After taking time to think about those players who should, without question, be in your lineup, it is time to reflect on those who should take a vacation this weekend.
This week’s Deuces all have high expectations, but I expect them to come in at far below their projections. Whether it is the top tier running backs who have tough matchups, or veteran receivers with lousy quarterbacks, these guys can cause more mayhem than the guy on the Allstate commercials. Drop these Deuces from your lineup, or risk the Monday morning hangover that accompanies a poor Sunday fantasy showing.
Deuces – Week 1
RB DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys (@ New York Giants) Fully healed from a fractured ankle suffered at the end of last season, Murray is pegged to be a top fantasy workhorse in 2012. Unfortunately for his owners, his Week 1 matchup comes against a Giants defensive front that boasts the likes of Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul. Sure, Dallas will try to set the tempo with the running game early, so Murray will see plenty of carries. But once the Giants build a lead with their track star offense, Tony Romo will be left to pick apart New York’s decimated secondary, leaving Murray in the dust. Don’t expect him to carry your team this week. Prediction: 82 yards rushing + 22 yards receiving + 0 TDs = 10.4 fantasy points
RB Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. Atlanta Falcons) Charles is another top flight back coming off of injury, but with almost a full year of recovery time under his belt. This has led to the kind of fantasy optimism he was experiencing at this time last year, but at a lower price. Still, it is time to pump the brakes. With the recent revelation that Charles is set for a 50-50 timeshare with fellow backfield mate Peyton Hillis, Charles’ owners should temper their expectations. Sure, he will gain yardage in between the 20s and maybe get you a breakaway touchdown every so often, but I actually prefer Hillis as the back to own in this system; the latter’s goal line power and screen pass ability make him more valuable. Plus, Kansas City is taking on a high-powered Falcons offense, which means they’ll be playing from behind and without the running game in the second half. Prediction: 90 yards rushing + 15 yards receiving + 1 TD = 16.5 fantasy points
WR Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals (vs. Seattle Seahawks) I love me some Larry Fitzgerald as much as the next guy, and if it were up to me, I would nominate the man for sainthood. To go about his business in the professional manner that he does – with a rotation of overpaid backups and small school rookies hucking him the rock – is unheard of in today’s NFL landscape, and I commend him for it. As a fantasy commodity, though, I wish he would speak up a little more. With second year Fordham standout (oxymoron?) John Skelton winning the opening day gig, I just don’t have a lot of faith in Fitzgerald’s stock. Seattle boasts an impressive secondary helmed by safety Earl Thomas and heavy hitter Kam Chancellor, and Skelton didn’t exactly blow away the competition in preseason. Yes, Fitzgerald still manages to get open and put up points, but Skelton will be harassed by Seattle’s physical front, leading to a lackluster showing in the points department. Prediction: 85 yards receiving + 0 TDs = 8.5 fantasy points
RB Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams (@ Detroit Lions) This one’s pretty simple, really. St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford has yet to show his mettle, and the Rams receiving corps is thin at best. Detroit will stack the box against the run all day, leaving the aging Jackson searching for daylight and coming up empty. I would not be surprised to see St. Louis get shutout in this game. Prediction: 72 yards rushing + 10 yards receiving = 8.2 fantasy points
D/ST San Francisco 49ers (@ Green Bay Packers) The unquestioned number one fantasy defense, San Francisco comes into this season with expectations through the roof after last year’s surprise 13-3 run. But during the preseason dress rehearsal at Denver, Peyton Manning absolutely strafed this unit in a quarter and a half of work.
Well, you know who is better than Peyton? Aaron Rodgers. With the reigning MVP and head coach Mike McCarthy given all offseason to plan for this bout, I just see too many weapons for the Niners to keep up with. The addition of Cedric Benson gives the Pack someone to soften up the San Francisco front line, and Rodgers’ mobility will save him from being swallowed whole. In the battle of Alex Smith vs. Rodgers, Niners fans will be left pining for the man they passed up with the number one overall pick in 2005. Prediction: 21-27 PA + 2 sacks + 1 INT = 4 fantasy points
QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (@ Denver Broncos) Sticking Big Ben in your fantasy lineup is akin to playing a game of Battleship: a few glorious hits, and a lot of misses. This week, I am calling B-7 a miss as Pittsburgh takes on a fierce Denver linebacker corps that features Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil prowling between the hash marks. Big Ben also has a propensity for holding on to the ball longer than most QBs, which means he is going to hit the turf more times than you like, or toss up a prayer that lands in a sea of orange jerseys. Sure, Mike Wallace is back from his holdout, and Antonio Brown emerged as a target last season, but the running game is murky and the Steeler O-Line is ranked 21st in the NFL. That just isn’t a recipe for points on Sunday night under the lights. Prediction: 2 TDs + 245 yards passing + 25 yards rushing + 2 INTs = 16.3 fantasy points