Welcome back to the “Brew Crew Corner.” If you’ve been around all summer, you are already back in the groove. If you’re just catching up for Week 1, I hope your drafts went well and the first week doesn’t have you scrambling for the waiver wire already. So shake the cobwebs out and take a good look at the team you’ve put together for the new season. If your draft was more than a month ago, chances are you have a different opinion on several players. Montee Ball doesn’t seem like a sure bet to be your RB3 to start the season. Does Terrelle Pryor or Geno Smith make any of their teams receivers look better to you? How many had taken Jacob Tamme only to now want to grab Julius Thomas?
The start of the season is one that can catch the average fantasy owner off-guard. From the short week after the Labor Day holiday to the last-minute depth chart movements by teams. Like I mentioned, some of you haven’t looked at your team since draft day and I’m sure there are owners out there with players such as Kevin Kolb, Dion Lewis and even Percy Harvin still on the roster. Doug Coutts does a great job with waiver pickups so check out his article to see where you can make some upgrades for players that are injured or demoted. For instance, he mentions that Kenbrell Thompkins, who has been a draft day mid-round sleeper, could very well have not been considered draftable for those in early drafts. If your league is like most of the ones I am in, waiver periods haven’t opened until this week, which will make him one of the hot pickups.
The question this week is simply: Who do I start in week one? Fantasy experts and analysis will focus all week on which players have the best matchups and which players you should bench. My approach to week one is to play my strongest players. There is a reason you drafted Daryl Richardson over Isaac Redman and Knowshon Moreno. These guys are getting more attention as the depth chart changes, but stick with the players that ranked higher on your team. At least for week one when you can see how these teams use players.
With that in mind, always remember Rule No. 1 for fantasy football lineups. Always start your studs. Rule No. 2, at least in my book, is make sure you have a legal lineup. I’ve been in leagues where they fail to start the right amount of players or failed to draft a kicker or tight end in drafts with the intention of picking them up the week of the first season only to have forgotten to make the request. Don’t fall asleep this week. With the holidays such as Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah this week, along with the start of school for many parents, it’s easy to neglect your team management duties and just go into the season half-prepared.
After the first week of games, don’t overreact to players that have a poor game or undrafted players that have a breakout performance. Every year there are players that light it up in Week 1, becoming the hot waiver pickup only to stink the rest of the season. Week 1 players that ended up being one-week wonders last season included Kevin Ogletree (114 receiving yards, two touchdowns), Stephen Hill (89 receiving yards, two touchdowns) and Kevin Smith (62 rushing yards, 29 receiving yards, two total touchdowns).
Keep an eye out for owners that have little patience. If you play in a league for a few years and have the same owners, you should have an idea of who will dump underperforming players right away. These are the owners I like to target in Week 3 when their star player has struggled to start the season due to a small injury or tough schedule.
Week 1 will also have injuries to players. Some will be starters who were drafted in the first round, so keep an eye out for players that replace them. I also monitor players that are hurt in the first week but have a chance to return.
In the past, I’ve played in leagues where the owners dump injured players right away in a panic. Depending on the situation, I will roster those players in hopes that they will contribute later down the line. Remember, fantasy football is a marathon, not a sprint. Also, it is a long season so keep that in mind when your managing your teams.
Good Quarterback Matchups This Week
Eli Manning at Dallas. When was the last time you saw Manning with a full stable of weapons to start the season? Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz are ready to go along with Rueben Randle, who is a better third receiver option then they had with Domenik Hixon, Mario Manningham or Ramses Barden. David Wilson is going to be explosive and Brandon Myers will be underrated. The offensive line is a question mark, but if the Giants secondary fails to stop Dallas, Manning will have to pour it on to pull off the win. Manning is 4-0 at Cowboys Stadium.
Tom Brady at Buffalo. Remember the first game in 2011 when Brady torched the Dolphins for 517 passing yards and four touchdowns? Yeah it could get that ugly. No Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker or Brandon Lloyd, but the New England Patriots always seem to make it work. Does Reche Caldwell ring a bell? I’m sure Danny Amendola and Kenbrell Thompkins can produce nicely. Use Zach Sudfeld this week, too. I’m all in on Patriots for Week 1.
Sleeper Pick of the Week: Carson Palmer at St. Louis. Palmer threw for 4,018 in 14 games of work. He only attempted three passes in Week 16 and didn’t play in Week 17. If you prorate his stats over 16 games, he would easily have had more than 4,500 yards. His 22 touchdowns weren’t great but still ranked 15th. He threw more touchdowns then Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub and he did it with Oakland’s offense. So this season he should be salivating to throw to Larry Fitzgerald, who is the best receiver he has ever had to throw to in his career.