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Winning Fantasy Calls for Week 1

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Editor's note: Each week our Dave Richard will share his take on all of the players that you are on the fence about each week. He'll look at each matchup to help you maximize your lineups.

Minnesota at Detroit, Sun., 1 p.m. ET

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Both defenses were given an overhaul this offseason: The Lions upgraded at safety and have a healthy defensive line, the Vikings got deeper at cornerback and defensive tackle. The Lions' biggest addition, however, tilts the scales in their favor. Reggie Bush should eat up the Vikings on screens and dump-off passes.

No-brainers: Adrian Peterson; Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush, Calvin Johnson

Greg Jennings, WR, Vikings: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Expect the Vikings to test Lions rookie cornerback Darius Slay, who was picked on by Tom Brady in the preseason. Jennings' veteran smarts could be enough to give him a decent outing.
Flow chart: Mike Williams > Greg Jennings > Mike Wallace > Steve Smith

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Detroit had trouble covering tight ends last year, including a 64-yard, one-score game for Rudolph in its last meeting. It wouldn't be a shock to see him score in Week 1.
I'd start him over: Tyler Eifert, Greg Olsen

Nate Burleson, WR, Lions: My Projection: 5 FPTS
A desperate Fantasy owner could take a flier on Burleson, who for the time being looks like the Lions' sure-fire No. 2 receiver.
I'd start him over: Markus Wheaton, Robert Woods

Ryan Broyles, WR, Lions: My Projection: 4 FPTS
There isn't a definitive word as to why Broyles had a lot of second-team work in the preseason. His knees have bugged him but he still should be a contributor on Sundays. Maybe back off of him until his playing time is solid.
I'd rather start: Jeremy Kerley, Rod Streater

Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Lions: My Projection: 8 FPTS
The matchup says Pettigrew is a must-start. He's had at least 6 Fantasy points in each of his last four vs. Minnesota and has scored in two of his last three.
I'd start him over: Martellus Bennett, Brent Celek

Oakland at Indianapolis, Sun., 1 p.m. ET

The Colts pick up the best matchup of the week: The Raiders' pass rush is weak, the linebackers are good but not great, and the defensive secondary is a combination of worn-out cornerbacks and an aging safety in Charles Woodson. While the Colts should have their way, there might not be a ton of pass attempts for Andrew Luck.

No-brainers: Darren McFadden; Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Colts: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Vick Ballard, RB, Colts: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The matchup is too juicy to ignore either guy. Assuming Bradshaw is OK after practicing and is active, he might be effective on limited reps. If the game gets lopsided in the Colts' favor then Ballard will have a ton of numbers in garbage time.
I'd start Bradshaw over: Frank Gore, Darren Sproles
I'd start Ballard over: Mark Ingram, Giovani Bernard

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Expect Hilton's wheels to be in overdrive against the slower defensive backs of the Raiders. Remember, the more time Luck has to throw, the better chance Hilton hauls in a long pass. There's so much upside here.
I'd start him over: Jordy Nelson, Kenbrell Thompkins

Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Colts: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Obvious motivation factor for DHB going up against his old team. He's never had a big Week 1 game and only has one career touchdown in September. He's also never caught passes from a quarterback like Luck before. He tops out as a sleeper Flex play in PPR leagues.
I'd start him over: Emmanuel Sanders, Vincent Brown

Coby Fleener, TE, Colts: My Projection: 2 FPTS
Dwayne Allen, TE, Colts: My Projection: 2 FPTS
Under normal circumstances these guys would be juicy Fantasy candidates but both are banged up and might not see a full workload. Plus they could end up covered by Charles Woodson, who is healthy and should be at least effective.
I'd rather start: Brandon Myers, Owen Daniels

Colts DST: My Projection: 11 FPTS
They're the DST of the week as they have enough talent to slow down Darren McFadden in the box and along the edges while also feasting on Terrelle Pryor. Considering the Raiders O-line, five sacks is not out of the question.
I'd start them over: 49ers DST, Ravens DST

Terrelle Pryor, QB, Raiders: My Projection: 15 FPTS
The Colts' secondary isn't anything to write home about, but neither is Pryor's receivers (or his arm). There will be games this season where Pryor picks up a ton of rushing yardage and some passing totals thanks to garbage time. This might be one of them.
I'd start him over: Josh Freeman, Philip Rivers

Rod Streater, WR, Raiders: My Projection: 5 FPTS
He should end up being Pryor's top target. Streater has the surest hands of any Raider and might pick up a few first downs in the second half. Cornerbacks Greg Toler and Vontae Davis aren't overwhelmingly tough matchups for him.
I'd start him over: Jacoby Jones, Leonard Hankerson

New England at Buffalo, Sun., 1 p.m. ET

Don't count out the Bills' offense being sneaky here and going with the Wildcat or the wishbone. That's not to say it'll be wildly effective. C.J. Spiller has one career touchdown against the Pats (receiving, not rushing) and one 100-total-yard game (it came in Week 9 last year). The Patriots DST is definitely worth a start.

No-brainers: Tom Brady, Stevan Ridley, Danny Amendola, Patriots DST; C.J. Spiller

Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The only risk in starting Vereen is getting enough work out of him. It was a little disappointing to see him get most of his preseason carries with the second-string. In potential blowouts like this there's no promise of him being great for Fantasy.
Flow chart: Darren Sproles > Lamar Miller > Shane Vereen > Vick Ballard > Mark Ingram

Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, Patriots: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The jump from undrafted rookie to Fantasy sensation should complete itself in this game. Buffalo's starting cornerbacks are vulnerable and with its pass rush not superior, Brady could find Thompkins a worthy target. He's worth a gamble.
I'd start him over: Mike Wallace, Steve Smith

Zach Sudfeld, TE, Patriots: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Buffalo native Rob Gronkowski routinely scorches the Bills for huge stats. Sudfeld isn't quite as devastating to defenses as Gronk, but if the Patriots stick to their typical plan then he'll be worth using.
I'd start him over: Tyler Eifert, Martellus Bennett

Fred Jackson, RB, Bills: My Projection: 3 FPTS
How many reps is he realistically going to get? Ten? Hard to trust him when it's expected the Patriots will have a huge lead and Spiller will hog carries.
I'd rather start: Christine Michael, Ronnie Hillman

Steve Johnson, WR, Bills: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Stevie has delivered 10 Fantasy points or less in three straight against the Pats and will catch passes from a rookie quarterback. Not exactly a great situation for him. Johnson is squarely a Flex candidate.
I'd rather start: Golden Tate, DeAndre Hopkins

Kansas City at Jacksonville, Sun., 1 p.m. ET

Only matchup of the week with two new coaches with their respective teams. Alex Smith has a pretty easy first matchup: Jacksonville's secondary has a target on its back and its pass rush is unproven. Establishing Jamaal Charles and using play action to beat the Jags deep is probably in the cards.

No-brainers: Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe; Maurice Jones-Drew

Cecil Shorts, WR, Jaguars: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Shorts is a tough call. While he's the unquestioned No. 1 receiver for Jacksonville, he's also been nicked up through most of August. The Chiefs' secondary bulked up this offseason and should be able to at least contain Shorts for much of the game. Though it's possible he breaks free on a big play, he's best left in the Flex conversation.
Flow chart: Eric Decker > Kenny Britt > Cecil Shorts > T.Y. Hilton > Jordy Nelson

Ace Sanders, WR, Jaguars: My Projection: 5 FPTS
Sanders is one to watch, not necessarily start. He's small and speedy. Training camp opened the door for him to get on the field, now he'll have to prove he's worth being a part of a three-receiver set when Justin Blackmon comes back.
I'd rather start: Davone Bess, Jeremy Kerley

Cincinnati at Chicago, Sun., 1 p.m. ET

Both quarterbacks figure to be under siege here, but Andy Dalton should end up faring better. He has the better offensive line and the more dynamic receiving corps. If the Bears remain true to Cover-2 principles then the Bengals' tight ends could be effective.

No-brainers: A.J. Green, Bengals DST; Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Bears DST

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: My Projection: 18 FPTS
Only 25 percent of the quarterbacks that played against the Bears last year produced multiple touchdowns. Dalton will play without left tackle Andre Whitworth, likely putting him under some pressure. That might not be so good. To his credit, Dalton began 2012 red hot, scoring 25-plus Fantasy points in 7 of his first 11 games.
I'd rather start: Sam Bradford, Russell Wilson

Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals: My Projection: 8 FPTS
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals: My Projection: 4 FPTS
Not the best matchup for these guys as the Bears are still expected to be strong against the run. We'll get an idea of just how much the Bengals plan to use Bernard -- if they're playing from behind we could see him quite a bit.
I'd start Bernard over: Rashard Mendenhall, Eddie Lacy
I'd rather start over Green-Ellis: Chris Ivory, Isaac Redman

Mohamed Sanu, WR, Bengals: My Projection: 6 FPTS
When Sanu started to get playing time last year his numbers really popped. Bengals might try to get him lined up on a nickel back in the red zone for a couple of looks.
Flow chart: Brian Hartline > Darrius Heyward-Bey > Mohamed Sanu > Vincent Brown > Kendall Wright

Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Major sleeper. His wrist should be fine and his size makes him a major mismatch for the Bears' safeties and linebackers.
I'd start him over: Greg Olsen, Fred Davis

Jay Cutler, QB, Bears: My Projection: 15 FPTS
Cutler has thrown for over 300 yards and two touchdowns in each of his last three Week 1 games. This one is going to be different as the Bengals' pass rush and secondary will be a major challenge. If Cutler's preseason had gone smoother he'd be safer.
I'd rather start: Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub

Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Jeffery is a candidate to make a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2 but I wouldn't chance it in this matchup. Cincy's veteran cornerbacks could make things challenging even if its defense is tilted toward Brandon Marshall.
I'd rather start: Andre Roberts, Anquan Boldin

Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears: My Projection: 6 FPTS
The Bears might look for Bennett in single coverage against unproven safety George Iloka. That should work out for them but not necessarily in the red zone where Bennett can be covered up in zone coverage.
I'd rather start: Tyler Eifert, Brandon Pettigrew

Tennessee at Pittsburgh, Sun., 1 p.m. ET

Chris Johnson's matchup isn't as bad as you might think. He's posted 10-plus Fantasy points in three of five career games against the Steelers and heads into this matchup with an incredible offensive line that crushed defenses this preseason. Should be a great matchup with at least modest results.

No-brainers: Chris Johnson; Steelers DST

Kenny Britt, WR, Titans: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Britt finished last year pretty strong with four games with 10-plus Fantasy points in his last six. Has at least four catches in each of three career games against the Steelers, including a 4-62-1 line last season.
I'd start him over: Hakeem Nicks, Golden Tate

Kendall Wright, WR, Titans: My Projection: 6 FPTS
In time, Wright will be a reliable PPR Flex option in Fantasy. For now, he's a risk considering his balky knee. In his favor is the likelihood that Tennessee will pass a lot.
I'd rather start: Santana Moss, Marlon Moore

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: My Projection: 19 FPTS
The problem isn't that Big Ben has a bad matchup, the problem is that you probably have someone better to start. Tennessee's defense isn't all bad but Roethlisberger should be able to put up some numbers.
I'd start him over: Russell Wilson, Andy Dalton

Isaac Redman, RB, Steelers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
The Titans' run defense ranked a weak 24th last year but they have a big D-line now along with experienced safeties and a good enough trio of linebackers. Redman will split carries and probably churn his way to a decent day.
Flow chart: Eddie Lacy > Ryan Mathews > Isaac Redman > Montee Ball > DeAngelo Williams

Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Brown's got an awful track record against the Titans (6 rec., 43 yards in two games) but Mike Wallace had over 80 yards and a touchdown in each of those games. Kind of have to like Brown in that No. 1 receiver's role.
I'd start him over: Eric Decker, Vincent Jackson

Atlanta at New Orleans, Sun., 1 p.m. ET

The last meeting was the first time in four matchups the two teams didn't combine for at least 49 points. Neither defense packs a powerful pass rush or has a debilitating secondary, so really you should expect to see some serious numbers put up.

No-brainers: Matt Ryan, Steven Jackson, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez; Drew Brees, Darren Sproles, Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham

Mark Ingram, RB, Saints: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Atlanta's defense remains mostly unchanged up front (Osi Umenyiora is new on the defensive line). That's not necessarily a good thing considering the Falcons' 21st rank vs. the run last year. In fact, New Orleans' traditional rushers have averaged 5.0 yards per carry in each of their last three against the Falcons with a score in each. Put your money on Ingram to be a usable Flex.
I'd start Ingram over: Giovani Bernard, Ryan Mathews
I'd start Thomas over: Jets RBs, Bernard Pierce

Lance Moore, WR, Saints: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Moore tore up the Falcons with a pair of seven-catch games, one for 91 yards and one with 123 yards. The game figures to be a shootout and Moore is one of Drew Brees' trusted targets.
I'd start him over: Tavon Austin, Mike Wallace

Tampa Bay at New York Jets, Sun., 1 p.m. ET

The Jets shocked the world last year with a Week 1 thrashing of the Bills before falling in line with expectations. Maybe they can harass Josh Freeman into a couple of turnovers and pull off an upset again, but their offense is so iffy and matches up poorly with what the Bucs can do, particularly with Darrelle Revis at cornerback.

No-brainers: Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson

Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers: My Projection: 13 FPTS
Even without Darrelle Revis last year the Jets allowed just five multi-touchdown passers over 13 games. The Jets defense isn't entirely bad and Freeman needs good protection in front of him to be capable.
I'd rather start: EJ Manuel, Terrelle Pryor

Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Whether the Jets stick Antonio Cromartie on Vincent Jackson or just keep Cromartie on the right side of the field, Williams will get his fair share of targets in coverage against Jets rookie Dee Milliner. That could breed some success. Think Flex.
I'd start him over: Greg Jennings, Steve Smith

Buccaneers DST: My Projection: 16 FPTS
Geno Smith making his NFL debut with one of the worst receiving corps in football and a hot-and-cold offensive line should prove to be beneficial to a Bucs defense that was tops in the league vs. the run last year and added ex-Jet Revis this offseason.
I'd start them over: Every DST in Fantasy

Bilal Powell, RB, Jets: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Chris Ivory, RB, Jets: My Projection: 5 FPTS
The only decent parts of the Jets offense at this juncture are at tailback. Ivory is healthy, so the Jets might as well use him while they can. Powell needs to impress over the next four weeks to keep his lot before Mike Goodson comes back. Tough start for them.
I'd rather start: Isaac Redman, Montee Ball

Miami at Cleveland, Sun., 1 p.m. ET

For the Dolphins to win Lamar Miller will have to get moving on all cylinders. If he can create a rushing threat then Ryan Tannehill can take advantage on deep pass attempts via play-action. The Browns can do the same, with an exception: Trent Richardson already is an established rushing threat.

No-brainers: Trent Richardson

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins: My Projection: 13 FPTS
Tannehill never tossed two touchdowns on the road last year, though he didn't have as good of a receiving corps as he has now. The Browns' pass rush should do well against inexperienced left tackle Jonathan Martin, making Tannehill's day tougher.
I'd rather start: Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert

Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Miller should be the main guy for Miami's run game presuming he doesn't turn the ball over. The Browns ranked 19th vs. the run last year and while they did improve their pass rush and pass coverage, their run defense remains the same. Miller has a chance.
I'd start him over: Shane Vereen, Darren McFadden

Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Wallace's recent track record against Browns cornerback Joe Haden is not good: After torching Haden as a rookie he's had six grabs for 77 yards and no scores in three games. That was with Ben Roethlisberger as his quarterback, not Ryan Tannehill.
I'd rather start: Lance Moore, Greg Jennings

Brandon Weeden, QB, Browns: My Projection: 15 FPTS
Now's not the time to get excited about Weeden since he's playing this game and his next without potential superstar Josh Gordon. The Dolphins might start ex-Browns cornerback Dimitri Patterson, and if so Weeden will go after him repeatedly. Should be fun to watch.
I'd rather start: Joe Flacco, Jay Cutler

Greg Little, WR, Browns: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Davone Bess, WR, Browns: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Miami's secondary isn't anything special once you get past cornerback Brent Grimes. Bess can play the motivation card after the Dolphins traded him away. Both of these guys are PPR sleepers given their targets should be up with Gordon suspended.
Flow chart: Alshon Jeffery > Greg Little > Mohamed Sanu > Rod Streater > Davone Bess

Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns: My Projection: 8 FPTS
The Dolphins were excellent against tight ends last year, allowing just three scores to the position on the season. Free safety Chris Clemons gives up some size to Cameron -- if there's single coverage there the Browns could take some shots.
I'd start him over: Kyle Rudolph, Tyler Eifert

Seattle at Carolina, Sun., 1 p.m. ET

Don't overestimate this matchup for the Seahawks: The Panthers added a pair of huge defensive tackles in the draft and played outstanding preseason ball, creating 14 turnovers. They actually might be a tough defense to run against, though no one would question Marshawn Lynch's chances to put up some stats.

No-brainers: Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks DST

Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks: My Projection: 18 FPTS
Wilson is a bit of a risk. Carolina's defensive front should make things a little tough for him and his receiving corps isn't exactly sparkling. It'll take a leap of faith to start him. He threw just one score at Carolina last year.
I'd rather start: Ben Roethlisberger, Sam Bradford

Golden Tate, WR, Seahawks: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The most reliable of Seattle's receivers, Tate caught the team's only touchdown pass at Carolina last year. He's going to get chances regardless of which cornerback the Panthers stick on him.
I'd start him over: DeSean Jackson, Steve Johnson

Zach Miller, TE, Seahawks: My Projection: 6 FPTS
This is a sneaky matchup to consider: The Panthers allowed seven scores to tight ends last year while Miller finished 2012 with three touchdowns in his final six games and at least three catches in four of his last five.
I'd start him over: Brandon Myers, Owen Daniels

Cam Newton, QB, Panthers: My Projection: 19 FPTS
You probably don't have many other choices to go with so just keep expectations cool for Cam. Newton was held without a touchdown three times last year, once against the Seahawks. This figures to be one of just a few tough matchups for Newton this year.
I'd rather start: Colin Kaepernick, Michael Vick

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Hopefully you drafted Williams to be a part-time Flex. This is a good week to avoid him. Seattle's run defense was in mid-season form during the preseason and Carolina's offensive line isn't great. Next week will be better for Williams.
I'd rather start: Ryan Mathews, Isaac Redman

Steve Smith, WR, Panthers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner will be focused on corralling Smith, and they'll even get some help from Seattle's safeties. Smith had 40 yards on four catches last year against Seattle and could come up about as small again.
I'd rather start: Greg Jennings, Andre Roberts

Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers Projection: 5 FPTS
Olsen didn't do well against the Seahawks last year but he was targeted just three times. Maybe that's because the Panthers knew how efficient the Seahawks were against tight ends. Olsen has never scored in a Week 1 game.
I'd rather start: Julius Thomas, Fred Davis

Arizona at St. Louis, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET

The new-and-improved Cardinals offense debuts against one of the most underrated defenses in football. Carson Palmer figures to be under fire from the jump and the Cortland Finnegan-Larry Fitzgerald matchup will be a dandy. Fitzy didn't score on the Rams last year, though quarterback issues played a role.

No-brainers: Larry Fitzgerald

Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals: My Projection: 17 FPTS
Pencil in Palmer for 35-plus attempts pretty much every week. His offensive line is an issue, especially with guard Jonathan Cooper out, which means there will be some turnovers. The Rams tied for the NFL lead in sacks last year with 52, 11 against the Cardinals.
Flow chart: Sam Bradford > Russell Wilson > Carson Palmer > Eli Manning

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Cardinals: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Risky. Not only might Mendenhall struggle between the tackles against the Rams' monstrous defensive front, but the Cardinals could easily go into pass-happy mode, taking him out of the equation.
I'd rather start: Vick Ballard, Daryl Richardson

Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Have to like Floyd in the Flex conversation for this week. Matchup against the likes of Janoris Jenkins will be tough, but the Cards will pass plenty.
I'd start him over: Steve Johnson, Tavon Austin

Andre Roberts, WR, Cardinals: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Sneaky PPR sleeper this week. Coach Bruce Arians will lean heavily on his three- and four-receiver sets which puts Roberts on the field a lot. Easy target underneath if he's covered by cornerback Brandon McGee.
I'd start him over: Steve Smith, Anquan Boldin

Sam Bradford, QB, Rams: My Projection: 18 FPTS
Arizona's defense has plenty of talent but Bradford did well against them last year: he connected for two scores in each of his matchups vs. 'Zona last year. That's before all the receiving upgrades the Rams made. He's a sleeper.
I'd start him over: Russell Wilson, Eli Manning

Daryl Richardson, RB, Rams: My Projection: 9 FPTS
He'll lead the Rams rushers in touches, especially this week with Isaiah Pead suspended. That makes him a good Flex candidate for sure.
I'd start him over: Rashard Mendenhall, Eddie Lacy

Chris Givens, WR, Rams: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The combination of his track record vs. Arizona (touchdowns in each game last year) and his experience working with Bradford gives him an early-season leg-up on the rest of his teammates.
I'd start him over: Kenbrell Thompkins, Hakeem Nicks

Tavon Austin, WR, Rams: My Projection: 8 FPTS
It's a gamble to start Austin in his first NFL game but he'll be fun to watch. The Cardinals have some athletic defensive backs that can keep up with him.
Flow chart: Mike Williams > Lance Moore > Tavon Austin > Greg Jennings > Mike Wallace

Jared Cook, TE, Rams: My Projection: 12 FPTS
Rams tight end Lance Kendricks scored in both games against the Cardinals last year. Cook's a better player who will be featured more prominently in the passing game. He has major potential.
I'd start him over: Any tight end not named Graham or Gonzalez

Green Bay at San Francisco, Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET

Don't be surprised to see this break into a shootout. You'd expect that from Aaron Rodgers & Co., but Colin Kaepernick has showed that he's a very good passer. As for his rushing skills, the Packers geared up all offseason to slow him down after his record-setting 181 yards on the ground in the divisional playoffs. Kap's going to have to use his arm to win -- and he will.

No-brainers: Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley; Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis

Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Packers running backs totaled 20 carries over two games against San Fran last year. Doesn't suggest a lot of work for Lacy. He's going to have some amazing games but the Packers' lack of run game and the pedigree of the Niners run defense suggests he's going to get off to a cold start.
I'd rather start: Giovani Bernard, Rashard Mendenhall

James Jones, WR, Packers: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Of course, if the Packers aren't going to run it then it means they're going to throw it. Nelson seems back at 100 percent and both he and Jones should do well. Jones specifically had at least 80 yards and a touchdown in both games vs. the Niners last year. This year he might see a lot of Nnamdi Asomugha in coverage. That's money.
I'd start them over: Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith

Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Boldin should get his fair share of work, but it's not going to be enough to confidently start him. Most people drafted him to be a quality reserve anyway.
I'd rather start: Greg Jennings, Andre Roberts

49ers DST: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The Packers scored 53 points (at least 22 per game) over two meetings last year and are reconfigured to be even tougher this season. It helps the Niners that Green Bay's O-line is already sub par, but it's tough to expect a monster game from them.
I'd rather start: Patriots DST, Steelers DST, Colts DST

New York Giants at Dallas, Sun., 8:30 p.m. ET

This should be a high scoring game. Dallas' offense is healthy everywhere except at the guard spots and should attack the Giants secondary early and often. The Giants defense has a lot to prove -- will Jason Pierre-Paul be effective? Who will step up in the secondary? Dallas should be able to move the ball fairly easily.

No-brainers: David Wilson, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks; Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten

Eli Manning, QB, Giants: My Projection: 16 FPTS
Manning struggled against the Cowboys last year (one touchdown in two games), and that was when their defense stunk! Hakeem Nicks wasn't the same guy then, but neither was the Dallas defense. The scheme change should help them. Manning has some multi-score potential but he's not as enticing as he might normally be.
I'd rather start: Sam Bradford, Russell Wilson

Brandon Myers, TE, Giants: My Projection: 4 FPTS
One of the ways to attack a Cover-2 defense is over the middle to the tight end. Myers could end up catching a decent amount of passes, but he's not explosive enough to expect a huge game.
I'd rather start: Jeff Cumberland, Greg Olsen

Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys: My Projection: 11 FPTS
He's healthy and the Giants' defensive backs aren't great. Sounds like a good recipe for Austin to get off to another quality early-season start. Austin has scored in Week 1 for four straight years.
I'd start him over: Reggie Wayne, Antonio Brown, Vincent Jackson

Philadelphia at Washington, Mon., 6:55 p.m. ET

All eyes will be on Robert Griffin III. Why is he a good start? He's healthy, as evidenced by his full participation in training camp and in practice during the preseason. Though he hasn't gone up against foreign competition, Griffin's experienced enough to handle blitzes and the like. Things like his timing and his instincts shouldn't be affected because of the diligent work he's put in. Also, the matchup is great: Philadelphia's secondary has been rebuilt, but it's not scary. RG3 threw for six touchdowns over 29 pass attempts in two games against Philly last year.

No-brainers: LeSean McCoy; Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon

Michael Vick, QB, Eagles: My Projection: 20 FPTS
Vick's fast-break offense will need some big plays against a healthy Redskins defense in order for his stats to be respectable. It's possible. Redskins allowed multiple scores to quarterbacks in 10 of 16 games.
I'd start him over: Cam Newton, Russell Wilson

DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Redskins cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson are beatable. Be it on a screen or a bomb, Jackson's going to need a big play to be great for Fantasy pretty much every week.
Flow chart: DeAndre Hopkins > DeSean Jackson > Steve Johnson > Steve Smith

Brent Celek, TE, Eagles Projection: 6 FPTS
Redskins were downright horrible against tight ends last year but Celek never cashed in. He should play the most of any Eagles tight end and should be a decent sleeper.
I'd start him over: Fred Davis, Owen Daniels

Fred Davis, TE, Redskins: My Projection: 5 FPTS
Matchup is favorable as the Eagles safeties aren't exactly stellar against the pass. Griffin has never leaned on his tight ends but did start throwing to Davis (22 targets, 20 catches in his final five games last year).
I'd start him over: Greg Olsen, Owen Daniels

Houston at San Diego, Mon., 10:20 p.m. ET

This is a tough test for the Chargers on both sides of the ball. Defensively they're taking on a Houston offense that could be at its best in franchise history (it depends on just how good Arian Foster feels). Offensively they'll have to be effective passing in order to have a chance to keep up on the scoreboard, a problem considering the relative lack of experience at wide receiver.

No-brainers: Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, Texans DST

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans: My Projection: 16 FPTS
This is among the best matchups Schaub will have this season but he might not be needed. The Texans could wind up running just as well as passing, leaving Schaub to have an efficient but not exceedingly huge stat line.
Flow chart: Eli Manning > Joe Flacco > Matt Schaub > Jay Cutler

Ben Tate, RB, Texans: My Projection: 10 FPTS
You have to figure the Texans will limit Foster's workload and let Tate get a fair amount of carries. Against a defense already hit by injuries like the Bolts, that's good news. Tate had 86 yards on 15 preseason carries with a touchdown.
I'd start him over: Darren Sproles, Lamar Miller

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans: My Projection: 8 FPTS
His numbers will solely come down to just how ready he is for the NFL. The Chargers' cornerbacks can't compete with Hopkins and their focus will be on Andre Johnson first and foremost. Hopkins could have a nice game.
I'd start him over: DeSean Jackson, Greg Jennings

Owen Daniels, TE, Texans: My Projection: 3 FPTS
There's a legitimate concern that Daniels' stats fall flat because of not only Hopkins but fellow tight end Garrett Graham taking work away from him. That could start this week.
I'd rather start: Jeff Cumberland, Brandon Myers

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: My Projection: 13 FPTS
Rivers will have some good weeks but it's tough to see this as one of them. Houston's defense struggled down the stretch last year but is at full strength now, including in the pass rush department, where Rivers is bound to be scrambling most of the game.
I'd rather start: Brandon Weeden, Terrelle Pryor

Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Two things are working against Mathews here: A tough matchup against a strong run defense and the likelihood that the Bolts will have to play from behind. That will make the going hard for Mathews, who isn't promised passing downs work so long as Danny Woodhead is around.
I'd rather start: Mark Ingram, Eddie Lacy

Vincent Brown, WR, Chargers: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Brown's one to watch. He's never had the chance to play regularly in the offense but does have some solid potential. He'll get covered up a good amount here but with the Chargers throwing a ton he could get some numbers. He's just hard to trust.
I'd rather start: Marlon Moore, Mohamed Sanu

Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers: My Projection: 10 FPTS
I like Gates to have a decent game. He's easily Rivers' most reliable target, he's healthy and the Texans might have a hard time lining up against him.
I'd start him over: Jason Witten, Jermichael Finley

Baltimore at Denver, Thu., 8 p.m. ET

It's trial by fire for the rebuilt Ravens defense as Peyton Manning will test both the linebackers and safeties with his improved offense. Wes Welker had over 110 yards in two meetings against the Ravens last year and could carve up Baltimore's fairly inexperienced defensive middle. Tight end Julius Thomas might also have a nice first game.

No-brainers: Ray Rice; Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens: My Projection: 16 FPTS
All three of Flacco's postseason scores at Denver were long passes (30-plus yards). Expect the Broncos to work hard at eliminating those plays, imposing more of a dink-and-dunk approach for the Ravens' Boldin-less passing game.
I'd rather start: Carson Palmer, Eli Manning

Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Smith had four career touchdowns outdoors on grass last year before scoring twice to help Baltimore beat Denver in the playoffs. There will be a focus on limiting him but he steps up in big games and the Broncos defense isn't at full strength.
I'd start him over: Reggie Wayne, Vincent Jackson

Jacoby Jones, WR, Ravens: My Projection: 6 FPTS
His ascension in the Ravens pass game is warranted and he seems like he has a better head on his shoulders now compared to his last go-round as a starter, but he's just too risky to use right off the bat.
I'd rather start: Mohamed Sanu, Brian Hartline

Montee Ball, RB, Broncos: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos: My Projection: 4 FPTS
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos: My Projection: 3 FPTS
Hillman is listed first on the depth chart but Ball's been the one who hasn't coughed up the ball and Moreno's the one who can block the best. None of these guys are reliable starters so long as they take carries away from each other. Plus the Ravens' run defense might still be pretty darn good.
I'd rather start: Vick Ballard, Ryan Mathews

Eric Decker, WR, Broncos: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Decker totaled 14 grabs for 217 yards and a touchdown over two games against the Ravens last year, and that was without Wes Welker drawing attention. Anytime he's in single coverage you can bet Peyton will fire at him.
I'd start him over: Vincent Jackson, T.Y. Hilton

Broncos DST: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Ravens DST: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Baltimore's unit isn't safe against Peyton Manning's arm, Denver's unit is ravaged by injuries and a Von Miller suspension. Take your lumps with them this week since you likely drafted both.
I'd rather start: Buccaneers DST, Colts DST

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard .

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Player News
49ers shopping LaMichael James
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:06 pm ET) The 49ers are looking to trade running back LaMichael James in advance of next month's NFL Draft, reports the Sacramento Bee.

Meanwhile, James is aware of the trade rumors, apparently for a while now, since he tweeted Wednesday "when old news becomes new news" following the report.

James, a second-round pick in 2012, finds himself behind Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and perhaps Marcus Lattimore on the depth chart at running back this season. James served as the team's primary returner last year, but he wants a bigger role since he carried the ball just 12 times in 2013.


Joe Reitz stays with the Colts
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(2:11 pm ET) Offensive lineman Joe Reitz signed his restricted free agent tender offer on Thursday, giving him another year with the Colts. He started three games last season. 

Chris Johnson says arthritis reports 'not accurate'
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(2:10 pm ET) On a conference call with New York media, new Jets running back Chris Johnson said the report that he had arthritis in his knee was "not accurate," adding that he was "pretty sure I wouldn't have passed the physical" if he did have it. 

Earlier Thursday ESPN reported the Jets had "some concerns" about his knee

Johnson is expected to serve as part of a one-two punch at running back with Chris Ivory for the Jets. 


Vikings sign Kurt Coleman
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:31 am ET) The Vikings signed safety Kurt Coleman on Thursday. He spent the past four seasons with the Eagles and has seven career interceptions.

Coleman will try to make the final roster in Minnesota as a reserve defensive back and play on special teams.


Dwayne Bowe pleads guilty to amended charges
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:54 am ET) Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe pleaded guilty to amended charges relating to his Nov. 10 arrest for marijuana possession, the Kansas City Star reports. He paid $610 in fines and didn't get probation. It remains to be seen if he'll be subject to the NFL's substance abuse program. 

Report: Giants should consider dealing Ryan Nassib
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:43 am ET) Now that the Giants have signed Josh Freeman to a contract, does it mean that second-year quarterback Ryan Nassib will be off the roster soon? 

The Newark Star-Ledger believes the Giants should assess Nassib's value going into the draft considering the lack of great quarterback talent available. A team looking for a quarterback-of-the-future could make an offer. 

Nassib had 19 pass attempts during the preseason last August and wasn't active for a single regular-season game. 


Robert Griffin III looking like old self
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:43 am ET) A couple of members of the Redskins organization have started raving about how good quarterback Robert Griffin III looks this offseason, reports the Washington Post.

Receiver Santana Moss said via an ESPN podcast that Griffin "looks more comfortable because he don't have to worry about that brace. I think the brace was the big discomfort last year. You know, he’s a young guy with those fiery legs that want to do so much, and that brace probably gave him a little pinch in the behind because he couldn't do the things that he was normally accustomed to doing. You can already see, when we're out there in conditioning and stuff, he's running around, looking like the old Robert Griffin."

And former tight end Chris Cooley, currently one of the team's radio broadcasters, said "he's another person right now. I was like, 'you're running unbelievably well.' It was silly to watch. ... When you watch him run, you're like, 'You're a freak. You're seriously a freak.'"


Report: Jets have concerns over Chris Johnson's knees
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:33 am ET) Less than 24 hours after signing Chris Johnson to a two-year deal that might be worth as much as $9 million, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Jets have some concerns over the condition of his knee. Johnson apparently has some arthritis in it stemming from his torn meniscus in 2013 (which he played through). 

Johnson hasn't missed a game in five straight seasons. He's expected to form a one-two punch with Chris Ivory in the Jets' backfield this year. 


Brian Cushing says he's 100 percent
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:27 am ET) Posting a picture of himself with his son from a beach, Texans linebacker Brian Cushing said via Twitter that he's been cleared for football. Cushing missed the last nine games of last season with a knee injury. 

"Quick Trip to Pensacola with my lead blocker, better believe I'm 100% #beachday #cleared #fivesixback," he wrote. 


Could Peyton Manning throw less in 2014?
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:23 am ET) Peyton Manning might be asked to throw less so "the offense can be more," ESPN speculated on Thursday. Manning threw 659 passes last season, completing 450 of them (68.3 pct.) for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. The yardage and touchdowns are NFL records. 

The thought process behind Manning being asked to throw less is that it would accentuate the run game and give the offense (read: Manning) more of an opportunity to build confidence in the running backs, namely Montee Ball.

No one on the Broncos has come out and suggested Manning will throw less. He still passed 583 times in 2012, seventh-most that year. Expect Manning to still throw plenty in 2014.


 
 
 
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