Each week throughout the fantasy season, owners are faced with dilemmas about which players should ride the pine and which can lead them to league domination. Obviously, if your quarterback is Aaron Rodgers, he is playing every week, and the problem is moot. But what about those fringe starters like Phillip Rivers, or unproven commodities like Jake Locker? Choosing the right guy can make or break your weekend, and I am here to help.
Each week, I will use this space to offer advice on who to sit and who to start. Some columnists will refer to these players on their “Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em” lists (catchy, right?), while the more creative type may title it “Flames and Lames.”
With Naptime Quarterback, I am paving a different path, titling my list Aces and Deuces. The Aces are the number one guys, the ones you should start with confidence and expect to pay big dividends for your team. The Deuces, though, are another story. They are not the second best, as the name implies, but rather are more akin to slang terminology for what I find in my 18-month-old’s diaper. You don’t want to get your hands dirty with these players.
First up this week, the Aces. Check back tomorrow for the Deuces.
Aces – Week 1
QB Robert Griffin III & WR Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins (@ New Orleans Saints) RGIII has been, without a doubt, this season’s most-hyped rookie quarterback, and in Week 1 he will live up to the noise. Playing against a Saints squad that more closely resembles Swiss cheese than an actual defense, look for the rookie to key in on new Redskins acquisition Garcon. Without the upfront pressure created by Will Smith (suspension) and Jabari Greer missing time with sports hernia surgery – plus the steep learning curve of the new scheme installed by defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo – the Who Dats are ripe for the taking. Stick RGIII and his new best friend in your lineup, and enjoy the rewards. Bonus points if you also have Redskins tight end Fred Davis, who will feast on Saints strong safety Roman Harper’s notoriously poor TE coverage. Predictions: Griffin – 2 passing TDs + 305 yards passing + 1 rushing TD + 70 yards rushing + 1 INT = 32.2 fantasy points; Garcon – 1 TD + 105 yards receiving = 16.5 fantasy points
RB DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers (@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers) Williams has been extremely undervalued this offseason due to last year’s emergence of Cam Newton and the latter’s penchant for punching in his own goal line touchdowns. The addition of human bowling ball Mike Tolbert to Carolina’s crowded backfield hasn’t helped fantasy players feel any more confident about Williams, but that is why he is a sneaky play this weekend. Battling a porous Tampa team that ranked dead last in run defense last year but used free agency and the draft to shore up their offensive weapons (minus drafting a DB), Williams has a chance to put up big numbers. Fellow Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart is coming back from an ankle injury, which means it is time for D-Will to take advantage of his touches and prove he is the dominant horse in the stable. Look for a nice garbage time TD, as well. Prediction: 1 rushing TD + 97 yards rushing + 40 yards receiving = 19.7 fantasy points
QB Matt Schaub, Houston Texans (vs. Miami Dolphins) If there is any cure to the “not-elite” ill that so many pundits are casting upon Schaub, it’s a Week1 matchup against the Hard Knocks Heroes. After trading cornerback Vontae Davis to Indy, Miami is left with Seth Smith and Richard Marshall lining up against Andre Johnson, and forgive me if that doesn’t leave me shaking in my boots. Sure, all-world linebacker Cameron Wake may get in Schaub’s face every now and then, but with Arian Foster providing enough of a distraction (understatement of the year) for the ‘Phins, Schaub looks like an inexpensive play in deep leagues. He’ll also benefit from Foster’s yards after catch. Prediction: 3 TDs + 310 yards passing = 24.4 fantasy points
RB Matt Forte, Chicago Bears (vs. Indianapolis Colts) This may serve as the one “duh” play on here. If you are drafting Forte around his second round value, of course you are starting him this week. However, I see Forte as poised to explode for huge points in this game. After getting cranky during an offseason holdout, Forte is coming into the opener with something to prove. Indy, on the other side of the coin, is a defense in decline that will struggle against Forte’s breakaway speed and ability to break tackles. And while Forte may not be the definitive goal line back in Chicago this year, his value as Jay Cutler’s checkdown man cannot be overstated. While all the talk in the Windy City this offseason has been about the Cutler-Marshall reunion, many are forgetting the nearly 1,500 total yards and four touchdowns Forte put up in an abbreviated season. Prediction: 1 TD + 120 yards rushing + 85 yards receiving = 26.5 fantasy points
D/ST Buffalo Bills (@ New York Jets) What do you get when you add a Mario Williams-led defensive line and a sieve in front of Mark Sanchez? Fantasy gold. The J-E-T-S have a hard time scoring P-O-I-N-T-S with the former USC standout behind center and a lackluster band of wideouts, to the point where their first team offense did not score a single touchdown in the preseason. While I don’t expect that to occur this weekend, this is a hungry Buffalo defense that picked off none other than Tom Brady four times in a Week 3 matchup last season. Last time I checked, Sanchez was much, much worse than Brady. Prediction: 1-6 PA + 2 INT + 3 sacks + 1 fumble recovery + 1 TD = 22 fantasy points