Fantasy Football: Week 1

Matt Lichtenstadter ('12)/ Eastside Opinions Editor

The column is back, and it should be an exciting fantasy season. Plenty of new players in new uniforms should impact your fantasy team in many ways, and so should the lockout. Enjoy the 2011 fantasy season!

Who to Start:

QB Kevin Kolb (ARZ) vs. CAR: One of the many old faces in new places, and he will totally benefit from the change of scenery. He has the advantage of his first game as a Cardinal coming against the Panthers, who may have a decent pass rush, but a weak secondary. He’s a great start in 2 QB leagues.

RB LeGarrette Blount (TB) vs. DET: He exploded onto the scene towards the end of last season with some very good numbers. The Lions gave up an average of 4.5 yards a carry last season, so Blount should see a decent amount of touches, and yards too.

WR Brandon Lloyd (DEN) vs. OAK MON: With the departure of Nnamdi Asomugha, the Raiders pass defense is noticeably worse. Lloyd is the top target for Kyle Orton, and look for him to have a big day against the worse Raiders pass D.

WR Santana Moss (WSH) vs. NYG: This is a very iffy start because of the uncertainty surrounding Rex Grossman, but look to the Giants injury-depleted secondary to cause problems, and possibly open up Moss for a few more catches and yards.

TE Lance Kendricks (STL) vs. PHI: Here comes the return of the fantasy column staple: “Who?” The Rams’ new TE gets a chance because of the departure of Daniel Fells, and he will have a great game on Sunday because the Eagles have historically been bad at defending the TE, and it doesn’t help that the Eagles have a rookie MLB calling the shots.

DEF Cleveland vs. CIN: When a rookie QB is making his first career start, and his preseason has looked very iffy, you should start the defense he’s playing against. Turns out that the defense in question is Cleveland. So, start them.

Who to Sit:

QB Kerry Collins (IND) vs. HOU: The reason why he’s here is for two reasons. One, there really isn’t a clear picture of how much of the offense he’s grasped yet, and two, we have to give the Texans some credit for their defensive changes this offseason, before it may go wrong.

RB Felix Jones (DAL) vs. NYJ: Until there is any reason to believe otherwise, expect the Jets run defense to be as stout as ever. This doesn’t bode well for Felix Jones, even though he’ll likely be leaned on to run the ball.

WR Dwayne Bowe (KC) vs. BUF: There are questions surrounding the health of Matt Cassel, and if he doesn’t play, that drastically drops his value. Also, Buffalo’s pass defense was surprisingly second-best in the NFL a season ago, so he may be one to avoid.

WR Lee Evans (BAL) vs. PIT: He’ll get an experience in his first game as a Raven, as he plays the Steelers. He won’t do much, as neither offense traditionally does in this series, especially a deep threat receiver. Avoid.

TE Brent Celek (PHI) vs. STL: Since Mike Vick became the starter, Brent Celek has seen a drastic drop in targets. When you see that, you know that a player has become less important in the offense. Such is the case with Celek, and that should continue this season.

DEF New Orleans vs. GB THU: Just as a reminder, the visiting team in the Thursday kickoff game hasn’t won since 2003, and usually the games aren’t close. This doesn’t bode well for the New Orleans D going up against the Super Bowl MVP and his potent offense.

Sleepers of the Week:

RB Tim Hightower (WSH) vs. NYG: He had a breakout preseason and looks like the feature back for Mike Shanahan. Knowing his tendency to revive and bring the best out of running backs, Hightower may be a worthwhile option.

QB Matt Hasselbeck (TEN) vs. JAX: Despite the defensive improvements, the Jags pass D may still have some issues to work out, and Hasselbeck should likely be able to exploit them.

WR Kevin Walter (HOU) vs. IND: The Colts secondary took some hits this offseason, and with Matt Schaub’s ability to put up amazing numbers on offense, expect some big things possibly from Walter on Sunday.

Buyer Beware:

WR Chad Ochocinco (NE) vs. MIA MON: There are still questions as to whether he can immerse himself in the offense and gel with Tom Brady, and going up against a very good Miami pass defense, he may not do much this week. Wait a little bit on him.

Good luck in Week 1!