by Ray Kuhn
Here are 3 players that I think will have a big Week 1 performance:
Matthew Stafford – 350 passing yards, 4 touchdowns: I am expecting Stafford to pick up where he left off last season. In his last 3 games, his worst performance was 373 yards and 3 touchdowns. That is a pretty good worst case scenario. The fact that Stafford opens this season against the Rams and their 7th worse defense as far as points scored last season gives me even some more optimism. Granted the Rams did sign Cortland Finnegan in the offseason and they imported new coach Jeff Fisher, but the starter opposite Finnegan is rookie Janoris Jenkins who is a question mark to say the least.
Stafford will be throwing to the best receiver in the game, Calvin Johnson, and he has 3 other pretty good targets in Titus Young, Nate Buerleson, and Brandon Pettigrew. The Lions defense is not the greatest so they will be giving up some yards as well which will open the game up for Stafford as well. With all of Stafford’s weapons along with the lackluster defense of the Rams, Chris Long is the only other notable player, I can see Stafford having a top day.
Michael Vick – 300 passing yards, 60 rushing yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 1 rushing touchdown: Overall I see big things for Vick this season. Vick, along with the Eagles as a team, finished last season on a high note and they are looking to carry that momentum forward into this season. In his last 3 games last season, Vick passed for 274, 293, and 335 yards respectively. Vick appears to be healthy this season, and is not even listed on the Eagles injury report this season.
I expect Vick to rebound this season as far as rushing touchdowns, but I think he will have more value as a passer that can rush this season then the other way around. Desean Jackson got his money and appears to be happy and at the moment Jeremy Maclin is healthy giving Vick 2 top notch targets. He also had a full offeason as the starter to devour the playbook and gain comfort and chemistry with the offensive system and his teammates as a leader. Vick spent the offseason training possibly harder than he ever did, and I think it will have a positive translation into this week’s performance, aided by the fact that he is facing the Browns.
Stevan Ridley – 120 yards, 2 touchdowns: Ridley clearly won the starting running back job this summer, and between his strong performance and Shane Vereen’s continuing health issues, there does not appear to be many obstacles in Ridley’s way. He brings the power aspect that allowed BenJarvis Green-Ellis to be a touchdown machine for the Patriots, but he also has an explosiveness that the Law Firm was lacking. Last season Ridley averaged 5.1 yards per carry and came on strong the last 3 weeks. This is the first time in a while that the Patriots appear to have a clear number one back, and with the Titans obviously needing to pay close attention to Tom Brady and his stable of weapons, there could be ample opportunity there for Ridley. Also, last season the Titans gave up the 7th most fantasy points to running backs so that is something else that Ridley has in his favor. With owners potentially short a running back this week due to the uncertainty in Pittsburgh, and the injury/hold out situations with Adrian Peterson, Ryan Matthews, and Maurice Jones-Drew, Ridley could be a running back to start.
What do you think about these predictions? Are they too optimistic?