We here at FFToolbox have already gone all-in with Jay Cutler. We've ranked him in the Top 5 of our QB rankings. Multiple writers on staff have composed articles singing his praise. Ideally, we might prefer to give him a few weeks to get his feet wet. Let a guy stretch his legs out and warm up a bit. Sorry Cutler, we need you right now. In Week 1, the Chicago Bears face the decidedly unimpressive Buffalo Bills and their "in-transition" 4-3 defense. This is a team that probably shouldn't have switched to the in 3-4 in previous years and is now lacking the personnel for the 4-3. Cutler on the other hand is probably held in higher regard today than at any other point in his career. Second-year head coach Marc Trestman can do no wrong and transformed this offense into a juggernaut overnight. The consensus is the Bears' offense could be even better and why not? Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery would be a great haul in the first three rounds of your fantasy draft, let alone a real live NFL team. Start Cutler, even in a 10-team league.
In spite of all of his success, Wilson isn't quite the fantasy champion in the eyes of many fantasy owners today. He is rarely ranked among the Top 10 fantasy QBs for example, despite finishing around 10th in both of his first two seasons. In this first week, Seattle may need him to air it out a little bit more against the ever-potent Green Bay offense. The Packers ranked 24th and 25th against the pass and run last year while allowing nearly 27 points per game (tied for eigth-most). So while the Packers can light it up offensively, they are also vulnerable defensively. Adding to Wilson's favorability in Week 1 is the presence of a shiny new toy named Percy Harvin. The former Florida Gators receiver is definitely the best pass-catcher to play The Evergreen State in a number of years. Green Bay is essentially bringing back the same defense into 2014 with the addition of an aged DE Julius Peppers. Wilson should have few troubles connecting with his receiving corps and possibly running in a score.
Most of the fantasy playing community has turned a cold shoulder toward Frank Gore. The 49ers' all-time leading rusher has seen his average draft position slide toward the end of Round 5 and into Round 6. This is a guy who rushed for at least 1,100 yards in each of the last three seasons. He's the workhorse runner for a run-first and physically-imposing team. Well if there's one good reason to start Gore (and this may be unscientific) but if there's one game he should be healthy, it'd have to be Week 1, right? He's only going to get more beat up as the season wears on. Concerns about his age and durability later in the season are valid. As for the matchup, this is about as juicy as they come. The Dallas Cowboys were remarkably bad defensively and are now without three of their best front-seven players (DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher and Sean Lee). Ware is in Denver, Hatcher is in Washington and Lee is probably sitting on a trainer's table. Gore could run all over these guys in a big way.
San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore
Strike while the iron is hot! That sums up this situation for Bernard Pierce. With Ray Rice suspended for two games, Pierce is scheduled to receive the team's primary ball-carrier benefits. That means carries, broken tackles, receptions, yardage and hopefully a trip to the red zone. A concussion recently limited Pierce for a few days leading up to Sunday's contest; however, the former Temple back has been cleared for contact and will start Week 1 as the Ravens' unquestioned RB starter. Baltimore faces the Cincinnati Bengals to kick off the season. Last season, Cincy had a very stout defense, yet they will be dealing with breaking in new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. Considering how many struggles the Ravens had last year offensively, it's very important they hit the ground running in 2014. That effort will be spearheaded by Pierce.
If you drafted this rookie out of Oregon State, you didn't do it to keep him on the bench. Facing Atlanta's defense in Week 1 should barely qualify as a test. The Falcons allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to QBs last season and were one of six teams to allow 30 or more passing TDs by QBs. Cooks should be trotted out as a starter for one simple reason: he just might be the Saints' best WR right now. Marques Colston has been great throughout his career; however, his knees might generate sparks when he runs and his joints come together. Kenny Stills, while talented in his own right, is more of a deep-threat intended to take the top off a defense. Cooks is a slot machine. He can work anywhere on the field and use his elite route-running and hands to make plays. If Atlanta is foolish enough to put their nickel corner on Cooks, he is going to be a nightmare matchup for them all game long.
Admittedly, the New York Giants have looked out of sync offensively. The running game has shown some flashes while the aerials still need work. The reason though that you want to give Randle a shot is because he essentially no competition for playing time as the Giants' No. 2 WR. Defense are going to smother Victor Cruz every single week, Week 1 included. The Lions allowed the third-most fantasy points to WRs last year. Even with the overhaul of their defensive secondary, Detroit is fighting years of fielding underwhelming fantasy defenses. Randle should have every opportunity to work the middle of the field and challenge for red-zone targets. He should be considered a solid flex play in a week where young guys like him are going to make headlines.
You either snatched up the best backup TE in your draft or Zach Ertz is already your best TE. Ertz is a fan-favorite sleeper choice and for good reason. The praise has been almost deliberate this preseason with positive outlooks mentioning his route-running, hands, size, speed and everything in between. He probably donates his time to soup kitchens, has perfectly coiffed hair and loves his mother very much. For right now, there's no good reason to not like Ertz and the same can be said about his matchup against the Jaguars. Jacksonville allowed nine TE TDs last season, in addition to more than 90 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards as well. Only two defenses can claim such ineptitude against the position (Jacksonville and Arizona). This game has all the makings of a breakout party so you better capitalize on it.