|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
The NFL season starts Thursday night, but before the first game kicks off, everyone who plays fantasy football must decide who they want to start at each position. It is a difficult task if you have four or more at one spot, but maybe the players on this list might change your mind.
Andrew Luck (IND): The Oakland Raiders did not do much to improve its defense in the offseason. Luck has never faced the Raiders, but he has some great weapons in T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne to throw the ball too.
Stevan Ridley (NE): The New England Patriots may not have too many threats at running back, but Ridley is considered a must-play in almost any fantasy league. He finished with 204 rushing yards and three touchdowns against the Buffalo Bills in 2012 and should find his way to the end zone at least once on Sunday afternoon.
Chris Givens (STL): Givens had three touchdowns in 2012 and two of those came against the Arizona Cardinals. He also had his only career 100-yard game late against the Cardinals last season. Expect Givens to get the ball early and often and maybe even score a touchdown from 35 or more yards out.
Jared Cook (STL): Another option for Sam Bradford is newly acquired tight end Cook. The 26-year-old finished with 44 receptions for 523 yards and four touchdowns with the Tennessee Titans in 2012, but should look to prove his worth with the Rams in his Week 1 matchup against the Cardinals.
Blair Walsh (MIN): A kicker who will get plenty of chances is hard to come by, but Walsh should get plenty of field goal opportunities against the Detroit Lions’ defense. He converted 6-of-7 chances against the Lions last season.
Tampa Bay DEF: Any defense that is going up against the New York Jets should be started that week. Geno Smith may be getting the nod, but he is a rookie and will be more prone to mistakes early on in the season.
Andy Dalton (CIN): The Chicago Bears’ defense averaged fewer than 13 points per game to quarterbacks in 2012 at Ford Field and Dalton would have a tough task to faceoff against the pass rushers on this squad. Feel free to start him next week, but this Week 1 matchup is better suited for another option.
Ryan Mathews (SD): Mathews is going up a defense that allowed the fewest fantasy points to opponent’s running backs on the road last season. This a tough task to a running back that has failed to stay healthy and would need to prove his worth by staying on the field before anyone should play him on a weekly basis.
Steve Smith (CAR): The Seattle Seahawks have one of the best pass defenses in the league and Smith may not even be in the picture when it comes to the box score. He mustered four fantasy points in last year’s contest against the Seahawks. Just be aware that it could be another tough week for the wideout.
Jermichael Finley (GB): Finley has looked great in the preseason and is in a contract year, but the San Francisco 49ers allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends in 2012 at home. That trend should continue in 2013.
Greg Zuerlein (STL): With only two field goal makes in three attmepts against the Cardinals last season, Zeurlein may not see much action in this Week 1 matchup. Bradfordwill be gunning for touchdowns, so look for extra points and not much else from the St. Louis kicker.
Baltimore DEF: The Denver Broncos have a juggernaut of an offense and the Ravens’ D has lost some key parts, including Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, who were both vital members of the 2012 defensive squad. Look for Peyton Manning and Co. to pick apart this defense Thursday evening.