There’s an old saying when it comes to fantasy football. When owners frantically study their roster early Sunday morning, three words should always, always come to mind.
Start your studs.
It’s blatantly obvious, but you wouldn’t imagine how many people try to get cute with their lineups, which eventually leads to disaster. So, before we go any further, I just want to reiterate. No matter how many sleepers and juicy matchups there are during a certain week, start your studs. Starts your studs. Starts your studs. Start your studs.
No, as the second Sunday of the season is approaching, some fantasy owners may need to look for some under the radar guys to replace some injured studs. And if you can’t manage to start those studs, here are some strong replacement candidates for this week.
Andre Roberts vs Detroit Lions: Roberts quietly had a good 2012 campaign, and after one week in 2013, he is still the same, quietly producing. In his first game alongside Carson Palmer and pass-heavy head coach Bruce Arians, Roberts caught a strong eight balls for 97 yards on nine targets. He looked good, and the fact that the Cardinals are going to sling the ball all over the field will help Robert’s fantasy prospects. This week’s matchup has all the signs of a shootout in the desert, featuring two of the most pass-oriented teams in football, who both also have their holes defensively. The Lions can definitely be thrown on, and with star wideout Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring) questionable for this contest, Roberts could very well see a major uptick in targets. The kid is definitely talented, but now that he has a quarterback that can actually get him the ball, as well as volume, he will be a solid fantasy option all year long.
Marlon Brown vs Cleveland Browns: I had Brown as a deep sleeper for 2013, and right off the bat, he has the opportunity to prove myself right. Brown has a very encouraging opening outing, catching four balls for 65 yards and a score, greatly benefiting from the lack of receiving threats in Baltimore. He was already starting opposite of Torrey Smith, but now that Jacoby Jones is sidelined with a sprained MCL, there is no doubt that the Georgia product will see more looks from Joe Flacco. At 6’5″, 205 lbs with great speed, Brown has the physical tools to take a monster step forward in his rookie campaign. This week’s matchup isn’t the greatest on paper, but with shutdown corner prepared to blanket Smith, Brown should see plenty of one-on-one coverage against Buster Skrine. Last week, we saw Brian Hartline reap the benefits of Haden locking down Mike Wallace, as he was targeted a whopping 15 times, resulting in nine grabs for 114 yards and a touchdown. I know Flacco doesn’t play very well against Cleveland for some odd reason, but if he figures it out, Brown could honestly post a similar stat line this week.
Harry Douglas vs St. Louis Rams: The injury to Roddy White has Douglas relevant in fantasy land to start the season, and seeing as White missed some practice during the week with a high ankle sprain, Douglas will see some work, regardless if White suits up or not. White will either be sidelined or he’ll play, but likely be a decoy once again. Simply put, high ankle sprains are devastating for receivers, as they need to cut, accelerate, decelerate, etc. It’s something that can linger for weeks. With that being said, Douglas could very well be the number two receiver opposite of Julio Jones in White’s absence, and in a high-powered Atlanta offense, that makes you very fantasy relevant. When White served as a decoy in Week 1, Douglas played in over 80 percent of the Falcons’ offensive snaps, so there is no reason he won’t be the guy if White can’t go.
Chad Henne @ Oakland Raiders: Remember that rant about starting your studs? Yeah, Henne is not a stud and you are most definitely not starting him unless you are in a really deep two-quarterback league. However, I think Henne could surprise some people in his first start of the season. He will replace Blaine Gabbert (finally), which bodes well for the skill position players’ fantasy prospects for this game, and if Henne keeps the job, the rest of the season. Henne is capable of putting up a big game, as he torched the Texans for four touchdowns last year. Of course, that is never, ever expected to happen, but what if you are playing the Raiders? They are surrendering the 8th-most fantasy points to signal callers this year, and allowed 28 passing touchdowns last season, which was top-five worst in football. I think Henne comes out and proves that he should have been named the starter all along, and quietly produces all four of his fantasy owners with a solid outing. And oh yeah, you aren’t starting him. Just a gut call here.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.