“The Amateur Ward”: Trust/Distrust Week 1 (Linebacker/Defensive Line)
Hope all of y’all are ready for some more football, and watched the Seahawks stomp the Packers on Thursday night. Don’t you love this time of year? College football is every Saturday, NFL on Thursday, Sunday, Monday, and fantasy baseball playoffs in full swing. I’m not going to lecture to you like a school professor on why or why not you should start particular guys at DT/DE/LB. I’m merely going to suggest starting/sitting guys based on match ups. Some of these guys aren’t going to be surprises, some others will. Hopefully some of the guys appearing on this list, and going forward will be solid contributors for you this season as a starter you drafted, or as a player you plucked off the wire. In either case, good luck this season, and let the fantasy football smack talk begin!
1.) DeAndre Levy (LB-DET) – Of course you don’t need to be told to start him against the Giants do you? Eli Manning has looked awful in the preseason, and the O-line, well, let’s just leave it there. Yes, Levy is going to be in for a stat-filled day on Sunday, as the Giants will have trouble blocking this versatile, football-hungry LB who posted interceptions (6) and passed defensed (15) last season. Levy has quickly become a fantasy force since last season, although his passes defensed numbers may slip slightly this season. (Photo courtesy of zimbio.com)
2.) Justin Houston (LB-KC) – Houston is a young outside linebacker who could emerge as one of the sack leaders this season. With 21 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 3 fumbles recovered the past two seasons, Houston is an emerging stud. Houston should be in for a seller day against a Titans team that no longer has CJ2K, and will be looking for an offensive identity early in the season.
3.) Cameron Heyward (DE-PITT) – Heyward (ankle) will be good to go on Sunday as the Steelers kickoff their season against the Browns, who still aren’t sure they trust Hoyer completely. Neither Hoyer not Manziel looked sharp in the preseason, and with no Gordon, it’s going to be a long season for the Browns. Given the state of the Browns offense, this is a favorable matchup for Heyward, as he should get plenty of looks to nail down Hoyer and grab a sack and a couple of tackles. With forces at linebacker in Timmons, Shazier (R), Jones, and Worilds, the Browns will have to try to work to block the linebackers, leaving Heyward some clean looks.
4.) Jerry Hughes (DE-BUFF) – Hughes, who was heralded by the Bills as being nearly unblockable during OTAs is undrafted in some MLFF leagues, which is surprising as he is coming off a 10 sack season. To start the season, Hughes, Mario Williams and Co., open against the Bears, who have had their share of offensive line woes this season. The loss of Alonso (ACL) for the season should afford Hughes some more opportunities for the sack. Hughes is not going to be a high tackle guy, but will be a lock for 11 sacks this season. If Hughes is on your wire, go grab him! (Photo courtesy of buffalobills.com)
5.) Antonio Smith (DT/DE-OAK) – Smith is currently listed as a DT and DE, and is overlooked in fantasy circles. He’s consistently produced between 5 and 7 sacks the past three seasons, and is a force on the interior. He might go lean on you some weeks, but in a Week 1 match up against the J-E-T-S, he’s a solid start with the Jets who need to right the ship badly.
1.) Curtis Lofton (LB-N.O.) – I’m not suggesting you sit Lofton because he’s a bad linebacker, he’s actually remarkably consistent in fantasy. I’m recommending you sit him for this week against the Falcons because Atlanta has shored up some of the offensive line woes from last season (Matthews) and get their receivers back from injury, minus TGonzo (retired). The Falcons are an explosive team and will rack up the points, so a productive day from ILB Lofton will not be in the cards.
2.) Jerrell Freeman (LB-IND) – The addition of D’Qwell Jackson to the Colts interior is bad news for Freeman’s value, as his production will be slashed. Normally a player who makes his fantasy keeps with the tackles, Freeman may only get around 90-100 tackles total (assisted plus solo) this season sharing the inside linebacker job in Chudzinski’s defense with Jackson. An opening game against Peyton Manning and Co. will not be friendly to Freeman nor fantasy owners in Week 1. (Photo courtesy of indystar.com)
3.) DeMarcus Ware (DE-DEN) – As much as it pains me to have to suggest sitting Ware, you must do so until he shows he is healthy. After only 6 sacks last season and nary a forced fumble for the first time in his career, Ware must earn his trust in Denver before he should be starting in fantasy circles. A Week 1 matchup against Andrew Luck does not bode well for Ware.
4.) George Selvie (DE-DAL) – With the departure of Ware to Denver, the loss of Lee (ACL) for the season, and a depleted Dallas defense, Selvie needs to step up at defensive end for the Cowboys to have any hopes of a pass rush. He might be streamable most weeks, but not this week, as the 49ers are tough as nails up front and Kaepernick is tough to bring down. Selvie could emerge as a DE3 by season’s end, given a lack of healthy player makers on the Dallas defensive line, but this week he belongs on the bench.
5.) Cullen Jenkins (DT-NYG) – Jenkins is a solid fantasy DT, but against a pass-heavy, explosive offense like Detroit, I have trouble starting him. Yes, the Giants will need to get pressure on Stafford to have any shot at hanging with Detroit, but Jenkins won’t likely get owners more than 2-3 tackles. He’ll be useful this season as a DT1/2, given his mix of sacks and forced/recovered fumbles but not this week.
Thanks for tuning in for the inaugural edition of Trust/Distrust, and continue to tune in to this site for your fantasy needs, as it not only makes the world a better place, but also gives a start up fantasy site more publicity as we are trying to gain more momentum. Discussions are always encouraged and welcomed as we here, at MLFS, look to aid you in any manner we can. Remember, defense wins Championships, not 2nd place, or as I like to say: 1st Place Loser.
Major League Fantasy Football Radio: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday September 7th from 11am-12pm EST for another episode of our fantasy football show sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network.
This week Jeff Nelson will be joining us for week one of the regular season. We will be discussing match ups and players on both offense & defense to either avoid or to play. Jeff is a High School defensive backs coach in the Lehigh Valley of PA. You can call in at 646.915.8596, listen live online, bluetooth in your car, or listen to the podcast. You can download the podcast on I-Tunes or Google Play stores.