START: Patriots QB Tom Brady, @ Dolphins. The Patriots have executed scary well on opening days with the exception of the Bernard Pollard nightmare of 2008. Tom Brady has thrown 2+ TDs in all of his last 6 opening days and he has a healthy Welker, an increasingly dangerous TE duo, an improving run game and Chad Ochocinco.
SIT: Rams QB Sam Bradford, vs. Eagles. It’s Sam Bradford’s first game in the McDaniels offense and there will be growing pains. I am enough of a believer in the scheme and the quarterback try to draft him in one league, but remember he only scored multiple TDs in six games last year (the last one being week 12 @ Broncos) and they added Jerrious Norwood and Cadillac Williams.
START: Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles, @ Bills. This is not a strong weekend for running back match-ups. The best ones are basically either dinged up (Arian Foster, Maurice Jones-Drew) or facing great defenses (Ray Rice vs. Steelers; Adrian Peterson vs. Chargers). I expect the Bills run defense to eventually be much-improved, thanks to the spark plug Marcell Dareus, but not week 1. They were last in yards rushing allowed and 27th in rushing TDs allowed last year. The Chiefs ran for 274 yards last year vs. the Bills in Kansas City.
SIT: Colts RB Joseph Addai; Colts RB Delone Carter, @ Texans. I know they’re facing a new defense with probably the most new starters in the NFL but – with Manning likely out -, the Texans will probably put 7-8 in the box and challenge the Colts QB to throw. I know I just picked against this logic by endorsing Charles with his QB likely out but the Texans have far better athleticism and speed than the Bills do.
START: 49ers RB Frank Gore, vs. Seahawks. The most intriguing match-up is Adrian Peterson against the Bolts, given his torrential 297-yard performance in his last game against them, four years ago. His ability has only increased since then, but the line has fluctuated and the Bolts defense has improved. Therefore, I’m going with with Frank Gore against the Seahawks defense. My guess is that their defense will be worn out by Tarvaris Jackson’s inability to keep the offense on the field and that Gore will slice through a defense that was 18th in rushing TDs allowed last season and has moved over Brandon Mebane to nose tackle and has a new starter next to him.
SIT: Dolphins RB Reggie Bush, vs. Patriots. The beefed-up New England D-line will rise to this occasion. Bush is a guy I’m pretty high on, just not this week unless he’s getting big receiving yards from dump passes vs. prevent defense because the Patriots are blowing them out.
START: Ravens WR Anquan Boldin, vs. Steelers. Boldin has had good games against this secondary while Cam Cameron will give the Ravens a more aggressive gameplan. I typically hate starting anyone against the Steelers but Talib is going to limit Calvin, Finnegan will be on Andre and Fitzgerald is an obvious start. Boldin will be targeted often.
SIT: Giants WR Mario Manningham, @ Redskins. Hakeem Nicks can get fantasy numbers against any defense but the new Redskins defense has added some truly special athletes in O.J. Atogwe, Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen and Ryan Kerrigan. Shanahan has won three straight opening day games, all for teams that didn’t make the playoffs.
START: Jets WR Santonio Holmes, vs. Cowboys. Both Mike Jenkins and Terrence Newman missed the preseason with injuries. They will be going up against a well-conditioned Holmes, who will be hard to double now that Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason are there. This is also the Cowboys D’s first game in a new system. I also feel good about Brandon Lloyd going into Oakland.
SIT: Rams WR Mike Sims-Walker, vs. Eagles. Given his physicality, the Eagles will have at least one guy on him at all times and it’s likely to be either Asomugha or Samuel.
START: Browns TE Evan Moore, @ Bengals. A pure, athletic wonder who plays with a chip on his shoulder going up against a Bengals defense that has given up touchdowns to Browns tight ends three of the last four games against them.
SIT: Panthers TE Greg Olsen, Panthers vs. Cardinals. Jeremy Shockey doesn’t figure to take away a big chunk of targets from Olsen, but this is Cam’s first career game. His accuracy was awful in the preseason and I think it will be worse now with new Cardinals DC Ray Horton inevitably sending guys at him to keep him from being able to step into his throws.
START: Eagles DST @ Rams. If this match-up were later in the year, I would not suggest starting the Eagles defense. Simply put, the Rams will not be executing the McDaniels offense superbly this early in the season. The Eagles want to come out and make a big statement on defense. It’s their offense I’d be more worried about in terms of fragile confidence.
SIT: Packers DST vs. Saints. There are lots of times to play the Packers defense, but I wouldn’t get cute. This is an intriguing match-up between a team that did a lot of player-organized workouts and a team that didn’t do any.
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