*Returning to our web site for the second consecutive season is James Morris, the owner and CEO of No Limit Fantasy Sports. James will provide you with insights on the coming week's game, advice on who to sit and start, as well as answer your questions via email. *
A few injuries have changed certain players' fantasy value, but overall we head into Week 1 of the season with basically the same values we started the preseason with. The few exceptions here are backup RB Kevin Jones from the Chicago Bears being lost for the season and Cincinnati Bengals rookie T Andre Smith, who broke his foot and will miss 4-6 weeks. While the loss of Jones shouldn't have any fantasy ramifications, the loss of Andre Smith means Carson Palmer and Cedric Benson won't have the protection and holes they would have if Smith was in the game. That being said, let's get to the team report and onto the Week 1 rankings from there.
As I said above, Andre Smith is going to miss the first few weeks of the season and may not even be useful until around November. His loss directly affects Palmer and Benson, which in turn affects Chad Ochocinco and Laveranues Coles as well. I still have huge expectations for Ochocinco this season (WR1 value) and Coles (WR3), as well as Palmer (QB1), but Benson will need him back in order to be looked at as anything more than a RB3/Flex option. Just don't go crazy and slide them down because of this injury, but understand that when Smith is back and healthy whatever value they had before increases at that point.
Ben Utecht is out for the season, which means Daniel Coats now gets the job, but should be held to blocking duties since he fancied himself as a fullback last season. Even though TE is an afterthought with the Bengals, WR isn't with starters Ochocinco and Coles. Add to them preseason superstar Chris Henry and we have a deep receiving corps and a career year for Palmer in the making. Henry should be looked at as a great sleeper candidate after racking up 13 catches for 217 yards and three TDs this preseason.
The Bengals defense comes in at about No. 15 heading into Week 1, but if fellow USC Linebackers Ray Maualuga and Keith Rivers step up like I think they can, the Bengals defense could sneak into the top 10 before we know it. The addition of safety Roy Williams will help with a run defense that gave up 120 YPG last season and just 93.8 YPG this preseason. The Bengals finished the preseason ranked No. 6 in the NFL for total yards given up per game at 275.0, so if they can carry that over into the regular season the Bengals may just open the minds of the Bengals haters out there.
Carson Palmer: Yeah, I said it, Carson Palmer! The Broncos finished last season ranked No. 28 for passing yards given up per game (228.5) and the defense doesn't look any better this year. Palmer is healthy, Ochocinco looks refreshed, Coles is steady and Henry looks like he finally has his head on straight.
Matt Schaub: Schaub was injured last season, so people let him slide down on their draft charts. He still has the No. 2 WR in the NFL in Andre Johnson and a solid WR2 in Kevin Walter, not to mention Owen Daniels at TE. Let's not forget Steve Slaton could catch 50-55 balls out of the backfield this season too.
Ray Rice: Rice has shot up the draft charts since the start of the preseason, and rightfully so. If you remember, I told you about him long before his hype even hit. Rice is the featured back in Baltimore and is a great play against a Chiefs defense that gave up 158.9 rushing Yds/G last season.
Kevin Smith: The Lions have a rookie QB at the helm and they always disappoint, so starting Smith makes sense. Calvin Johnson could end up being a big fantasy bust this year if Stafford does fall flat on his face, but Smith should see plenty of carries each game no matter what happens.
Eddie Royal: Now that Brandon Marshall has gone Quinceloco in Denver, Royal is going to see his looks increase. Yes, Marshall's suspension was lifted as all knew it would be, but he looks like he is walking over bridges with a gas can in one hand and a lit match in the other. Besides, Kyle Orton can't throw the ball 10 yards without it getting picked off, so Royal should be a good bet to flirt with 100 receptions this season.
Vincent Jackson: People are hating on Philip Rivers and the Chargers passing game this fantasy season for some reason. Just make sure you don't. Jackson is the clear No. 1 WR and although Antonio Gates will most likely be the stud there, Jackson is someone to certainly play against Oakland in Week 1.
Greg Olson: Hey, Jay Cutler made Tony Scheffler look legit. Granted, Olson really is legit, which means Cutler should make him into a viable top 5 fantasy TE this season.
Cowboys Defense: I'm not a big fan of anything on the Buccaneers offense, so the Cowboys defense just seems logical. Antonio Bryant is good, but Byron Leftwich is a better backup than a starter and Derrick Ward is an OK low end RB2 that isn't going to break for 200 yards in a game.
Brett Favre: What people failed to remember is that every single one of those western "gunslingers" ended up dueling in one too many battles, and that is what I see for Favre this season. He doesn't have good enough WRs to make up for his mistakes and I could see him throwing more INTs than TDs this season. I'll pass.
Matt Cassel: Besides being questionable for Week 1, the Chiefs face the Ravens to start the season. Even if Cassel were 100 percent healthy, I'd still tell you to pass because of the Ravens tough defense.
Fred Jackson: Even with Marshawn Lynch suspended for the first three games, Jackson and the Bills face the Patriots and their tough defensive line. The Buffalo offense was inept during the preseason, and they just released their left tackle six days before the first game. Don't expect much from the regular season with Lynch out.
Willie Parker: Even with Coach Mike Tomlin giving Parker the feature back title, Fast Willie has a bum hammy and always seems to be banged up in some way. I don't see him lasting the whole season as a featured back.
Santana Moss: Moss barely registers as a blip on the fantasy radar these days, but people still take him hoping for more than the WR3 he is. The Giants defense is top tier and the Redskins are looking for a reason to replace Jason Campbell.
Steve Smith (NYG): Really this could be any Giants receiver. Not because Washington's defense is that good, but Eli Manning is that bad for fantasy owners. Eli and Ben Roethlisberger are the two prime examples of NFL value not equaling fantasy value.
Vernon Davis: Davis is one of my sleepers at TE this season, but the question is will he ever wake up? Shaun Hill isn't someone to be excited over early on, so I would sit Davis until he shows me otherwise.
Green Bay Packers Defense: The Packers face the Bears and a revamped passing attack. Yes, one player can revamp an entire passing game when that player is the QB. Matt Forte is a top 3 RB and Jay Cutler has proven he can fill up the boxscore.
Q: I took the Bengals D as my No. 2 after the Ravens. I think they look to have a lot of potential in Zimmer's second year. They were ranked No. 12 at the end of '08 and have added some real playmakers. What do you think?
--Dave in Anderson Township of Cincinnati
A: I have the Bengals ranked No. 15 for defense right now, so a Def2 is about right. If everything clicks, e.g. Rey Maualuga makes a run for the defensive ROY, Keith Rivers leads the team in tackles, Roy Williams stays healthy, etc., then the defense should finish closer to No. 10 than No. 15. People are sleeping on them, but I am glad to see that you didn't.
If you want to have your question answered for all your friends to see, shoot me an email and I will give you some one-on-one attention.