Evan Silva

Matchups

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Week 1 Game Matchups

Friday, September 11, 2009


Ten new head coaches. Nineteen offensive coordinator changes. The Stimulus Plan. 2009 has been a year of change, shakeup, and attempted upgrades, and Rotoworld is following suit. In addition to Gregg Rosenthal's indispensible Goal Line Stand weekly rankings, we're now breaking down the NFL weekend on a game-by-game basis.

Note: The opinions here may differ from those expressed in Gregg's rankings, but we believe some disagreement is healthy. Ultimately, it's on you to pick your fantasy starters. Having the most opinions and background will prepare you best.

Heading into my fourth regular season at Rotoworld, I've accumulated a foundation of player knowledge through game study, beat reports, knowledge of depth charts, and an understanding of likely player-on-player matchups. Hopefully, passing this information on to you will increase your odds of domination. Let's get at it.

1:00PM ET Games

Miami @ Atlanta

The Dolphins had to revamp their secondary after giving up the eighth most passing yards in the league last year, but the newcomers figure to experience growing pains. Rookie RCB Sean Smith looked lost at times this preseason, and new FS Gibril Wilson has always been a better run stopper than cover man. Matt Ryan is a must-start in this matchup...Michael Turner stands to benefit greatly from the addition of Tony Gonzalez, who will keep at least one safety (likely SS Yeremiah Bell) out of the box and command intermittent double teams. The Fins' run defense was sturdy in '08, but Turner remains a solid bet for 90 yards and a score...LCB Will Allen is Miami's top cover corner, but Bill Parcells indicated that he believes the 31-year-old is declining by giving him a fairly below-market new contract this offseason, then drafting corners with his top two picks. Roddy White's holdout lasted just a week and he was explosive in the preseason. He'll give the 31-year-old Allen fits on Sunday. Expect 28+ points from Atlanta's offense.

Split end Ted Ginn Jr. will likely face Falcons RCB Chris Houston in primary coverage. Houston's first two years have been up and down, but he excels in press-man, and Ginn struggled to beat the jam in August, finishing the preseason with three catches. He's a borderline WR3...Miami never formally named a No. 2 receiver, but Davone Bess is first on the depth chart and plays in the slot. He's a better bet than Ginn for a high catch total facing weak LCB Brent Grimes and/or athletically limited nickel back Chevis Jackson...The Fins' best approach in this road game would be to use Ronnie Brown relentlessly on the Georgia Dome turf and keep Ryan on the sidelines. Brown should finish with 25 touches even if Miami is playing catch-up. He'll rarely come off field.

Kansas City @ Baltimore

Looking for a safe bet to lead all Week 1 receivers in targets? Dwayne Bowe is your man. The Chiefs have no hope of a ground game against a Ravens club that ranked third in '08 run defense and returns NT Kelly Gregg after he missed last season. Play Bowe with confidence, no matter who starts at QB...Bench the rest of your Chiefs, literally. We don't know if Mark Bradley will start despite his first-team flanker listing, and Jamaal Charles may end up with double the touches of Larry Johnson. Kansas City figures to fall behind early, and Charles is the passing-down back.

Ray Rice is a must-start RB2 against a Chiefs defense that implements the 3-4 despite lacking ideal personnel. Rookies Michael Oher (Ravens RT) and Tyson Jackson (Chiefs LE) may play to a draw on the strong side, but C Matt Birk and LG Ben Grubbs should dominate Chiefs NT Ron Edwards up the gut. Rice is also a demon on check downs and K.C. doesn't have the speed at outside 'backer or safety to stop him. Look for 150 all-purpose yards...Mark Clayton is a must-sit considering his balky hamstring, lost camp, and likely matchup with Chiefs top corner Brandon Flowers, but flanker/slot man Derrick Mason's route running will be a handful for LCB Brandon Carr. Carr was almost strictly a zone corner in 2008 and is just now learning to play man...Despite positive camp reports about Todd Heap, stay away until he shows something in a real game.

Philadelphia @ Carolina

It's natural to worry about Brian Westbrook at 30 coming off dual leg surgeries, but few matchups would give him a better chance to start hot. Carolina won't replace massive NT Maake Kemoeatu (torn Achilles) and already wasn't potent against the run. With MLB Jon Beason (knee) still banged up, Westbrook is a threat for 100 total yards and a TD even on 15-17 touches...Donovan McNabb should be in fantasy lineups, but the Eagles would be smart to go run heavy, also using LeSean McCoy early and often...If there's one flaw in Birds flanker DeSean Jackson's game, it's that he isn't overly physical. He'll be shadowed by Carolina LCB Chris Gamble, another speedster with better size than Jackson. D-Jax is more of a WR3 than a WR2 in this matchup...Bench TE Brent Celek. He'll be a better bet when Philly plays teams it will have to pass on to beat.

Jonathan Stewart's return from an Achilles injury won't hurt DeAngelo Williams yet. Stewart isn't ready for his usual carry-sharing role, and Williams faces an Eagles defense that will sorely miss MLB Stewart Bradley (ACL tear). Quick fix Omar Gaither isn't half the run defender...Eagles RCB Sheldon Brown is coming off a great year, but turned 30 this spring and was pushed by former Patriot Ellis Hobbs for a starting job in August. Susceptible to the deep pass, he's unlikely to stop Steve Smith with late-round rookie Macho Harris as Brown's "help" along the sideline...Muhsin Muhammad is an obvious "sit" against LCB Asante Samuel. No Panthers tight ends are worth consideration.

Denver @ Cincinnati

The Denver backfield is to be avoided until we see clarity, assuming it ever comes. 31-year-old Correll Buckhalter will start, eventual lead back Knowshon Moreno (knee) wasn't cleared for contact until Thursday, and Peyton Hillis was the Broncos' best option this preseason. Cincy's run defense will surprise this year, and this is a three-headed monster until further notice...Use Brandon Marshall as a WR3, but limit expectations. He'll often square off with underrated Bengals RCB Leon Hall, may rotate with Jabar Gaffney, and his quarterback is less than 100 percent...Kyle Orton figures to have accuracy problems in the vertical game, but Eddie Royal is a strong bet for 8-10 catches. Royal and Orton showed an incredible rapport throughout August and Orton's lacerated finger shouldn't affect his throws as much underneath, where Royal is an unrivaled route runner.

Carson Palmer has a favorable matchup against the NFL's oldest secondary. Speed merchants Chad Ochocinco and Chris Henry, and quick possession wideout Laveranues Coles will keep CBs Champ Bailey (31) and Andre' Goodman (31) on their heels, with 36-year-old S Brian Dawkins as their help. Dawkins looked several steps too slow in August...Henry isn't a recommended play yet, but keep an eye on how he is employed. Henry earned a playing-time bump after an awesome preseason, but we need to know that he'll play over Andre Caldwell in three-wideout sets before using him...The Broncos' pass rush showed improvement as one of only 13 teams to generate double-digit preseason sacks, but their run defense remains a work in progress moving to a 3-4. Cedric Benson won't catch any passes, but won't see any eight-man fronts either.

Minnesota @ Cleveland

Week 7 is our educated guess as to when James Davis will unseat Jamal Lewis. Lewis is certain to struggle Sunday with Vikings DTs Kevin and Pat Williams' suspensions on hold, and also gets Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the first six games...Davis isn't playable yet, but he's already the Browns' third-down specialist and rotates in on early downs...Brady Quinn will probably have to throw 35-39 times to offset either 1) Lewis' ineffectiveness against 2008's No. 1 run defense, or 2) an early lead for Minnesota. He's a fine two-QB league start and figures to target Braylon Edwards heavily, although Edwards will be shadowed by Vikings Pro Bowl CB Antoine Winfield.

We can confidently say that Adrian Peterson will gash the Browns (28th in run defense last year). The only notable upgrade to their starting front seven was DE Kenyon Coleman, who may have missed the Jets' final cut had Eric Mangini not traded for him. Expect a decidedly run-heavy mindset from Minnesota...Brett Favre admits he isn't 100 percent "mentally or physically," and Bernard Berrian (hamstring) was limited in practice all week. Short-route targets Percy Harvin and Visanthe Shiancoe are better bets to lead Minnesota in catches...Sidney Rice will remain a key red-zone guy for the Vikes, but his week-to-week production will be highly inconsistent.


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Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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