If you were like me, you probably didn’t prioritize quarterback and will be playing based on matchups for the majority of the season. Some of you will be on a rotation of second and third tier receivers as you focused heavily on the running back position. Let’s look at some bubble players for this weekend’s action, some who should bring you plenty of fantasy points, while others are sure to disappoint.
Kyle Orton at Jac – Is there a more underappreciated quarterback in the league then Orton? He gets booted out of Chicago, then he plays outplays Jay Cutler and then the Broncos draft Tim Tebow, raising questions in Denver about Ortons future. Well, in 2010 Orton will be under center and he should have another solid season. Orton threw for career high 21 touchdowns last season and with a pass friendly head coach in Josh McDaniels, Orton should air it out even more this year. The Broncos have two running backs who are excellent receivers in Knowshon Moreno and Corell Buckhalter, to go along with Jabar Gaffney who had an outstanding pre season. Orton is a safe bet for 200 yards and two touchdowns against the 27th ranked pass defense from a year ago.
Ricky Williams at Buf – While Williams is the second back in Miami; he has a tremendous matchup against arguably the worst rushing defense in the Bills. The Dolphins ran for over 400 yards against Buffalo last season and the game plan should be the same on Sunday. In his career, Williams has run for 984 yards and seven touchdowns against the Bills, the most against any team. Look for Williams to get 10-13 carries and a score.
Hines Ward vs. Atl – With Ben Rothlisberger suspended the first four games of the season, many are hesitant to start Ward, but he will clearly be Dennis Dixon’s safety net. The Falcons will likely bring a lot of pressure to Dixon, so Ward will be used on quick slants and short passing routes to keep the ball going. In PPR leagues, I love Ward for this week as Ward could get close to ten targets this Every season Ward is an underrated receiving option, so let the naysayers believe what they want, but Ward is a safe bet no matter who is playing quarterback.
John Carlson vs. SF – There is no one lower on the Seahawks then me, but when they are down by double digits to the 49ers, Mat Hasselbeck is going to throw the ball and Carlson will be his target. Carlson is clearly Seattle’s best receiver with T.J. Houshmandzadeh in Baltimore, so Carlson should have his best season ever. While it’s unfortunate for Seattle fans, Carlson could be in line for an eight touchdown season and it all starts vs. San Francisco.
Denver Broncos at Jac – Did anyone watch the Jaguars in the running game this pre season? Jacksonville ran for 14 and 54 rushing yards in their first two pre season games and Maurice Jones Drew only had six carries because of a knee injury. I am curious to see how many carries Jones Drew gets and if they rely on Rashard Jennings on Sunday.The Broncos have a top tier pass defense (number three in the league last season), led by cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Andre Goodman, and should have no problem shutting down the Jaguars mediocre receiving corps. The Broncos are known for their hot starts, and their defense should play well against a team in offensive turmoil.
Matthew Stafford at Chi – There’s a lot of buzz surrounding Stafford coming into the season and the expectations are for him to light up the Bears. People may have forgotten that Chicago added a top five pass rusher in Julius Peppers and that Brian Urlacher is healthy and ready for action. The future of Stafford is bright, but I would be hesitant to start him vs. an improved defense that was 13th against the pass in 2009. Stafford will be good eventually and possibly this year, but in week one I leave him on my bench.
Clinton Portis vs. Dal – Mike Shanahan and Portis reuniting has some fantasy owners excited, but it’s been a long time since Portis has been a top tier running back. The Cowboys are an elite defense that ranked fourth against the run last season. The Redskins didn’t improve their offensive line from last year, and I doubt they improve from being the 22nd ranked rushing offense in the league. Look for the Cowboys to stuff the box and make Donovan McNabb and his shaky ankle beat Dallas through the air.
Mike Wallace vs. Atl – Some of you will question my logic on starting Ward and benching Wallace, but does anyone believe Dennis Dixon is taking shots down field? Wallace should have an excellent season, but until Rothlisberger is back in action, I am not sure if Wallace is worth a flex play. Wallace is best stretching the field and I don’t see coach Mike Tomlin letting his third string quarterback take any chances. The Steelers will run the ball while throwing quick outs which hurts the chances of Wallace being an impact player early on in the season.
Todd Heap at NYJ – I mentioned earlier in the week how I would avoid using Joe Flacco in week one, so the same goes for Heap. At a time Heap was special player in the Ravens offense, but now with three other possession receivers, I believe he’s been downgraded to the fifth option in passing offense. The Jets allowed only three touchdowns to tight ends last season, so leave Heap on your bench and start almost anyone else.
Arizona Cardinals at Stl – Everyone seems to be jumping on the Cardinals bandwagon and I can’t understand why. They were a mediocre defense in 2009 (20th overall) and in the off-season they lost Karlos Dansby, Chike Okeafor and Antrel Rolle to free agency. I am not sure if everyone remembers the post season but the Cardinals gave up 90 points and 911 yards in two games. Yes, the Rams are not the Packers or the Saints, but I would be very weary of starting a rebuilding defense that lost its centerpieces.