XN Sports League of Champions Week 1 Preview

Broncos QB Peyton Manning


Broncos QB Peyton Manning
Sep 5 2013 Denver CO USA Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning 18 at the line of scrimmage in the third quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Ron Chenoy USA TODAY Sports

As we brought you earlier this week, 12 XN Sports writers joined together to form the inaugural League of Champions. Our resident experts will use this league throughout the season as a basis for helping you with your leagues. While it’s great to read about hypotheticals from fantasy football experts, and we will continue to do that, we’re bringing you a different angle. We’ll show you what is actually put into application.

So to get things started for Week 1 of the 2013 season, some of our writers preview their fantasy matchup. Just click on the matchup heading to view the teams each owner will be fielding today.

BLURRED GOAL LINES (Tony Consiglio) vs. COCONUT PETE (Tom Fitzgerald)

Tony Consiglio: I have the luxury of already being behind by 37 points before any of my players even take the field. That’s okay. That gives island boy a false sense of security that he has a big lead. But I think a few of my players are in line for big days, especially my quarterbacks. Colin Kaepernick will play against Green Bay in a game that could turn in to a shootout. Matthew Stafford plays Minnesota and he had somewhere in the neighborhood of 12,000,000 pass attempts last year, so he’ll rack up the yards. Otherwise, I have quite a few upside plays in my lineup. Antonio Brown leads the Pittsburgh receiving corps, Steve Johnson could pick up the garbage time points against New England, and Giovani Bernard can prove that he should be the #1 option in Cincinnati. Mr. Frampton has a solid team, but he’ll need a strong pina colada once this week is over.

Tom Fitzgerald: I’m happy with my lead going into Sunday’s games. Ray Rice and Denver really helped me on Thursday and I’m feeling good with Big Ben and RGIII still yet to play. Yahoo! has Coconut Pete projected to win by three points … and I couldn’t agree more. We always drink the worm.

MAKE IT WAYNE (Igor Derysh) vs. THE WINTER CLASSICS (Chris Blanchard)

Igor Derysh: Yahoo projects me as a 58% favorite against The Winter Classics this week but with my luck Chris will replace his entire lineup at the last second with Julius Thomas-level sleepers. I feel pretty good after my third-rounder Demariyus Thomas put up a 30.5 FPS performance on Thursday (vs. 14.3 Proj) even though it was against my Baltimore Ravens defense (3 FPS).

My Tom Brady and Eli Manning duo is comparably matched with his Aaron Rodgers and Andy Dalton but his guys are going against the 49ers and Bears defenses. My Mike Wallace, Mike Williams, Michael Floyd (can we just call him Mike?) combo pales to his Danny Amendola, Steve Smith, Dwayne Bowe, and Tavon Austin but Demariyus leveled the playing field and then some. I’m fairly comfortable with my Adrian Peterson and DeAngelo Williams (though it’s against the Hawks, but I don’t have any other RB options, see my draft breakdown and follow my silent desperation all season) to his Maurice Jones-Drew and Stevan Ridley. Rudolph and Daniels are comparable and, as second-tier TEs, always a toss up.

I expect big weeks from Brady, Eli, and Adrian Peterson and I’ll leave the rest to the fantasy football gods.

Chris Blanchard: I’m gonna learn a lot about my team in my Week 1 matchup against Igor Derysh’s Make It Wayne. Maurice Jones-Drew is set up for success against the Kansas City defense. If he doesn’t look like his old self in this one, I’ll head into panic mode. Dwayne Bowe will finally have a decent quarterback looking his way, which should translate into big production. However, a lack of complementary receiving weapons in KC might keep his ceiling down. Tavon Austin’s NFL debut will also be fun to watch. I’m worried about Steve Smith this weekend against Seattle’s tough secondary, but I expect Danny Amendola and Stevan Ridley to explode against Buffalo. Unfortunately, Tom Brady is bound to rack up points against me this weekend, and I’m already in a hole after Demariyus Thomas’ big Thursday night in Denver. DeAngelo Williams looks like a weak link for Make It Wayne right now. He racked up negative yardage as one of my players on opening day last season, so I expect him to break Igor’s heart on Sunday.


Felipe Melecio: One look at C.D. Carter’s Twitter account and you have to wonder to yourself: how much time does this guy dedicate to his hair on a daily basis? I mean look at it! A hurricane is able to uproot trees with ease, but it wouldn’t be able to mess up this guy’s hair. Luckily, I’m not playing against his hair, otherwise my odds against him would be slim and none. As of right now, I’m projected to win, 130.4-119.4.

The quarterbacks are probably guys he did not want in Jay Cutler and Brandon Weeden, but they’re not that bad. Not that good either, but not that bad. Limited ceiling, but solid, low floor. I respect his trio of wide receivers in Vincent Jackson, Pierre Garcon, and Cecil Shorts, but there’s no way they’re better than my (alkaline) trio of pass-catchers.

Tight end Jermichael Finley knows how to get open, but what’s the point of possessing that skill if all he’s going to do is cough up the ball or drop the pass? Advantage, me!

If there’s one position I’m concerned with, it’s his running backs. Doug Martin and Alfred Morris are tough guys to take down and Chris Johnson is definitely NASCAR fast. All three of those guys I mentioned play with quarterbacks that will highly depend on their backfield buddies to help carry the offensive load this season so I am very wary that all three might have huge games this weekend.

But how delicious is this? He needs a big game from Chris Johnson and he’ll try to do so against a gritty Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense that Mr. Carter just so happens to own as well. Really, dude? You’re going to cripple yourself like that for the opening week of the NFL? He better go back to studying the fundamental principles of his book, because he’s going to need them after my team annihilates him this week.

STUDFELDSVILE (Salvatore Stefanile) vs. MY BUDDY AND ME (Dave Major)

Salvatore Stefanile: Looking at Dave’s team, it’s obvious his advantage lies with his QB1 and wide receiver group. While I was loading up on RBs, he was taking all the WRs, and Jimmy Graham, and his lack of RB depth, compared to my lack of WR depth, should even things out the rest of the way. It’s going to be a close one, and if Geno Smith doesn’t give up more than one intentional safety, the Peyton Manning versus Russell Wilson match-up could be the deciding factor.

Dave Major: An opening night lead of 53 points won’t hurt my chances against Sal this week. Peyton Manning and Matt Prater let loose last night, but — alright — it was mostly Manning. We’re gonna need it, too, to make up for Geno Smith. Sal’s Studfeldsville squad brings two decent quarterbacks to the table (Russell Wilson and Alex Smith), but I doubt, even combined, that they could hold a candle to Manning’s record performance. I really got lucky here.At running back, CJ Spiller and Matt Forte should take the edge over my Daryl Richardson and Lamar Miller. Sal’s backs are projected to outscore mine 29.6 to 23.08, but I only expect that margin to grow.

I own Sal at receiver and tight end, starting AJ Green, Roddy White, T.Y. Hilton and Jimmy Graham. This will be the straws that break Sal’s back (and most opponents’ backs). No way can Jordy Nelson, Kenbrell Thompkins, Andre Roberts, and Jordan Cameron stand a chance at holding their own.

The defenses could be a coin-flip. But in the end, Sal’s only shot is probably for both of his running backs to have monster days. If even one of them is ordinary this Sunday, the match is over. But, stranger things have happened. And that’s why they play the game.
Bryan Knowles: How happy am I I’m not going against someone with Manning this week?

This one’s going to be close, and I tend to agree with Yahoo! when they call it a 50-50 draw. For my quarterback situation, I’m going with Freeman and Locker; with Manuel still recovering from the knee injury, I’m going to give him a week or two before thrusting him into my starting lineup.  Everything else I have is fairly chalk. I’m hoping the trifecta of Johnson/Jones/Wayne, plus Lynch against Carolina, propels me to victory.

I’m interested to see how 4th and Goal messes with his flex positions — he’s worse than I am at every position except quarterback, I think. However, Brees and Luck might be enough to blow me out of the water.

Did I mention how glad I am to not be going against Manning?


Yahoo! Projections: Fantasy Foundation 135.77, Keepin Heads Ringin 109.30

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Tony Consiglio
Tony Consiglio is a lifelong baseball fan and has worked for television and radio stations throughout New England. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');