Thursday, September 6, 2007

Matt's Stats: Week 1 NFL Preview

Welcome to SportsJudge Blog. I am Matt Cohen -- law student, entry-level sports judge, and an avid football fan. Even though most SportsJudge postings will involve academic reasoning, I have been tasked by "the Professor" with writing our weekly "facts" section. This means each week, I will preview the upcoming NFL action. My colleague, John O'Malley will then write our post-week recap.

"Sleep"ing on the Job: As Week 1 approaches, every owner thinks his team is the best, but all teams can use some help. Here are some of my top sleepers for the new season. Some of these players should still be on the waiver wire in your league.

1) Vincent Jackson (San Diego Chargers, WR) – Not so much a sleeper anymore, but if you have the ability to trade for him, now would be the time. SD had an amazing offense last year, but adding Norv Turner who is a QB guru will only improve the passing game. As the number 1 receiver on the team, Vincent Jackson stands to benefit.

2) Jacoby Jones (Houston Texans, WR) – This rookie WR already had 4 TD’s in the preseason (2 on punt returns and 2 receiving) and is on the verge of taking over as the second starting WR for Houston. Jones is currently only on 29% of CBS leagues, but is my prediction to be this years version of Maurice Jones-Drew as a player that comes out of nowhere to be a big time fantasy scorer.

3) Selvin Young (Denver Broncos, RB) – This undrafted rookie free agent had a great preseason (167 yards and 3 TDs) and has moved ahead of both Mike Bell and Cecil Sapp on the Broncos Depth Chart into the number 2 RB behind only Travis Henry. Every year the Broncos have unknown RB’s come out of nowhere and this should be no different. Owned on only 14% of CBS leagues currently, this could be a pickup that won’t impact your team immediately but could pay great dividends as the year goes on.

4) Bo Scaife (Tennessee Titans, TE) – For the first time in his 3 year career, Scaife is going to be the number 1 TE this year for the Titans after passing Ben Troupe and Erron Kinney on the depth chart. Scaife was also a favorite of Vince Young at Texas and appears ready to be his favorite receiver this year after a great preseason in which he led the team in receptions and receiving yards. Owed by only 35% of CBS leagues, Scaife should be a valuable waiver pickup for any team looking for a TE.

And now to get to the Week 1 action…

"Play" or "Stay Away"? At QB, a good player to start this week would be Eli Manning. Eli has had some of his most success against Dallas and totaled 4 TDs and 1 INT against them last season. A player who should be benched this week would be Vince Young. While I highly recommend him this year, even with the Madden Jinx, this is not the best week to start him. In two losses to Jacksonville last year, Young totaled only 1 TD, while having 3 INT and 2 Fumbles. Save Young for next week against Indy.

At RB, Maroney is this week’s pick for a great player to start. Maroney averaged 4.4 yards per carry and had three rushing TD’s against the Jets last year. With no Dillon to steal carries from Maroney, there is no reason to think that he won’t keep it up this year against the Jets. The player to sit is definitely Clinton Portis. Even though he is playing, Portis is still expected to lose carries to Ladell Betts as he recovers from his injury. There is no way of knowing if Portis is fully healthy, and until he starts getting the majority of the carries again for Washington, he can not be recommended.

At WR, Andre Johnson should be a great player to start in his first week. A year after leading the NFL in receptions, Johnson is teamed up with Matt Schaub at QB and gets to open up against the Chiefs, a team that ranked only 16th in defense last year. A 100 yard, TD game should be there for Johnson. I would not recommend starting any Broncos WRs this week. Historically, the Bills are always very good in their Home Openers, and another year of Dick Jauron as their coach should enable the defense to give Cutler some trouble in his first Opening Day as a starter in the NFL.

Survival of the Fittest: One last prediction for anyone doing survivor pools, my surprise choice this week could be the Detroit Lions. In year 2 of the Mike Martz offense, and now with a 3 WR set of Williams, Furrey, and Johnson, the Lions -- who somehow are underdogs -- will have no problem with the Raiders, who are still one of the worst teams in football. In making this prediction, I am exercising my professional freedom (and expertise as a sports analyst) to disagree with the our website founder (the aformentioned Professor), who has been whispering all week about how a certain team from Washington D.C. is going to defeat the Miami Dolphins in week one (but, remember, you didn't hear that from me).

Until next time….Enjoy the First Week of Football!

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