I'm ready for my third-year breakout season.
This will be my third year doing Start 'Em and Sit 'Em, and I'm ready for this year to be my best ever and the start of great things to come. Much like third-year receivers, I'm hitting my comfort zone and know exactly what to expect this season.
There's nothing you can throw at me that I haven't seen already.
|Kurt Warner won the starting job and the hearts of Fantasy owners in less than a week. (US Presswire)|
But we're also not afraid to say bench those guys if we don't think they're worth using that particular week. It's up to you to trust our opinion (and to form your own), and we promise not to let you down.
This week has some nostalgia for me because I'm starting the year with the same "Start of the Week" I used in my first column, Kurt Warner, in the same matchup. In 2006, Warner was the "Start of the Week" for Week 1, and he passed for 301 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions against the 49ers.
Two years later, Warner is facing the 49ers again in Week 1, and he should find continued success. The Cardinals gave Warner the starting job over Matt Leinart because Warner gives Arizona the best chance to win. He was 5-3 in the final eight games last year.
One of those losses was against the 49ers, but hopefully you started him on your Fantasy team that week. Warner passed for 484 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Look for another big game from the old man, and definitely put him in your starting lineup. Warner is ready to start the season with a bang.
Sit of the WeekSomething happened to the Rams offense last year when they left the dome and went outside. It was even worse on grass fields.
|There's a good chance Marc Bulger will be doing a lot of scrambling in Week 1. (US Presswire)|
Last year, Bulger had four touchdowns and nine interceptions in six road games. Three of those games were on grass, where Bulger only had two touchdowns and five interceptions.
The Rams offensive line was a mess last year, and this year won't be much better. Bulger could be running for his life this week with the Eagles fascination to blitz on almost every play. And the Eagles have an improved secondary with the addition of cornerback Asante Samuel.
Steven Jackson could also be rusty coming off his holdout during training camp, so the Rams offense might be a mess this week. The safe bet is to sit Bulger on your Fantasy team and look for a better alternative.
To give you some insight, I drafted Warner and Bulger in one of my Fantasy leagues, and you know which quarterback will be in my lineup for Week 1.
Donovan McNabb (vs. STL): McNabb started to show toward the end of last year that his knee is back to full strength. He finished the season with six touchdowns and one interception in his final four games and should do well against this Rams secondary. McNabb might not have many weapons, but he'll make enough plays this week to be successful.
Eli Manning (vs. WAS): The Giants are at home in their first game since winning the Super Bowl, so Manning should be fired up. The Redskins also don't have defensive end Jason Taylor (knee) for this week. Manning doesn't have a great history against the Redskins, but he should be able to throw at least two touchdowns and put up strong stats in the season opener.
Brett Favre (at MIA): Don't worry about Favre wilting under the pressure of his first start for the Jets. He might throw an interception or two, but you know he's going to make a statement to show he's still got it. Look for Favre to test the Dolphins secondary, and he will definitely find the end zone a couple of times. The gunslinger will come out in Favre in this game.
Jon Kitna (at ATL): This matchup is made for Kitna. The Falcons secondary is weak, the pass rush is questionable and Kitna should have time to find his two stud receivers in Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson. The game is also indoors, where Kitna and the Lions are used to the surroundings. This is the rare time to trust Kitna as your starter.
Philip Rivers (vs. CAR): Antonio Gates might not be 100 percent, but Rivers will have his full complement of weapons on the field. With LaDainian Tomlinson, Chris Chambers, Gates and Vincent Jackson, Rivers will thrive at home against the Panthers. Rivers showed during the preseason that his knee is fine, and that's a great sign for Fantasy owners who took a chance on him this year.
Sleeper alert: J.T. O'Sullivan (vs. ARI): O'Sullivan shocked the 49ers and the NFL by winning the starting job this preseason. Now he gets to show off his skills in the season opener against the Cardinals, who allowed 26 passing touchdowns last year, among the worst in the NFL. This game has shootout written all over it, which means O'Sullivan should make plenty of plays. This is a great matchup for Fantasy owners.
Matt Hasselbeck (at BUF): Like we've told you the past few weeks of the preseason, this could be a tough year for Hasselbeck. He has no one to throw to with Deion Branch (knee), Bobby Engram (shoulder) and Ben Obomanu (clavicle) out to start the season. The Bills secondary isn't great, but the lack of weapons and a bad back for Hasselbeck means he should struggle in Week 1.
Jason Campbell (at NYG): Campbell has three touchdowns and one interception in his past two starts against the Giants. And the Giants defensive line isn't as dominant without Michael Strahan (retired) and Osi Umenyiora (knee). But Campbell has looked awful the past three preseason games, and a once promising start to training camp fell apart. Campbell still has upside, but let him prove it first. Keep him reserved for this week.
Jake Delhomme (at SD): Without Steve Smith (suspension), is there a reason to count on Delhomme? This is also his first game coming off Tommy John surgery on his elbow. He has a long way to go before Fantasy owners can trust him, and playing against the Chargers on the road without his best weapon is not the way to start.
Vince Young (vs. JAC): What has happened to Young, who is going backward in his progression instead of improving? The Jaguars defense should harass Young as always, and he has two touchdowns and six interceptions in four career meetings against Jacksonville. This game is all about the running backs, and Young won't make enough plays passing or running to help your Fantasy team this week.
David Garrard (at TEN): Garrard is capable of playing well this week, but his stats won't be overwhelming enough to help your Fantasy team. Figure about 200 yards passing and one touchdown and not much running the ball. His best receiver is hurt with Jerry Porter still dealing with a hamstring problem, and the Jaguars will do what they always do -- run the ball with Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew.
Bust alert: Jay Cutler (at OAK): When a quarterback doesn't have his favorite target that tells me to stay away. Brandon Marshall is suspended for this game, so Cutler doesn't have many quality options this week. The Raiders also have one of the best secondaries in the NFL. Cutler has one touchdown and four interceptions in two games against the Raiders. He will be fine this year once Marshall returns, but without Marshall, Cutler will struggle.
|Michael Turner should get plenty of touches with a rookie QB in front of him. (US Presswire)|
Michael Turner (vs. DET): The Falcons could struggle against the lowly Lions defense with rookie Matt Ryan starting at quarterback. But the Falcons would be smart to lean on Turner, who has played well in the preseason and should make a solid debut for his new team. Detroit was second in the NFL with 19 rushing touchdowns allowed, and the Lions lost defensive tackle Shaun Rogers to the Browns. That won't help things.
Thomas Jones (at MIA): Fantasy owners are going to be skeptical with Jones after a disappointing 2007 and a rough preseason. But Jones thrived against the Dolphins last year with 185 rushing yards and a touchdown in two games. The Dolphins also were last in the NFL in run defense last season. They will be better this year, but not enough to keep Jones from having a good game.
Selvin Young (at OAK): Young didn't have a chance to play much against the Raiders last year (10 carries for 71 yards in two games), but that will change this week. Denver will rely on the running game this week, and the Raiders run defense is horrible. Last year, Oakland led the NFL with 24 rushing touchdowns allowed. Look for Young and Andre Hall to play well in Week 1.
Ricky Williams (vs. NYJ): Williams is on his way toward Comeback Player of the Year. He played well in the preseason and impressed the Dolphins enough to earn a one-year contract extension. With Ronnie Brown not 100 percent, Williams will get the majority of carries and do well against the Jets. New York improved its defensive front this offseason, but Williams will find enough holes to help your Fantasy team this week.
Sleeper alert: Justin Fargas (vs. DEN): With all the hype surrounding Darren McFadden, who should also play well this week, Fargas remains the starter for Oakland. Last year, Fargas destroyed the Broncos in his only start against Denver, running for 146 yards and a touchdown. The Broncos run defense was among the worst in the NFL last year, which is why you should like Fargas and McFadden in this game.
Jamal Lewis (vs. DAL): Lewis is still dealing with a hamstring problem from the preseason, which is never a good thing to hear about a power runner. The Cowboys run defense is also stout against the run, and Dallas should build a lead in this game, which should negate what Lewis can do. Let Lewis get healthy first and wait for a better matchup, although the Browns schedule this year doesn't give Lewis many easy games (maybe the two against the Bengals).
Chris Perry (at BAL): Perry played well enough during the preseason to let the Bengals release Rudi Johnson. But Baltimore is not the opponent to use Perry against for your Fantasy team. The Ravens, with all their turnover on offense, still have a dominant run defense even with Ed Reed (neck) injured. Perry may catch a few passes out of the backfield, but he will find it tough to find the end zone. Johnson had 40 carries for 96 yards in two games against the Ravens last year.
Julius Jones (at BUF): Jones was drafted in most leagues as a Fantasy starter or key reserve. Now he can't even start for his own team. Maurice Morris and T.J. Duckett have played better than Jones during the preseason, and the Bills will be able to limit what Jones can do this week. Keep Jones reserved until he gives you enough reason to take him off the bench.
Matt Forte (at IND): Forte is going to be an impressive rookie and should contend for top rookie honors this year. But this isn't the week to start him on your Fantasy team. The Colts have a solid run defense led by safety Bob Sanders, and Forte will also lose a few carries to Kevin Jones. This will be a tough matchup for the Bears offensive players, including Forte, so keep him reserved this week.
Ronnie Brown (vs. NYJ): Give Brown about a month before starting him for your Fantasy team. By then his knee should be back to 100 percent and the thumb injury will be long gone. But he's still dealing with those two things and also the emergence of Ricky Williams. Brown will get his share of carries against the Jets, but Williams will play better and keep Brown on the bench more than on the field.
Bust alert: Ryan Grant (vs. MIN): Don't even look at what Grant did against the Vikings last year when he had 119 rushing yards and a touchdown at Lambeau Field. That was a different Packers team and a more motivated Grant to prove he belongs. Well, he does belong, but the Vikings are well aware of it. The Vikings run defense will key on Grant and force new quarterback Aaron Rodgers to make plays. Grant will find little running room against the Viking run defense, and this is not the week to count on Grant as a starting option.
Marvin Harrison (vs. CHI): It's the new stadium on prime time, it's Harrison's return from injury and Peyton Manning is healthy. Why wouldn't you start Harrison this week? The Bears secondary is shaky, and you know Manning will be looking for Harrison plenty in this game to show his favorite target is back to form.
Jerricho Cotchery (at MIA): You could see in the preseason that Cotchery is becoming Favre's favorite receiver, and Cotchery should eat up this secondary. The Dolphins, albeit a much different team this year, still allowed 28 passing touchdowns in 2007, which was among the worst in the NFL. Look for Favre to find Cotchery a few times.
Calvin Johnson (at ATL): Without DeAngelo Hall in the secondary for the Falcons, Johnson and Roy Williams should find success this week. Atlanta's defense is no match for these receivers, and Johnson is ready for a sensational sophomore campaign. The Lions want to run more this year, but with Johnson and Williams, they will do their share of throwing as well.
Patrick Crayton (at CLE): Crayton was among the best No. 2 receivers in the league last year, finishing behind only Wes Welker, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Anquan Boldin and Greg Jennings in yards and touchdowns for secondary options. Crayton is still No. 2 this year behind Terrell Owens, but you can start Crayton in Fantasy leagues this week. Cleveland's secondary is terrible, and Crayton is worth rolling out there.
Santonio Holmes (vs. HOU): Holmes will start his third-year breakout season with a big game against the Texans. Houston's defense is susceptible to the deep ball, and Holmes should get behind the secondary at least once. Look for Big Ben to find Holmes as often as possible since Holmes is his big-play threat.
Sleeper alert: DeSean Jackson (vs. STL): No rookie took a bigger step this preseason than Jackson, who went from being a specialist and a punt returner to a starting receiver. Donovan McNabb needs targets, and Jackson should be solid between the 20s. He might not score many touchdowns unless he gets a deep ball, but he could catch at least five passes for 70-plus yards.
Lee Evans (vs. SEA): Evan should be in line for a bounce back season since he's in a contract year and the Bills upgraded the receiving corps with rookie James Hardy, who should take pressure off Evans. But with Trent Edwards (knee) not 100 percent and Seattle a tough matchup, keep Evans reserved this week. The Seahawks led the NFL with only 15 touchdowns allowed last year.
Santana Moss (at NYG): As Jason Campbell's preseason fell apart, so did the Redskins passing game. It should get on track as the year goes on, but this is not the week to trust Campbell or Moss. The Giants should be fired up in their first game following the Super Bowl victory. They will key in on Moss, who despite a good history against the Giants, should struggle this week.
Javon Walker (vs. DEN): It would be hard to imagine the Broncos allowing Walker, a former player for Denver, making an impact in this game. Walker will see a lot of Champ Bailey and Dre Bly, and they will not give Walker much room to operate. Walker coming to Oakland only makes this rivalry better, and the matchups should be fun to watch.
Nate Burleson (at BUF): Since Burleson is the only healthy receiver the Seahawks have with any experience, look for the Bills to focus on stopping him. Matt Hasselbeck also isn't 100 percent with the recent back problems, and that could hinder the Seattle passing game. Going cross country isn't ideal for a season opener, and that could be a problem for the Seahawks.
Joey Galloway (at NO): Forget the trends with this matchup. Galloway has owned the Saints in his career in Tampa Bay, and last year he had 11 catches for 294 yards and two touchdowns in two games against New Orleans. But Galloway didn't play in any preseason games with a groin injury that is still causing him problems. And Jeff Garcia also dealt with a calf strain earlier this preseason. The Saints defense will improve this year, and Galloway will struggle this week.
Bust alert: Torry Holt (at PHI): This is a game where you go with the trends, and the Rams are not good outdoors. Holt only had one touchdown on the road last year. Now he gets to face off against Asante Samuel, who should cause Holt problems. Remember, when the Rams are indoors, they thrive. When they go outside, it's a good idea to leave them on your bench.
Heath Miller (vs. HOU): Let's see if Miller can make it four years in a row. He has scored in the season-opener the last three years and has become one of the best red zone targets in the NFL. Last year, Miller set career highs in catches (47), yards (566) and touchdowns (seven). It's obvious Ben Roethlisberger likes his big tight end, and the Texans allowed 25 touchdowns last year.
L.J. Smith (vs. STL): Many Fantasy owners forget that before Smith was hurt for most of last season, he was one of Donovan McNabb's favorite targets. Smith is healthy this year, and the Eagles are hurting at receiver. Look for McNabb to target Smith in the red zone, and he could get back on track against the porous Rams secondary in Week 1.
Ben Utecht (at BAL): Utecht might have become Carson Palmer's most reliable target during the preseason with Chad Johnson (shoulder) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (hamstring) dealing with injuries. The Ravens, who were among the league leaders last year with 27 passing touchdowns allowed, also will be without safety Ed Reed (neck) for this game.
Sleeper alert: Anthony Fasano (vs. NYJ): Chad Pennington will do his best to get revenge on his former team, and his best target in the red zone might be Fasano. The Jets also are hurting at safety, which could help Fasano take advantage of a mismatch. And since Fasano is from New Jersey, he could be looking to show off for friends and family back home.
Greg Olsen (at IND): Olsen is going to have to play well if new Bears starter Kyle Orton has a chance this week, but the Colts were No. 2 in pass defense in 2007 with only 16 touchdowns allowed. They know stopping Olsen is a priority, so look for him to see plenty of extra coverage and not a lot of catches. Desmond Clark also will take away some of Olsen's opportunities as usual.
Owen Daniels (at PIT): Daniels is one of my favorite players this year and should be in line for a breakout season. But he only had one touchdown on the road last year, and the Steelers were No. 3 in pass defense in 2007. Daniels should do better as the year goes on, but this is not a favorable matchup this week.
Tony Scheffler (at OAK): Not only is Nate Jackson taking away playing time from Scheffler, he could see plenty of coverage with Brandon Marshall out with the suspension. The Raiders also have one of the best secondaries in the NFL, so Scheffler might not get many touches. This is a good week to leave Scheffler on the bench.
Bust alert: Antonio Gates (vs. CAR): It's hard to bench Gates, who is an elite player and one of the best at his position. But we don't know how his injured toe is going to react in a game situation. Gates missed the entire preseason coming back from the injury and could be rusty. If the Chargers go up early against the Panthers, Gates could be out of the game. He should be fine for the year, but let him prove it first. Go with a safer option this week.
Philadelphia (vs. STL): As stated above, the Rams are terrible outdoors, and we're still not sure how Steven Jackson will do in his 2008 debut. Look for the Eagles to blitz, blitz and blitz some more, forcing Marc Bulger into a couple of turnovers, and Philadelphia's new secondary featuring Asante Samuel should thrive. We also get to see DeSean Jackson's debut on punt returns.
Chicago (at IND): Devin Hester may be able to save the Bears DST this week, but the defense could be in for a long night. Peyton Manning is back from the knee injury and Marvin Harrison returns from last year's injury-plagued season on the opening night of the new stadium. You have to figure the Colts are going to put up some points at Chicago's expense.
Jason Hanson (at ATL): If you're one of those owners who play the matchups every week, then grab Hanson for Week 1. The Lions should score some points this week, and Hanson will benefit. He had 29 field goals last year, and the Falcons were among the league leaders with 28 field goals and 46 extra points allowed in 2007.
John Kasay (at SD): I'm never a big fan of using marginal players on cross-country trips, so this could be the week to avoid Kasay. The Panthers are without Steve Smith for this game, so the offense isn't at full strength. And the Chargers were second in the NFL last year with only 13 field goals allowed.
Do you have a Fantasy Football question? Send your thoughts to DMFantasyFootball@cbs.com and we'll get to as many as we can. Be sure to put Attn: Start/Sit in the subject field. Include your full name, hometown and state.