Fantasy football: Studs, starters and sitters


One of the most daunting tasks in fantasy football is deciding whether to start a guy like Larry Fitzgerald over someone like Anquan Boldin, or vice-versa.

Sure, Boldin had a great week one, but will it continue?

My best guess is yes, just not this week. Boldin will be up against Richard Sherman, one of the better — and nastier — defensive backs in the league.

If there’s one certainty in setting your roster, it’s that you cannot afford to leave certain players on your bench. This is a no-brainer to many, but some look at a tough defense and consider it to be a week to roll the dice. Wrong.

Adrian Peterson, for example, is the reigning MVP because he was able to run on any team, regardless of how well a defense played the run. Peterson is the definition of a stud.


Studs: Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Drew Brees, Colin Kaepernick, Peyton Manning and Matthew Stafford.


Michael Vick: I love Vick in the blur offense. Defenses will tire out quickly and the only real defensive strategy that has shown any chance of working thus far is to send extra rushers, which opens up plays downfield.

The Eagles will also tire quickly, but with Bryce Brown and LeSean McCoy, there is not much need to worry there.

Terrelle Pryor: By now you should know that I cover the Raiders. I have no inside knowledge of the team’s game plan. I simply love the fact that Pryor will rack up rushing yards in abundance.

This week he faces off against Jacksonville and a backup quarterback. The Jags will probably turn the ball over a few times with a few more three-and-outs on top of that. Add everything up and you have an awesome fantasy week for Pryor.

Alex Smith: Smith gets to go up against a team with a second-year cornerback playing Dwayne Bowe. Need I say more?


Matt Ryan: A high ankle sprain to Roddy White and a less than productive week one from Julio Jones. Smith or Pryor are likely available on waivers.

Russell Wilson: He’s going up against the 49ers, who led the league in turnover differential by a lot during the 2011 season. Now with a high-powered offense for San Francisco and defensive upgrades galore, Wilson should struggle mightily.

Andrew Luck: Chances are you’re planning on starting Luck. While he has all kinds of talent and escaped the Raiders pass rush several times last week, the Miami defense is a notch or two better and so is their offense. Expect an unlucky week for the second-year QB.

Running backs

Studs: Trent Richardson, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Frank Gore, Marshawn Lynch, Arian Foster, Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy.


Darren McFadden: McFadden ran for 2.8 yards per carry last Sunday against the Colts after a pretty bad season in 2012. Oakland should be getting the ball to DMC a lot this week while the atrocious Jacksonville offense plays catchup. He’s even more valuable in PPR formats as Terrelle Pryor’s dump-off man.

Reggie Bush: Following a game where the veteran rushed for 90 yards and added another 101 yards and a touchdown through the air, don’t even consider sitting Bush. Facing off against a team with bad run defense in Arizona, Bush stands a good chance of being the top back in PPR formats.

Bryce Brown: The Eagles offense ran 52 plays in the first half and only slowed down because they were so far ahead of their division rival Redskins. LeSean “Shady” McCoy got the lions share of carries, but Brown got his as well, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t be able to improve upon his nine carries from Week 1.


David Wilson: Wilson lost a fumble early on in the prime-time game versus the Cowboys, something that placed him in Giants coach Tom Coughlin’s doghouse last season. He has been fumble prone for the bulk of his football career, since before college. Backup Da’Rell Scott is threatening his job.

Giovanni Bernard: Look, I’m in love with Bernard’s upside. It’s tremendous. But until he secures the number one running back job entirely, he’s not worthy of starting week-to-week. That doesn’t mean sell him low, or drop him from your team, there is a great chance he gets the top job by the seasons midway point.

Issac Redman: Redman is just not that good. Neither is the Steelers offense, and while he is the only RB on the roster worth anything at the moment, starting him would be a pure desperation measure.

Wide receiver

Studs: A.J. Green, Calvin Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Larry Fitzgerald, Brandon Marshall, Andre Johnson and Victor Cruz.


DeSean Jackson: Jackson is the perfect player for the blur offense. If you haven’t noticed a trend of Eagles players on this list, then well, go home, you’re drunk. Until defenses start finding ways to slow down the Eagles that works better than faking injuries, start all Eagles starters.

Torrey Smith: Following a brutal butt-whooping dealt by Peyton Manning and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie, Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith should be foaming at the mouth to prove their worth in Baltimore.

An injured Jacoby Jones may hurt Smith’s chance of having an incredible week, but the team has been working on getting him the intermediary targets and Smith has the explosiveness to find pockets and run.

Golden Tate: Third-year receivers often have break out seasons. In his second with QB Russell Wilson, Tate is the most talented receiver on a pretty deep Seahawks roster.

San Francisco provides a tough matchup against the run, but has holes in the secondary. Tate should be able to exploit this and will see at least one first down fade target. He should be the Hawks top receiver.


Roddy White: Despite being a perennial stud, White has been dealing with a high-ankle sprain, an injury that tends to linger and hampers receivers heavily. Steelers wide-out Antonio Brown struggled with the same injury last season and we saw his production cut in half as a result.

Hakeem Nicks: Nicks will be set up against a defense that held Joe Flacco and the Ravens to only a pair of touchdown receptions. Moreover, Victor Cruz stole the glory last week for New York and should do the same all over again.

Tavon Austin: Austin is a rookie. Every year, a big named rookie pops up and everybody loses their minds. Rookies are hardly ever viable fantasy starters, and when they are, it’s generally the second half of the year. Austin is not worthy.

Tight end

Studs: Jimmy Graham and Tony Gonzalez.


Jordan Cameron: Cameron is a guy that caught my eye in OTA’s. The Browns are still missing Josh Gordon, which makes Cameron their top receiving threat. He should have another great week and remain the teams top red zone target in the passing game.

Vernon Davis: Davis would normally be on the list of studs, but following questions about his number of targets, he came off that list. Another solid week and he might just rejoin that list. Being matched up on either a Seattle linebacker or Kam Chancellor is a great look for the most athletic tight end in football.

Jason Witten: Witten is another guy who nearly clears the stud list. He’s been consistent throughout his career and Dez Bryant is hurt. Witten will probably lead the team’s targets in week 2 against the Chiefs.


Julius Thomas: Thomas benefited from a long rain delay — or what I prefer to call extra commercial time — in the first NFL game of the season. A confused Baltimore defense is more likely to have been the culprit for his two touchdown receptions more than raw talent. Don’t expect a repeat just yet.

Brandon Myers: Myers is a proven guy who should finish the season with respectable numbers. But facing off against Denver’s linebackers looks to be an ugly scenario. You should be able to find better on waivers this week. But look forward to a solid season from Myers otherwise.

Brent Celek: Okay, I lied. I’m not totally in love with ALL Philly starters. I don’t see Celek fitting into the blur offense quite as well as rookie Zach Ertz, who has seen his far share of the system while playing for Stanford. Celek is too big bodied to last when the team has options such as Jason Avant, Riley Cooper and DeSean Jackson.

Follow @SFBay and @JLeskiwNFL on Twitter and at for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.

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