Monday, September 6, 2010

Playmakers and Benchwarmers - Week 1 Thursday Night Madness

Time to put the toe to leather. – N.O. vs Minn.

Well ladies and gents, it’s that time of year. This week marks the REAL start to the NFL football season. I’m going to break down this weeks opening night matchup for fantasy purposes. Now the NFL loves to put the defending Super Bowl champions on their opening night, but I am sure Saints fans would have loved to see numerous other opponents roll into New Orleans other than the Vikings. But leave it to the NFL schedulers to give us a big time showdown in the first game of the season with an NFC Championship game rematch.  Now let’s get to the important stuff, who is going to shine for your fantasy team this week and who should you avoid playing at all costs. I’ll tell you what for a week 1 game, this is a toughie.

Play ‘em :

We’ll skip the obvious people here. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the following players will pretty much start each and every week (barring injury). For this game, that list includes Drew Brees, Marques Colston, Adrian Peterson and Brett Favre (ignore the minor ankle issue, it will be a non-factor – at least early in the season).

Visanthe Shiancoe – TE – Vis was a touchdown machine in 2009. I really like his chances of putting up similar numbers in 2010. Favre has always liked throwing to his TEs and Vis is the perfect fit for him in the Minnesota offense. At 6’4” and over 250 lbs, he is a matchup nightmare for LBs to cover especially in the redzone. Don’t expect the long game breaking plays you see out of the top fantasy TEs (Clark, V. Davis, Finley) as that is not Vis’ game. The Vikings have other options for their down the field passing game, but look for Shiancoe to shine in the redzone this week. Play Shiancoe as a TE1 this week.

Projection – 4 Rec. – 57 Yards – 1 TD

Play ‘em if you don’t have a better option :

Pierre Thomas – RB – Thomas is going to be the work horse for the Saints this season. Expect them to still utilize Reggie Bush in 3rd down situations, but if Sean Payton truly wants a more balanced offense and to take some of the pressure off Drew Brees, he’ll need a back he can trust with 200+ touches this season. However, going against the #2 rush defense from last season, this is probably a week where there are better options at RB but don’t be afraid to play Thomas as your RB2.

Projection – 16 Carries – 87 yards – 1TD – 2 Rec. – 17 yards.

Bernard Berrian – WR – Bernard is now the #1 WR (at least for the next 6 weeks) for the high powered Vikings passing attack. However, the Saints secondary is fierce and is a ball hawking bunch that had the 3rd most INTs in the NFL last season and led the league in returning them for TDs. However, Favre is Favre and he is going to sling the ball around. He is a solid WR2 this week.

Projection – 4 Rec. – 76 yards – 1 TD

Devery Henderson – WR – Often overshadowed in the Saints passing attack, Devery is the deep route flyer for this high powered offense. Last season saw his per catch average drop below 20 yards per catch. This season as he continues to build a relationship with Brees, I see that average getting back up there. He isn’t going to put up the flashy huge numbers, but if you are looking for a mid to late round guy that will score you some points (especially in a PPR league), you have found your man. Feel free to play Henderson as a low end WR2 in PPR or a solid WR3 in regular leagues.

Projection – 4 Rec. – 84 Yards – 0 TDs

Riding the pine :

This is another tough category for this game. You have two high powered offenses battling for early NFC supremecy. Both quarterbacks love to spread the ball out so we have to decide who is getting the most looks (see above). That leads us to the rest of the guys.

Either Team DEF - Let’s be honest. The Vikings can pressure the QB, but only Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan and Tom Brady were sacked fewer times than Drew Brees of all the quarterbacks that started the majority of their teams games. I expect this to be an offensive showdown. Lots of points will be hitting the scoreboards Thursday night and for that reason, if you have other defensive options to play, use them. Sure both teams will get some sacks and maybe a turnover or 2, but will those stats counter act the points allowed? I don’t think so.

Tune in later this week as I write up my Playmakers article for Monday Night Football in week 1 and review my performance from this game.

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