One game down and 15 to go. As summer begins to wind down with fall on the horizon, "We are now ready for some football." Whether it is due to the start of fantasy football, visiting your favorite sports bar to catch the games, or covering every inch of your body in your team's gear to show your support (or obsession), this will be an exciting weekend. Many of us watched Tony Romo lead his Dallas Cowboys to victory over the Super Bowl champion New York Giants on Wednesday night. We are already seeing potential sleepers appear on the fantasy radar as Kevin Ogletree caught eight passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns on 11 targets. In fact, he nearly caught a third touchdown in the end zone that was batted away at the last second.
Let's take a dive into several Week 1 matchups. If you are unfamiliar with "The Dive," let me tell you how this column can help your team. Each week, I will profile a player at each offensive position and a defense. Rarely will these players or defenses be "must starts" or "studs" like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Arian Foster, etc. Instead, I will help you make those tough decisions, especially in deeper leagues, on filling in your second running back position or flex spot, replacing a player that may be limited or sidelined due to injury. We will analyze the player or defense's matchup by reviewing historical performances, trends, workload, health, and even weather or game-time variables on occasion. Take a dive with me as we kick off the first column of the season!
QB Russell Wilson
If your draft was in July or early August, Matt Flynn was likely drafted in your league. In fact, Wilson likely was not on the radar since it was assumed that Flynn would be the starter after signing a lucrative contract. It is advisable to be cautious before putting too much emphasis on preseason numbers, but the rookie quarterback did successfully complete 36 out of 56 passes for 464 yards, including five touchdowns and he topped 100 yards on the ground. Whether his preseason numbers are a fluke or exaggerated, Wilson deserves major attention. If you have a Tier 1 or 2 quarterback, they should be started. However, if your league is deep and Wilson may be your starter, then start him with a few ounces of confidence against the satisfactory defense of Arizona.
Week 1 Forecast: 225 passing yards, 2 TD
RB DeAngelo Williams
You may be surprised to find Williams on this list, but let's take a look at his Week 1 scenario. Jonathan Stewart has yet to practice this week as he is still nursing an ankle injury. Williams will have to compete for carries against newly acquired Mike Tolbert and quarterback Cam Newton, but was successful in averaging better than five yards per carry last season against Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay allowed a lot of points, including a whopping 20 scores on the ground against opposing backs, last season. Start Williams with confidence this week as there may be very few weeks that you hear this recommendation.
Week 1 Forecast: 100 total yards, 1 TD
WR Kendall Wright
He may be an unfamiliar name to you and much of the fantasy world. After a productive preseason, opportunity has officially knocked on the door for the Tennessee wide receiver. Wright quickly built chemistry with Jake Locker and should be his top target in Week 1 with Kenny Britt suspended. Although Tennessee will not defeat New England, the Titans should be able to extend the field against the weak New England secondary that allowed the most points to wide receivers last season.
Week 1 Forecast: 75 receiving yards, 1 TD
TE Antonio Gates
Antonio Gates is healthy. Before you check the date of this article since you likely have not heard this news since 2009, let's take a deeper dive into San Diego's situation. Quarterback Philip Rivers no longer has top target Vincent Jackson to chuck bombs to, Vincent Brown is injured, Ryan Mathews may be sidelined or limited due to injury, and the newly acquired receivers Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal have yet to build chemistry with Rivers. If owners were afraid to take Gates in your league due to injury risk, with nine missed starts in the last two seasons, you may be blessed with one of the NFL's best tight ends in history, who still has fuel in the tank. Gates posted 160 yards and a touchdown in two games against Oakland last season and 165 yards and two touchdowns in 2010. Gates has Oakland's number.
Week 1 Forecast: 90 receiving yards, 1 TD
D/ST Buffalo Bills
Buffalo begins their season in the Meadowlands against the New York Jets. Mark Sanchez and the first team failed to score a touchdown during the preseason and do not appear "game ready" at this point. During the offseason, Buffalo promoted Dave Wannstedt to serve as defensive coordinator and signed former Houston Texan Mario Williams, which should improve their performance this season. Buffalo should be a comfortable start in your defensive slot this week.
Week 1 Forecast: 12 points
Good luck in Week 1. Nothing feels better than beginning your fantasy season with a capital "W."