Time for another edition of Fantasy Football Out on a Limb.  I scour the rosters to select a player who I feel will outperform a higher profile player in that given week.  I base my decisions on matchups, how the players are trending, and the ever-important hunch.  To mix things up I’ll occasionally do some two on one matchups or even pit RB or WR duos against each other.  Sometimes I’ll spot a player some points.

Scoring
6 points for rushing or receiving TD
4 points for a passing TD
0.1 points per yard for rushing or receiving
0.05 points per passing yard.

Quarterback

Brett Favre profile photo Eli Manning Profile Photo
Brett Favre over Eli Manning
I’ll take the oldest QB in the league over the richest one.  Favre likes the attention, and I think he puts on a show against Cleveland in his first game in purple. Eli faces what should be a tough Washington D.  He’ll probably win ugly, but if you start him, you probably won’t follow suit.

Running Backs

Darren Sproles profile Derrick Ward profile
Darren Sproles over Derrick Ward
Ward was drafted a lot earlier than Sproles in fantasy drafts, but I expect Sproles to make a bigger impact in the NFL’s opening week.  LT is healthy, but San Diego should destroy Oakland, giving the diminutive back ample opportunity to produce in mop up duty.  Ward once again finds himself in a three-back system to Cadillac Williams and Earnest Graham.  Until that mess sorts itself out, I can’t trust any of them.

Chester Taylor profile LenDale White profile
Chester Taylor over LenDale White
Chester Taylor should also get plenty of work in mop up duty.  I expect the Vikings to pound the Browns and Taylor should be active both in catching and running the football.  LenDale’s value soars when he can score and when he’s closing out football game protecting a lead.  I don’t see either scenario taking place as the Titans open with the Steelers.

Wide Receivers

Cincinnati Bengals 2009 Football Headshots Kansas City Chiefs 2009 Football Headshots
Chad Ochocinco over Dwayne Bowe

Ochocinco had a horrible 2008 season as he simply mailed it in.  I think he’ll be looking to get off to a great start in 2009.  He has to share with Chris Henry and Laveranues Coles and didn’t really get a chance to get in rhythm with Carson Palmer, which tempers my expectations, but Bowe faces Baltimore and has pleny of questions as well.  Kansas City has the look of a very bad team.  They’ll have trouble getting first downs, let alone putting points on the board.

Marques Colston profile Houston Texans 2009 Football Headshots
Marques Colston over Andre Johnson
Colston also had a down year in 2008, but that was because of injuries and not a lack of effort.  With the Saints hurting at Running Back, Drew Brees and company will carry the load.  The Detroit Lions hardly stand a chance.  Andre in an unbelievable talent, but Matt Schaub’s health is always a question.  I fully expect the Jets to put the pressure on Schaub, which could lead to an early exit.  Johnson usually has a couple of stinkers every  year.  I’m banking that this will be one of them.

SUPER STRETCH:

Denver Broncos 2009 Football Headshots Clinton Portis profile
Peyton Hillis over Clinton Portis
I don’t think I can be accused of not taking a big risk on this one.  I think Hillis will be active for the Broncos as Josh McDaniels makes his debut against Cincinnati.  Portis starts off with a tough matchup against the Giants on the road.  I think Hillis will score, which will be the difference.

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I’m going to look at the matchups each week and pick five fantasy starters that could be in for a tough week.  Here’s a look at players who could struggle this week.

Quarterback
Matt Schaub
- Schaub opens the season at home against the New York Jets, who look to have much improved defense under Rex Ryan.  The Jets are going to put a lot of pressure on the Texans.  Schaub is dealing with a sprained ankle, and with his injury history, I wouldn’t be surprised if he were knocked out of the game.

Running Backs
Chris Johnson 
- I know it’s tough to bench your #1 pick, but Johnson will have his work cut out for him facing the defending Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers.  The Steelers should be fired up to defend their title at home.  Johnson had a nice game against the Steelers at home last year (16 carries for 69 yards, TD), but playing in Pittsburgh is a different story.

Darren McFadden - Many are expecting Run DMC to make a big step forward in 2009.  While I agree with them, I don’t see it happening this week.  The Chargers’ defense was awful last year.  They want to make a statement to the NFL that they’re back.  The Chargers offense is so high-powered that the Raiders will likely being playing from behind, limiting the opportunities for McFadden to showcase his talents.  Finally, it’s not clear how the Raiders are going to split up their carries.  I’d look elsewhere for my RB2.

Wide Receiver
Dwayne Bowe
- Kansas City is a mess.  Facing Baltimore is no way for Todd Haley to get off to a fast start.  Bowe will get plenty of Raven attention, and with either a injured Cassel or a backup QB under Center, I just don’t like Bowe’s prospects.

Braylon Edwards - Braylon is a guy that I expect to bounce back in 2009, but whoever wins the starting gig is going to be under heavy pressure.  If Edwards still has a problem holding on to the football, it could be a long game for the former Wolverine.


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