James Morris hails from Rio Rancho, NM and has been playing fantasy sports for just over 15 years. Not only does he write the Bengals fantasy section, but he also does the Jacksonville Jaguars fantasy section. Crossing over, Morris writes the fantasy sections for the Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers and Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA. Just send him an email and he will reply back the same day with your answer.
The big news is that Peyton Manning is going to miss some or most of the season. Colts vice chairman Bill Polian said that Manning will "be back at some point," but that is as good as it gets for owners to plan for their No. 1 overall pick. That is going to be the nature of the beast for this fantasy season; injury. Due to the shortened timeframe that the NFL has dealt with post-lockout, fantasy owners are going to have to be on top of injury news and the waiver wire if they want to make it to the title game.
The good news is that RB Cedric Benson served his jail time last week instead of during the bye week as he planned. This isn't going to have any fantasy impact, but continuity is a key component to a successful fantasy season.
So, without further adieu, let's get to some Week 1 fantasy rankings!
Matthew Stafford: The knock on Stafford is that he can't walk from here to there without injuring himself. Stafford has the talent and offensive weapons to hit a home run for owners willing to draft him, and I am certainly one of those owners who believe that you should either go big or go home. Look for QB1 numbers from Stafford.
Kevin Kolb: Kolb is the savior of Arizona, or at least that is what Cardinals fans and Larry Fitzgerald owners hope. He gets a cupcake matchup in his first regular season outing, so I see no reason to not play him. If he can't get it done against the Panthers, I would send out a mass email seeing if someone will trade for him though!
Reggie Bush: Highly touted rookie RB Daniel Thomas has landed himself right into Coach Tony Sparano's doghouse, which means Bush will see the bulk of the carries and touches early on. The chances of Bush holding up over the course of a season with this type of workload is slim and none. However, he is a strong play this week in PPR leagues.
Beanie Wells: Wells recently got tagged as a workhorse back this season for the Cardinals, and he is a good play this week for the same reasons that Kolb is a strong play; the Panthers are their opponent. Wells is a bit of a risk but, if everything clicks, it could really pay off.
Kenny Britt: Britt was taken at the top of the 7th round in most drafts, and that is a little lower than I had him on my draft rankings. The Titans really need a WR threat and Britt is just the man to come through for Matt Hasselbeck.
Mike Thomas: The Jaguars are being bashed for their lack of names at the WR position, but Thomas is someone that can really pay off for those in PPR leagues. I put his value more in the WR3 range, but since he was taken around the 12th round in most drafts, I'd say that is a great value pick in leagues that start three WRs. Even with the change in QBs, I still like Thomas.
Jared Cook: Cook is flying under the radar in many leagues, being that he is owned in just 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. I think Cook is going to shoot up to TE1 status very quickly and should be owned in any format.
Detroit Lions Defense: The Lions defense is one that I love this season, but many people seemed to sleep on during the draft. The Buccaneers offense is one that can put points on the board, but only if Josh Freeman gets them to the promised land. LeGarrette Blount is a two-down back and Earnest Graham isn't going to scare any defenses. I expect good things from the Lions this weekend.
Sam Bradford: Bradford is a QB that everyone knows will be a perennial Pro Bowl player for years to come. However, the Eagles are a team that many are slotting into the Super Bowl and their defense is certainly going to shut down a lot of passing attacks with Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on the field.
Kerry Collins: Collins gets thrown right into the fire after signing with the Colts less than two weeks ago. Manning is out indefinitely and that means Collins is at the helm, but that also means nearly every single Colts offensive player's fantasy value takes a nosedive.
Ryan Grant and James Starks: Grant and Starks are going to split carries evenly to start the season, and a RBBC (Running Back By Committee) means they will cancel each other's value out. This is one of those situations where NFL value doesn't equal fantasy value.
Mark Ingram: Ingram landed in an ideal spot for his fantasy value, but he failed to really capitalize on it. As it stands right now, Pierre Thomas is the starting RB and Ingram's role will increase as the season progresses. I got burned on an auto-draft with Ingram as my RB2 back in early August, so know that you aren't alone.
Miles Austin: The Jets have one of the best defenses in the NFL, and Tony Romo has been a disappointment to many fantasy owners up to this point. Add to that the breakout potential of Dez Bryant, and you have a recipe for a disappointing season from a WR1.
Chad Ochocinco: There are rumors that Ochocinco won't even be the Patriots No. 2 WR to start the season, and by his preseason play, I can believe them. Ochocinco was taken higher in drafts than he should have been, meaning his owners will be forced to play him based on his draft position. I think his value lies more in the flex play than in the WR3 range like people are playing him.
Dallas Clark: Simply put, I don't trust Collins to provide fantasy value. Clark is easily a top three TE with Manning under center. But, with Collins tossing the pigskin to him, I think he is a shaky TE1 and someone I stayed away from in drafts.
Chicago Bears Defense: The Bears defense is a far sight from what they once were, and they draw the Falcons to start the season off. The Falcons offense is going to be a fun one to watch and many are expecting big things from them this season. I stayed away from the Bears defense on draft day and I am going to recommend you stay away from them this week.