[dropcap]E[/dropcap]veryone likes to compare different players as the week’s games approach. We all face the question of who to start over whom. We want the match-ups that give us the highest possible success rate. Sometimes the answer is easy to come by, sometimes it isn’t. This article will try to make those answers clearer in an attempt to help you win your weekly fantasy match-ups.
Since running backs will be featured in this week’s comparisons, Fantasy Points Allowed against Running Backs (FPARB) and Fantasy Points Allowed against Quarterbacks (FPAQB) will be taken into consideration. While no defense is the exact same any given season, it is still advantageous to take into consideration a defense’s recent history.
Shane Vereen at Buffalo
I am personally living or dying with Vereen this year. What’s not to like about the guy? He can do everything. The Patriots were fourth and second in the NFL in passing and rushing attempts in 2012. New England is the perfect place for Vereen to showcase his skills. While he is technically a back-up to Stevan Ridley, he could easily be their featured running back.
Vereen will see a lot of touches this season in the Patriots’ fast-paced, dynamic offense. While the Patriots do open on the road, it is against a porous Bills’ defense that was ninth in FPAQB and fifth in FPARB last season. I’m starting Vereen as a low-end RB1 to high-end RB2 against Buffalo this week.
Ahmad Bradshaw vs. Oakland
The Raiders’ defense is about as intimidating as a baby chipmunk. Wait, that’s giving them too much credit. The point is anyone can have success against Oakland’s close to invisible bulwark. The Raiders were only better than the Titans, Panthers, and Saints in FPARB in PPR leagues during their dismal 2012 campaign.
Ahmad Bradshaw has struggled with injuries throughout his career, but may have found new life in Indianapolis after signing with the Colts this off-season. One reason I like Bradshaw in Week 1 is because I envision the Colts doing a lot of running the clock out. Vick Ballard will certainly take some opportunities away, but Bradshaw is the starter and will get the majority of the workload out of the backfield. Additionally, despite a decrease in receptions each of the past three seasons, Ahmad Bradshaw is still a threat in the passing game. At the very least Bradshaw is a solid flex option on Sunday.
Darren McFadden at Indianapolis
Darren McFadden is probably in the Top 5 of running backs I most distrust. McFadden has elite talent, but he’s been extremely inconsistent and unreliable. However, this is still a fairly attractive match-up. An encouraging nugget for McFadden owners is that the Colts were 13th in FPARB in PPR leagues last year. While I expect the Raiders to fall behind and pass a lot (which would benefit McFadden), I only consider him a low-end RB2 on the road against the Colts.
Darren Sproles vs. Atlanta
By now we all know that Darren Sproles is a PPR maniac. The 5’6” 190 lb. Sproles has led all running backs in receptions since joining the Saints and reuniting with Drew Brees in 2011. That year he caught 86 passes on 111 targets while adding seven touchdowns through the air. Last year Sproles totaled 75 catches on 104 targets while once again scoring seven times in the passing game.
Darren Sproles can catch and run against any defense, but what helps him even more in Week 1 is that he faces an Atlanta Falcons’ defense that was ninth in the league in PPR FPARB in 2012. Consider Darren Sproles a low-end RB1 to high end RB2 this week.
Who to start:
- Vereen @ Buffalo
- Sproles vs. Atlanta
- McFadden @ Indianapolis
- Bradshaw vs. Oakland
Sproles and Vereen are basically 1A and 1B for me this week. If I had to choose between the two, I’d start Shane Vereen. I know this probably doesn’t sit well with the general consensus, but that’s the way I see it. I have Darren McFadden ahead of Ahmad Bradshaw mainly because of the PPR factor, but also because we don’t know how long Bradshaw will play since he’s recovering from a foot injury. I expect the Raiders to be playing catch-up with Run DMC featured in the passing game.