In the past I would provide fantasy football advice on a weekly basis about which Detroit Lions to start or sit. We're going to try something a little different this year; I'm going to focus on one matchup in the upcoming Lions game and elaborate on why I think that particular Lions player (or the team's defense) would be your best pick at that respective position. I'll also throw in some wrinkles (i.e. some players to avoid, opposing players to look out for, rankings, etc.)
Lastly, in spirit of our sponsor FanDuel, I am going to post my weekly FanDuel team and, like Floyd Mayweather, I will only brag about the times I win money. You should do the same in the comments, where we can talk fantasy football free from ridicule. Remember, I'm a one-time, one-time, one-time, one-time POD fantasy champion, so obviously I know what I'm talking about. Woo! Speaking of which, I will also try to highlight the POD FFL matchup of the week.
Matchup of the week: WR Calvin Johnson vs. Giants
Once again, Calvin Johnson is an automatic start in your fantasy leagues when healthy. No surprise. But Megatron is lining up for a monster Week 1 against the New York Giants on Monday Night Football.
Johnson struggled against the Giants in Week 16 last year due to a bad knee and, as a result, only caught three of his four targets for 43 yards. Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara blanketed Johnson, forcing Johnson to learn Amukamara's name. Amukamara will aim to do the same this year with the help of Giants newcomer Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and big-mouthed Walter Thurmond "Merman" in the slot. They say they will not double Johnson, but that would be a big mistake.
Amukamara was beat on more than half of the vertical and stretch plays against him last season, "beat" meaning the passing plays resulted in completions or defensive penalties. Rodgers-Cromartie was no better, and Thurmond should just keep his mouth closed -- maybe make a sandwich or something. A healthy Johnson can be stopped by few, if any.
Opponents completed better than 60 percent of their passes against the Giants last season, 21 going for touchdowns. While their rank in fantasy against receivers was a solid eighth, they still gave up their fair share of big games to the better passing teams in the league (i.e. Chicago, Green Bay, San Diego, Denver, Philadelphia).
Given that this is the first game of the season under the bright lights, expect Johnson to grab at least one touchdown and haul in more than five catches for 100 yards. In PPR leagues, that should be enough to lead all Lions.
Sleeper: TE Eric Ebron
I'd be surprised if the rookie tight end had a similar debut to Green Bay Packers rookie tight end Richard Rodgers (0 targets and injured). Ebron's projected to score 4.71 points in the POD Yahoo! fantasy league (26th among tight ends) and double digits by ESPN PPR leagues, which must mean they think he'll score a touchdown. The Giants were the 17th-ranked defense against tight ends last season. For what it's worth, a friend of mine currently has Ebron in his starting lineup over Kyle Rudolph, as Rudolph is going up against last year's best defense against tight ends. I don't know if I would go that far personally, but I'd probably rank him in the top 16 for tight ends in Week 1.
POD FFL matchup of the week:
Tate's Golden Shower (JCruize) vs. Slay's Anatomy (Reno09)
Each team has a 50 percent chance of winning with each projected to score a little over 101 points. Tate's Golden Shower has the slightest advantage in the projections, but has a huge advantage at quarterback -- he will be starting Peyton Manning while Slay's Anatomy may have to start Ben Roethlisberger in lieu of the banged-up Cam Newton. Slay's Anatomy is hoping to jump out to a quick start in 2014 after finishing last in 2013.
QB - Nick Foles, Eagles vs. Jaguars (28th) at $8,500
RB - Chris Johnson, Jets vs. Raiders (29th) at $6,500
RB - Frank Gore, 49ers vs. Cowboys (32nd) at $7,200
WR - Calvin Johnson, Lions vs. Giants (17th) at $9,200
WR - Dez Bryant, Cowboys vs. 49ers (9th) at $8,500
WR - Marqise Lee, Jaguars vs. Eagles (32nd) at $4,800*
TE - Coby Fleener, Colts vs. Broncos (32nd) at $5,400
K - Nate Freese, Lions vs. Giants (24th) at $4,500
D - Texans vs. Redskins (30th) at $4,700
Remaining cap: $0.00
(Opponent positional rank is listed in parentheses.)
*subject to change before deadline
Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a $1,000,000 Fantasy Football Contest for Week 1's NFL games. It's only $25 to join and first place wins $100,000. Starts Sunday, September 7th at 1pm ET. Here's the link.