Michael J. Igyarto
Every week, our FFBLife columnist, Michael J. Igyarto "Iggy" stops by for a Start Em Sit Em column to give his MASSIVE following (believe me, it's real people). Find Iggy on Twitter @windycityiggy
Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
What baffles me is the fact that Ben Roethlisberger is owned in 100% of leagues, but only being started by 25% of teams. It’s understandable if you didn’t draft Big Ben as you’re starting quarterback, but the matchup against the Broncos bodes well for Ben and his passing attack. The Broncos had the 23rd ranked pass defense last season, and I smell a shootout against Peyton and Co. on Sunday night. The Steelers O-Line is definitely a concern, and so is Big Ben’s health. That’s why you have to look at starting Big Ben now, in the early weeks of the season when he’s still fresh. The running back situation is also questionable at the moment. Rashard Mendenhall was taken off the PUP list, which was a surprise to some, and is questionable for week 1. Isaac Redman looks to be the starting back to start the season, with Jonathan Dwyer or Chris Rainey filling in on passing downs. Put all these factors in the equation, and I see Big Ben airing it out in week 1 against the Broncos. Like I said, most probably drafted Big Ben as their back-up this season, but if you have a QB dilemma for week 1, Big Ben is a solid option in my opinion.
Tennessee Titans TE Jared Cook
Jared Cook could be primed for a breakout season this year. He finished extremely strong in 2011, catching 21 balls for 335 yards, and a touchdown. He is in his final year of his contract, and has publicly said he expects an extension from the Titans. The wide receivers in Tennessee are thin as of right now. Kenny Britt is suspended, Marc Mariani is on the IR, and they will be starting rookie WR Kendall Wright. The Titans play the New England Patriots on Sunday, and if they fall into an early hole, look for them to throw often. Word out of the Titans camp says that Jared Cook will be the team’s #1 option in the red zone, and that’s good news for Cook, who finished as the 12th ranked tight end last season despite only scoring three touchdowns. Look for Cook to rollover the late 2011 performance right into the 2012 season against a team like the Patriots.
San Diego Chargers WR Robert Meachem
The San Diego Chargers are thin at wide receiver. Take a look if you don’t believe me. Vincent Jackson is gone, and Vincent Brown is on IR. That leaves them with Malcom Floyd, Meachem, Eddie Royal, Richard Goodman, and Micheal Spurlock. Robert Meachem and Rivers were having chemistry problems in the preseason but word is they both have been working hard to reverse this issue. Malcom Floyd may see the most targets, but Meachem has the most potential out of this group. The Raiders ranked 30th in pass defense last season and all 6 cornerbacks on the Raiders roster are new to the team. This week 1 matchup against the Oakland Raiders is a generous one for Meachem and he should be able to take advantage.
Chicago Bears RB Michael Bush
Michael Bush is clearly in a timeshare with Matt Forte, and Forte will be the official starter for the Chicago Bears. Bush will be the featured goal-line back, and I expect the Bears to be ahead in this one. Going up against rookie Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts, the Bears defense should create a few turnovers and some short fields for the offense. Call me crazy, but I smell at least two touchdowns for Bush in the season opener. He has proved he is a far better option than Forte around the goal-line, and I expect that to show on Sunday at Solider Field.
Baltimore Ravens WR Torrey Smith
Torrey Smith is now the clear #1 option for Joe Flacco and the Ravens. A week 1 matchup against the Bengals should have Torrey salivating. He torched this same Bengals team, in week 11 for 165 yards and a touchdown. Looking at the Ravens depth chart, you can see that they really don’t have many options. Sure, Anquan Boldin is still there, but he’s aging, and Jacoby Jones should be considered a better special teams player before being considered a reliable receiver. Look further down the roster, and you see names like LaQuan Williams, Logan Payne, and Tandon Doss as receivers. None of these wide outs will be targeted more than Torrey Smith in week 1 and most likely for the whole season. Besides Ray Rice, who is honestly going to score for this Ravens squad? My guess….Torrey Smith.
Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green
Some might scratch their head when they see a name like A.J. Green on the sit ‘em list. He is essentially the entire Bengals offense and clearly Andy Dalton’s favorite target. If anybody remembers my lists from last season, you should remember that I take chances, and never just state the obvious. A.J. Green is a great receiver, there is no denying that. However, the matchup against the Baltimore Ravens will not be an easy one. It’s on the road, it’s the home opener, and A.J. had a whopping 2 receptions for 26 yards against the Ravens last season. Also, the fact that Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis is now in the backfield makes me wonder if the Bengals will try feed him the ball in the red zone. I’m sure most will ignore my suggestion of sitting A.J. this week, but don’t be surprised if he doesn’t put up more than 10 points.
Denver Broncos RB Willis McGahee
Willis McGahee was a top 20 running back last season, but only reached the end zone four times. This was of course, before QB Peyton Manning came on board. Now that Peyton is in town, I suspect a decrease in production from McGahee. He will be used strictly on first and second downs, while rookie Ronnie Hillman looks to be the featured third-down back. In obvious passing situations, the Broncos will more than likely look to Hillman before they do McGahee. If McGahee was only able to muster four touchdowns last season, how many can you really expect from him this season? I think the Steelers and Broncos end up airing it out on Sunday, and Willis ends up being a week 1 disappointment for owners.
Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson
If you drafted Adrian Peterson, I take it you are a patient human being. The Minnesota Vikings will not push him in week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. It’s quite impressive that AP will even play in this game coming off a brutal season-ending knee injury last year. The fact remains that Toby Gerhart is a very reliable backup and will carry the reigns until AP is 100% ready to carry the workload.
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew
After a 38-day holdout, Maurice Jones-Drew reported to the Jacksonville Jaguars no richer than he was before. He’s back at practice and head coach Mike Mularkey said he needs to get into game condition and get his body used to taking on contact. Rashard Jennings has already been named the week 1 starter and MJD will take on a third-down role. The Jaguars will go as far as MJD will take them, we all know that, but week 1 is just not a great spot for his owners because of the holdout. Lower the expectations for his production in week 1, but I fully expect MJD to back atop the depth chart come week 2.
Houston Texans QB Matt Schaub
It wasn’t long ago that Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans were a run and gun team that were involved in shootouts on a weekly basis. With Arian Foster and Ben Tate in the backfield, as well as a stout defense to complement them, Schaub no longer needs to air it out. The system in Houston does not demand a lot of physical talent from Schaub, and allows him to be just a manageable qb. How do you think they survived last season with T.J. Yates? The Texans face rookie quarterback Ryan Tannenhill and the Miami Dolphins in week 1. Last season, Matt played the Dolphins in week two, and threw for 230 yards and 2 touchdowns. I expect around the same type of production this time around, maybe less, if the rookie Tannenhill struggles and the Texans go up early.
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