Week 1 of the regular season begins tonight with the Giants and Cowboys squaring off in New York.
We all know what that means - millions of fantasy football players begin their dreams of year-long bragging rights around the water cooler at work and hoisting up hastily made trophies come January in front of their friends.
Here’s my weekly take on everything fantasy for Week 1.
Lions defense, Sit: What? Again the Rams’ 31st-ranked offense last year? These are now Jeff Fisher’s Rams. I’d guess the plan against the Lions Sunday is to get the ball out of quarterback Sam Bradford’s hands quickly with short routes to avoid the Lions rush, then pound running back Steven Jackson, who’s averaged 114 yards per game in three career games against the Lions. That’s fewer opportunities for sacks and interceptions.
UNDERRATED PLAYERS FOR WEEK 1Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers:The Steelers are an injury mess at running back and No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace has only had one week to learn the new offense after a training camp holdout. Brown should be quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's No. 1 option come Sunday and Brown will be eager to make good on the $42.5 million deal he signed this offseason.
Roy Helu, RB, Redskins: From Week 12 to Week 15 last season, Helu had 96 carries for 387 yards and 16 receptions for 118 yards and two touchdowns. He showed the Redskins he can handle the load.
Titus Young, WR, Lions: Expect a breakout second season by the Lions receiver. He’ll benefit from having
Coby Fleener, TE, Colts: Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck is facing a stiff pass rush in Julius Peppers and the rest of the Bears front seven on defense. Fleener is a familiar target and Luck might find some comfort in that in his first NFL start against a good rush.
Eric Decker, WR, Broncos: He’s going from Tim Tebow as his quarterback to Peyton Manning. Really, that should be all that has to be said. But all reports out of Denver say Decker’s become Manning's favorite target so far this season.
START-EM FOR WEEK 1
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers: In two games against the Buccaneers last season, Newton rushed for four touchdowns and had 37 and 36 fantasy points, respectively. Bucs have to prove they can stop him at least once before he's not a must-start against them.
Matt Forte, RB, Bears: Forte has 555 total yards and four touchdowns in his previous four season openers. The Bears could help him out with a potent pass attack, too, and are playing a bad Colts defense.
Michael Vick, QB, Eagles: The Browns could be without their best cornerback in Joe Haden as he waits on word from the NFL on his appeal from a four-game suspension. If the Browns don’t have Haden, a rested Vick could feast on the Browns with both his arm and legs.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Jacksonville: Jennings should get the bulk of the carries Sunday against the Vikings 30th-ranked rushing defense with Maurice Jones-Drew reporting to Jaguars practice just this week after a holdout. Jennings rushed for 209 yards (4.4 average) over four preseason games this year.
Julio Jones, WR, Falcons: The Chiefs gave up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to receivers last year, but Jones has looked incredible this preseason. He was quarterback Matt Ryan’s favorite target over the preseason, averaging 18.5 yards per catch.
SIT-EM WEEK 1
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals: The Ravens allowed the third-fewest yards to rushers last season. They also allowed the six-fewest fantasy points to running backs in 2011. Green-Ellis owners rely on touchdowns and the Ravens are pretty stingy in that department.
Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers: Wallace has great speed and big-play potential, which usually makes him a must-start, however, he just reported to Steelers practice a week ago after a holdout and fantasy owners have to wonder how much of new offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s offense he’ll have down in a week.
49ers defense: The 49ers allowed the second-fewest points and fourth-fewest yards on defense last year, but they didn’t have to face reigning MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the potent Packers offense in any of those games. The Packers come to town Sunday. Rodgers threw a grand total of six interceptions to 45 touchdowns last season.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars: A top-10 pick in most fantasy drafts, the NFL’s leading rusher last year ended his holdout this week. He’s expected to play in Sunday’s game against the Vikings (and their bad rush defense) but is expected to be the team’s third-down back with Rashad Jennings getting the start and the bulk of the carries. Assume he’ll be back to starting status in Week 2 with another week of practice under his belt.
Ryan Matthews, RB, Chargers: It doesn’t look like Matthews is going to play Sunday against the Raiders, just four weeks removed from a broken clavicle. The frustration for Matthews owners begins early this year. He has yet to play in more than 14 games in either of his first two seasons.