With last night’s performance by Peyton Manning and the Broncos, the 2013 fantasy football season is off to a high-octane start to the 2013 NFL season. While there are few active quarterbacks that could replicate Manning’s seven-touchdown performance against the Ravens, there are plenty of players capable of big performances in Week 1. Besides the guys you drafted in the first three rounds of your draft, consider putting these players in your starting lineup.
Andrew Luck, Colts
Last year, Luck displayed the type of veteran leadership seldom seen by in a NFL rookie. The sophomore quarterback enters the 2013 season with Super Bowl hopes and begins his run against the inadequate Oakland Raiders. The Raiders allowed the seventh most points against opposing quarterbacks in 2012; the additions of Charles Woodson and D.J. Hayden helps the Oakland secondary, but it won’t be enough to slow down Luck and his many throwing options.
Eli Manning, Giants
Since the $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium (now AT&T Stadium) was built, the Giants have not lost to the Cowboys in Dallas. The Giant’s have scored at least 29 points on the road against Dallas in the last four meetings; unless you started his older brother in favor of him, there’s no reason why Eli shouldn’t be in your lineup.
Matt Ryan, Falcons
Fresh off the “bountygate” scandal that was the story of last year’s offseason, the New Orleans Saints allowed more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than any other team in the league last year. The Saints have switched to a 3-4 defensive scheme and lost one of their best pass rushers, Will Smith, for the entire year. Ryan has plenty of weapons in his arsenal and should be started with confidence.
Honorable mentions: Tony Romo, Cowboys. Russell Wilson, Seahawks. Jay Cutler, Bears.
David Wilson, Giants
In the wake of Andre Brown’s injury, David Wilson is poised to be a featured back in the NFL. Their Sunday night opponent, Dallas Cowboys, allowed 16 touchdowns by opposing running backs last season, tied for second-worst in the NFL.
Darren Sproles, Saints
Sproles is a threat in the air and on the ground. The game against the Falcons could be the highest scoring game of Week 1. Put Sproles in your lineup, especially in PPR leagues.
Daryl Richardson, Rams
Richardson could pan out to be one of 2013’s best sleepers. With Isaiah Pead suspended, Richardson is pretty much guaranteed extra touches in Week 1. He will go against the Arizona Cardinals who allowed 2012 yards against opposing running backs in the previous year.
Honorable mentions: Ahmad Bradshaw, Colts. Rashard Mendenhall, Cardinals. Isaac Redman, Steelers.
Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers
Jackson is going against the New York Jets, one of the messiest teams in the NFL as of right now. The Jets defense did relatively well against wide receivers last year, averaging 16 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers last year; but Jackson has been a perennial top-ten fantasy receiver for almost every year of his NFL career. For the exception of Jackson and Doug Martin, stash the rest of you Bucs on the bench.
Sidney Rice, Seahawks
With Percy Harvin out indefinitely, someone has to be on the receiving end of Russell Wilson’s passes. When healthy, Rice is a great option at the flex or WR2 positions, but you might look elsewhere in PPR leagues.
DeSean Jackson, Eagles
With Jeremy Maclin out with a torn ACL, Jackson is due for a great fantasy season under new head coach, Chip Kelly. The Redskin’s secondary allowed 25.6 fantasy points to wide receivers last year and the Eagles had a field day against the Redskins last time they played on a Monday night. Jackson is capable of taking punt returns to the house, start the guy without hesitation.
Honorable mentions: Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs. Mike Wallace, Dolphins. Pierre Garcon, Redskins.
Martellus Bennett, Bears
With the New York Giants last season, Bennett snagged three touchdowns in the first three weeks. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is in a contract year and is likely to spread the ball around, so long as they find someone to block for him.
Brent Celek, Eagles
The Washington Redskins allowed the most yards, receptions and targets to NFL tight ends last year. Celek struggled a bit last year, but so did everyone in Philadelphia. Chip Kelly’s run-and-gun offense is sure to make a big splash this season; if you don’t plan on starting anyone in Philly, keep them handcuffed on your bench; don’t let them go to waivers.
Honorable mentions: Owen Daniels, Texans. Zach Sudfeld, Patriots.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
They’re playing the Jets. Need I say more? Sure, they Jets surprised everyone with their big performance against the Bills in Week 1 last year, but with Santonio Holmes listed as questionable and Darrelle Revis to cover their best receiver, the Jets’ downfall begins this Sunday.
So long as the front seven of the Colts can contain the running abilities of Darren McFadden and Terrelle Pryor, the Colts should be fine.
Honorable mentions: Arizona Cardinals. Houston Texans.
There’s no such thing as a sleeper kicker
Predicting points for kickers is like predicting the weather, there is going to be room for error. If you drafted a kicker in any round besides the last, start rethinking your draft strategy for next season. The difference in points between last year’s best and 10th best kicker was 15 points, the depth at this position will remain plentiful. If you’re really struggling with your choice of kickers, go with the guy playing indoors.
Note: All statistics were referenced from ESPN.