Ranks reax: Big day for Cam Newton? 

September, 4, 2012
9/04/12
5:17
PM ET
You'll see and hear it quite a bit from both fantasy football and NFL analysts this week, and really in September and beyond, how a certain NFL team destroyed its opponents in 2011 running the football, how one team's defense couldn't stop the pass, how strength of schedule means this or that ... You know what? It's a completely new season. Personnel around the league has changed. Game plans have been altered. It's time to form new opinions.

Of course, since it's only the first week of the season, the Week 1 fantasy rankings look quite a bit like the preseason ones we've been ruminating over for months, because nothing has really happened yet. That said, some teams have better or worse matchups than others, not based solely on 2011 stats but on reasonable opinion. For example, the Green Bay Packers offense faces arguably its toughest defensive test of the season against the San Francisco 49ers. Similarly, the 49ers are lucky enough to face the shootout-oriented Packers. Well, I ranked quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his wide receivers a bit harsher than my colleagues, but I'm not sitting them, and Alex Smith still didn't crack my top 10 quarterbacks, nor do I expect a monster day from wide receivers Michael Crabtree or Mario Manningham.

As you can see in the rankings provided by Matthew Berry, Tristan H. Cockcroft, Christopher Harris and I, they're relatively similar. Here and there a player breaks from the group pack, and while I cannot speak for my colleagues, nor do I question their fine work, I will discuss below the reasons why I rank certain players better or worse than the group. Look for this weekly blog entry we call "rankings reaction" each Wednesday, in conjunction with the weekly staff rankings. By the way, our rankings will be updated each Friday; this week, it happens on Thursday, after the Giants and Cowboys meet. Set your lineups now and get Dez Bryant active (and Jason Witten benched).

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