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 BillsSteve 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.

  1. Eric says:
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    Sweeet, possible dud for Victor Cruz + doubts about his break out season makes him a possible amazing buy low.

  2. DiRo says:
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    I am hoping for a good Peyton outing against Pitt, depending on this performance I may pull the trigger on a trade for him.

    However I need advice on this offer I was just sent; he is going to send me McFadden and Marshall for my Bradshaw and Welker. I have Foster as my other RB and Wallace/Harvin as my other WR’s

    • Eric says:
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      @DiRo, He’s giving you Darren McFadden and Brandon Marshall for Bradshaw and Welker? I would take that and laugh all the way to the bank. No hesitation.

      Bradshaw is arguably just as fragile as McFadden but with much lower upside and Brandon Marshall is a shoe in for WR 1 status while Welker has to fight off other NE WRs for targets. RUN AND TAKE IT

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @DiRo, I have to agree with Eric on this one. Bradshaw has plenty of question marks including the emergence of David Wilson and Welker is one of about 700 targets Brady has at his disposal. Marshall is back on a team with a QB that loves him and McFadden, if he stays healthy, could be the #1 RB in fantasy.

  3. Loudon

    Loudon says:
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    Next week might just be the perfect time to buy low on Cruz. He faces the Bucs week two and they don’t have anyone who will be able to keep up with Cruz. The only problem will be finding the right caliber of player to offer in return. If Colston, Dez Bryant, or Brandon Lloyd light up the scoreboard early, they’d be great trade bait for a disillusioned Cruz owner.

    • Eric says:
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      @Loudon, Perfect, I’ll be looking to move players around that caliber, if not a little higher. Or maybe just hide him within in a 3 for 3 or something

  4. Joe says:
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    I’m sure Ike still has nightmares about letting Thomas by him in the playoffs last year. I imagine he will be the one shut down this week.

  5. Tom Thumb says:
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    12 team league, PPR. How did I do?

    QB- Vick
    RB- Rice
    RB- AP
    RB/WR- Miles Austin
    WR- Julio Jones
    WR- Antonio Brown
    TE- Antonio Gates
    D/ST- Philly
    K- Janikowski

    BN- Roethlisberger
    BN- Mike Williams TB
    BN- Best (late season lottery?)
    BN- Moreno (See above)
    BN- Gerhart
    BN- Daniel Thomas
    BN- Jon Baldwin

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Tom Thumb, This team has a ton of upside. Ray Rice and AP in a PPR is fantastic. The fact you got Gerhart as a backup also shows you know what you’re doing. If your starters stay healthy, you’ll be a tough team to beat. That’s a big if, obviously, with Vick, Austin and AP obviously, but I like the upside gamble.

      • Tom Thumb says:
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        @Loudon, Thanks!

  6. Ringo says:
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    Stevie Johnson routinely visits Revis Island and always comes out with a healthy statline.

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Ringo, You’re right in that he has done relatively well against Revis in the past, but Revis remains one of the best CBs in the league and to bank on a big game from Stevie Johnson when you have other options available to you is quite the gamble.

  7. Prezii says:
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    Ughh i keep postin on the wrong posts!!

    Any of these guys worth droppin for Gerhart? Ryan williams, helu or donald brown?

    Thanks!!

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Prezii, I think that all depends on who else is on your team. Gerhart has value early on, but if AP makes the miraculous comeback a lot of people are expecting, his value will be limited where as Williams, Helu, and Brown should all have at least some value throughout the season. If you don’t need starting RBs for a while, Helu might have the least value long-term with Royster making a case for himself.

      • Prezii says:
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        @Loudon, @Loudon, thanks man.. Im gonna hold tight! Helu will probably be more or a headache than a home run though. Im hoping not, cuz the upside is nice, but shananagan is the devil.

  8. Iceman says:
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    12 team, H2H, non-PPR. 2 keepers (not tied to any rounds). Already keeping Foster…but who to use the second keeper spot on? Thanks for any advice!

    Andre Johnson
    Matt Forte
    Marshawn Lynch
    Roddy White
    Dez Bryant

    • The G says:
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      @Iceman,

      If your looking at pure value and a safety valve, I’d go with Roddy White. However, Dez and Marshawn are mighty sexy choices…so the question is, are u feeling daring enough to gamble on upside?

      Personally, I’d stay away from all but White and Forte. Since WR is deep this year, I’d pull the trigger on Forte and secure a very solid backfield.

    • Eric says:
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      @Iceman, I agree with taking Forte

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Iceman, Forte and White are definitely the top 2 here. I have to agree with the consensus and say take Forte.

      • Iceman says:
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        @Loudon, Thanks all!

  9. Mike says:
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    Wouldn’t trade Maclin for Trent Richardson ?
    Standard league

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Mike, Richardson is still unproven in the NFL, but he’s the guy in Cleveland. Rumor has it he’ll be playing week 1 which is ahead of schedule for him so if you can trade Maclin for him and not completely kill your WR core, this seems like a pretty good deal.

  10. Rags says:
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    Olsen on the Panthers is going to be third in targets, without Shockey there. He’s the one I’d be looking at as a sleeper instead of LaFell. And I like LaFell, own him in my deep keeper league. But I think it’s going to take half a season before he starts getting balls his way…

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Rags, Olsen is definitely an intriguing sleeper, but teams know to cover him in the red zone. Without Shockey there, more eyes will be on Olsen. Olsen might actually be second in targets on the Panthers this year, but I’m also betting he’ll be second in coverage as well which will leave a talented LaFell open down the field.

  11. Eric says:
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    Oh yeah, I was wondering if I could get an analysis on my draft that I did a while ago. I think I did really well but I just want to get some feedback and maybe some possible trade moves to make.

    10 team, No PPR league (This was before Yahoo Updated their Rankings)

    QB: Philip Rivers (9th Round)
    WR: Julio Jones (4th Round)
    WR: Jordy Nelson (5th Round)
    WR: Antonio Brown (7th Round)
    RB: Arian Foster (1st Round)
    RB: Marshawn Lynch (3rd Round)
    TE: Jimmy Graham (2nd Round)
    Bench: Doug Martin (6th Round)
    Bench: Kevin Smith (13th Round)
    Bench: Robert Meachem (8th Round)
    Bench: Reggie Wayne (11th Round)
    Bench: Ben Tate (12th Round)
    Bench: Rashad Jennings (14th Round)
    Kicker: Garret Hartley (15th Round)
    Def: Houston (10th Round)

    • The G says:
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      @Eric,

      Very solid draft…I’d look to upgrade your bench and see if you can get a Helu or Leshoure for Jennings or Tate. Also, why not gamble on a high-upside QB like Luck or RG III to hold the last spot on your bench…they’d be good insurance for Rivers…

      • Eric says:
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        @The G, Thanks a lot, I have a feeling its not going to be a very exciting league since these people are currently on the waivers and people aren’t being active

        1) Jonathan Stewart
        2) Steven Ridley
        3) Dangelo Williams
        4) Jacquizz Rodgers
        5) CJ Spiller
        6) Leshoure
        7) Evan Royster
        8) Toby Gerhart
        9) David Wilson
        10) Rashard Mendenhall
        11) Joe Flacco

        Is anyone on my bench worth dropping for anyone here? I’m thinking I can drop Rashad Jennings for Wilson or Rodgers, what do you guys think?

        • The G says:
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          @Eric,

          Since AP isn’t in game mode rt now, go with Gerhart for the first week or two. Otherwise, I like Leshoure or Spiller for Tate. Hold onto Jennings for now, since he’s gonna start week 1.

          In terms of overall upside from this list, i really like Wilson to finish with the most points from this group…

        • Loudon

          Loudon says:
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          @Eric, Gerhart has the most upside for the season as a whole if something goes wrong with AP’s comeback. However, with Doug Martin on your bench, you don’t really need another RB anytime soon so I’d probably say keep Jennings for now and drop Kevin Smith for Gerhart and see what happens. It’s not that Kevin Smith isn’t good, there’s just much more potential value in some of the players on waivers and you aren’t going to need Smith anyway.

  12. GTG says:
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    Too much risk? 10 team, non-PPR.

    QB Peyton Manning
    RB Maurice Jones-Drew
    RB Adrian Peterson
    WR Larry Fitzgerald
    WR Antonio Brown
    TE Aaron Hernandez
    Flex Marshawn Lynch
    D Jets
    K Gostkowski

    Bench
    RB Stephen Jackson
    QB RGIII
    TE Brent Celek
    WR Michael Crabtree

    This team would have crushed in 2009 or 2010… not so sure about 2012.

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @GTG, RGIII to back up Peyton limits the risk there. Your RBs are two of the biggest risk/reward players in all of fantasy football though. If they both survive the season, I see the playoffs in your future if not more. Sometimes you just have to gamble.

  13. mr mark says:
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    please critique my team 12 team ppr

    qb-p manning
    qb-flacco

    rb-mccoy
    rb-mstthews
    rb-hillis
    rb-ingram
    rb-spiller
    rb-leshoure

    wr-julio jones
    wr-hakem nicks
    wr-stevie johnson
    wr-titus young
    wr-kendall wright

    te-jared cook
    k-kaeding
    def-houston

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @mr mark, If your team starts 2 RBs with a WR/RB flex, I think you did great. McCoy and Matthews are both potential Top 5 talents at RB this year and Hillis has enough value as a week to week plug in whenever you have a rough matchup at WR. If you have to start Hillis every week in this league, you may want to consider trying to work out a 2 for 1 deal with another team that needs depth, but wait a week or two and see how things play out.

  14. Tyler says:
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    Given the information above, would you consider Brandon Lafell or Pierre Thomas as a Flex start over Eric Decker? I agree that Demaryius Thomas seems like the likely candidate for Taylor-coverage, so Decker might have a great week.

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Tyler, I think Peyton is going to want to start the year throwing the ball and the routes Thomas likes to run play more into Taylor’s typical coverage strengths so I like Decker. LaFell will have a good week, but Decker’s ceiling is higher.

  15. Scobee Snack says:
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    “Keeper for Life” league (all players are kept)
    Standard scoring
    10 team, 20 man roster

    I just traded Victor Cruz for Ryan Matthews because I don’t trust Cruz to have the same year. The problem is I made my receiving core weaker. My current roster looks like this:

    Chris Johnson
    DeMarco Murray
    Ryan Matthews
    Reggie Bush

    Andre Johnson
    Dez Bryant
    Antonio Brown
    Reggie Wayne

    Which receivers would you target when trading Reggie Bush?

  16. Loudon

    Loudon says:
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    I think you have a real solid WR core. Johnson, Bryant and Brown are all capable of being top 15 WRs and even Wayne has some serious upside with Luck looking better than expected in the preseason. Anyone you could get for Bush (Colston, Steve Smith, Eric Decker, Torrey Smith, Percy Harvin) wouldn’t be much of an upgrade if any. You have some nice depth, don’t try to over-analyze your team before the season even begins. Cruz for Matthews was a nice move. Now you’re balanced and ready to go.

  17. BAM says:
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    Hey guys…if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like some feedback on my team. 12-team, .5/ppr, return yardage league:

    QB
    E.Manning
    R. Griffin III

    RB
    D.Sproles
    M. Lynch
    F. Jackson
    P. Thomas
    R. Turbin

    WR
    Julio Jones
    V. Cruz
    W. Welker
    B. LaFell

    TE
    Gronk
    G. Olsen

    K
    Akers

    DEF
    Eagles

    Thanks!

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @BAM, In a .5 PPR, I think you have a fantastic team. I imagine your typical lineup will end up being

      Manning
      Sproles
      Lynch
      Jones
      Cruz
      Welker
      Gronk
      Jackson (GREAT flex)

      Olsen may even turn out to be a solid flex play when bye weeks are a factor.

  18. BAM says:
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    addition to my previous “rate my team” post: We start: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB/WR/TE Flex.

  19. Mike says:
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    Given your concerns about Thomas, would you drop in Crabtree or LaFell in that Flex instead?

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Mike, I would put LaFell and Thomas on equal terms this week. Thomas did great against the Steelers in the playoffs last year, but he’ll be watched like a hawk and Peyton’s less likely to throw into double coverage than Tebow. Personally, I would probably still start Thomas just because he’s the more talented WR and Decker is still a threat on the other side of the field, but it’s REALLY close.

  20. Charles says:
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    Please asses my draft 10 team, non-PPR

    QB1: M Vick Phi
    RB1: R Rice Balt
    RB2: M Lynch Sea
    WR1: B Marshall Chi
    WR2: S Smith Car
    Flex: D Murray Dal
    TE: J Cook Tenn
    D: Eagles
    K: A Henry Phi
    Bench1: Ben Roth Pit
    Bench2: D Brown Ind
    Bench3: C Benson GB
    Bench4: P Garcon Wash
    Bench5: M Austin Dal
    Bench6: D Wilson NYG

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Charles, 10 team drafts always look a little better, but your team looks great. You have 3 potentially Top 10 RBs and some nice depth at every position except for TE. You may want to keep an eye on how many looks Cook gets this week and if he’s only targeted 2-3 times, make a trade for someone along the lines of Antonio Gates or Aaron Hernandez. You could probably get either of those guys for the price of Austin in some sort of 2 for 2 deal. Just something to think about, but that’s a playoff caliber team already.

  21. Jay Jones says:
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    Awesome prognostication on cruz

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Jay Jones, Thanks. Hope it paid off for a few readers.

  22. Mr Magoo says:
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    I would appreciate a roster analysis of my 2012 team

    Arian Foster, Hou RB
    Ray Rice, Bal RB
    Matthew Stafford, Det QB
    Marques Colston, NO WR
    Aaron Hernandez, NE TE
    Anquan Boldin, Bal WR

    Packers D/ST D/ST
    David Wilson, NYG RB
    Dan Bailey, Dal K
    Kyle Rudolph, Min TE
    Mikel Leshoure, Det RB
    Kendall Wright, Ten WR
    Rueben Randle, NYG WR
    Brandon LaFell, Car WR

    • Loudon

      Loudon says:
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      @Mr Magoo, Keeper league? How you managed to get Foster AND Rice is beyond me. You’re definitely a little weak at WR, but your running back core will keep that from ever being a problem. Assuming your team remains injury free, I don’t think you’ll have any trouble remaining one of the best teams in your league.

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