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Buy, Sell, Hold: Week 1.

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Ever had an itch that you just can’t scratch? No, skidmark, I’m not talking about your “nethers.” By the way, you’re disgusting. Stop sniffing your fingers, and yes you are still banned from the high-five club. No, what I’m talking about is more of a mental itch. Like the part of your brain that eats, sleeps and breathes football has had a cast around it for the last six months. Sure the preseason games have helped, but only about as much as using a pencil to scratch around the edges of the cast. ( Warning: metaphor; do not use a pencil or any other pointed device to scratch your brain. Just saying.) Here’s the good news - the cast came off Wednesday night, so scratch away. Just don’t go overboard; otherwise you’re going to be sitting over in the corner with skidmark.

Now, onto the meat and potatoes (tofu and kale for you vegans out there). “Buy, Sell, Hold” is all about expectations for the upcoming weeks. The “buys” are guys that aren’t your obvious chart-toppers in the rankings, but have a great chance to exceed their expectations. The “holds” are your typical studs ranked near the top of every list but aren’t facing a good situation. Imagine Calvin Johnson being double-teamed up and down the field by Darrelle Revis and Nnamdi Asomugha all game long … with Ed Reed giving safety help over the top. You’re thinking, “man, that’s about as attractive as a baboon’s fiery red backside, but it’s flippin’ Megatron!” I’m not saying to automatically bail on these guys, just weigh your options and look at your other matchups. The “sells” are guys I’m avoiding like a port-a-potty next to a taco stand that Large Marge just vacated after registering a 9.5 on the Richter Scale. They’re the guys that are running hot and the bandwagon is getting full, but there’s a pothole looming. Or they’re the guys, for whatever reason, I wouldn’t touch this week without making a trip to the free clinic ... before and after. You with me?

So, here we go for Week 1:

Buy:

  • QB: Robert Griffin III. There were a lot of dislocated shoulders this year among drafters with so many people reaching for Griffin, taking him on average above guys like Ben Roethlisberger and Jay Cutler. Thanks, Cam Newton. While starting a rookie quarterback in Week 1 might not be the safest play, Washington is matched up against New Orleans to start off the season. New Orleans was a Bottom 5 defense against the pass last year and its offense obviously puts up a lot of points, so the Redskins will have to play a lot of catch-up against a defense that allows it.
  • RB: DeAngelo Williams. One of the ugliest backfield situations gets a breast augmentation for Week 1. A facelift? Nah, a new set of twins is a much better upgrade/distraction. Tampa Bay was the worst team in the league against the run last year. A lot has changed in Tampa Bay this offseason, but not that much. Jonathan Stewart’s status is still up in the air for this week. Isn’t it always? Sure Williams might get Tolbert’d by both Tolbert and Newton, but I’m betting he racks up enough yards to make it worth your while.
  • WR: Michael Crabtree. I know, I know, fight back the chunks. I think I re-tasted lunch as I wrote it. So the guy has been just about as big a disappointment as Alex Smith, since San Francisco took him in the first round, but even Smith was serviceable for a number of games last year. This year Crabtree seems good to go at the start of the season (for the first time ever), and with some new weapons around him to steal coverage, he stands a chance to make good. If you’re going to roll the dice on a San Francisco wide receiver, this is the week. Green Bay was horrific last year defending receivers, and it’s tough for me to picture Smith winging it out there to Randy Moss on go-routes.

Hold:

  • QB: Peyton Manning. Sacrilege! Right? If you drafted Manning this year, odds are you did so with a Top 60 pick according to his average draft position. While he looked sharp in his last preseason game, there are still a few question marks out there. One thing that isn’t a question mark is his opponent. Pittsburgh was a Top 5 defense against the pass last season.
  • RB: Jamaal Charles. Charles was a Top 5 talent, and proved he doesn’t need 25 touches a game to be a difference maker. Is he still that? At this point, I’m not as concerned about his knee as I am about his matchup and his backup. Atlanta is an above-average defense against the run, and Peyton Hillis is more than just a handcuff. I still believe Charles has the goods, but I’d prefer to leave him on the shelf for a week…or two.
  • WR: A.J. Green. Maybe I’m just bitter since I own zero shares of Green in any of my leagues this season, but the guy is a stud. But, Baltimore is a Top 10 defense against receivers and will no doubt focus their attention on taking away Cincinnati’s No. 1 weapon. Green missed his team’s first bout against the Ravens last year, and was held to just 26 yards receiving in the second go-round. He’s a big play waiting to happen; I just think Week 1 will keep you waiting.

Sell:

  • QB: Any rookie QB not named Robert Griffin III. Blanket statements are awesome, and never come back to bite you. You know how many rookie quarterbacks are getting the nod in Week 1? Fifty! Alright, so maybe it’s only five, but that’s still a huge number. Thanks again, Newton. I’m not saying that Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden or Russell Wilson won’t be serviceable. Luck even has a fairly generous matchup against Chicago. But let’s keep things in check. The hype train is already getting full.
  • RB: Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew. Despite injury and hold-out concerns, both of these backs were still drafted as Top 10 players at the running back position, getting scooped up in the second round according to their average draft position. They’re studs, I get it. But I’m not counting on either in Week 1. Peterson is matched up against the Jacksonville Jaguars this week, a Top 10 defense against the run, and will split the load with Toby Gerhart. Jones-Drew will obviously be on the other sideline of the same game. The Minnesota Vikings were a bit more generous against the run, but not terrible either, and Jones-Drew will most likely be facing third-down duty while Rashad Jennings gets the bulk of the work.
  • WR: Stevie Johnson. There’s a crazy rumor floating around out there that Johnson owns Darrelle Revis. I’m guessing Revis has heard it, too.

Until the next go-round.