Have you ever opened a brand new pack of Starburst only to find that most of them are yellow? It’s easily one of the worst feelings ever, but even worse is realizing that one or two of your key WRs are going up against one of the top cornerbacks in the league. Matchups play a key role in fantasy football and if you want to be the best, you need to keep your eye out for matchups to both avoid and exploit. You’ll never hear me say you should bench Calvin Johnson, unless he will physically be somewhere other than on the field when the Lions are playing, but even the best wide receivers can have an off day. When they find themselves stranded on Revis Island, for instance.
This Wednesday night, the season kicks off with The Giants facing The Cowboys. This is a classic divisional rivalry with a lot of history and you know both teams will be looking to start their season off right. With both Nicks and Cruz going in the second or third round of most fantasy drafts, it’s hard to say you shouldn’t start either of them, but if you find yourself deep at WR, you may want to second guess counting on Victor Cruz for a big game. Cruz will have to start the season against The Cowboys’ newly acquired cornerback Brandon Carr. Sure, Cruz may have lit up Dallas on January 1st, but that was before Carr came to town. A night ending in 3 catches for 57 yards would not surprise me.
The marquee matchup of week 1 is obviously Jets vs. Bills. I’m kidding of course, but remember that whole Revis Island thing? It’s a real place and The Bills’ Steve Johnson will likely be throwing a lot more bottles with rescue notes than he’ll have passes thrown to him in week 1.
The real marquee matchup of the week is Steelers vs. Broncos. Everyone wants to see Peyton Manning back in action for Sunday Night Football. What makes things tricky for fantasy owners, however, is that Ike Taylor will be covering one side of the field for The Steelers. That doesn’t mean Manning is a bad play, he’ll find someone to throw to, but between Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, one of them will likely see a quiet week one while the other’s matchup will be…Taylor-made for success. Your guess is as good as mine whom Taylor will end up covering, but my money is on Thomas at this point in the season.
Looking for a week 1 sleeper? Keep an eye on Brandon LaFell of the Carolina Panthers. Tampa Bay’s pass defense is the Swiss cheese of the NFL and after the year he had in 2011, both Talib and Wright of the Bucs will be keeping their eyes on Steve Smith whenever they can. Cam Newton will still be looking to throw the ball plenty so don’t be surprised to see LaFell start the season with more yards and TDs than Smith.
For those of you waiting to hear whether or not you’ll be able to use Ryan Mathews as your flex in week 1 and hate the fact he’s playing in the last game of the week, fear not; Oakland’s pass defense is not what it used to be. Both Malcom Floyd and Robert Meachem should put up decent numbers against a defense that offers very little in the way of cornerbacks. If San Diego finds themselves down early, which is very possible considering Oakland’s formidable offense, they’ll likely air it out a lot and Antonio Gates will probably see the best coverage of the bunch.