Like me, I know you’re feeling like a kid at Christmas because football season is here! You’re ready to follow your favorite team, bet some games, and dominate your fantasy football league. (Unless you’re reading this and are in a league with me. I hope you enjoy your second-place prize.) I’m not here to tell you to start your studs or bench your duds. What I’m here to do is to provide some guys who’ll exceed expectations this week or some stars you should be cautious about starting.
Below is a list of guys I’m focused on for one reason or another this week. If you’re curious about guys you don’t see listed here, you can always find me on Twitter (@MrT_BroBible) to ask questions, but remember to mention league specific, like if your league is PPR.
You Know Who You Should Start?
Jay Cutler (QB – Chicago)
You may see Cutler’s name listed in my column a lot this year. He generally went after 10 quarterbacks in your draft, which means he’s either on your bench or you’re streaming him with other passers. Cutler has an improved offensive line and great weapons around him this year. Coach Mark Trestman showed how effective he could make Chicago quarterbacks last year and Buffalo’s defense is the best way to get things started in Week 1.
Joique Bell (RB – Detroit)
I’m all-in on Bell this year and it starts in Week 1. The Lions have seemed to indicate this preseason that Reggie Bush will become more of a specialist and Bell will become the bell cow. Just look at the guaranteed money the two received in their latest contracts. It all starts this week as Bell should excel against an average Giants defense with weakness at linebacker. You might’ve been on the fence whether to start Bell at the flex or even RB2 and I’m telling you not to worry this week or the rest of the season.
Rashad Jennings (RB – New York Giants)
In the same game, look for a strong performance from Bell’s opposite number, Mr. Jennings. The Giants’ offense has looked out of sorts this preseason, but the issues have been mostly in the passing game. The Giants’ running backs have had success in the preseason, Jennings included. Even if the G-Men fall behind, Jennings will stay on the field in pass-catching situations.
Eric Decker (WR – New York Jets)
People may be concerned about Decker now that he’s the top option without the help around him or Peyton Manning throwing him the ball, but people shouldn’t be concerned about Decker’s talent. He was a beast in college and beasted in Denver when he was healthy. He’ll be seeing plenty of balls from Geno Smith and the Raiders don’t necessarily have anyone to shut him down on Sunday.
Julian Edelman (WR – New England)
If you look at the preseason snap counts for the first team offense, Edelman led all Patriots receivers. We all know Rob Gronkowski is Brady’s No. 1 option, but he likely be on a snap count coming off of his injury. Look for Edelman to carve up Miami’s secondary in his usual fashion, which makes him an exceptional option in PPR leagues and a good one in regular leagues.
Kyle Rudolph (TE – Minnesota)
Norv Turner is very good at turning tight ends into fantasy beasts. His last two were Antonio Gates and Jordan Cameron. I’m sure you’ve heard of them. Rudolph will see plenty of looks from Matt Cassel this week and has a decent matchup against the Rams. The Rams will get pressure on the QB, forcing Cassel to look short to the tight end rather than deep routes to the wide receivers.
You Know Who You Should Sit?
Cam Newton (QB – Carolina)
It’s never good to start the season nursing an injury, but that’s the position Newton is in right now. His ribs aren’t 100 percent despite what anyone tells you, but he’s gutting it out this week. The problem is he’s gutting it out with a new group of receivers (you always want those extra reps in practice), against an improved defense, and he’s on the road. It’s not an ideal way to start the season.
C.J. Spiller (RB – Buffalo)
The Bills announced today that Spiller would be their starting kickoff returner to start the season. Does that sound like something a team would do to its feature running back? I think not. Spiller is playing for a contract and the regime in Buffalo doesn’t seem to want to help him get one. Fred Jackson got a majority of the touches with the first team in preseason and Spiller looks to have a minimized role similar to last year.
Bernard Pierce (RB – Baltimore)
Pierce has the opportunity to take the Ravens’ running back job and run with it with Ray Rice being suspended for two games, but the Bengals defense will limit his potential. Last year the Bengals limited backs to the third-fewest points and they’ve returned most of their front seven. Pierce will see plenty of touches, but likely won’t find many holes. You could find better alternatives.
Mike Wallace (WR – Miami)
Welcome back to Revis Island. Darrelle Revis is healthy again and Wallace is about to find that out. There’s talk about how the Dolphins’ offense will be improved under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, but I need to see it first. They didn’t show it in the preseason and Lazor’s track record before his one year with the Eagles is pretty bad.
Greg Olsen (TE – Carolina)
I’m not overwhelmed by Olsen’s prospects this year. He’s a year older and Carolina has improved Cam Newton’s other weapons. Kelvin Benjamin has become the No. 1 receiver and the Panthers are a run-first team to begin with. With Newton not looking likely to have the best game, you can find better options than Olsen this week.