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The Patriots offensive line should pave the way for Stevan Ridley to roll up some good yardage, and Shane Vereen will be effective as both a runner and passer. Tom Brady should benefit with a lot of time to throw, and expect a big day from Danny Amendola against a Bills secondary that is thinned by some key injuries. The Patriots front seven is very disciplined, but C.J. Spiller can still rip off a big run or two. Stevie Johnson will not have too much to talk about after he gets limited by CB Aqib Talib, who may get some help to double cover Buffalo’s top passing target.
Watch and Worry: Stevie Johnson
Watching Richard Sherman and Steve Smith mouth off at each other makes this game worth watching, but Sherman can handle Smith and may even get some safety help. Cam Newton will fire frequently to Greg Olsen, and the Panthers QB may have to scramble often when no one is open. Expect only an adequate Fantasy performance from Newton. DeAngelo Williams seems to have little chance of doing much in this one. Marshawn Lynch may have his yardage limited by MLB Luke Kuechly, but should still score. Russell Wilson will burn the aggressive Carolina CBs for more than one TD pass.
The Bears offensive line will have a challenge they cannot meet against the Bengals front wall. Jay Cutler is in for a long day, and the Bengals defense should register more than one turnover with a few sacks. Matt Forte will be busy as a safety valve when Cutler is in some trouble. Brandon Marshall will not have an outstanding game against the Bengals CBs, but you cannot bench him. A.J. Green has a tough matchup against Charles Tillman, but the Bengal WR has already faced and beaten other top CBs. Giovani Bernard will snag some passes when Green is not open, and Tyler Eifert may make a strong pro debut as well.
Watch and Worry: Jay Cutler
The Dolphins may not be equipped to handle Trent Richardson, and the Browns RB could carve up the Miami LBs for a big day. But the passing game may sputter, as Cameron Wake terrorizes Brandon Weeden. Jordan Cameron should have a decent day as a safety outlet for Weeden, though. The Miami offense may need time to gel, and the Browns could bring a strong pass rush. Ryan Tannehill may sputter and Mike Wallace won’t show his best stuff yet. Lamar Miller may not shine enough as some drives simply flame out.
Watch and Worry: Mike Wallace
Both teams are capable of generating a good pass rush, but the Vikings can obviously stave off the pressure with Adrian Peterson. Christian Ponder will get rid of the ball quickly to Greg Jennings, who should have a decent day for PPR purposes. The Vikings secondary is going to have a heck of a lot of trouble with Calvin Johnson, and expect Matthew Stafford to have a big day spreading the ball around. Reggie Bush may also rush for a score.
Watch and Worry: Cordarrelle Patterson may not be ready to contribute just yet.
The Raiders highly shaky offensive line will not be able to effectively pave the way for Darren McFadden against what should be a somewhat improved Colts front. McFadden will really struggle, and Terrelle Pryor will be heavily pressured on passing downs. Andrew Luck should have his way against the Oakland secondary because he will simply have too many options to throw to at WR. Reggie Wayne will enjoy a big day, and Darrius Heyward-Bey is a major threat to score against his former team. DHB is going to want to shine against the Silver and Black now that he is not one of them anymore.
The Jaguars may have trouble generating a pass rush, and Alex Smith should throw more than one TD pass. Dwayne Bowe should be on the end of one of the scoring tosses. A good passing game should open up wide running lanes for Jamaal Charles. Brandon Flowers may keep Cecil Shorts in check if he sees a lot of him in coverage, and if the Jags get behind in this one, you will only get limited Fantasy production from Maurice Jones-Drew.
Start and Smile: Dwayne Bowe
Watch and Worry: Cecil Shorts
There is not a Jet you can consider starting if you want to win your Fantasy matchup in the opening week. So this game simply comes down to who you can use on the Tampa Bay side of the ball. Antonio Cromartie may shut down Vincent Jackson, so Josh Freeman will attack rookie CB Dee Milliner with some strikes to Mike Williams. The Jets defense will spend too much time on the field, and that means Doug Martin will tear them up in the second half.
Start and Smile: Mike Williams
Watch and Worry: Vincent Jackson
The Saints should come out emotionally charged as Sean Payton returns to the sidelines. Expect a minimum of three TD passes from Drew Brees, and Marques Colston is a must-start. Kenny Stills should also get in the mix with a deep reception or two. Mark Ingram should get an opportunity to finish off a drive with a TD from short range. The Falcons will match the Saints score for score against a very vulnerable New Orleans defense. Start all your key Falcons. Steven Jackson may register more than one TD.
Watch and Worry: Pierre Thomas never gives you enough, no matter how much the Saints score.
Chris Johnson will deliver another disappointing outing, as the Steelers focus on limiting his output while trying to make Jake Locker beat them. Locker should get enough time to keep some drives moving, and look for Kenny Britt and Nate Washington to produce respectably. The Steelers offensive line could have some trouble with the Titans pass rush, and Ben Roethlisberger could absorb some big hits and sacks. This could turn out to be a relatively low-scoring affair that does not help Fantasy players enough.
Start and Smile: Steelers defense
The Cardinals LB corps will be without the suspended Daryl Washington, and the Rams will take advantage by utilizing TE Jared Cook often. Tavon Austin should overwork the Cards secondary from the slot, and Daryl Richardson will see some open running lanes as the Rams pass the ball consistently and effectively. The Arizona offensive line will struggle to open holes for Rashard Mendenhall. Still, Carson Palmer will move the team well enough as he gets rid of the ball quickly and efficiently.
Watch and Worry: Rashard Mendenhall
The 49ers front will make it difficult for rookie Eddie Lacy to get untracked in his first pro game. Aaron Rodgers will have to get rid of the ball quickly against a very good pass rush. Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley should put up pretty good PPR numbers. The Niners’ offensive line should help Frank Gore run successfully and help his team control time of possession. Colin Kaepernick will benefit with some time to throw and he’ll spread the ball around effectively. Expect at least two TD passes from the San Fran passer.
Watch and Worry: Eddie Lacy
The Giants should be able to establish David Wilson and exhibit some ball control. That will be essential to keeping the Cowboys offense off the field as much as possible and Eli Manning using play-action to get the ball to his wide receivers. New York should be able to move the ball consistently, and start their top players with confidence. The Giants need to get a pass rush to protect their secondary, and it’s possible against the Dallas blockers. Still, Tony Romo will get the ball quickly to Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, and they will gain yardage after the catch. Jason Witten may be less effective, because he could be needed to stay in and block.
Watch and Worry: Jason Witten
The Redskins will want to ease pressure on Robert Griffin III, so expect to see a heavy dosage of Alfred Morris. The Washington RB should score at least once. Griffin may look to complete high percentage passes, so expect Pierre Garcon to have good PPR totals. LeSean McCoy will overwork the Washington RBs and could have a very big night. Michael Vick should be able to take some shots downfield and you could see DeSean Jackson sparkle.
Watch and Worry: Robert Griffin III is no sure bet to play well.
The focus may be on the Texans RBs, but the Chargers secondary will truly have its biggest problems with Andre Johnson, who could have a spectacular night. Owen Daniels will also be open often over the middle. The Texans can push the lead up enough to use Ben Tate more than Arian Foster. The Houston front seven will wreak much havoc against Philip Rivers, and if the Chargers try to use Ryan Mathews early to control time of possession, the Texans will adjust quickly and stuff him frequently. Avoid San Diego players if you can this week.