Week 1: Sleepers of the Week
If one of your normal starters is injured or facing a tough match-up, here are some players you might consider starting in their place. While these players may not be every week starters, they are good bets to perform well this week. Most of the players that will be listed are on fantasy rosters, but not normally starters.
Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams travel to Detroit to face the Lions in week one. The former Oklahoma Sooner is coming off a major down year in his second year in the league, but has the talent to bounce back this season. The Rams wide receiver situation is a point of concern, with Steve Smith, Brian Quick, and Brandon Gibson all fighting for playing time alongside Danny Amendola. Bradford should be able to get off to a solid start to the season against a Detroit Lions defense that allowed more than 250 passing yards per game last season. The Rams will likely be in an early hole against the prolific Lions offense, making it necessary for Bradford to air the ball out more than the Rams would normally like. Fantasy owners in 2 QB leagues, or owners who are facing a tough decision at the quarterback position can start Sam Bradford, and can expect close to 250 passing yards and one touchdown from the third year quarterback.
Robert Griffin III and the retooled Washington Redskins offense open the season with a tough match-up against the Saints in New Orleans. The rookie quarterback has been impressive in the preseason, and should be able to get off to a good start in the regular season against a Saints defense that allowed more than 275 passing yards per game last season. With the Redskins' running game in shambles, and the Saints offense likely to put up points against the Redskins defense, Washington will put the ball in Griffin's hands and hope for the best. RG3 should be a better fantasy quarterback than NFL quarterback in his rookie season, as his running stats will give him a boost in fantasy leagues. Fantasy owners can start the rookie quarterback in week one and can expect close to 200 passing yards, 30 rushing yards, and at least one touchdown.
Toby Gerhart and the Minnesota Vikings open the season at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Gerhart is likely to get the start and most of the carries out of the backfield, as Adrian Peterson is still recovering from a torn ACL. Peterson may be active for the game, but will only play a minor role if he plays any role at all. In his limited experience as the lead back, Gerhart has averaged more than 20 touches per game, making him a good start against any defense. The Jaguars' run defense allowed less than four yards per carry last season, but Toby also has good hands coming out of the backfield, making him a dual threat for fantasy owners. If you are an Adrian Peterson owner, hopefully you drafted Gerhart as insurance to start until AP is ready to go at full speed. I recommend starting Gerhart over Peterson this week, and until AP proves he is fully healthy. Fantasy owners should start the former Stanford running back and can expect at least 85 total yards and one touchdown.
Rashad Jennings and the Jacksonville Jaguars travel to Minnesota to open their season against the Vikings. The Jaguars will start Jennings at running back in week one, with Maurice Jones-Drew coming off the bench in a limited role, following his lengthy off-season hold out. MJD reported to the Jaguars earlier this week, but after missing the majority of the off-season, the Jaguars will ease him back into the lineup, most likely using him as a third down back this week. Jacksonville will look to establish the run game to set up the pass, making it likely that Jennings touches the ball somewhere between 15-20 times agains the Vikings. Based on the number of touches alone, Jennings is a quality start in fantasy leagues this week. Fantasy owners can start Rashad Jennings in week one and can expect at least 80 yards and one touchdown from the Jaguars' running back.
Malcom Floyd and the San Diego Chargers travel to Oakland to face the Raiders in week one. Floyd has enjoyed tremendous success against the Raiders over the past two seasons, catching 20 passes for 412 yards and two touchdowns in only three games. With Vincent Jackson now in Tampa Bay, Floyd will take on a bigger role in the Chargers offense starting in week one. With his bigger role in the offense and great history of success against the Raiders, it will be hard to sit Floyd in fantasy leagues. Fantasy owners can bank on five receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown from Floyd this week.