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Fantasy Football Preview
Right now is primetime for fantasy football, and at this point you’re exhausted. All the time and energy you put into preparing for your draft or drafts has hopefully paid off. Yet, there is still much to be done. I don’t want to be the guy telling you to look at matchups already, but I am going to be that guy. A win in week 1 could be difference between you and a playoff spot. In this three-part series, I’ll break down position-by-position, the best possible matchup options for the almost impossible to predict, week 1 games. I will give my season-long take on the particular position. First up in the series are the defense/special teams and tight ends. Keep in mind that all of my recommendations are for an ESPN standard scoring 10-team league.
You may wonder why I am starting with this unappealing category. The answer is simply because it is a good warm up for the big point scoring categories. My theory about defense/special teams is that you should add and drop them week to week depending on the matchups. For example, last year I rode the coattails of Seattle’s defense to the finals in my main league. The difference between the first overall defense, San Francisco, and the 10th overall defense, Pittsburgh, was only about 2.5 points per game! So don’t fret if you missed out on San Fran or Chicago, because this year you can always pick up whoever is playing a horrible team. This week, the defenses that have the best matchups and are available are the Patriots, Bills, and to a lesser degree of availability, the Lions. Also be sure to start any defense playing the Dolphins on a given week. Seriously, it works.
The Patriots open up at Tennessee, who is starting second-year quarterback, Jake Locker. A young quarterback who is lacking his best receiver Kenny Britt due to suspension and injury. That, combined with a revamped Patriot defense, seems to be a recipe for turnovers and high point totals for the Pats D.
The Bills have the lowly Jets on the road in week 1. This isn’t so much of an endorsement for the Bills defense, although I do like them since they added defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson. The Jets offense is simply terrible. Even if the Jets win the game, I see the Bills defense coming away with respectable fantasy numbers.
Detroit opens at home against Saint Louis. Although the Rams have new head coach Jeff Fisher leading them, I don’t see an instant turnaround from last season’s dismal display. The Lions boast big play ability on defense, while the Rams are coming off a year where they surrendered the most fantasy points to opposing defenses. I believe this will lead to the Lions defense having a field day at ford field.
Tight end gets thin. It gets thin really quick. If you don’t have Jimmy Graham (NO) or Rob Gronkowski (NE), you have a tight end that probably won’t crack the 10-point mark this week. This isn’t to say that no other tight ends will crack that mark, because undoubtedly they will, you just have to know what gamble to take. The safest bet in my opinion is Aaron Hernandez (NE). Next would probably be a veteran like Tony Gonzalez (ATL) or Antonio Gates (SD). If you have to pick someone up I’d take Ed Dickson (BAL) or Martellus Bennett (NYG). I would stay away from Jermichael Findlay (GB) and Owen Daniels (HOU). Finley because he is coming off injury, and Daniels simply because he burned me last year, not that I hold a grudge or anything.
Aaron Hernandez and New England open at Tennessee as I stated earlier. Although he is the number two tight end for the Pats, he is valuable because of his unique speed at the position. He often gets thrown to deep and has a capacity for the big play. The same big play ability that showed last year in week six by catching the game-winning touchdown against the Cowboys.
Gonzalez and Gates have careers that speak for themselves as far as fantasy is concerned. Both veterans are on teams that will score often and utilize their tight ends in the red zone. With tight end as thin as it is this year, it’s hard to complain about these veterans on a week-to-week basis.
Ed Dickson was supposed to be a much bigger part of the offense last year for Baltimore, but it was Dennis Pitta who stole some of Dickson’s thunder. Quarterback Joe Flacco targeted Dickson 89 times to Pitta’s 56, which ate into Dickson’s fantasy value significantly. This year Pitta has a broken hand to start the season, so Flacco will have to throw to Dickson if for no other reason than the fact that he’s 6-foot-4, 255 pounds, and healthy. Pitta will come back sooner rather than later, so I wouldn’t recommend Dickson for much more than the first few weeks of the season.
Bennett has emerged as the top tight end for the Giants coming into 2012 with the departure of Jake Ballard in the offseason. Quarterback Eli Manning will look for Bennett often in New York, much like he did with Ballard last year in big moments. At 6-foot-6, 265 pounds, he is a physical specimen and this could be the year he finally lives up to his potential.
Check back tomorrow for part two of my preview, kickers and wide receivers.