With the NFL season upon us and fantasy drafts all but wrapped up, it’s time to look at who you should let see the field and who you should show the splinters (the bench) for Week 1.
Now most savvy fantasy players have done their homework already as it pertains to injuries and whatever else (contracts, suspensions) that may keep a stud player from playing, but newbies to the fantasy world usually aren’t as sharp in this area — therefore they can be an easy ‘W’ for a veteran player.
If there are two areas fantasy players have to pay attention to in order to be successful, it’s knowing the rules (scoring especially) and paying attention to the injury front. You can’t win a fantasy league by not knowing how to play, nor can you win a league if you’re always starting a player who is hurt. And let me tell you, if you’re in a competitive league, starting injured players can sometimes draw the ire (and it should) of other league owners.
As the acting commissioner of my league that I’ve been a part of for over five years now, I have a strict policy on being fair to all of the members in my league. If your team is 0-6 through the first six games, don’t give up and not start your players just because you don’t want to fool with it. That only hurts the integrity of the league.
For example, if a team is 0-6 and mired in the cellar and the team’s owner doesn’t set his/her lineup for the rest of its games, that person’s team becomes an easy win for the rest of the league members. So say two guys are fighting it out for the final playoff spot and one of those players gets an easy W due to someone not setting their lineup, while the other guy plays a tough opponent, and loses. No matter who has the better team, the guy who was playing the guy who has given up wasn’t faced with the same test as the other player, therefore, someone who maybe should have made the playoffs doesn’t. And that hurts the league’s integrity.
Hey, I’m not trying to be a fantasy dictator, but I’m trying to give good advice to some of you who may be new to fantasy football. Have fun with it, and even if you do or don’t take it serious, at least keep those you are playing with in mind if you decide your rookie season is a wash. This will keep your league fair, and league members off your back.
So, now that my soap box is over, let’s take a look at some guys you should let see the field and show the splinters for Week 1 in the NFL. In this edition, I’ll key more on running back starters considering there are a few No. 1 guys who are likely to be sidelined in Week 1.
Let See The Field (Running Backs):
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina: With Jonathan Stewart limited due to a high ankle sprain, Williams should be a major focal point of the Panthers offense against Tampa Bay. The Bucs were last in the league in run defense a year ago and Williams could have a big day.
Robert Turbin, RB, Seattle: The rookie out of Utah State has impressed the Seattle brass and could have a big role for the Seahawks offense before the 2012 season is out. Starting tailback Marshawn Lynch may miss the opener due to back spasms, so Turbin could be a good option if you own Lynch.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Jacksonville: Everyone is familiar with Maurice Jones-Drew’s holdout and the Jaguar coaching staff has already said the Pro Bowl back will see limited action. If that’s the case, Jennings should post solid numbers for a rushing offense that ranked ninth in the league (104.2 ypg) a year ago. Jennings is also a solid receiver.
Toby Gerhart, RB, Minnesota: With Adrian Peterson’s health still in question, Gerhart will be the man in Minnesota’s backfield. Gerhart played well when Peterson went down a year ago, and he’s the type of back that a team can ride for the duration of a game.
Show the Splinters (Running Backs):
Willis McGahee, RB, Denver: If you’re in a league that has a limited roster, I would say start McGahee and hope for the best. But if you’re in league that carries 14 players and you have another tailback option, it might be best to sit McGahee considering he is going against the Steelers run defense. I look for McGahee to have a good year, but Pittsburgh’s defense is a tough draw.
Donald Brown, RB, Indianapolis: Brown has the potential to be a surprise player for the Colts this year, but the Bears defense is a tough matchup for the former first-round pick. Brown is an explosive runner who doubles as a good receiving option, but Chicago’s D can be tough on running backs. If you have no other option, put him in. But if you have another option, I’d roll with someone else in Week 1.
Washington’s Running Backs: Will it be Evan Royster or Roy Helu or Alfred Morris? Nobody knows except for the Redskins coaching staff, so it may be best just to leave any Redskins runner on the bench. You’ll be able to know more about Washington’s RB situation after Week 1 … maybe.
Let See the Field (QBs, WR/TEs):
Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington: I think this guy has a lot of upside and his matchup against the depleted Saints defense is intriguing. If you want to roll the dice, and if your No. 1 QB has a tough matchup or if you have a flex option by using two QBs, then throw the rookie in and watch him go.
Randy Moss, WR, San Francisco: If you took a chance on Moss during your fantasy draft, then you may be rewarded big time. Moss will start Week 1 against Green Bay and has supposedly taken 49ers camp by storm. He would be a solid start against a suspect Packers defense.
Show the Splinters (QBs, WR /TEs):
Jason Witten, TE, Dallas: Witten is doubtful for Wednesday’s game due to a lacerated spleen so you probably want to show him the splinters. He might play, but it’s doubtful he’ll be very productive.
As far as more player news goes, keep an eye on the status of Buffalo WR Steve Johnson (groin), Kansas City WR Dwayne Bowe (held out for most of camp) and Cincinnati RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (foot). Check back with us for more player updates throughout the week.
Follow Matt on Twitter @ MattLowe777 or @Lindyssportsmag or you can email him at email@example.com