The dog days of summer are gone, replaced by the anticipation that builds each week in preparation for a full slate of NFL action. Let’s take a look eight players we’re predicting to either exceed or fall short of expectations in their opening matchups.
Jay Cutler QB, Bears: He threw for 312 yards and two scores in last year’s home opener against Atlanta, but now has Pro Bowl wideout Brandon Marshall at his disposal for a game against a Colts defense that surrendered 26.9 pts/gm last season.
Ronnie Brown RB, Chargers: With starter Ryan Mathews on the shelf, look for Brown to handle the bulk of the workload against a Raiders team that gave up an average of 20.9 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs last season. Brown is recommended as a flex option for owners in deeper leagues.
Brandon Lloyd WR, Patriots: Minus CB Cortland Finnegan who signed with St. Louis, the Tennessee defense gets first crack at trying to slow down the high-flying Patriots. You can take it to the bank that Brady will be looking for his new toy on Sunday.
Pierre Garcon WR, Redskins: The ‘Skins are going to need to air it out in Week 1 at New Orleans if the team has any hope of keeping pace with Drew Brees and the Saints. Garcon should see a plethora of second half targets in this one.
Peyton Manning QB, Broncos: He threw three interceptions in 42 preseason pass attempts and comes back from an 18-month hiatus and four neck surgeries to face Dick LeBeau and the Pittsburgh Steelers. We want to see Manning produce in games that matter before inserting him into the starting lineup.
Cedric Benson RB, Packers: He won’t be used on third downs and opens the season against a 49ers defense that surrendered fewer fantasy points to opposing running backs last season (11.2 pts/gm) than any other team in the league.
Stevie Johnson WR, Bills: He has a Week 1 date with All-World CB Darrelle Revis and has only eclipsed 75 receiving yards one time in his last four games against the Jets. Johnson isn’t a terrible option, but owners are advised to taper their expectations.
All Miami wide receivers: Houston surrendered an average of just 19.4 fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts last season (10th-fewest in NFL). Couple that with the fact that Miami will be starting a rookie quarterback on the road in Week 1 and you have an offense that is going to struggle to move the rock.
Joe Fortenbaugh worked as an NFL agent from 2003-2006 at JB Sports Inc. Check out his website at NationalFootballPost.com and reach him at [email protected]