Kansas City @ Houston
The Houston D should be much improved this year. DeMeco Ryans in the middle is one of the best at his position already, after just one season in the NFL. DE Mario Williams should have his way with the all of a sudden weak offensive line in Kansas City. Expect Mario Williams to finally show some of the ability that made him the #1 overall pick a year ago.
Matt Schaub was brought in for one thing, to ignite the Texans offense. He seems to be the right man for the job, as he showed positive signs in the preseason, plus he is definitely more elusive than David Carr. That being said the offensive line of the Texans is still a concern, and Chiefs DE Tamba Hali will be well acquainted with the Texans QB, by the end of the afternoon.
Denver @ Buffalo
Denver is breaking in a new MLB this year, though he has several years in the Bronco’s defensive scheme. DJ Williams has struggled in the preseason and this was a big enough concern for the Bronco’s to bring in recently cut LB Jeremiah Trotter for a visit. Expect Dre Bly to be picked on in this contest, though he should be productive as a result.
Buffalo is replacing its best defensive player a year ago, MLB London Fletcher with a rookie MLB Paul Posluszny, from Penn St. The rookie should have a strong showing in his first game, as Denver will certainly keep this game conservative as long as they can. SS Donte Whitner could also have a strong game, camping out in the box to stop the Bronco’s rushing attack.
Carolina @ St Louis
St Louis proved last year, they are not the same pass happy team they were under former HC Mike Martz. From an IDP standpoint this can be considered a plus for their opponents in 2007. No longer is the secondary the only viable options when lining up against the Rams. With Steven Jackson carrying the rock, opposing teams LB and DE are now viable fantasy starters. Expect, gulp, Panthers MLB Dan Morgan to be productive, as long as he can stay in the game.
Carolina’s offense makes for solid IDP starters for the Rams as well. The Panthers offensive line will be tested by Rams DE’s James Hall and Leonard Little. Also, MLB Will Witherspoon should have a great day tracking down the Panthers rushers from sideline to sideline. Carolina has a new starting SS Chris Harris, with the retirement of Mike Minter a few weeks back.
Pittsburgh @ Cleveland
Pittsburgh breaks in a new coach, and a few new defensive starters. Most notably at LB, with the departure of LB Joey Porter. Pittsburgh isn’t a big pass rushing team from their down lineman, and create most of their pressure coming off the edge from the LB position. This doesn’t look to be a solid game for any of the Steelers IDP players, with the possible exception of Troy Polamalu.
Cleveland on the other hand should put up multiple strong performances from several of their IDP players, most notably both ILB’s. But Sean Jones could also benefit greatly in this match up, as he steps into the box to help stop the run. Cleveland isn’t a good enough defense to get off the field very often, so they are likely to see twice as many snaps as their offense.
Atlanta @ Minnesota
Atlanta was once the best rushing team in the NFL, but those numbers were inflated with the rushing yards coming from the QB position. Atlanta will still run the rock, but their offense will be a more vertical passing game under new HC Bobby Petrino What does this mean for IDP fantasy owners. It means, the Viking’s strong rush defense and the new Atlanta offense should be a bonus for the Vikings secondary players.
Atlanta drafted a future stud DE Jammal Anderson to line up opposite John Abraham. These two should be an explosive pair, and give opposing offenses fits every game, they are on the field together. Atlanta welcomes back former WLB Demmorio Williams, who was a tackling machine in 2005. Keith Brooking moves back to the middle linebacker spot this year, and should have a productive game in this contest.
Tennessee @ Jacksonville
This match up has the makings of an ugly game, but ugly games, otherwise known as defensive contests, can be productive for IDP players. Expect DE Kyle Vanden Bosch to be solid for the Titans, as he is solid in run support, even when he can’t get to the QB. Sitting Keith Bulluck is a foolish idea, especially in this contest. S Chris Hope hopes to prove last year was no fluke, and tries to repeat the production he attained a year ago.
For Jacksonville, this could go one of two ways. Either Vince Young is eaten alive, and the Jags DL has a field day. Or, he runs a bit, and allows the Jag’s LB’s to be productive. Best advice: Start your studs in this game. Kudos to those savvy owners who snagged LB Mike Peterson later than he should have gone, just because he was injured last year.
New England @ NY Jets
New England is the trendy Super Bowl pick this year, but how will they play defensively early on. SS Rodney Harrison is out for 4 weeks for Steroids, and DE Richard Seymour is out several weeks, if not the season with injury. Former Ravens LB, Adalius Thomas comes in to jump start the Pat’s pass rush. Some question if DE Ty Warren is legit, or was last year, a one-year wonder.
The Jets defense in its 2nd year under Mangenius, should be much improved. Jonathon Vilma disappeared last year, but hopes to prove early on, he can be productive in this or any defense. . The Jets safeties Kerry Rhodes and Eric Coleman could be the best scoring players for the Jets, in this contest for fantasy teams.
Philadelphia @ Green Bay
Philadelphia hopes the sudden cutting of LB Jeremiah Trotter doesn’t have a lingering affect on its defense. Replacement LB Omar Gaither has looked lost, or over whelmed inside for the Eagles in preseason. This cutting could turn out to be a big mistake in Philly. The Eagles secondary is clearly the strength of this defense, and could be very valuable this week vs. Green Bay.
Green Bay on the other hand hopes to improve bit by bit on defense from a season ago. AJ Hawk will have his hands full with Eagles RB Brian Westbrook out of the backfield, but if we learned anything from him a year ago, he is up for the challenge. The Packers welcome a new Safety to their starting lineup this season.
Detroit @ Oakland
Detroit hit gold a season ago in its draft with LB Ernie Sims. They still have a huge hole in the middle of their defense, which means their SS Kenoy Kennedy could be forced to play in the box more than the Lions would like. Cory Redding moves inside to DT, from DE last year, so his production may not be what it was a season ago.
The Oakland D was the lone bright spot of the Raiders team in 2006, and LB Kirk Morrison was the stand out player of that unit. Morrison is a solid play in this match up, as well as the Raiders secondary. Lions QB Jon Kitna will likely chunk the ball 35 plus times, so the Raiders secondary will be tested by those stand out Detroit WR’s. Another solid play for Oakland is DE Derrick Burgess, who should sack Kitna at least once.
Miami @ Washington
In the preseason the Miami offense has looked horrible at best. This isn’t a great sign for the Redskins IDP players, as continuous 3 and outs, make it hard to rack up solid IDP stats. Though I would never sit LB London Fletcher, under any circumstance. It will also be hard pressed to sit either of the Redskins safeties.
Miami is tinkering with the 3-4 defense, though they are not sure they want to plunge into it just yet. If this happens, trade DE Jason Taylor immediately, as its likely he will be moved to OLB, and his production there will be average at best for a LB. The Miami offensive troubles should be a good sign for the owners of IDP of the Miami defense, as this just adds more opportunities to rack up stats.
Chicago @ San Diego
Chicago is coming off a bad Super Bowl loss, and things will likely get worse, before they get better. San Diego, in San Diego is never a wanted task, especially for a shaky QB like Rex Grossman. Charger LB Shawne Merriman and Co. should abuse the Bears QB, and force Grossman into many poor decision.
On the other hand, the San Diego offense is solid enough to sustain drives, on the ground or short passes over the middle, which will pad the Bears LB stats. Couple that with the safeties cheating up to attempt to take that away, and they too could be very productive in this match up. Even the Chicago DL could be productive as many times as SD will likely run the rock. Start your Bears in this contest.
Tampa Bay @ Seattle
Tampa Bay is a very old defense, but the drafting of DE Gaines Adams was the right decision to turn that around in the near future. Adams takes the spot vacated by Simeon Rice, and the Bucs are breaking in a new MLB, whether it is recently signed Jeremiah Trotter, or long time backup Barrett Ruud. Ronde Barber is a given start every week, no matter who the opponent.
Seattle brings in a new pass rushing DE, Patrick Kerney from Atlanta. He should pay immediate dividends vs. Tampa and their putrid offensive line. The Hawks have a nice set of athletic LB’s, particularly Lofa Tatupu, and Julian Peterson. These two can be productive in just about any contest, as they are so flexible to make plays all over the field. Finally, the Hawks welcome a new pair of safeties, Deon Grant and Brian Russell. These 2 also bring athleticism to the Seattle defense.
NY Giants @ Dallas
The Giants have a huge hole to fill at RB, and this could make or break QB Eli Manning. The Cowboys defense, and especially their pass rush hopes he crumbles under the pressure they hope to bring. The Wade Phillips era in Dallas should bring SS Roy Williams back to the line of scrimmage more, than in coverage. That is if newly acquired FS Ken Hamlin can support the pass without help. Dallas could be without CB Terance Newman, which could mean even more passes than usual for the G-men.
The Giants welcome back, camp holdout Michael Strahan. It isn’t yet known what kind of football shape he is in, and the Cowboys OL should be much improved, so it may be best to sit the aging all pro. Expect LB Antonio Pierce to have a huge night stopping the run. Dallas will run as long as the game is close, or they have the lead. Dallas is without starting WR Terry Glenn in this contest, so coverage will be rolled TO’s way, which could help Pierce even more, if TE Jason Witten gets more involved down the seam.
Baltimore @ Cincinnati
This contest pits a great defense (Baltimore) against a great offense (Cincinnati). But this will not be the key to this game. The key will be which unit, the Cincy D or the Ravens O, forces their will on the other. The Ravens secondary is going to be tested, that is for sure, and Ray Lewis will be eyeing RB Rudi Johnson on this night.
Cincinnati on the other hand welcomes back franchise player DE Justin Smith, The Bengal’s also are starting the season with a new opening day MLB, Ahmad Brooks. Both should have very nice games for fantasy owners. But the Bengal’s safeties could be sneaky productive in this game. Madieu Williams is a given start, but Dexter Jackson could be a real gem vs. the Ravens.
Arizona @ San Francisco
The trendy pick from 2006 (Arizona), vs. the trendy pick for 2007 (San Francisco). Arizona is changing defensive schemes in 2007, moving to the 3-4. This brings Karlos Dansby inside next to Gerald Hayes. We all remember what this defensive scheme change did to Jets Jonathon Vilma’s production a season ago. Its something to think about, when starting either of these two players in week 1. It might be a good idea to look elsewhere in week 1, just to see how things look in the new defensive scheme.
San Francisco improved its defense dramatically with the drafting of LB Patrick Willis, as well as the signing so CB Nate Clements, and S Michael Lewis. It may take a while for these new players to mesh into a productive unit. But one might be hard pressed to sit Willis in any circumstance, with the talent he has. Michael Lewis should return to elite status, if he is used close to the line of scrimmage, as he was in Philly, prior to 2006.