Each week the Noise highlights seven somewhat obscure, unobvious names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. For those playing the Flames home edition, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues to qualify. As an accountability advocate, results, whether genius or moronic, will post the following week using the revamped scoring system shown below. If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, post your Week 1 Flames in the comments.
Matthew Stafford, Det, QB (Noise Week 1 QB Rank: 4, 41-percent started)
Matchup: at TB
Last week, the Noise penned 800 words of hyperbole on why Stafford is not only a certifiable QB1 in 12-teamers, but also in the unchallenging six-team Smith Family fantasy football league (Nice job, Gramps). This week, look for the sleeping Lion to roar loudly in his 2011 debut. Aqib Talib and ageless wonder Ronde Barber are key components in the Buccs' secondary. Despite Barber's 36-year-old body, the unit is above average as a whole. Last year, it surrendered just 6.4 yards per attempt and the third-fewest 20-plus yards pass plays in the league. Still, Calvin Johnson is an untamable beast who would give the '85 Bears' defensive backfield fits. Combine that with Tampa's thin presence up front, and it could be a lights out performance for No. 9. Give Stafford time and he will punish you. Coming off a preseason in which he averaged 12.4 yards per attempt, the signal caller is poised to storm out the gate with guns blazing.
Fearless Forecast: 24-37, 288 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception, 21.4 fantasy points
Beanie Wells, Ari, RB (Noise Week 1 RB Rank: 9, 43-percent)
Matchup: vs. Car
Discussed at length in Monday's "First Down," Wells enters 2011 as Arizona's unquestioned workhorse. Though we've cast the former Buckeye in an unflattering light even before he logged his first NFL carry, we fully expect him to bury his "Weenie" side once and for all. This preseason Wells has ran with newfound assertiveness, picking up sizable yards after contact. Consistency, however, remains key. And don't fret over newly acquired backup Chester Taylor. He's only a long-term insurance policy. Beanie's Week 1 opponent, Carolina, has talent on the defensive line, but much of it rests on the edges. Interiorly, the Panthers are extremely vulnerable, especially after the losing Ron Edwards to a biceps injury early in the preseason. With rookie Sione Fua filling the void, Wells will have no problem eating up yards between the hashmarks. If Kevin Kolb and Larry Fitzgerald should get on the same page quickly, Arizona could build up an insurmountable lead early giving way to Beanie to eat clock late. Long overdue, it's time for "Meanie" to emerge.
Fearless Forecast: 21 carries, 95 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 8 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 17.8 fantasy points
Brandon Jacobs, NYG, RB (Noise Week 1 RB Rank: 15, 18-percent)
Matchup: at Wash
One overlooked takeaway from the preseason: the Football Frankenstein is back and possibly better than ever. The reanimated monster, presumably motivated by money — he could cash in $2 million in incentives with a good year — showcased the devastating power and burst that made him a fantasy star just three years ago. In two exhibition games, he averaged 6.2 yards per carry, plowing over Bears and Jets first-teamers. Unless Mike Shanahan deploys a ravenous sloth of grizzles on defense, it's highly unlikely the 'Skins will be able to contain him. Recall Washington's transition from a base 4-3 to 3-4 didn't go smoothly last year. The 'Skins allowed a whopping 4.6 yards per carry and 157.4 total yards per game to rushers. There's hope for improvement, but Jim Haslett's bunch is still a work in progress. Considering the 'Skins' equally lackluster secondary, it's very likely Jacobs will be presented with numerous goal-line opportunities. Plug him in at the flex.
Julio Jones, Atl, WR (Noise Week 1 WR Rank: 18, 42-percent)
Matchup: at Chi
Usually recommending a rookie wide receiver in his first pro game is akin to running out of a grocery story with a piping-hot rack of ribs stuffed in your pants — not a sage idea. But the IPO on Jones shouldn't be missed. At 6-foot-3, 220-pounds, the wideout is a terrific blend of size, speed and power. His physical advantage over diminutive Bears corner Tim Jennings (5-foot-8, 185-pounds) is immense. Yes, the Chicago Cover 2 only surrendered 10 WR touchdowns in 2010, but you have to like the matchup. The Bears are stingy up front, which could force Matt Ryan, who threw 42 times in one half Week 3 of the preseason, airborne often. Add that to the attention Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez will draw, and Jones has strong odds of double-digit targets. Trust him as a WR2/3 in 12-team and deeper leagues.
Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 84 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 18.9 fantasy points
Braylon Edwards, SF, WR (Noise Week 1 WR Rank: 23, 19-percent)
Matchup: vs. Sea
It's true Banana Hands is the last partner you would want in an egg-toss competition, but for the purpose of this game, he's a dependable option — that is, for this week. "Laughable" best describes Seattle's performance against the pass last year. The 'Hawks secondary gave up 7.2 yards per attempt and the second-most 20-yard pass plays in the league. Corner Marcus Trufant is an above average tackler with fair coverage skills who is respectable. However, his partner, Brandon Browner, a graduate of the CFL, is the antithesis of a sure-thing. The former Stampeder has the size (6-foot-4, 210-pounds) to compete with Braylon, but his cover skills are sketchy. No matter who Edwards draws, Alex Smith is bound to test the tandem downfield. If the recently signed free agent smothers his hands in honey, expect him to strike it rich in his first game as a Gold Panner.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 88 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 18.5 fantasy points
SHOCKER SPECIAL (Player started in 10-percent or less of Y! leagues)
Lance Kendricks, StL, TE (Noise Week 1 TE Rank: 6, three-percent)
Matchup: vs. Phi
Defensive trends aren't often static. Due to the league's year-to-year turnover and general evolution, no two seasons are generally the same. However, in the case of Philadelphia's approach to tight ends one result is constant: loads of fantasy points. Over the past three seasons, the Eagles have ranked in the top-eight in fantasy points allowed to TEs every year. Considering its shortcomings at linebacker and safety, Philly will likely again struggle in this facet of the game — great news for Kendricks. The Rams' preseason leader in receptions (11) has established an instant bond with Sam Bradford. Blessed with superb size, hands and athleticism, the rookie is a matchup nightmare for roaming linebackers over the middle. Due to the presence of Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie and Asante Samuel in the Eagles secondary, Bradford may lean on his gifted tight end to move the chains. If Philly's bashfulness picking up oversized targets carries over, Kendricks will be the hottest post-Week 1 waiver grab at the position. Beat your opponents to the punch.
Fearless Forecast 4 receptions, 46 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13.6 fantasy points
WEEK 1 BONUS FLAMES
Image courtesy of the AP
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