Welcome to the first edition of our new weekly article focusing on the best and worst match-ups of the week to plan your starting roster against. We will look into individual battles as well as schemes that could cause potential problems or create great opportunities for players to put up big numbers. For you daily fantasy players, keep an eye on our recommended plays as these guys seem very likely to outperform their salaries based on the X’s and O’s.
Big Game Potential
Here we look at what players have favorable match-ups that could lead to an explosive performance. These are guys that you want to get into your line up even if it means benching a usual starter. In salary cap leagues, it’s time to go all in for these players.
Patriot RBs vs. Buffalo Bills
The Bills ranked 31st in opponents rushing yards a season ago, and did not show much in the preseason that makes us think this year will be any different. The Bills D yielded 4.6 yards per attempt in their four preseason games and this defense is one you want to see your back lining up against.
We all know that the Pats offense runs through Tom Brady, but this is a different Patriots team than in recent years. With all sorts of question marks at wide receiver and their best pass catch (Rob Gronkowski) still recovering from offseason surgery, look for Belicheck to lean heavily on his two headed monster in the backfield early in the season. Steven Ridley will see plenty of work on early downs as the Pats will look to soften up the Buffalo front. Shane Vereen is going to get his touches too, but expect to see him getting to work out of the slot as well as in the back field.
Ridley – 125 yds rushing 1 TD, 3 catches 20 yds
Vereen – 45 yds rushing, 5 catches 45 yds, 1 TD
Tampa Defense vs. New York Jets
It is not so much that we like the Bucs’ D–they were ranked dead last against the pass last year–but the Jets are going to have one of the worst offenses in the league. Can anyone name a single skill position player on the Jets that could start on any other team in the league? Because I sure can’t think of a single one. Rookie QB Geno Smith will be getting his first start which is problematic in itself, but he has no weapons around him to help take some of the pressure off.
Expect Tampa to be aggressive and pack the box early to take away the run game and then get after the rookie QB. The much improved secondary led by former Jets CB Darrelle Revis and hard hitting safety Dashon Goldson will create some big plays that should lead to turnovers, which means fantasy points. The Bucs should be able to build an early lead forcing Smith to throw more frequently allowing even more chances for sacks and interceptions.
Tampa Bay D – 10 point allowed, 3 sacks, 3 ints, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery
Ben Roethlisberger vs. Tennessee Titans
Tennessee was in the bottom third of every defensive category last year and Big Ben will look to take advantage of that porous unit this week. The Steelers want to be a run first physical team, but with their new workhorse RB is on the shelf for at least week one and that means they will look to Roethlisberger to lead the charge. Pittsburgh is a team at a crossroad, for the first time in a long time they are not the odds-on favorite to win the AFC North which will lead to their ever-confident QB playing with a chip on his shoulder.
Even with the loss of stand-out WR Mike Wallace, this is still a solid receiving corps. Antonio Brown and Emmanual Sanders are a great one two combination and rookie speedster Marcus Wheaton will take over as the big-play threat for Big Ben. Tennessee struggled to get after the QB last season and if given time, Ben will pick apart any defense and pile up chunks of yardage in the passing game. Look for Roethlisberger to take over this game early and try to make a statement that the Steelers are not a team on the decline.
Ben Roethlisberger – 375 yds, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Any Redskins skill player vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Editor’s note…. OUCH!)
Patriots D vs. Buffalo Bills
Andrew Luck vs. Oakland Raiders
Falcons WRs vs. New Orleans Saints
David Wilson vs. Dallas Cowboys
Tony Romo and Cowboy’s passing offense vs. New York Giants
Bad Day Looms
This section will focus on those players that have unfavorable match-ups that could cause lower than expected production. These are guys that you want to avoid starting if at all possible.
Steve Smith vs. Seattle Seahawks
Smith has a lot going against him this week: he’s another year older… and slower, he’s facing the best secondary (and the self proclaimed best CB) in the league, and the Panthers did very little in the offseason to draw the attention of opposing secondaries to the other side of the field. Having always been a boom and bust player, this matchup has bust written all over it for Smith. Carolina will look to pound the ball early in this game to try and get the secondary to sneak up which means less looks for Smith. It also does not that TE Greg Olson who may have to help on pass protection against the aggressive Seahawks’ front 7.
It is possible that Smith could break a big play, but I am not one to count on one play to make a fantasy day. Smith will see a lot of one on one matchups with the physical Richard Sherman which will not bode well for the small WR. It is also likely that the Panthers will not even try to challenge Sherman much leading to even less looks for Smith.
Steve Smith – 4 catches, 30 yards, 0 TDs
Mike Wallace vs. Cleveland Browns
Over the past two seasons Wallace only has 6 receptions and 77 yards in 3 games against the Browns. He now finds himself with a much less accomplish QB throwing him the ball and Cleveland has a much improved D. Without much of a threat to run the ball it is unlikely that there will be many play action attempts which is where the speedy Wallace excels. The lack of run game will also allow Cleveland to give CB Joe Haden safety help so he can be more physical at the line of scrimmage and Wallace struggles getting off of press coverage.
As always, there is that chance that the speedster could break a big play but with the expected bracket coverage that seems unlikely. This game is also not going to be a shoot out with the Browns looking to control the ball by running Trent Richardson.
Mike Wallace – 3 catches, 45 yards, 0 TDs
Eddie Lacy vs. San Francisco 49ers
This is a slight cop out as no back should be expected to have a good game against the 49ers stout defense, but Lacy has been getting so much lately, it’s was worth pointing out the bad matchup. San Fran has one of the most fearsome defenses in the league and they specialize in shutting down the opponent’s run game.
The other factor that will hurt Lacy in the opener is that the Niners have carved up the Packers’ defense in recent years. There is no reason to take the ball out of Aaron Rodgers‘ hands and if the Packers fall behind early, Green Bay will take to the air to try and close the gap. Lacy is a good back and he will have productive days this season, but this will not be one of them.
Eddie Lacy – 25 yds rushing, 3 catches, 8 yds receiving
Daryl Richardson vs. Arizona Cardinals
Chris Johnson vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Steve Johnson vs. New England Patriots
Demarco Murray vs. New York Giants
Philip Rivers vs. Houston Texans
Ravens Defense vs. Denver Broncos
That is your Week 1 Matchup Madness, I hope this helps you out when making some of those tough sit-start calls when setting your roster for the ever important week 1 Game. Look for our next installment in week 2 and good luck this week!