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.
Alex Smith and the San Francisco 49ers open the 2010 season by traveling to Seattle to take on the Seahawks. The 49ers' offense has all the weapons around Smith to be an excellent source of fantasy points this season, but it will all depend on how Smith plays at the quarterback position. Smith had a good game against the Seahawks last season, throwing for 310 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. The 49ers hope that Smith can put more games like this together this season, as they have high hopes for their team. While Smith may not reach the 300 yard mark again in week one, he is a good bet to throw for at least 200 yards and two touchdowns in Seattle. If your starting quarterback is facing a difficult match-up (or you are in a 2 QB league), Smith is an excellent start this week.
Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions travel to Chicago to take on the Bears in week one. Stafford is poised for a breakout season in his second year in the league. The Lions have upgraded their weapons around Stafford by adding Jahvid Best, Nate Burleson, and Tony Scheffler. The Lions' defense is still weak, and should lead to the Lions being involved in many high scoring games this season. I expect this game to be a high scoring affair, with each team probably eclipsing 20 points, if not more. Stafford threw for 296 yards, one touchdown, and one interception last year against the Bears, and should have another good game this week. Fantasy owners can expect at least 200 passing yards and two touchdowns from Stafford in Chicago.
Jerome Harrison will start the Cleveland Browns' opening game in Tampa Bay. Harrison looked to be in a committee with rookie Montario Hardesty entering training camp, but injuries to Hardesty look to have given Harrison the week one start. Hardesty was injured once again in the Browns' final pre-season game, and was seen on crutches following the game -- making it unlikely that he will be ready for the Browns' week one game against the Buccaneers. It has not been confirmed that Hardesty will miss the entire 2010 season, giving Harrison a significant boost in his season and week to week value. Harrison racked up three big games at the end of the 2009 season, and will have an opportunity to lock up the starting job in week one. I would expect Harrison to take advantage of this opportunity with over 100 total yards and one touchdown against the Buccaneers this week.
With Michael Bush injured, Darren McFadden should get the start at running back for the Oakland Raiders when they travel to Tennessee to take on the Titans in week one. Darren McFadden looked poised to be the backup/third down running back for the Raiders this season, but a broken hand suffered by Michael Bush in the pre-season has given McFadden another opportunity to impress the Raiders' coaching staff. McFadden should be given the large majority of the Raiders' carries early in the season, with Michael Bennett backing him up. McFadden is a good pass catcher out of the backfield, so his value is higher in point per reception leagues. While McFadden has struggled running the ball between the tackles, he is always a big play threat when he can get the ball outside on runs or screen passes. McFadden should be able to take advantage of his opportunity this week with more than 85 total yards and one touchdown against the Titans.
Malcom Floyd enters the 2010 season as the San Diego Chargers' number one receiver. The Chargers travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs in week one. The Chargers will need Floyd to step his game up in a major way this season, as it does not look like Vincent Jackson will be playing for the team (at least not in the near future). Floyd has the skills to become Philip Rivers' favorite wide receiver, but needs to be more consistent on the field. Floyd should get off to a good start this season against the Chiefs. In two games against the Chiefs last season, Philip Rivers threw for close to 600 yards and five touchdowns, easily shredding the Kansas City secondary. Malcom Floyd will receive a ton more targets this season, and should be a consistent WR 3 for fantasy teams, with the upside to be a WR 2. Fantasy owners can feel comfortable starting Floyd in week one, and can expect 75 receiving yards and one touchdown from the Chargers' top wide receiver.