Robert Griffin III
Let's assume Griffin is back to 100 percent and has no more issues with his knee. If he could move outside of the pocket with no problems, the terrorizing pressure from J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney would be lessened. Unfortunately, Griffin hasn't played in the preseason as though he is 100 percent. There have been reports circulating that backup QB Kirk Cousins has actually performed better in practices and in games. Considering the Redskins' offensive line is more adept at run-blocking than pass-blocking, this could be a very long game for the former Baylor Bears QB. Houston's defense wasn't that bad last year (ranked third against the pass, 23rd against the run). Griffin has to hope the running game, led by RB Alfred Morris, gets going in order to open up the offense.
The masses doubting Newton doesn't seem to affect his quality of play. He's proven time and time again that he can be a one-man wrecking crew in an offense that relies on him entirely to move the chains and put points on the board. Week 1 will be an extremely difficult week for Newton due to his injuries. He is battling recent injuries to his ribs, ankle and even a back contusion. Going up against Tampa Bay's defense is a tough test as well. The Bucs are very young, fast and could enjoy a boost because of the addition of head coach Lovie Smith. A lot of zone coverage could neutralize Newton's rushing attempts. Even if this were a more favorable situation, Carolina's offense is already limited thanks to the ineffective contributions from DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. If Tampa Bay's DST is truly a sleeper as many believe them to be, Newton will have his work cut out for him to start the 2014 season.
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton
If there's one thing the Jets can still do, it would be stopping the run. They actually do it quite well in fact. They ranked third against the run and gave up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to running backs last year. Thinking about where Jones-Drew is drafted this year, not many fantasy owners really believe in him. This matchup only makes things that much worse. In three preseason games, MJD did have a 40-yard TD run which inflated his rushing totals (11 carries for 67 yards and a score). The question remains on how much Oakland will have to call his number, especially considering rookie QB Derek Carr has been tasked to lead this group. Jones-Drew's durability concerns paired with the Raiders' ineptitude against the Jets' formidable run defense is an easy equation that should lead you to passing on the former UCLA back.
Unless Moreno is officially named the starter in any given week, fantasy owners should gravitate toward Lamar Miller. Moreno, on the other hand, has seemingly re-established the formula that negatively impacted his career in Denver: nagging injury + ineffective play = his career. Miller has been penciled in as the starter, which leaves Moreno as the change-of-pace or passing-down option. The former UGA back will likely still earn a healthy amount of playing time thanks to his receiving skills and pass-protection toughness. Unfortunately, as most fantasy owners should already know, he just isn't in the right situation to make him worth more than a bench spot until he proves otherwise. Miller is the young upstart and should be given every chance to make it work at Moreno's expense.
Sure, Hawkins is the technical No. 1 WR in Cleveland's offense. Such a title typically guarantees certain exposure and accomplishment: snaps, targets, receptions, production, fame and fortune. Well, not so fast, my friend. We need to see what the Browns are made of and whether or not they'll play right into the hands of their depth chart. It's entirely possible Miles Austin earns the most targets here. Both WRs are already competing with TE Jordan Cameron to get their hands on the ball. This leaves very little opportunity for Hawkins, a still relatively unproven receiver who shouldn't be in anybody's starting lineup. Rather than assume Hawkins jumps right in and posts a great game to start the season, perhaps consider a more established veteran or high-upside choice in the later rounds. It's better than to suffer through excruciating "When will it click for him?" moments.
It's tough enough being a rookie, but it only makes matters that much worse when playing in a bad offense led by an even worse quarterback. If Watkins was on almost any other team, he'd have a puncher's chance. There's no denying his explosion and determination after the catch. The problem simply boils down to QB E.J. Manuel. The pair should be able to connect on the occasional screen or drag route, which would allow the former Clemson receiver to maximize his YAC potential. Unfortunately, Manuel is just a bad QB and likely on his way out of the league sooner rather than later. Watkins just isn't a favorable fantasy starter until the Bills show a willingness to cut the cord and find a new solution under center. Until then, pass on Watkins, Week 1 included.
Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins
A first-week matchup against the New England Patriots is a trial by fire for Clay's 2014 season. In his two games against the Pats last year, Clay totaled only six receptions for 43 yards and no TDs. That's two points per game in standard scoring leagues. Clay does have all the potential in the world, as evidenced by his borderline top-10 stats in 2013. However, in the short term, the Patriots look improved defensively, and this should limit your interest in taking a chance on many of Miami's playmakers. Clay, now in his fourth season, is a legit red zone threat though and will certainly have Ryan Tannehill's attention around the goal line. Let's also not forget that Clay has the wheels to occasionally get behind a defense. He brings an interesting wrinkle to Miami's offense, although it should just be avoided in Week 1.