Congratulations... you did it! You managed to survive the offseason, and are now on the verge of enjoying your long awaited embrace with the unparalleled experience that is the NFL regular season. You have diligently prepared your rosters, by primarily focusing upon your RBs, WRs, TEs, and of course your starting signal caller. The amount of planning that you dedicated to securing your defense was not as extensive, and understandably so. For those of you who secured the defensive units of Seattle or San Francisco, you have the option of leaving them locked into your starting lineup until their bye weeks. And the same principle applies for the Bears, Bengals, Broncos, and Texans, since that collection of capable units is nearly as sturdy. However, any owners who would prefer to deploy a defense based upon an exceptional Week 1 matchup, will have several enticing options. This should apply if your defense was chosen out of necessity near the conclusion of your drafts, and you are not enthralled with the idea of utilizing them this week. It also pertains to owners of the normally respectable Raven defense, as their upcoming battle with Peyton Manning and his dangerous array of aerial weaponry should encourage you to search for a temporary alternative. With that, here are appealing alternatives in Week 1, among teams that most likely are residing on your waiver wires.
Colts vs. Raiders
Indy ranked 21st in total defense last season, and you won’t rely upon the Colts with any regularity this season. But their opening day matchup is extremely tantalizing, since they will be performing at home against what should be a moribund Oakland offense. The Raiders offensive line was already plagued by glaring deficiencies at three spots, even before talented LT Jared Veldheer was sidelined due to triceps surgery. Now, rookie Menelik Watson will start at LT, even though his only previous experience at the position occurred during the team’s preseason finale. Terrelle Pryor is expected to make his second career start at QB ahead of severely limited Matt Flynn, but will have too many inadequacies within his own unit to overcome. His line will struggle in their attempts to establish the run, which will enable the Colts to stifle Darren McFadden. The ineffective ground game will force Oakland to throw, as will the likelihood that they will be trailing throughout the contest. But Reggie McKenzie has chosen not to bolster his offense with a proven possession WR, or a reliable veteran presence at TE, leaving Pryor with an undeniable dearth of targets. All of which will result in a massive mismatch, and a huge day for owners who spot start the Colts.
Other Favorable Matchups
Buccaneers at Jets
No rush defense could replicate the stinginess that Tampa Bay delivered in 2012, as the Bucs only permitted 82.5 YPG. But their league leading efforts in stifling opponents on the ground, were offset by the NFL's worst pass defense that allowed nearly 300 YPG (297). But Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson were summoned during the offseason to fortify the Bucs’ overly charitable secondary, which will be presented with an immediate opportunity to excel this week against Revis’ former team. Arguably, no offense could supply a more appealing matchup for this renovated unit than Gang Green. In part because Geno Smith will be thrust swiftly into the fire, in the aftermath of Mark Sanchez’ well-documented shoulder issue. It is very plausible that the Bucs will neutralize New York’s rushing attack, which will force the Jets to rely upon Smith. That will supply him with an enormous degree of pressure in his NFL debut, which will be compounded by the fact that he is devoid of dependable playmakers. Even if Santonio Holmes does perform, it is doubtful that the Jets will move the ball with any consistency, making the Bucs a highly favorable option.
Chiefs at Jaguars
It is not recommended that you utilize Kansas City’s defensive unit very often this season, but they might enhance your chances of winning your overall matchup this week. Even though the Chiefs ranked just 20th in total defense during the 2012 regular season, they have unquestionable talent, with Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Eric Berry, and Brandon Flowers being the most capable difference makers on this unit. While they will be performing on the road, they do have an opportunity to garner fantasy points against a Jacksonville offense that is attempting to improve upon last year’s anemic performance. The Jaguars ranked just 29th in total offense, and averaged under 16 points per game. Their attack will be more formidable, simply through the injection of Maurice Jones-Drew into their lineup. Plus, Cecil Shorts is a fluid, and intelligent route runner, who achieves success by blending those attributes with pure speed. Yet, both MJD and Shorts will need to overcome the shortcomings of former first-round draft pick Blaine Gabbert, who has managed just 21 TDs with 17 INTs in 24 career starts as the Jaguars’ signal caller. While KC does not present as strong of an option as the two teams that were previously mentioned, they do provide a viable alternative if you require a unit from your waiver wire.