Greetings, Fantasy Football fans and welcome back to this column in Cleary’s Notebook. This is the sport that always manages to get our hearts pumping.
I’m going to make some recommendations each week that are not so obvious. That means if you have Peyton, Maurice or Randy on your fantasy team, you start them each week unless they are on a BYE week or injured. This column is about who to start when the choices are not so obvious. Let’s get into it.
Jay Cutler should have a good week vs. Detroit this week. Forget about last year, he should put up solid numbers here especially with Mike Martz as his new offensive coordinator. I won’t recommend him every week but against Detroit you gotta give him the nod. He threw 6 TDs in the two games vs. Detroit last year. I also like Carson Palmer this week. The Patriots have some inexperienced corners that will be taking on Ochocinco and Owens. This should be a high scoring affair.
Green Bay allowed 29 passing TDs last year. For that reason, I’m recommending Kevin Kolb at home. The Pack is also without their starting corners which is another plus for the Eagles.
Lex Smith of San Francisco had a great game at Seattle last year. He passed for 310 yards and two TD’s I’d look to him for some points especially since Crabtree has a full year and a full training camp this year.
My sleepers this week are Chad Henne and Derek Anderson. Henne because of having Brandon Marshall as a receiver with both Brown and Williams in the backfield. Anderson because he’s the “new” leader of the Cardinals who will face the lowly Rams this week.
Matt Forte should thrive in his matchup against the Lions. In four career meetings with Detroit, Forte has three 100-yard games and three touchdowns. Forte will bounce back this year. For week 1 consider him a must-start option in all leagues. Arian Foster's Fantasy value has risen in the preseason. Foster has more talent than either Steve Slaton or Chris Brown and should get things going against the Colts this week. The only glitch here is that Manning may come out with the 4 receiver sets and have a 20 point lead by the half. That would cause the Texans to abandon the running game. Cadillac Williams has Cleveland in this matchup vs. his Bucs. The Browns allowed 5 rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs last year, which was among the worst in the NFL, and the Browns run defense should still struggle.
My sleeper this week is Jerome Harrison. He may not start this year although he should especially with Hardesty now out for the season with a torn ACL. In Harrison's final three games in 2009 against Kansas City, Oakland and Jacksonville he ran for 561 yards and five touchdowns. The Bucs defense is on par with those teams since they allowed 15 rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs last year.
I like Pierre Garcon at HOU. He should have a great year again. He did very well against Houston last year with 10 catches for 123 yds and 1 TD. He should be a solid number 2 receiver. Journeyman Jabber Gaffney is now with Denver and is looking to be the go-to guy for Kyle Orton. He had a great preseason. Jacksonville’s secondary was horrible last season allowing Wideouts 21 TD’s Gaffney should do well here. Terrell Owens is at New England this week and will be matched up with an inexperienced cornerback. Palmer is savvy enough to exploit this mismatch which should give Owens a big day.
I’m glad Michael Crabtree had a full training camp this year. Couple that with handling 6 catches for 60 yards vs. Seattle last year. He should have much better numbers this year and it all starts with a team that gave up 20 TDs to Wide Receivers last year. Malcom Floyd is now the No. 1 wide receiver for San Diego with Vincent Jackson out. He's a big-play threat. Kansas City will struggle to stop Floyd in this matchup with the amount of targets he's expected to receive. Consider him a No. 2 Fantasy wide receiver in all leagues.
Zach Miller now had Jason Campbell throwing to him instead of Jamarcus Russell. That’s a huge change and should pay immediate dividends for Oakland. Kellen Winslow faces his former team at home. A revenge of sorts as Winslow is in great shape and is stoked for this game. Cleveland struggled covering this ends last year and will have their hands full in week one.
My sleeper this week is Detroit’s Tony Sheffler. Chicago will have their hands full covering Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson this week and Sheffler should prosper from the mismatches over the middle.
Arizona is at St Louis this week and facing rookie quarterback Sam Bradford in his first NFL start. Even at home, Bradford should make a couple of mistakes. The Rams have issues on the offensive line and a weak wide receiver corps even with the recent addition of Mark Clayton from Baltimore. The Cardinals DST should be considered a No. 1 option in Week 1.
Other DSTs with good matchups:
San Diego (at KC)
Tennessee (vs. OAK)
Miami (at BUF)
Neil Racker vs. IND beat out Kris Brown for the job. Rackers had his own struggles last year in Arizona, but he's kicking for a team with a great offense in a favorable venue. This week, Rackers should be able to score plenty of points against the Colts, one of six teams to allow 30 field goals last year. He could have a big week.
Other kickers with good matchups:
Robbie Gould (vs. DET)
Jay Feely (at STL)
David Buehler (at WAS)
That’s all I have for this week. I hope it helps in getting your lineups set or at least gives you options to consider. As I mentioned last year, I’m not always right or wrong. I just do my homework and try to make recommendations that will help.
If you enjoy this column, please don’t hesitate to contact me via Cleary’s Notebook. There is a comment section and I make it a point to answer all valid Fantasy Football related issues.
Thanks, and good luck!