Stiff-Armed and Dangerous
Rockland — We made it.
No more preseason games, roster cuts or offseason controversies.
Are you ready for some fantasy football!?
Week one, for all intents and purposes, is a tossup for a lot of players. And in a lot of ways, the first four weeks of the season, and how owners work the waiver wires, can be paramount to your team’s success throughout the regular season and into the playoffs.
Maybe it becomes clear that sleeper you took in the 10th round suddenly is not going to pan out after all, and it is time to look for a replacement. Maybe your top wide receiver breaks an ankle and is out for the rest of the year, and you need to look down the team’s depth chart and see who might emerge as a potential flier.
Just as it is good to have a strategy for the draft, it is equally important to have a contingency plan. It is important to pay attention to bench players the first few weeks of the season and see how they are stacking up against the players on the waiver wire, to see if an upgrade can be made.
A few moves by a savvy owner could be enough to swing the balance of the league.
The basis of this weekly column will be to help people, not spout off the most obvious start and sits imaginable.
If you need me to tell you LeSean McCoy is a good bet to go off against Jacksonville or that Peyton Manning is going to have a big game against Indianapolis, then you have come to the wrong place.
If you have got a player in the top 30 and you are not lined up against a supremely talented defense, do not overthink. Always start your best players.
All that being said, here are a few of my starts and sits for week 1:
Start: Emmanuel Sanders, Denver — With Wes Welker out the first four weeks of the season after testing positive for amphetamines, Sanders’ role will only expand in the pass-happy Denver offense. Receivers Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, along with tight end Julius Thomas, will get several targets on the day, with the latter two likely to draw a great deal of defensive attention from the Colts, likely giving Sanders more open looks.
Start: Shane Vereen, New England — Steven Ridley’s severe case of fumbleitis caused him to lose his starting job as Vereen has been impressive throughout the preseason and looks to be the favorite at running back in 2014 for the Patriots. Vereen and Rob Gronkowski have the best hands on the team, the latter of who has yet to be cleared for week 1 against Miami. Thus, Vereen should see plenty of targets from Tom Brady throughout the day.
Start: Doug Martin, Tampa Bay — After a sensational 2012, Martin’s 2013 season was inefficient as his season was cut short due to injury. Despite Carolina’s defensive prowess, Martin is the consensus pick at running back for Tampa Bay and the acquisition via trade of former New England Patriot Logan Mankins cannot be understated. I think Martin comes out wanting to make a statement that he is back, and does so.
Sit: C.J. Spiller, Buffalo — Spiller’s inconsistencies, despite his upside, are well-documented as he scored only twice last year despite 201 carries and 33 catches. I think Spiller and Fred Jackson eventually become more of a timeshare at the tailback position. Add in the fact that Chicago likely will put eight in the box and force second-year quarterback E.J. Manuel to try to beat them, it likely will be a long day for Spiller owners.
Sit: Mike Wallace, Miami — The Dolphins’ top target will be stuck on Revis Island for most of the day Sunday against New England, leaving Miami’s top target well-covered and likely out of Ryan Tannehill’s area code.
Sit: Cam Newton, Carolina — Look, odds are if you drafted Newton, you drafted him as your No. 1 quarterback, and should probably play him. I am just saying if you have a good option as a backup, say Carson Palmer, Josh McKown or Andy Dalton, it is worth looking into. He has not had a good preseason and is going into the team’s opener with Tampa Bay — a sneaky-good defense — and also has bruised ribs, making him a risky play at best.
Lastly, we will end with an email:
Monica of Warren writes:
I have Torrey Smith. Rueben Randle, Kenbrell Thompkins and Anquan Boldin on my bench for wide receivers. I have Frank Gore and Jeremy Maclin in for my two flex positions. Should I replace one of them with someone from my bench?
As a Philadelphia Eagles fan, I cannot believe what I am about to say. But I would sit Maclin and sub in Randle.
First and foremost, I am not a Frank Gore supporter this year. I feel his most productive days are behind him, and he will break down at some point during the season. However, Dallas’ defense is projected to be one of the worst, if not the worst in the league as they have lost several key players due to suspensions and free agency.
Add those together, plus the fact that Colin Kaepernick has been sporadic, at best, in the preseason, I think Gore gets around 20 carries, and is more than capable of breaking a big play or two in a lopsided San Francisco victory.
As far as the Maclin/Randle conundrum, Philadelphia is going to be an offensive juggernaut this season all-around and the Eagles have many weapons, while Randle is New York’s top deep threat playing against another low-ranked defense in Detroit. Maclin will get his points, but I see Randle finding the end zone.
Don’t forget to email me your questions with “Fantasy Advice” in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org, or ask me a question in the comments section and I will attempt to answer it before Sunday’s 1 p.m. kickoff.
Until next week …
Associate Sports Director
594-4401, ext. 116
Mark has been covering local sports throughout Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln county since 2007. Haskell has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Maine and is also a 2000 graduate of Rockland District High School. He has won multiple Maine Press Association awards for writing and photography.
Mark loves the Boston Red Sox, iced coffee, cargo shorts, Foo Fighters and time with friends and loved ones.
He resides in Thomaston with his wife Jenn, his sons Beckett and Austin and daughter Lila.
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