You'll see the weekly rankings from Matthew Berry, Christopher Harris, Erik Kuselias and myself each Wednesday, and I'll react accordingly, looking for players or units that don't jibe with the rankings of the other three, or at least go against conventional wisdom. And in the case of the Ravens' passing game, it's all about that Darrelle Revis fellow and his Jets teammates. Maybe you've heard, that's a good defense!
Yes, I'm conservative when it comes to fantasy rankings and most other things in the sport, and many of my Week 1 rankings are based on how I feel about players overall for the season. As games are played, things will change, and fast. I have made some adjustments for this week, of course, and for the most part, those changes are based on matchups. As in, Flacco and Boldin have a very tough one.
While I didn't have Flacco among my top 10 quarterbacks in the first place, it still might seem odd to rank him 17th for Week 1, after such players as Matthew Stafford, Carson Palmer and Derek Anderson. It's about the matchups, silly, that's all. This isn't an indictment of Flacco's ability. He's going to keep getting better, and Boldin and his new pals Derrick Mason, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and stud runner Ray Rice certainly will help.
However, the evidence against using top-shelf wide receivers when they face Revis is startling and quite irrefutable. Even top wide receivers just do not produce against him. There have been times other wide receivers on the same team have had success, and running backs aren't must-sits against the Jets, but Boldin and Flacco owners should look at the matchups and seek other options. For instance, Stafford has a fortuitous matchup at Chicago. Anderson against the Rams looks mighty attractive. Palmer should produce double-digit fantasy points in New England. I don't see Flacco reaching double digits this week, and Boldin should have a quiet day.
There's the age-old fantasy argument that the first quarterback you draft -- your starter -- shouldn't be benched no matter what, especially early in the season. With the top eight or nine quarterbacks in my season rankings, that would be the case. I wouldn't sit Matt Schaub, Tony Romo or Brett Favre if they were opening the season at the Jets. But I don't view Flacco as that safe yet. Maybe last season's No. 18 fantasy quarterback will emerge -- I suspect he will be a borderline top-10 guy soon -- but I don't unilaterally use him in all matchups yet. Same with Kevin Kolb, Jay Cutler or Stafford. Show us consistency first for the tougher matchups.
The consensus rank on Flacco from the four rankers had him 14th at quarterback, so clearly I was not alone. Boldin missed my top-20 wide receivers, though barely. Berry took a bolder stance on the new Raven, ranking him 37th. Hey, good for Matthew. His rank could easily prove prophetic.
Here are a few other players whose rank might look a bit awkward, and my explanation as to why I ranked them that way:
Brett Favre, QB, Minnesota Vikings: He's my No. 5 quarterback, so clearly I have no reservations about him for the Thursday night tilt at New Orleans. This isn't Favre's first rodeo, ya know. I don't worry about his ankle or lack of preseason repetitions or really anything regarding him. The Saints had a strong fantasy defense last season, but they still gave up plenty of points. I like Percy Harvin more than Bernard Berrian at wide receiver, and I view Harvin as a fantasy starter, a WR2. Let's just say points will be scored Thursday night (and please get your lineups in early!).
Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers: Certainly I'm skeptical about rookies, but with a matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, I had to make this rookie a top-10 option. ESPN Fantasy projects Mathews to rush for 97 yards and score a touchdown, and I agree it should be a nice Monday for the kid. I ranked fellow rookie running backs Jahvid Best and C.J. Spiller as flex options as opposed to starters.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs: Apparently I believe the final game of the week will feature quite a few points as well. So much of the offseason focus on the Chargers has been about Vincent Jackson -- do not start him, by the way, for ohhhhh the next few months! -- but the defense can be pilfered. I liked Matt Cassel a year ago, and while I think he'll make plenty of mistakes that he didn't in New England, I do think Bowe will have a big season. Enjoy him as a starter this week.