Ravens at Falcons
To me, the biggest game of this week will be finished before the weekend even starts. With two division leaders meeting in primetime, the Thursday night opener of the season is set to be a very entertaining game. The Falcons are trying to make a claim for being considered among the best teams in the NFC. In order to convince anyone, the Falcons must beat the best teams on their schedule and with the boost that Ed Reed has brought to the Ravens D, they have a tough challenge ahead of them. The biggest weakness of this Falcons team is their lack of depth in the passing game. Roddy White is banged up going into this game and since he gets the lion’s share of the targets from Matt Ryan, I expect Ed Reed to be part of the double team that follows him all night and limit him to a modest game. While White has been consistent as the NFL’s #2 receiver and earned the spot in your lineup for any game that he is active in, there is no significant talent at WR after White. Matt Ryan is still serviceable in his backup role on your team and obviously the running backs in this game (Rice and Turner) are must starts. As for Flacco and Boldin, the Falcons are the NFL’s 26th ranked pass defense, so I feel they should be started in this game. Boldin will be frustrating and have ups and downs throughout the year, but as long as he is being targeted he will have potential for a big game like I expect to see tonight. I think that the Falcons are going to lose Matt Ryan’s 2nd home game since taking over as the Falcons QB due to too many big plays by the Ravens and their inability to spread the field with 3 and 4 WR sets.
Patriots at Steelers
The Patriots (and their fans) are embarrassed after their week 9 loss to the Colt McCoy led Cleveland Browns. They will be looking to re-assert themselves as an elite team, despite their offensive struggles since the departure of Randy Moss. The Pats have not been as dynamic of an offense since Moss was traded and this is largely because no one has been able to step in and fill the role of deep-threat for Brady. Troy Polamalu and the Steelers are considered by many to be one of the best teams in the league and should prove them right in a tough home win on Sunday night. Sit down your Patriots that are not named Tom Brady this week as no one has been able to produce with any consistency lately and this is not a good match up (to say the least). If you are desperate and HAVE to use someone in your flex this week, Danny Woodhead is the guy I would lean towards. His versatility will give the Pats some chances to get him the ball in space and he may even see an increased workload this week. If you have any Steelers, make sure to find a spot for them as the Patriot defense is young, inexperienced and has been allowing big games from opponents each week.
Seahawks at Cardinals
I know what you’re thinking… Both teams are pretty bad, but that doesn’t mean that one of them won’t win the division. The NFC West is a mess this year and with two teams tied for the lead in the division at 4-4 (Rams and Seahawks) and the Cardinals just one game behind, this playoff spot is up for grabs. Every game played between teams in this division has serious implications on the NFC playoff picture… no matter how mediocre we can expect them to play. With each team having a good match up for fantasy purposes make sure you’ve got all your normal starters in there. Beanie Wells has yet to have a breakout performance this season and with the Seahawks having the NFLs 19th ranked run defense, we just may see that this week, so feel free to start him in your flex or as a RB 2 because of bye weeks. Larry Fitzgerald is hoping to continue his return to fantasy relevance after a 2nd consecutive good performance with a 3rd against a Seahawks secondary allowing 270 yards per game. Marshawn Lynch has struggled in his new home since the trade from Buffalo. He is worth the risk as a start this week if you need him however, since the Cardinals allow an average of 135 rushing yards per game, but if he can’t get it done this week I will not allow him into my top 20 again until he earns it. Mike Williams owners should wait until him and Hasselbeck have a week to get back in rhythm if you’re able to, but he isn’t a terrible flex choice this week. I like the Seahawks to win this one, largely because of the mediocre play of Derek Anderson.