The Free Press, Mankato, MN

September 3, 2012

Fantasy Football Notebook: Don't get cute, start your starters

By Jim Rueda
The Free Press

— So it’s just about go-time for the NFL season and fantasy football players across the country.

This won’t be an article about how to set your lineup for Week 1. You should know who your top players are at each position and those are they guys you should start.

Week 1 is not the time to pluck some sleeper receiver from your roster and put him in your lineup just to prove to all your buddies that he was the steal of the draft. Play your studs, plain and simple.

Instead of a how-to-set-your-lineup seminar this notebook is going to alert you to some players who probably didn’t get drafted in your fantasy league but you should follow on your waiver wire. They may not shine right out of the gate, but they have very large upside and you shouldn’t lose track of them.

Here we go: Two quarterbacks to monitor are Terrelle Pryor of Oakland and Nick Foles of Philadelphia. Pryor is the understudy to Carson Palmer who had a dreadful preseason and could be on a short leash for the Raiders. Foles is Michael Vick’s back-up who had a great preseason and should do well when Vick succumbs to his inevitable injury.

Among the wideouts to follow are Ryan Broyles of Detroit, Brandon LaFell of Carolina, Marvin Jones of Cincinnati, Keshawn Martin of Texas, Tandon Doss of Baltimore and Cole Beasley of Dallas.

Broyles could easily emerge as the Lions’ No. 2 wide receiver this year ahead of Titus Young. Young is good but Broyles has the potential to be better.

LaFell is a stud entering his third year out of LSU. Steve Smith isn’t getting any younger and will draw most of the attention from opposing defensive secondaries. The stage is set for LaFell to break out.

Cincinnati’s Jones is waiting for starter Brandon Tate to prove he’s not the guy for the job. When that happens, Jones will swoop in after averaging 16.7 yards per catch during the preseason.

Houston’s Martin is the complement to Andre Johnson the team has been seeking for a number of years. Forget Kevin Walter and don’t expect aging tight end Owen Daniels to continue to shine. Martin is the future for the Texans and the future could be very soon.

In Baltimore, Anquan Boldin is showing his age. Doss is the guy who will likely step in and take over the No. 2 wide receiver spot after No. 1 Torrey Smith.

Beasley of Dallas is an undrafted rookie who opened some eyes this preseason. With Austin Miles always getting hurt and Dez Bryant always self-destructing, Beasley’s time could be now rather than later.

There are three running backs to watch and two of them are named Rainey. Rookie Chris Rainey is in Pittsburgh and may be the guy the Steelers go to when Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer fizzle. He even returns punts and can line up as a receiver.

Bobby Rainey is in Baltimore and is already pushing second-string running back Bernard Pierce hard for the primary backup spot to Ray Rice. If Rice goes down, Rainey could be golden.

Travaris Cadet of New Orleans had a great preseason but then got banged up. He’s an undrafted rookie out of Appalachian State who can run and catch the ball in the mode of Darren Sproles. There’s a lot of traffic in the Saints’ backfield right now but Cadet just might emerge in the second half of the season.

Two tight ends to think about are Tony Moeaki of Kansas City and Garrett Graham of Houston. Moeaki is 6-foot-3, 250 pounds and put up decent numbers last year. Don’t be surprised if he breaks out this season.

Graham is the second tight end behind the previously mentioned Daniels who seems to get hurt every year. Quarterback Matt Schaub seemed to have good rapport with Graham in the preseason, so watch him.

One kicker to watch is Justin Tucker of Baltimore. He beat out Billy Cundiff and has a big leg. If he goes off in Week 1, seriously think about picking him up.

Jim Rueda is the Free Press sports editor. To contact him, call 344-6381 or e-mail him at