out with Lamar Odom, or if the city of Seattle suddenly stopped selling Lynch’s must-have pregame meal, Skittles? Both seem a little hypothetical and downright impractical, but you never really know until the games begin.
Thankfully, we’re oh-so-close to meaningful NFL competition, which in turn means your fantasy owner aptitude is about to be put to the test. Do you sit your top quarterback on the pine in favor of your No. 2 QB, who happens to be playing a Swiss-cheese defense? Which of the running backs on your bench are ready to explode during a particular week and outscore your opponents’ first-round selection? Also, are there any can’t-miss guys on the waiver wire who will be perfect fill-ins to get you off to a winning start?
Questions like these – the ones that appear excruciating to you – are the ones that I find easily dissectible. As your fantasy football expert, I plan to bestow upon you three gifts each week: one player that you must start, one that needs to sit, and one free-agent that will win you that six-pack or whatever side bets you and your league rivals set nowadays. If I’m wrong on any of the three, don’t give me any slack. More realistically, if my selections help you soar up the standings, crack open a cold one for your boy.
Week 1 Outlook
Must-Start: Ben Tate, RB, Texans
When healthy, Arian Foster is the clear go-to guy in the Texans backfield, as well as one of the most productive and consistent fantasy performers, period. During weeks that he is not 100 percent, such as this week, Houston rarely skips a beat when Ben Tate has to carry the heavy workload instead. With Coach Gary Kubiak already coming out and saying the plan is to ease Foster into this season due to calf and back problems, and with the Texans scheduled to play the comical Chargers Monday night, Ben Tate is my Week 1 Must-Start. Slide him into the running back slot or the flex position, and don’t feel bad about hurting your other players’ feelings. I’m expecting Tate to have a coming out party against San Diego much like he did in Week 2 last year against Jacksonville, where he totaled 99 yards on 16 touches and found the end zone twice - despite Foster cradling the rock 28 times. If you drafted Tate as a handcuff to Foster or stole him away from whoever does own Foster, kudos. Remember, at least for this week, Tate is Great.
Must-Sit: Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
I would be wasting your time if I used up this column reassuring you to start Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees every week—regardless of what defense the Packers and Saints are playing, both of these guys should only be on your bench if they suffer season-ending injuries or have a bye. Some try to squeeze Newton into that same top-tier, and to me that’s utterly preposterous. Yes, Newton has been a fantasy star in his first two NFL seasons, even after stumbling out of the gate last year. Still, I see as many red flags for Cam as he has seen wins. First off, his weapons don’t exactly fly off of the page. Steve Smith, while just as fiery as ever, is 34 years old. I’m still waiting for Brandon LaFell, Carolina’s No. 2 wide-out, to show me something. The running game, minus Newton of course, is as bland as ever. Also, did you see what Newton did, or rather didn’t do, in the preseason? Preseason or not, numbers rarely lie, and these are his: 50 percent completion percentage, just 227 yards (on 42 attempts), and one touchdown. Consider who the Panthers open up against, the Seattle Seahawks, and it should be no surprise that Cam Newton is my Week 1 Must-Sit. I’d be much more comfortable with someone like Tony Romo (vs. NYG) or even Michael Vick (vs. WAS) over Cam. The Seahawks secondary, which includes lock-down corners Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, scares the bejesus out of me – but starting Newton this first week scares me even more.
Must-Add: Rod Streater, WR, Raiders
The last couple years, the best advice I could ever give you about the Raiders would be to fully avoid them. While that hasn’t changed all that much, there is one wide receiver out in Oakland whose phone has been jumping off the hook of late thanks to inquiring fantasy owners. That man has a name, you know: Rod Streater. And, if you haven’t heard of him, here’s some stats for you cats. He was sixth among all NFL rookies in 2012 with 584 receiving yards, and he also caught three touchdowns. Don’t let the news that Terrelle Pryor is starting make Mr. Streater any less attractive. He has been Pryor’s favorite target this preseason and, with Brandon Myers and Darrius Heyward-Bey having left Oakland (combined for 120 catches last year), there are many more passes coming Streater’s way. Rod Streater is my Week 1 Must-Add, and I feel even more confident about that when remembering he goes up against the Colts defense on Sunday. I can’t imagine a scenario in which you’d need to pick up a free agent and instill him into the starting lineup for the opening weekend, but perhaps you were in a football coma all summer and drafted Michael Crabtree or Aaron Hernandez to your team. If that’s the case, take a flier on Streater.