Welcome to the 2013 fantasy football season! The drafts are over, teams are set, and the week one matchups continue this weekend. Sit back, relax, and watch those fantasy points pile up!
After a crazy Thursday night game that saw the Denver Broncos blowout the defending NFL Super Bowl champs, the 2013 fantasy football season is officially underway. And what a way to start things off! Hopefully you have Peyton Manning on your fantasy team, but if you don't, or your opponent has him, don't worry - there's still plenty of games left in week one, and RotoBaller.com will guide you through every matchup.
Before we get into the rest of this week's matchups, here's a quick recap of our key matchups from the Thursday opener:
We loved the Denver receivers in this game, and they came through big time. Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, and TE Julius Thomas all had two scores each. Eric Decker was the only disappointment, but had he not dropped two key passes, including one in the end zone, he would have had a great night as well.
The Denver running backs, on the other hand, did nothing. We hated all of these guys for the simple fact that it looked like a three person timeshare, and that's exactly what it was. To make matters more interesting, Knowshon Moreno, who all preseason seemed to be the third option, not only started the game, but saw more snaps than Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman combined. Not a major shocker, but what a mess.
Now that game one is in the books, here are the rest of the NFL matchups, including who we love and hate for week one. For further questions and advice, comment below or check out the RotoBaller.com chat room!
We will be posting updates to this piece over the weekend with the Monday NFL matchups. Stay tuned!
Week 1 NFL Matchups: Fantasy Football Analysis & Sit/Start Advice
Seattle Seahawks @ Carolina Panthers, Sunday, 9/8 1 PM
Matchup We Love: Seattle DEF
The Seattle defense is the number one ranked fantasy defense by both Yahoo! And ESPN, and this is a game where they could come up big. They gave Carolina QB Cam Newton, who's had a terrible preseason, fits last season. They are stout against the run and pass, and they stifle opposing tight ends, meaning Sunday could be a long day for the Panthers' offense. Keep this in mind, however, west coast teams, even really good ones, tend to struggle when traveling east for a 1PM game. Analysis: Start Seattle's defense with confidence.
Matchup We Hate: Greg Olsen, TE
Yes, he had his best statistical season in Carolina last year, but unless you're in an extremely deep league, you can probably find a tight end with a better match-up on your waiver wire. As stated above, Seattle's defense kills TE production. In fact, they allowed only three scores to tight ends in 2012, and the third fewest yards to players at the position. Analysis: if you drafted a back-up TE use him, if not check your league's waiver wire for an tight ends that have more favorable match-ups. Only start Olsen if you must.
Jonathan Stewart RB, CAR (out), Mike Tolbert RB, CAR (probable), Sidney Rice WR, SEA (probable) UPDATED - Sidney Rice is listed as probable, but did not play at all in the preseason. Sit him.
Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions, Sunday 9/8, 1 PM
Matchup We Love: Matthew Stafford, QB
Lions QB Matt Stafford is going to put up very good fantasy numbers, even if its just by sheer volume of throws, since no QB in football has thrown more than him the past two seasons. I'm very high on Stafford this season, especially now that the duel threat of Reggie Bush is there to keep opposing defenses a bit more honest. Being at home against a defense that ranked 24th against the pass last year, and it's easy to see Stafford having a big day. Analysis: A big day could be in the cards for Stafford, so start him with confidence.
Matchup We Hate: Greg Jennings, WR
It's no secret that the Vikings are going to run the ball a lot, and I think Jennings can return to form this season and be Minnesota's WR1. What worries me about this match-up is the fact that Detroit's pass rush is ferocious, and it's not a stretch to see them getting into the backfield so much that they don't allow QB Christian Ponder the time to get the ball to Jennings. I can see the Vikings offense being a lot of AP runs, and dump offs to TE Kyle Rudolph. Analysis: Chances are Jennings is your WR3 or flex player. If so, look elsewhere to see if you have better match-ups on your bench. If you're using him as a WR2, you're probably too thin at the position to look elsewhere. Start him at your own risk.
New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills, Sunday 9/8 1 PM
Matchup We Love: Patriots DEF
Let's face it, aside from fantasy stud CJ Spiller, the Bills' offense leaves much to be desired. With quarterbacks Kevin Kolb and EJ Manuel injured, an already sub-par offense looks to take a turn for the worse if it has to be lead by undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel (who if he starts, will be the first undrafted rookie QB to start a week one game). It's a simple equation, undrafted rookie QB + a Bill Belichick defense = a huge day for New England's turnover-machine defensive unit. Analysis: Start New England's DEF with confidence, and if for some reason they are still on your waiver wire, grab them ASAP.
Matchup We Hate: Stevie Johnson, WR
Even if E.J. Manuel is able to play Sunday, the Bills will still have a rookie QB, meaning it could be a long season for the Buffalo wideouts. Stevie Johnson has been a very solid receiver the past few seasons, especially in PPR leagues, and is the only real receiving threat in Buffalo, but he still needs a QB to get him the ball. If you don't think that's a big deal, look at Larry Fitzgerald's 2012 season. Analysis: Stevie Johnson is a matchup play at best this season, and New England is not the matchup you want to play him against. Leave him on your bench this week.
Kevin Kolb QB, BUF (IR), EJ Manuel QB, BUF (Questionable), Rob Gronkowski TE, NE (UPDATED - Out); UPDATED - Danny Amendola is listed as probable. he should be fine to start, be keep in mind this iso probably something you'll have to deal with all season; UPDATED - EJ Manuel is going to start. Doesn't matter, he should not be win any fantasy line-up this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New York Jets, Sunday 9/8, 1 PM
Matchup We Love: Mike Williams & Vincent Jackson, WRs
Even without Darrelle Revis last year, the Jets were very good defending against the pass in 2012. Antonio Cromartie carried the secondary with a Pro-Bowl season last year, and now that Revis is with Tampa Bay, the Jets' secondary is left with two huge questions. One, will any of the other New York DBs step up as a compliment to Cromartie, and can a 29 year old Antonio Cromartie duplicate his 2012 season? Analysis: Antonio Cromartie can't cover both of Tampa's talented wideouts making Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams high-end WR3/Flex options for week one.
Matchup We Hate: Anyone in a Jets uniform - If you are rostering anyone other than Chris Ivory or the Jets defense, you're probably going to have a long fantasy season. Ivory is the only player with any fantasy value on the Jets right now, and he probably isn't worthy of being inserted into a starting lineup until the bye weeks start. Analysis: Avoid any members of the Jets, other than their defense, and even they aren't a must start.
Mark Sanchez, QB (Questionable) UPDATED - Mark Sanchez is out. Geno Smith will start. Neither QB should be rostered in fantasy leagues. Chris Ivory, RB (Probable); UPDATED - Darrelle Revis is listed as probable and should play. Revis island + rookie QB= start the Tampa Defense.
Atlanta Falcons@ New Orleans Saints, Sunday 9/8, 1 PM
Matchup We Love: Julio Jones, WR
Everything is set up for Julio Jones to have a monster 2013. He's got a great QB, and the other receiving options in Atlanta, while still good, are getting up there in age. This could be the season that Julio Jones becomes Matt Ryan's number one pass catching option, and starting the season against the NFL's worst defense from 2012, means Jones could get off to a very fast start. Analysis: Julio Jones is a must start most weeks, and this is no exception. Expect a big game for the Atlanta receiver in what could be a shoot-out between these two high powered offenses.
Matchup We Hate: Atlanta DEF
Lost in all the success of the Falcons last year was the fact that their defense against the pass and run was ranked 24th and 21st, respectively. That means the Atlanta defense shouldn't even be rostered in anything less than a 14 team league, but if for some reason you drafted them, starting them against Drew Brees in a potential shoot-out is a bad idea. Analysis: Avoid the Atlanta DEF.
Roddy White WR, ATL (Probable), Jonathon Vilma LB, NO (Doubtful)
UPDATED - Roddy White is listed as questionable. He says he will play, and this is a great match-up for him. No way he misses this game, but keep an eye on it as long as possible. I'd take may chances and start him.
Oakland Raiders @ Indianapolis Colts, Sunday 9/8, 1 PM
Matchup We Love: Darren McFadden, RB
Last season, Raiders RB Darren McFadden was going in the first or second round of fantasy drafts. This year, he's being taken much later as a RB2 or RB3. So what happened? Well, the terrible team he plays for got worse, he has no QB and a decimated offensive line, and as he proved again in 2012, he's a constant injury risk. So why do we love him? Well, he's the only superstar-caliber player on the Raiders offense, Terrell Pryor is his team's QB, and he's going against a pretty bad Colts' defense. If the Raiders want to have any shot at winning in week one, they'll have to rely heavily on McFadden. Analysis: As a guy who drafted RUN DMC in the first round last year, and got burned, it's understandable if you want to avoid the Raiders' RB. If you own him, however, he makes for a very good flex option, and a solid RB2 in week one. Start him while he's still healthy.
Matchup We Hate: Ahmad Bradshaw, RB
Another starting running back from last year going late in fantasy drafts is new Colt Ahmad Bradshaw. It may be very tempting to start Bradshaw against the Raiders defense, but if you have a better RB2 or flex option it may be wise to look elsewhere. The oft-injured Bradshaw is already suffering from a foot injury, and while he is listed as "probable" to play, he could be in for a time share with Vic Ballard. Even at his healthiest, Bradshaw is nothing special, but throw in a foot injury, and a very good backup RB, and it's not exactly a recipe for a successful week one. Analysis: It's always tempting to start a player against the Raiders, but fight the urge and leave Ahmad Bradshaw on your bench this week.
Ahmad Bradshaw RB, IND (Probable), Matt Flynn QB, OAK (Probable) UPDATED - Matt Flynn is listed as probable. He won't start, and neither he or starter Terrelle Pryor should be rostered in fantasy leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday 9/8, 1 PM
Matchup We Love: Jamaal Charles, RB
Cheifs' RB Jamaal Charles is going to be loved in many matchups, as evidenced by his very high ADP, but his matchup against Jacksonville is particularly lopsided. If you have Charles, you probably drafted him in the first round, so there is no way he's not going to be in your lineup, but watching him go against the 30th ranked rushing defense could end up being the matchup that puts your team over the top for week one. Throw in the fact that the Kansas City's new coach Andy Reid loves to use his running backs in the passing game, and it's easy to love Charles in week one. Analysis: Jamal Charles is an absolute must start (as if you didn't know that already).
Matchup We Hate: Cecil Shorts, WR
Cecil Shorts is a nice receiver with some upside, but I think he's a matchup play at best, and this may not be the matchup for him. Despite all the Chiefs' woes in 2012, they did rank 12th in the NFL defending against the pass, and Jacksonville's QB situation of Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne is anything but a sure thing. The Jags are most likely going to rely heavily on the running game this year, making any of the Jacksonville WR risky plays. Analysis: Cecil Shorts is a flex play at best, but if you can avoid him, leave him on your bench.
Tennessee Titans @ Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday 9/8, 1 PM
Matchup We Love: Steelers DEF
The Pittsburgh Steelers had a terrific defense in 2012, finishing first against the pass, first in total yardage allowed, second against the running game, and sixth in points allowed. Even if the unit continues to struggle at forcing turnovers (25th in the NFL at 1.3/game in 2012), and takes a step back now that James Harrison is gone, they'll still outclass a lackluster Titans offense. Analysis: Start the Steelers D as they could be primed for a big opener.
Matchup We Hate: Chris Johnson, RB
Chris Johnson may have never been able to duplicate his monster 2000 yard campaign from 2009, but he is a steady lock for 1000 yards, something not many backs can claim. The trade off for the consistency is the fact that Johnson's weekly numbers are nothing special, and he plays for a poor offense with Jake Locker at QB. He's also been used less and less in the passing game, and now may find his goal-line opportunities given to Shonn Greene. Oh yeah, and he's going to be going against a top ranked defense on the road in week one. Analysis: If you drafted Johnson, he's either a low-end RB1 or high-end RB2 for you, meaning you'll probably have to play him. If you're deep at RB, however, look at other matchups.
Miami Dolphins @ Cleveland Browns, Sunday 9/8, 1 PM
Matchup We Love: Jordan Cameron, TE
This game is tough, as I'm not sure what to make of either team this year. The Browns look to have some real players on offense this year, and the Miami defense surprised many people in 2012. The Dolphins' D was stout against the run in 2012, and allowed fewer than 20 points/game, but they did struggle at times against the pass, especially defending tight ends. This could mean Jordan Cameron, a sexy pick by many for a breakout season in 2013, could put up solid numbers in week one. Beware that he is nursing a groin injury, and Brandon Weeden is his QB. Analysis: If you waited on a TE in your draft and took Cameron, start him with confidence and expect a solid outing.
Matchup We Hate: Lamar Miller, RB
I was bullish on Lamar Miller as Miami's lead back early in the preseason, but now I'm not so sure. He was unable to completely seize the job in the preseason from Daniel Thomas, meaning he could be in for more of a timeshare than most of us thought. Throw in a Browns defense that was solid against the rush in 2012, and it may be wise to sit Miller this week. Analysis: Start Miller if you must, but if you have other options, use them.
Jordan Cameron TE, CLE (Probable)
Cincinnati Bengals @ Chicago Bears, Sunday 9/8, 1PM
Matchup We Love: A.J. Green, WR
This is stating the obvious., but AJ Green is a fantasy beast. I love him this year, and feel he has a real shot to be every bit as good as Calvin Johnson in 2013. Even going against the Bears stout defense, he should put up great numbers in week one, especially if you're in a PPR league. Analysis: Green is more than likely your top WR, so start him confidence even against the Bears' defense.
Matchup We Hate: Giovani Bernard, RB
Bernard is going to be a very good RB in the NFL, but it may take a few weeks until he becomes the featured back in Cincy. Until then he will compete for playing time, especially in goal line situations, with BenJarvis Green-Ellis, and has a less than favorable matchup against 8th ranked rushing defense from 2012. Analysis: Bernard is full of upside, so keep a close eye on how the Bengals use him in week one, but leave him on your bench against the Bears if you can.
Brandon Marshall WR, CHI (Probable)
Arizona Cardinals @ St. Louis Rams, Sunday 9/8, 4:25 PM
Matchup We Love: Daryl Richardson, RB
Daryl Richardson vastly outplayed Isaiah Pead in the preseason, and looks to be the lead running back in St. Louis to start 2013. As a result, he's been going much earlier in drafts, as many are looking at Richardson as a solid RB3. St. Louis would be wise to run the ball a ton on Sunday, as Arizona was much better defending against the pass than the run in 2012 (4th ranked pass defense, 29th ranked rush defense in 2012), meaning Richardson could see the majority of the Rams offensive workload. Analysis: Richardson makes for a solid flex play for week one. Start him if you got him.
Matchup We Hate: St. Louis DEF
I own the St. Louis defense in many of my leagues, and I'm not happy about this matchup at all. Carson Palmer threw for over 4,000 yards and 20 scores throwing to Denarius Moore and Darius Heyward-Bey last year, and now gets to throw to the most talented group of receivers he's ever played with. I think Palmer could be in for the best season of his career, and I can easily see him connecting with Larry Fitzgerald to light up a pedestrian Rams pass defense. Analysis: look for better matchups on your league's waiver wire.
Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers, Sunday 9/8, 4:25 PM
Matchup We Love: Vernon Davis, TE
Coming off a terrific Super Bowl performance, Vernon Davis could end up putting up some of the best numbers of his career in 2013. With Randy Moss gone and Michael Crabtree out due to injury, I feel confident that it will be Vernon Davis, not Anquan Boldin, who will be come the Niners' top receiving threat. Lost in Colin Kaepernick's ridiculous performance against the Pack in the playoffs last year, is the fact that Davis averaged more than 20 YPC against Green Bay last year. In two games he caught only four balls, but it was for 87 yards and a score. Analysis: Start Vernon Davis and expect a big day.
Matchup We Hate: Green Bay DEF
Some things in fantasy football baffle me, and the fact that the Packers defense is 72 percent owned in Yahoo leagues is one of them. At best, this is an average defense, and this week one matchup could end up being a disaster. Am I expecting Collin Kaepernick to run for 181 yards against Green Bay again, not exactly, but I would like to see the Packers prove they can stop San Fran before I put them in my starting lineup. Analysis: If you own the Packers defense, look elsewhere for a better matchup, unless you are in an extremely deep league.
New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys, Sunday 9/8, 8:30 PM
Matchup We Love: David Wilson, RB
As a rookie in 2012, David Wilson was considered a fantasy sleeper that many thought would end up stealing the starting RB job from Ahmad Bradshaw. Fumble problems and lack of playing time delayed that, but now that Bradshaw is a Colt, and Andre Brown is injured, the job is Wilson's to lose. With Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, and Hakeem Nicks, the Giants are going to be a pass first team, but Wilson has a great chance to be at least every bit as good as Ahmad Bradshaw, and a week one matchup against a Dallas D that has struggled against the run is a good place to start. Analysis: David Wilson makes a solid RB2, and a great flex play this week. Start him.
Matchup We Hate: Giants DEF
The past few years the Giants defense has lived and died with the play of the defensive line, and this year should be no different. Could the Giants D-Line dominate the line of scrimmage, knock Tony Romo around, and hurry him into poor throws and turnovers? Absolutely. Could the improved Dallas O-Line keep the New York pass rush at bay and allow Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and company to have huge days? Absolutely. In other words, if the Giants defensive line, that is now Osi Umenyiora-less, has a bad day, Tony Romo is going to light this team up. Analysis: Playing the Giants DEF looks to be a boom or bust proposition this week. If there are better matchups still on waivers in your league, I'd look elsewhere.
Jason Pierre-Paul DE, NYG (Questionable) - UPDATED - Jason Pierre-Paul is going to be a game time decision, so probably better to use another defense other than the Giants, Victor Cruz WR, NYG (Probable), UPDATED - Victor Cruz is listed as probable. Start him. Anthony Spencer DE, DAL (Questionable)
Don't forget to check back at RotoBaller.com this weekend for any last minute fantasy football analysis & updates, Monday night matchups, and our suicide pool pick of the week. Good luck with your decisions in week one.
Everyone wants to get a fast start to the NFL season, and wants to get the best fantasy football analysis and advice. Every week we need to decide what matchups to play, and who to avoid, to get an edge on our opponents. So every week here at RotoBaller.com we will be bringing you NFL matchup previews for each week's games, so you can plan your weekly lineups with confidence. For each NFL matchup, we will highlight one set of players we love, one set of players to avoid, and once bye weeks start we'll analyze who is owned in 50 percent of leagues or less for each game. Let's win some leagues!