The views expressed in this article are not of the New York Football Giants but those of an independent Fantasy Expert.
A lot of people tend to forget what a great year Nate Washington had last year. With 74 receptions, 7 touchdowns and over 1,000 yards with two quarterbacks starting isn’t too shabby. Throw in the fact that the Titans are playing the New England Patriots, also known as the worst pass defense in the National Football League last year, things are looking good. Add in Kenny Britt being suspended for the first game, Mr. Washington gives your squad a great chance of scoring some big fantasy points for a true fantasy no. 2/3 WR, which makes him a must start this week. In the three games that Jake Locker had significant playing time in 2011, Washington’s stats with Locker throwing the ball, were as follows: vs Atlanta, 9 catches 115 yards and 2 TDs; vs New Orleans, 6 catches 130 yards, 1 TD; and vs Indianapolis, 7 catches, 62 yards, 1 TD. The numbers total: 307 yards, 22 catches, and 4 TDs in just three games played. The possibility of the Patriots blowing the Titans out only helps the chances of Washington as they will be passing all game long. The numbers speak for themselves.
2. Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots
Stevan Ridley has been one of the most talked about up and coming running backs in fantasy this offseason after veteran RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis departed for Cincinnati. Ridley’s got the elusiveness, toughness and deceptive speed for the 5’11 220-pound back to find the end zone. Though his numbers from last year were average, his production when he did play cannot be overlooked. He had 10 carries, 97 yards and a TD vs. a stingy Raiders defense in Week 4. He had 11 carries for 65 yards vs. a great run-stopping Broncos team in Week 15. Against the Dolphins in Week 16 he had 13 carries for 64 yards and in Week 17 against Buffalo, he had 15 carries and 87 yards. The only reason for his lack of success was that he wasn’t the starter. Green-Ellis had 11 rushing touchdowns last year for the Pats. Look for Ridley to take over that goal line presence and even add more rushing yards then Green-Ellis rushed for (667 yards, 3.7 yards per carry). The second-year bruiser out of LSU will likely eclipse that with more touches on both rushes and screen plays. It also doesn’t hurt that he gets a nice opening match-up against last year’s 25th-ranked run defense, the Tennessee Titans.
3. Titus Young, WR, Lions
Titus Young had a so-so rookie year. The first 7 weeks of the season Young was still getting used to the speed of the National Football League as well as the playbook and his role on the team. He started off with just 15 catches and 209 yards and 0 TDs. From Weeks 8-17 (with a Week 9 bye) he had 398 yards, 34 catches and 6 TDs. With the most gifted wide receiver arguably ever to play the position (Calvin Johnson) opposite him, Titus will get plenty of open looks from double teams on Johnson. And with Nate Burleson not getting any younger, this is Titus’ year to shine. With Mathew Stafford throwing for 41 TDs and over 5,000 yards last season, there should be plenty of balls to go around in the Motor City, especially to the fastest guy on the team.
1. Willis McGahee, RB, Broncos
McGahee had a fantastic 2011 season. With 249 carries, 1,199 rushing yards, 4 TDs and a 4.8 yards-per-carry average, another running back’s career was resurrected in Denver. On top of that, Denver picked up a new quarterback this offseason by the name of Peyton Manning. You know, the guy who’s 6-5, 230 pounds, has a rocket laser arm, only player to win MVP four times. Did I mention the Broncos are playing the Pittsburgh Steelers (7th overall vs, run last season), the team with the best history of stopping the run. Last year when the Broncos played the Steelers in that overtime thriller, McGahee had just 61 yards on 19 carries, averaging just 3.2 yards a carry. And he fumbled twice, with the Steelers recovering one of them. I’m not saying Willis is going to have a bad year, I’m just advising that against the Steelers, this may not be his week.
2. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals
Green-Ellis had 11 rushing TDs last year, yet he also only produced one game of rushing over 100 yards. Running back Mike Tolbert, formerly of the San Diego Chargers, had 10 TDs last year, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to start him every week or ever. BenJarvus will start his new stint with the Bengals against maybe the fiercest defense in the past decade, the Baltimore Ravens, who were 6th against the run last year. Even with the loss of Terrell Suggs, expect the Ravens to keep up the same ole smash-mouth attitude, where they grind and tire out the opposing teams running back on a weekly basis.
3. Steelers Defense vs. Broncos
Even though the Steelers defense is noted for its ability to stop the run, that doesn’t mean they can stop Number 18. With the starting safety Ryan Clark out due to his sickle cell diagnosis, expect the Broncos to have their way with the Steelers secondary and put up big numbers. Tim Tebow threw for 316 yards off of just 10 completed passes in last season’s matchup. Replacing Tebow with Manning and things just got a whole lot scarier for the Pittsburgh pass defenders. Expect big games out of the Broncos two young, emerging stud wide receivers: Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas.
Top Defense to start this week
Eagles (vs. Browns)
The Eagles will be going up against an unproven 28-year old rookie quarterback in Brandon Weeden and a rookie running back in Trent Richardson. Quick: can you name 2 WRs on the Browns? Didn’t think so. This is a game where a Colt McCoy sighting could very well happen, for the safety, health and future of the Cleveland Browns. The Eagles were tied for first in the league last year with 50 sacks, along with the Minnesota Vikings, and also had 3 TD returns off fumble recoveries. With a veteran secondary and one of the best defensive lines in all of football, expect big things from Philly this weekend. You can’t go wrong starting this defense vs. this offense any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Let us know what you think in the comments section below and tell us your must-starts for this week!
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