Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Week One Preview: The Cause vs The Bandits

Rich Liberal Trendy Cause (0-0, T-1st) Starting Lineup
Tom Brady, QB
DeAngelo Williams, RB1
"The Law Firm" BenJarvis Green-Ellis, RB2
Hakeem "The Dream" Nicks, WR1
Antonio Brown, WR2
Torrey Smith, Flex WR
Jimmy Graham, TE
Eagles D/ST
Matt Prater, K

Fourth Ward Bandits (0-0, T-1st) Starting Lineup
Eli Manning, QB
LeSean McCoy, RB1
Darren Sproles, RB2
Greg Jennings, WR1
Dwayne Bowe, WR2
Demaryius Thomas, Flex WR
Antonio Gates, TE
Ravens D/ST
Mason Crosby, K

Week One, baby! Right out of the starting gate, the Cause will meet their archrivals, the Fourth Ward Bandits. These two franchises have had many memorable clashes through the years; as this is the only regular season meeting between the two, you can bet that all involved will bring their "A" games to the field!

The first thing that stands out when I compare my squad with the Bandits is the relatively wide gap in running back quality. This is partially due to the places we drafted - I did not have access to the likes of McCoy - and partially due to a difference in draft strategy. By spending my first two draft picks on a quarterback and a tight end, I effectively announced my intention to win those match-ups, week after week. In this case, Antonio Gates and Eli Manning are very, very good, so it will be more difficult than usual to significantly outpace their point totals. However, I believe Graham and Brady are good enough to do just that. Will the gains there make up for the deficit at running back? We shall find out.

As far as lineup considerations are concerned, I am not entirely sold on starting Torrey Smith at my flex spot. Last season, he finished 23rd overall among wide receivers and was a bit of a boom or bust play. I expect that he will do better this year, as his and his quarterback Joe Flacco's deep ball conversion percentages dropped well below their traditional rates last season. If they return to their career averages, Smith should be a mid-tier WR2, rather than a flex. Meanwhile, I have Shonn Greene on my bench. He would probably start at RB2 for me if not for DeAngelo Williams seeing an increased workload in Week One (D-Will's committee partner, Jonathan Stewart, looks to be out or at least limited due to an injury). If D-Will does get the majority of the work, he is a far better option than Greene, but the argument for Greene over Smith is a bit less clear. Rule of thumb for the flex spot is to choose a starting running back over a wide receiver, but Greene, as I may have mentioned, might be terrible at football. At this point, I am leaning towards Smith, but that may change by Sunday. Rest assured, no matter what I choose to do, the opposite choice will be the correct one. Welcome to fantasy football!

At the moment, the ESPN.com projections give an edge to the Cause, 126.0-110.8. If the projections are accurate (a stretch of an "if," but still), the Cause will come out of Week One 1-0, with the highest point total in the league; however, I will settle for a "W" of any kind, high scoring or not. Given the slightly more stringent playoff system in place this year, it will be crucial to start off strong.

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