This list will include a handful of players at each skill position that has either a very favorable matchup or a matchup to avoid. Not every player at every skill position will be listed every week. Instead of a watered-down version of predicting each player’s performance, this list will focus on a select group of players whose chances to succeed or fail are increased based on their opponent of the week.
When using this list, try and remember a couple basic rules:
1) Studs – Always play your studs. You won’t find Marshall Faulk or Randy Moss on this list. This list is to help choose between the middle-of-the-road players.
2) Depth – Every fantasy team is different and some have more depth than others. Only follow the recommended moves if your team depth allows you to make such a move.
Enough of the chit-chat, onto the list!!
Jake Plummer, Denver (vs. Cincinnati): Ah, quite the nice draw for the Snake’s first appearance as a Bronco despite being on the road and the Bengals likely to try and play ball control football. Expect Plummer to post solid numbers as once Denver gets the ball, they’ll move it down field with ease as this is the Bengals afterall.
Brett Favre, Green Bay (vs. Minnesota): Chris Hovan did the unthinkable this week: He gave Favre a reason to turn it up a notch. Hovan was quoted saying, “He’s (Favre) still the prize. He is the guy I most want, and I’ll always want to beat him as long as I play.” Look for Favre to light up the Green Bay sky this week, and search out Hovan after each and every touchdown.
Mark Brunell, Jacksonville (vs. Carolina): The Panthers pass defense against a Jaguar offense without Jimmy Smith? Yuck. Hopefully, you have other options that allows you to keep Brunell on the pine. If you don’t I have two words of advice: waiver wire.
Kyle Boller, Baltimore (vs. Pittsburgh): Boller won’t be asked to do more than try to not lose in his rookie season, but even without Joey Porter the Steelers defense will create havoc. Pitt will show Boller many different looks and will give the rookie quite a headache before all is said and done.
William Green, Cleveland (vs. Indy): The Colts were known for their pass defense in ’02, but they had some holes in their run defense. Holcomb was named the Browns starting QB and he should be able to keep the Colts defense honest enough to open up the field for Green to post solid numbers this week.
Stephen Davis, Carolina (vs. Jacksonville): If the Panthers play their cards right, control the ball on offense, and let their defense make the big plays, Carolina may be looking towards a playoff appearance this year. Davis is a huge key for that to happen. The Jags, well, let’s just say they won’t put up much of a fight which should translate into 100+ yards on the ground for Davis in his Panthers debut.
Tiki Barber, N.Y. Giants (vs. St.Louis): Barber should play an integral role in the Giants offense in both the running game and the passing game. Those that fear Dorsey Levens will take away some of Barber’s productivity, don’t sweat it. Barber will be the main man and he should start the ’03 campaign with a big game against the Rams.
Duce Staley, Philly (vs. Tampa Bay): Even if Staley didn’t have a holdout that extended until the end of August, he would not have come recommended against the defending Super Bowl champs. Staley will probably split time with Buckhalter the first couple weeks so look elsewhere for a starter until week four.
Stacey Mack, Houston (vs. Miami): Big Mack finally gets his chance to shine as the #1 RB. Unfortunately, Big Mack may look more like a happy meal after this game as Miami’s D is much improved which is scary.
Onterrio Smith, Minnesota (vs. Green Bay): Smith is a nice guy to own, but because of a stubborn Mike Tice you won’t see him starting for the Vikes this week. It’s probably for the best as the Pack will be tough at home, but Smith is a guy to watch as the season rolls along.
Laveranues Coles, Washington (vs. N.Y. Jets): Coles faces his old mates in the opening game of the ’03 season Thursday night. So you think Coles is happy to be out of New York with the 68-year old Vinny Testaverde QB’ing the J-E-T-S, JETS JETS JETS? I do too. Coles will be out to prove he was worth every penny.
Donte Stallworth, New Orleans (vs. Seattle): Be sure to check on Stallworth’s hamstring injury before giving him the starting nod this week. He has a great opportunity to start off the ’03 season with a bang against a dinged up Seahawks team minus Shawn Springs.
Donald Driver, Green Bay (vs. Minnesota): See Favre’s comments above. Hovan may “want” Favre, but the Vikings secondary will want no part of Driver this game. He’s a good bet to pass the 100-yard receiving mark this week.
Bill Schroeder, Detroit (vs. Arizona): While first round pick Charles Rogers will be the “sexy” option in Detroit, the crafty veteran Schroeder will be the one that knows how to get open. Against the red birds, that’ll be easier than expected. Harrington will look Schroeder’s way often and should find him open enough for a solid day’s work.
Jason McAddley, Arizona (vs. Detroit): Jason who? I meant to write down the Cardinals #1 WR. What? He is the #1 WR? With Jeff Blake as the QB? I think I just threw up in my mouth.
Kevin Johnson, Cleveland (vs. Indy): The changing of the guards is happening in Cleveland and Johnson is not the beneficiary. Holcomb supplanted Couch as the starting QB and youngsters Morgan and Northcutt have passed KJ on the WR depth chart. If you’re thinking of starting Johnson, think again.
Drew Bennett, Tennessee (vs. Oakland): Call me crazy, but I want to see Bennett perform as the #2 WR in Tennessee before I anoint him the yin to Derrick Mason’s yang. At least Bennett doesn’t have to face Raider Nation on Sunday night. I’m getting the willies just thinking about that.
Marcus Robinson, Baltimore (vs. Pittsburgh): Did anyone see Boomerang with Eddie Murphy? Whenever I see the name Marcus all I can think of is Lady Elouise calling out, “Maaaahhhhcus…” after Eddie did the deed to better his career. Of course, I have no point to this. Until Robinson proves he’s back to the form of his younger Bears days, avoid him like Lady Elouise.
Alge Crumpler, Atlanta (vs. Dallas): I watched some of the Falcons preseason games which usually means absolutely nothing. This year I noticed that Crumpler has some serious grips. He caught everything that was thrown to him even in traffic. Doug Johnson will need all the help he can get and Alge should provide some assistance this week against the Boys.
Ernie Conwell, New Orleans (vs. Seattle): Conwell suffered a bruised hip in the third preseason game which should not prevent him from starting against the Seahawks. Assuming Conwell plays, he’ll be a nice addition to an already potent Saints offensive attack.
Frank Wycheck, Tennessee (vs. Oakland): Frankie missed the final two preseason games with a concussion and the “R”-word came up a few times (retirement). That’s not what you want out of your starting TE.
Chad Lewis, Philly (vs. Tampa Bay): Every year I think, “This will be the year to own Chad Lewis.” Every year I draft him and every year his disappoints me. Well, I’m starting to get desperate so this year he’ll be terrible and not worthy of a start all season (a little reverse psychology never hurt anyone, right?)