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Fantasy football

Too early to play the match game

By Ed Ryan
Globe Staff / September 9, 2011

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Don’t outsmart yourself in Week 1. Play your top guys and don’t concern yourselves with matchups. It’s too early.

Example: If Joe Flacco is your starting quarterback, he’s facing Pittsburgh Sunday. The Steelers defense is frightening, but if Flacco is your first quarterback drafted and your backup is of the Donovan McNabb/Mark Sanchez ilk, you have to consider giving Flacco a shot in the opener.

I’m facing a similar problem. Miles Austin is one of my top receivers, and he’s practicing again after sitting out with a hamstring issue. That’s good news, but the bad news involves his matchup Sunday night: Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. Am I supposed to sit Austin and go with Jacoby Ford or Bernard Berrian?

If you’re planning on telling me my receiver depth is questionable, thanks in advance.

Here are some weekend matchups you’ll want to live with, and others you’ll regret:

Three up Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets: Cowboys cornerback Terrence Newman has a groin injury and will not play, a development that should allow Holmes and Sanchez to thrive.

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos: Denver is at home, against Oakland (29th in rushing defense last season), and will look to establish a balanced attack with Moreno and quarterback Kyle Orton. If healthy, Moreno will produce legitimate fantasy numbers.

Colt McCoy, QB, Browns: Cleveland’s quarterback situation is no longer a question mark. McCoy is the guy. Without a prime wideout, he is also a guy who was drafted in probably just 50 percent of all fantasy leagues - as a backup. A Week 1 matchup against the pathetic Bengals (they lost starting corner Johnathan Joseph in the offseason and did little to replace him) will vault McCoy onto the fantasy radar.

Three down Joseph Addai, RB, Colts: Peyton Manning is out, Kerry Collins is in, and the Colts are going to at least try to run the ball. Addai owners will want to start him based on that game plan, but Houston’s defense - with Wade Phillips now coordinating it - will be geared up and improved.

Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis: Bradford was a popular middle-to-late-round selection for those who waited to draft a quarterback, and selecting him late was a sound strategy. Week 1 is a difficult matchup for the Rams, though, as they face Philadelphia and its three shutdown cornerbacks.

Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons: Gonzalez is in decline and will be a disappointment to his owners this season, beginning in Week 1 at Soldier Field.

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