Week 1: Sit 'Em
Here are some players to consider sitting on fantasy benches this week. These players may normally be starters, but due to injury concerns or tough match-ups, may not put up the same numbers as usual.
The AFC North-contending Bengals start the season on the road against the Bears and their playmaking defense. Dalton made progress in his second NFL season, totaling 31 touchdowns while increasing his passing yards by nearly 20 yards per game (His 20 turnovers, not part of the progress). Yet he's not quite a must-start fantasy option as he frequently follows an excellent game with a terrible one. Hopefully, Dalton can avoid forcing passes to A.J. Green now that rookie tight end Tyler Eifert joins the offense. I expect the third year quarterback to continue to be a hit or miss fantasy quarterback, with this week being one of those misses. The Bears defense ranked eighth against the pass last season, and should be a good unit in shutting down opposing quarterbacks again this year. Fantasy owners should look elsewhere for a starting quarterback this week.
The superhero known as RGIII and the Redskins open their season at home with an NFC East matchup against Philadelphia. This off-season has been one of uncertainty about whether the dynamic QB would be ready to start the upcoming campaign following last season's knee injury. At least that uncertainty ended now that coach Mike Shanahan announced Griffin as the team's starter for Monday night. On the surface, this matchup against a suspect Eagles defense makes RGIII a worthy start. However, the idea of sitting Griffin has merit. There is the rust factor with a side order of hesitancy; He has not had the opportunity to test his surgically repaired knee against live competition. Let's also not forget we're talking about a QB, even one this dynamic, with only a full season of NFL experience that skipped the preseason. The quick healing RGIII could be a boom or bust pick this week, but lean toward sitting him against the Eagles, until he can prove that he is truly back to 100 percent. This notion applies in situations where owners also have one of the obvious top-12 QB options or viable candidates like Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger.
Drafted by the Broncos in round two, Ball is Denver's running back of the future. In the present, the power back will open this season in a platoon with Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno. Ball should take over as the main ball carrier as the season progresses, but until this happens, we're talking about a mediocre fantasy player dependant on finding the end zone. I would expect the rookie running back to touch the ball somewhere between 10-15 times this week, making him a shaky play against the Ravens.
The former Giant signed with the Colts this off-season. The plan, let Bradshaw serve as their starting running back, but he'll likely be eased into the starting lineup as he missed the preseason games due to a foot injury. If healthy, starting Bradshaw against the lowly Raiders makes for a great fantasy play, the Colts are likely to jump in front quickly and pound Oakland with the running game. However, Bradshaw has not been practicing with the first team offense, thought he should split Week 1 work with Vick Ballard. Seeing as many owners likely drafted him as a RB3, shy away from using Bradshaw this week assuming other decent options exist.
Part of the Monday Night doubleheader, Mathews and the San Diego Chargers open the 2013 season at home against the Houston Texans. The idea of sitting (if not cutting) Mathews appeals to those owners tortured by his brutal 2012 campaign. He will serve as the Chargers early down running back, with Danny Woodhead replacing him on third downs and in obvious passing situations. Mathews looked good this preseason, but will need to prove that he can carry the ball consistently in the regular season before I would put him in my starting lineup. The Texans defense ranked seventh against the run last season. If Houston takes control early, that could mean more Woodhead and less Mathews during catch-up mode.