Best/worst Week 1 matchups

Matt Ryan has a good matchup Week 1 against a Saints defense that was awful last season. AP Photo/David Goldman

So you survived the grueling seven-month wait for the NFL to return. Now what happens in Week 1 when we lack evidence for which teams and players are the best in 2013? No matter how many projections were run, and Football Outsiders has done many, the fantasy football season can turn in an instant this week.

Ask Tom Brady owners in 2008, when he tore his ACL in the first quarter of the opening game. Not only did that leave Brady owners with a hole at quarterback, but that changed the scoring potential for his receivers (Randy Moss and Wes Welker) and also the running backs. An NFL season is like one gigantic puzzle where each piece goes together. Nothing truly happens in isolation. If a player gets hurt or cut, someone has to fill his spot. It's all connected.

Week 1 is also most dangerous for fool's gold, when an unknown posts a huge game and everyone runs to the waiver wire to claim him, only to be disappointed. Does the name Frisman Jackson ring a bell? A wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns, he exploded in the 2005 season opener with eight catches for 128 yards and a touchdown. In his other 33 games, he had 362 yards combined. That's 26.1 percent of his career production in one game.

That is why you can't overreact to Week 1 results. Trust the guys you drafted to be studs this year and give them a few weeks before cutting bait. Adrian Peterson rushed for 90 yards in only one of his first six games in 2012. He was just warming up for one of the greatest seasons ever by a running back. Patience can be a virtue.

At this point in the season, we really just have our KUBIAK fantasy projections and preseason DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) projections to compare matchups. As the season progresses, DVOA will teach us more about a team's strengths and weaknesses.

However, we did identify players with favorable and unfavorable fantasy matchups for Week 1. While the gut call may be a strong attraction in Week 1, it doesn't hurt to look at some objective data for some start-or-sit help.


Matt Ryan (plus-4 points)

While Ryan may be only 3-6 against the Saints in his career, he has averaged 325 passing yards per game against New Orleans since 2011. That includes three games with over 350 yards, which Ryan has done only five times total in 78 regular-season starts. The 2012 Saints became the first defense in NFL history to allow over 7,000 yards. That includes 4,875 gross passing yards; the fourth-highest total ever. We project this defense to finish 31st this year as new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who has had little success in nine NFL seasons at that position, should be in for a tough debut.