Each Friday this season, James Morris will swing by The Finsiders blog to drop his insight on the fantasy action in the weekend ahead.
Here we are, week 1 of the NFL season! We’ve talked about it for months; we’ve salivated over it since the start of the pre-season; we’ve emailed back and forth since your fantasy draft trying to find waiver wire gems and overpriced dead weight on your rosters; you’ve sent me trade questions and I guided you up to this point. Well, now we’ve reached the point where all that prep work gets put to action and you march your way to a league championship.
And let us not forgot about the next biggest topic on all my Facebook and Twitter followers’ minds this season, Madden 25 courtesy of EA Sports. EA Sports has provided me with copies of Madden 25 on Xbox 360 and PS3 to give to my readers. I will be giving out copies this season to fans that post my articles on their social media pages and get the most likes for it. You have to tag me in the posting so I can track who is getting the most likes and retweets/favorites. So, make sure you click on the Facebook and Twitter buttons above, and tag me, to win a copy of Madden 25!
Miami Dolphins Outlook
A lot is being talked about when it comes to the running back position and who is the back to have in fantasy terms. Coach Joe Philbin has indicated both Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas are neck and neck for carries heading into the first game. But, even if that happens, I think Miller pulls away sooner rather than later and takes the lion’s share of the carries. Miller is the one to own, but you can handcuff him with Thomas if you are too worried. Mike Wallace will make Ryan Tannehill grow into the QB Dolphins fans know he can be, and the national media will be forced to recognize his talent before seasons end. In fantasy terms, I see Wallace as a WR2 with WR1 weeks likely here and there; Tannehill is a QB2 in all formats, and someone that can be used as a bye week fill-in in the right circumstances. Brian Hartline will hold more value in PPR leagues than standard scoring formats, but I see him as a solid flex play to start the season off.
On the defensive side of the ball, those in IDP leagues should make sure Cameron Wake is not sitting on the FA list. I have him as the #2 defensive lineman behind J.J. Watt in Houston. If your league has a DB only spot, I wouldn’t let Reshad Jones be on the FA list either. I have him ranked right in the 6-8 range for defensive backs, and wouldn’t have a problem with him as an every week starter in a DB only spot. The Dolphins defense as a whole I have as a bubble starting fantasy defense this year. They are right there on the starter bubble most weeks, and would consider picking them up if you own an overrated defense like the Packers or Giants.
Colin Kaepernick – QB 49ers: Kaepernick finished last season with a bang and looks to continue that success in week 1 against a mediocre Packers defense. While Kaepernick doesn’t have Michael Crabtree to throw to, he does still have Vernon Davis and a safety net in Anquan Boldin. What will hurt him is a lack of big-play ability in the receiving corps, but Kaepernick can make up for that with his legs and accuracy when threading the needle. I like him as a solid QB1 in week 1.
Michael Vick – QB Eagles: Vick is someone I am not sold on because of his problems last year, plus a new coach and offensive scheme. Add to that Jeremy Maclin lost for the season and there are even more cause for concern than there was last year. However, the Eagles were able to run an average of 75.0 offensive plays per game in the preseason which was the most in the NFL. If they can keep up that pace, Vick will have enough plays to rack up the fantasy stats.
Lamar Miller – RB Dolphins: Because the news broke that Miller and Thomas are “very, very close” in the starter race, people are benching Miller in fear that a Running Back By Committee (RBBC) is brewing in Miami. Like I said earlier; even if that is 100 percent true, I see Miller as the guy who will eventually take the reins and pull away with the job. I have Miller as a low-end RB2 play this week, and will see him more in the high-end RB2 range once he solidifies his spot as the unquestioned starter for the Dolphins.
Shane Vereen – RB Patriots: Vereen is going to be more of a PPR pick because his work is going to come in the passing game with Tom Brady missing Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez gone, and Rob Gronkowski for a few games. Kenbrell Thompkins is going to play the X spot, but the pre-season is different than the regular season as you aren’t facing roster bubble players anymore. Vereen is going to be a security blanket for Brady and I like him this week as a flex play in PPR formats.
Cecil Shorts – WR Jaguars: For someone owned in 97.5 percent of NFL.com leagues, yet started in just 10.8 percent of them, one has to wonder what the problem is. Well, as I mentioned earlier, he has Gabbert throwing the ball to him. But, with Justin Blackmon out due to a suspension, the Jaguars will have no choice but to throw the ball in his direction whenever they need to move the chains. Just like MJD, I’d look to flip Shorts after his first good game of the season. I’d look for low-end WR2 or high-end WR3 numbers from him this week.
Golden Tate – WR Seahawks: Tate is owned in 86.7 percent of NFL.com leagues. But like Shorts, he is started in just 10.8 percent of them. In week 1 the Seahawks match up with a very unimpressive Panthers defense, and you can be sure that Russell Wilson is looking to make a statement early in the 2013 season. I am expecting WR3 numbers from him this week and should jump into the WR2 range if he is able to find the endzone.
Zach Sudfield – TE Patriots: Sudfield is going to start with Gronkowski out, and we all know how much Brady likes throwing to his TE. I wouldn’t expect long term starting TE value from him once Gronkowski returns in the same way Hernandez did. But, with TE being an all-or-nothing position in fantasy leagues anyhow, I see Sudfield as a must-own player to start the season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense: The Bucs defense is owned in just 16.1 percent of NFL.com leagues because they are not a strong season-long own for fantasy defenses. But, they face off with a Jets team that has question marks from the top of the roster all the way down to the bottom of it. I’d start the Bucs defense off the waiver wire should you own say the Giants or Ravens defense.
Ben Roethlisberger – QB Steelers: Big Ben lost his #1 WR to the Dolphins (Wallace), Heath Miller is out for the start of the season, and the rookie RB sensation Le’Veon Bell went down with a foot injury that will also be sidelined to start the season. I’m honestly not sold on Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders being enough to make Roethlisberger even worth owning this season. Miller is more name value than fantasy production these days, and even upon his return you still have a lack of proven talent surrounding the passing game to trust it until proven otherwise.
Terrelle Pryor – QB Raiders: Can you believe that Pryor is owned in 15.6 percent of NFL.com leagues? Does NFL.com have 24-team leagues that I am unaware of? Pryor is someone that came in to the NFL with a ton of question marks, but managed to beat out Matt Flynn for the starting gig in Oakland. That either means Pryor made a monumental jump in development in his 3rd off-season, or Flynn is yet another Raiders signing their fans will long regret. If you own Pryor and are hoping for lightning in a bottle, drop him now and look elsewhere.
Arian Foster – RB Texans: Let me say that I am not advocating sitting Foster. Rather, expect him to see limited touches, and therefore stats more in line with RB2 numbers. Texans Coach Gary Kubiak said “Obviously I don’t think Arian’s going to be a 30-carry guy on opening night.” Meaning, we could see numbers closer to the 15-17 carry range for Foster. Don’t expect to get those top-tier numbers from a guy you took in the top 3 right off the bat this season.
Isaac Redman – RB Steelers: When Bell went down there was a mad dash to pick up both Redman and Jonathan Dwyer. Since then Dwyer has been released and the starting RB job will be Redman’s in week 1. The problem with it is we’ve already seen Redman’s YPC average decline in three straight seasons. Redman is owned in 32 percent of NFL.com leagues (a 5.2 percent jump in the last week), and there is no reason you should be desperate enough to even consider him as a flex play in week 1 of the NFL season.
Stevie Johnson – WR Bills: Johnson is owned in 98.9 percent of NFL.com leagues, but starting in just 11.7 percent of them thanks to his quarterback. Starting in week 1 will be E.J. Manuel, who is as raw as they come for a rookie. I personally don’t own any Bills players except C.J. Spiller and suggest you don’t either. The Bills are sure to go with a run-heavy gameplan until something changes with the QB problems.
DeAndre Hopkins – WR Texans: Hopkins was drafted specifically to take the pressure off Andre Johnson in the passing game. The problem is he just passed his concussion test and will be behind both Johnson and Owen Daniels for targets. And don’t forget, Foster is going to see his fair share of passes out of the backfield as well. Hopkins is worth stashing in most formats, but I’d take a wait-and-see approach when the topic of starting him comes up.
Kyle Rudolph – TE Vikings: Last season Rudolph was my sleeper pick and he did not disappoint, finishing 9th for fantasy TEs. The problem this season is Christian Ponder failed to improve as the season wound down and they face a ferocious Lions defense to open the season. As I mentioned before, TE is a feast or famine position in fantasy football, so anything is possible here. A TD with 5 yards receiving can still be a TE1 in fantasy terms because of the TD points.
New York Giants defense: The Giants – Cowboys divisional rivalry is one of the best in all of the NFL, and both of these teams can put points on the board. Dez Bryant is poised to have an amazing season with the Cowboys this year, and might even lead the NFL in touchdown receptions when all is said and done. I wouldn’t want either of these defenses in my starting fantasy line-up to open the season, and suggest you don’t either.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.