Strategy topic of the week: should you always start your stars?
There are two distinct schools of thought. Those who say "yes" feel that you drafted your stars to be the foundation of your team, and that these players are stars because of their ability to perform at a high level regardless of the opponent. Those who say "no" believe that even a star's performance can vary greatly from week to week with the biggest factor being the caliber of that week's opponent.
I'm a firm believer in the latter approach. Yes, it's annoying when your match-up analysis proves to be incorrect, and your star on the bench outscores your second-stringer in the starting lineup, costing your fantasy team a victory. Depending on how competitive your fellow fantasy league team owners are, you're also much more likely to be criticized (and/or made fun of) when you bench one of your stars, especially if that decision doesn't work out for you. Ignore the naysayers and feel free to bench a star player if you believe one of the bench players on your roster should have a better week than the star.
Even the top fantasy performers at their position (think Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, and Roddy White) have a fair degree of week-to-week variation in their fantasy results. For instance, Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger are both decent fantasy quarterback options most weeks, but this week their teams face each other in what figures to be a low-scoring game. I'd rather start Jason Campbell this weekend against what figures to be a weak Broncos defense. Similarly, most weeks I'd prefer Philadelphia's defense to Arizona's, but this weekend I'd rather have Arizona's defense going against Cam Newton and the Panthers than Philadelphia's defense going against Sam Bradford and the Rams.
I'll revisit this topic as we get closer to the fantasy league playoff weeks.
Food for thought
Q: Should I hold onto Peyton Manning in hopes that he'll recover from his neck surgery and help my team later in the season?
A: If your league does not have an injured reserve (IR) spot, I'd use a bench roster spot for Peyton Manning only if I had at least 6 bench spots and already had a backup quarterback I was happy with on my roster. If not, I'd definitely drop Manning in single-season leagues in favor of a quarterback who's more likely to be healthy enough to help my team this season.
Q: Which rookies are likely to have a significant fantasy impact this season?
QB - none
RB: Delone Carter (Baltimore), DeMarco Murray (Dallas), Daniel Thomas (Miami), Ray Helu (Washington)
WR: Julio Jones (Atlanta), A.J. Green (Cincinnati), Brian Little (Cleveland), Titus Young (Detroit)
TE: Lance Kendricks (St. Louis Rams)
Q: I don't like the team defense or kicker I drafted -- is adding and dropping one each week based on that week's match-ups a viable strategy?
A: Yes, see the strategy discussion at the beginning of this entry.
Q: Which teams are likely to employ a running back-by-committee strategy, thus limiting the fantasy value of their starter?
A: Green Bay, Carolina, New Orleans, Miami, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, and San Diego Chargers.
Q: Which teams have muddled wide receiver situations?
A: New Orleans (especially after Marques Colston's injury in the Saints' season-opener), Cincinnati, and Cleveland.
Usually reliable fantasy options who won't help your team this week
QB: Matthew Stafford (@Tampa Bay), Ben Roethlisberger (@Baltimore), Matt Ryan (@Chicago)
RB: Rashard Mendenhall (@Baltimore), Ray Rice (vs. Pittsburgh), Michael Turner (@Chicago)
WR: Johnny Knox (vs. Atlanta), Pierre Garcon (@Houston), Miles Austin (@New York Jets)
TE: Ben Watson (vs. Cincinnati), Visanthe Shiancoe (@San Diego)
DEF: New York Jets (vs. Dallas), Philadelphia (@St. Louis)
"Lesser lights" who will help your fantasy team this week
QB: Alex Smith (vs. Seattle), Jason Campbell (@Denver), Matt Cassel (vs. Buffalo)
RB: Joseph Addai (@Houston), Jahvid Best (@Tampa Bay), Tim Hightower (vs. New York Giants)
WR: Kevin Walter (vs. Indianapolis), Eddie Royal (vs. Oakland), Malcom Floyd (vs. Minnesota)
TE: Ed Dickson (vs. Pittsburgh), Lance Kendricks (vs. Philadelphia), Todd Heap (vs. Carolina)
DEF: Arizona (vs. Carolina), Cleveland (vs. Cincinnati), Tennessee (@Jacksonville)