Before I get into it, I’m going to address how I’m going to write this every week. If you just want to see my list, go ahead and scroll down.
Ideally I’ll have this for you every Tuesday or Wednesday. Also, starting next week, I’ll have a few waiver wire targets for you. If you have any questions you can get a hold of me on twitter @PatrickJudis.
Some of you might be asking, “Why should I listen to this guy?” If you’re not asking yourself that, you should; but I assure you I’m someone you might want to listen to every now and again. me I ever missed the playoffs was the 2010 season. That was also the only time I’ve missed the playoffs since I started playing in 2005.
Now let me explain how this works. Originally I called this The Good Matchups, The Bad Matchups, The Ugly Matchups, and The Sleepy Matchups, but as you can see it doesn’t sound as nice. However that’s more what I’ll be looking at, the talent of the player against how well the defense they’re playing against defends what that player does. I’ll add in there, especially with star players, if you should bench/start that guy no matter what for that week. (Spoiler alert: I’ll almost never tell you to sit your stud players.)
The Good RBs
Frank Gore SF: There is going to be a trend this year and it will be: whatever RB is playing the Cowboys is a must start. That defense was awful last season, giving up 4.7 yards a carry, and there is a very good chance it will be worse this season. Also, no team ran it as much last season as the 49ers, so expect Gore and company to get plenty of chances Sunday.
Shane Vereen NE: If you have this guy in a PPR (point per reception for those who don’t know)- play this guy. There is no doubt he gets a lot of use in this offense, especially against a Miami Dolphins team that was middle of the road against the run last season.
Zac Stacy STL: There’s a lot of question’s surrounding Stacy, after not starting week 3 of the preseason, but he still remains at the top of the depth chart. Also, without Sam Bradford, expect the Rams to rely heavily on Stacy throughout the year and especially week 1 against the Vikings.
The Bad RBs
Ryan Mathews SD: Mathews isn’t just competing with Danny Woodhead for touches anymore. Donald Brown came over from the Colts and the Chargers’ offensive coordinator says he imagines a nice 3 RB rotation for this season. That’s great for actual football, but as far as fantasy goes it really hurts Mathews’s value. Also the Cardinals’, despite some losses at LB and DL, are still a very solid run defense.
Gio Bernard CIN: Odds are you drafted Bernard high, and in PPR leagues he’ll have slightly more value, but last season Baltimore held teams to 3.8 yards a carry while only allowing 7 rushing TDs. I also think Jeremy Hill will take as many carries away from Bernard as Green-Ellis took away last season.
Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden: Oakland’s run game will be this team’s strength for this season, but in Week One they are matched up against the stingiest yards per carry defense from last year, the New York Jets. The Jets are well equipped to slow down any running game this year and that’s about the only reason this is a bad matchup for these two.
The Ugly RB
Eddie Lacy GB: Odds are you drafted Lacy high, which means I don’t advise sitting him especially in week 1; but going up against Seattle’s defense isn’t a great matchup for any RB. Last year the Seahawks allowed only 3.9 yards a carry and 4 rushing TDs, tying for the fewest in the NFL. I personally have my doubts that Lacy will be able to repeat, much less exceed, what he did his rookie season if Rodgers stays under center all year because he won’t have nearly as many attempts. He’ll still be very reliable this year, just temper your expectations on him slightly for week 1.
The Sleepy RB
Carlos Hyde SF: It’s hard to pick a better sleeper for this week since we haven’t seen many of these guys play but, as I said before, the 49ers love to run the ball and aren’t afraid to give Gore a breather and still lean on that run game. Cowboys’ defense is still bad.
The Good WRs
Vincent Jackson TB: Jackson’s value is directly tied to how well Josh McCown runs this offense, but Carolina’s secondary is horrid; so hopefully they get off to a fast start.
Victor Cruz NYG: Don’t get used to me suggesting Cruz as a good option, but if the Giants can keep Eli upright against the Lions (which is a big if) than Cruz shouldn’t face much resistance from this secondary. I mean, can you name any CBs who play for Detroit?…Go ahead I’ll wait for you to look that up.
Emmanuel Sanders DEN: In case you missed it, Sanders now has Manning throwing him the football every game. You’d be surprised what that could do for a receivers’ production. Bonus plus for Sanders: Welker might miss week 1 after a concussion, so there will be a few less mouths to feed.
The Bad WRs
Keenan Allen SD: Having Patrick Peterson follow you around isn’t great. If you have to play him then hope for the best, but don’t expect much out of him.
Antonio Brown PIT: It’s hard to sit Brown, and I don’t suggest you do that-especially in PPR leagues, but Joe Haden will be shadowing him all over the field.
Mike Wallace MIA: Go ahead and leave Wallace on your bench, as Revis will be making his premiere as a Patriot and I doubt Wallace will be able to ruin that for him.
The Ugly WRs
Jordy Nelson and Randal Cobb GB: I don’t think even the rule changes will help offenses going up against the Seahawks defense much, if at all, especially in Seattle. If you have other options you feel confident in, I’d roll with them. If not, start them and hope for the best.
The Sleepy WRs
Dwayne Bowe KC: Bowe was a disappointment last season, but sometimes you have to give players a clean slate. It isn’t a bad week to give him that second chance, considering he’s going up against the Titans’ secondary that lost its best cover corner and failed to replace him.
The Good QBs
As far as QBs go, there are an abundance of options; and odds are you have a very good one. As bye weeks come by, I’ll merely suggest bye week options for you. Since it’s redundant to keep suggesting you play guys like Rodgers, Manning, and Brees, I’ll try and leave them off the list as much as possible. Also, for that reason, there won’t be any “Ugly” or “Sleepy” matchups. It is a waste of your time and mine to tell you Ryan Fitzpatrick has a good matchup against Washington, because no one in their right mind should even have Fitzpatrick on their team.
Tom Brady NE: If you got burned by Brady last year guess what, that was last year. With Gronk ready for week one it’s hard to pass on Brady anymore.
Josh McCown TB: As I mentioned before don’t expect Carolina’s defense to slow people down through the air. Expect McCown to take advantage of that.
Collin Kaepernick SF: Kaepernick is going up against that terrible Cowboy’s defense I keep talking about.
The Bad QBs
Aaron Rodgers GB: Again the Packers will be going up against that Seattle defense, in Seattle, and on opening night; that’s bad news Packers right there. I’m not suggesting sitting Rodgers because that’s hard to do. Just understand Rodgers is in a very tough situation.
The Good TEs
Rob Gronkowski NE: When Gronk is healthy-you play Gronk. Simply said, Brady loves throwing the ball to Gronkowski.
Charles Clay MIA: With the Patriots blanketing Wallace expect Tannehill to rely on his safety blanket, Charles Clay, for a lot of the game.
Dwayne Allen IND: Denver’s defense was the 6th worst against TEs last season-allowing a little over 8 points per game.
The Bad TEs
Denis Pitta BAL: Last season the Bengals held opposing TEs to an average of 5.6 points per game. That isn’t good news for Flacco’s favorite target. Although if you’re in a PPR league I’d still give Pitta a chance.
Tyler Eifert CIN: If you thought about getting sneaky and playing Eifert week 1, think again. The Ravens held opposing TEs to just 6.2 points per game and arguably got better at linebacker and safety.
The Ugly TE
Kyle Rudolph MIN: If you managed to get Kyle Rudolph, you might have the next breakout TE. Norv Turner is the new offensive coordinator for the Vikings and Norv Turner loves his TEs. However, the Rams defended TEs better than anyone last season-holding them to a mere 5 points a game. I’d still start him, just for the chance he can go off; but if somehow he’s your second best TE, go ahead and keep him on the bench.
The Sleepy TE
Ladarius Green SD: Don’t look now, but the future of the TE position in San Diego might come sooner than expected. Arizona was the worst at defending TEs last season; allowing TEs to roll over them on their way to an average of 13.1 points per game, 4 more than the next defense on the list.
Having a stagnant defense you play blindly doesn’t work well as often in today’s NFL. It almost works out better to just play the matchups, and pick up and drop a different defense every week. This is to tell you which defenses, that are somewhat available in most leagues, you should pick up each week.
The Jets: playing the Raiders in New York
Washington: playing the Texans in Houston
The Bears: playing the Bills in Chicago
The Steelers: playing the Browns in Pittsburgh