Monday Night Football Fantasy Versus | Week One
The first full Sunday slate of NFL action got off to a rousing start, but it’s now time to turn our attention to the Monday Night Football double-header.
In the first of two divisional matchups, the New England Patriots head down south to take on the Miami Dolphins, while the Oakland Raiders will face-off against the Denver Broncos in the nightcap.
Fantasy-wise, if you’re looking to stage a late rally, or if you’re trying to fend-off your opponent, there’s still lots of work left to be done before week one of fantasy football is in the books.
We here at NFL Soup are trying to help you come out on top. Here are the matchups for tonight:
Of the four QBs in action, obviously Tom Brady is the top dog. Start him and start him with confidence.
However, here’s how to choose between the other three: Chad Henne, Jason Campbell and Kyle Orton.
Clearly, Orton is the best of the group. The Broncos may be adopting a more run-first philosophy with John Fox now in charge, but Denver’s on-field personnel may suggest that continuing to throw the ball may prove wiser.
Orton also has a nice rapport with Brandon Lloyd, so he’s the choice. After that, I’d rank Henne slightly ahead of Campbell.
As is the case with Tom Brady above, Darren McFadden offers the most of any of the other backs suiting up Monday night. He absolutely gashed the Broncos on the ground last season, so I doubt Oakland will change their philosophy headed into this one.
As for the rest…
BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. Reggie Bush vs. Knowshon Moreno
Of this group, The Law Firm (Green-Ellis, of course) had the strongest season in 2010, topping 1,000 yards with 13 touchdowns. If the Patriots are playing with a lead, expect a heavy dosage of BJGE. He also has the best goal-line capabilities of the three listed above.
Next in line is Bush, who will be the featured back in Miami. While we know he’s likely not doing much damage between-the-tackles, it looks as though the Dolphins have plenty of plans to get him involved with regularity, particularly in the passing game. If you’re in a PPR league, Bush may be a better play than Green-Ellis.
Finally we have Moreno, who is nothing to shake a stick at. If healthy, he’s shown that he can be a dynamic player in this league. There’s plenty of potential here, especially against a shaky Raiders defense.
In the end, I’d rank them McFadden, Green-Ellis, Bush and Moreno. Honestly, though, a case can be made to start them all.
There are also a few intriguing backups in these games.
Michael Bush is backing up McFadden, Willis McGahee backs up Moreno, Daniel Thomas is behind Reggie Bush and there’s a slew of backs behind Green-Ellis.
There’s plenty of risk involved with having to start one of these guys, but there’s some potential in all of them.
Danny Woodhead is likely the primary backup to Green-Ellis, but he’ll be primarily used on third downs and in pass-catching situations. We saw a glimpse of what he’s capable of doing in the same role last season, when he broke out for a few solid outings.
Thomas is the least-reliable here. He looked shaky in the preseason, and isn’t worth a look tonight.
Willis McGahee made a fantasy name for himself as a touchdown vulture behind Ray Rice in Baltimore, so there’s potential for that in Denver with the smaller Moreno, as well.
Bush could get a few goal-line carries as well, but McFadden is “the guy” for the Raiders.
For the backups, I’d rank them Bush, Woodhead, McGahee and Thomas.
Wes Welker (Patriots) vs. Brandon Marshall (Dolphins)
Darrius Heyward-Bey/Jacoby Ford (Raiders) vs. Brandon Lloyd (Broncos)
If you’re in a PPR league, then Welker tops this list. He’s Tom Brady’s most trusted target, and is worth a start regardless of the fact that he doesn’t really rack up touchdowns.
Lloyd is the other obvious choice. While (we think) it’s unlikely that he blows up like he did last season, there’s still plenty of reason to believe he can be a very solid WR2 in fantasy. The big-play potential for him is amongst the best in the league.
Marshall is among the more frustrating players in the league. He’s as talented as it gets for a receiver, but Chad Henne’s inability to get the ball to him last season removed him from fantasy prominence. He still topped 1,000 yards, but scored just three times all season. If those two can develop a rhythm together, then Marshall should rise back to the top.
And then, there’s the Raiders receivers. With the way they can run the ball (especially against Denver), why would you ever consider starting guys like Heyward-Bey or Ford? Too risky for my liking.
The rankings: Welker, Lloyd, Marshall, Heyward-Bey/Ford.
Deion Branch/Chad Ochocinco (Patriots) vs. Davone Bess (Dolphins)
Chaz Schilens (Raiders) vs. Eddie Royal/Eric Decker (Broncos)
The toughest call here comes with regards to the Pats’ receivers. Branch has an established rapport with Brady, but Ochocinco is the more decorated and talented player. However, because Ocho has looked lost at times throughout the preseason, we like Branch slightly more for week one.
Bess became a very solid PPR guy last season, so there’s no reason to expect anything different this time around. He’ll also be returning kicks, which can only help his value. Decent WR3 potential in PPR leagues.
Royal is a very all-or-nothing player. He’ll see double-digit targets some weeks, whereas in other weeks he’ll hardly be heard from at all. A bit like Bess in the fact that he has the chance to put up WR3 numbers, particularly PPR. Many have Decker as a sleeper heading into this season. He’s still likely behind Lloyd and Royal on the depth chart, but if Denver starts slinging it around, then Decker could see some action.
Branch, Bess, Royal, Ochocinco, Decker, Schilens.
Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez (Patriots) vs. Anthony Fasano (Dolphins)
Brandon Myers (Raiders) vs. Daniel Fells (Broncos)
Gronkowski burst onto the scene last season and scored 10 touchdowns (along with 42 catches for 546 yards), which instantly made him fantasy-relevant. However, outside of having four fewer touchdowns, Aaron Hernandez put up very similar numbers, with 45 catches for 563 yards. Hernandez is clearly the more explosive player, but Brady’s faith in Gronkowski in the red zone may give him a slight edge.
Fasano will likely haul-in somewhere between two-and-five passes on a weekly basis, but doesn’t find the end zone with any sort of regularity.
Like Fasano, Fells will likely see a decent number of targets, but his touchdown potential is limited.
Myers is filling-in for the injured Kevin Boss, and likely won’t figure into the equation too much.
I’d rank them: Gronk, Hernandez, Fells, Fasano, Myers.
The Patriots forced turnovers like crazy last season, and, as a young unit, hopefully they can continue to grow together. The matchup against the Dolphins is promising.
Miami can get to the quarterback, but do you really want to start a defense facing the Patriots’ offense? Didn’t think so.
The Broncos’ pass-rush will be greatly improved with the addition of Von Miller and the return of Elvis Dumervil, but there isn’t much else at all to like about this defense. The Raiders absolutely killed them on the ground last season, and are in line to do just that once again.
They did lose Nnamdi Asomugha, but this was still a top-10 fantasy defense last season. Add in the explosive ability of Jacoby Ford returning kicks and you have yourself a respectable group here.
Patriots, Raiders, Dolphins, Broncos.
Stephen Gostkowski (Patriots) vs. Dan Carpenter (Dolphins)
Sebastian Janikowski (Raiders) vs. Matt Prater (Broncos)
With the number of reps the Pats’ offense is able to get Gostkowski, he’s a viable top-10 kicker.
Carpenter has a big leg, but inconsistency has hurt him.
Janikowski is about as good as they come.
Prater plays in Denver, so there’s the thin-air advantage.
Can’t you tell I’m pumped about kickers?
I’d rank them Gostkowski, Janikowski, Prater, Carpenter.