Each week the Noise highlights 12-13 somewhat obscure, unobvious names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. As an accountability advocate, results, whether genius or moronic, will post the following week using the scoring system shown below. If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, post your Week 1 Flames in the comments section below.
Matchup: at NO
In exhibition play, the anti-Akili Smith gave viewers a preview of greatness to come. With the exception of one rough series in Chicago, he displayed exceptional command, precision and pocket poise over three preseason games, finishing 20-for-31 (64.5 completion percentage) for 193 yards, two touchdowns and zero picks. Many would say counting on a rookie in his first professional start is akin to trusting Clint Eastwood to make a coherent speech on an enormous political stage, but RG3 is up to the task. The Saints, already a suspect unit pre-bounty fallout, are a very exploitable defense. Defensive end Will Smith and linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who were handed down multi-week vacations for their part in the scandal, won't be in attendance. Starting linebackers Curtis Lofton (ankle) and David Hawthorne (meniscus surgery) could also miss action. 'Nawlins, the 10th-most generous unit to QBs a season ago, will undoubtedly be one of the league's most matchup-friendly teams, especially early on. Add that to Drew Brees' indestructibility at home (328 ypg, 29:6 TD:INT in eight homes games last year), and it's likely a point-scoring bonanza occurs. A Cam Newton-esque debut is certainly within the realm of possibility. Eat fresh, gamers.
Fearless Forecast: 26-40, 284 passing yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, 29 rushing yards, 28.1 fantasy points
Rashad Jennings, Jax, RB (31-percent started)
Matchup: at Min
Maurice Jones-Drew, doing his best Chris Johnson impersonation, ended his holdout at the eleventh hour, reporting to Jags camp Sunday. What a party-crasher. Jennings, who looked every bit a three-down workhorse running with the first-team in preseason play, was on the fast-track toward fantasy stardom. The Jags offense, which resembled a rusted-out Yugo last year, is now a souped-up Ford Taurus. No longer vertically inept, it should execute at a respectable level. If that happens, Jennings should thrive during his one game audition. At 6-foot-1, 228-pounds, the Liberty product is a load to lasso. He's brutish between the tackles, versatile and, most importantly, extremely motivated. If Jennings explodes against Minnesota, he could earn additional touches in what will likely be a loose platoon once the incumbent gets up to full speed. LBs Chad Greenway, Erin Henderson and defensive tackle Kevin Williams were fairly stiff against the run last year, but were far from the impregnable fortress Minnesota was just two short years ago. Ten rushers scored at least 12 fantasy points against the Vikes in standard formats in 2011, up from four the year before . Opportunity knocks for Jennings. Don't expect him to spoil it.
Fearless Forecast: 21 carries, 97 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 9 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 18.1 fantasy points
Kevin Smith, Det, RB (39-percent started)
Matchup: vs. StL
Most members of the fantasy community harbor lukewarm feelings for Smith. His recurring ankle problems and fair speed leave a lot to be desired. But, when healthy, he's a skilled back who contributes solidly via ground and air. His 201 total yard, three-TD mauling of Carolina Week 11 was one of four double-digit performances in his seven games last year. With Mikel Leshoure out due to suspension and Jahvid Best on the PUP, he's the only game in town, tender wheel and all. St. Louis, historically vulnerable against the run, should undergo a culture change with Jeff Fisher, but don't expect an overnight turnaround. System implementation and talent-stocking take time. Some strides will be made, but this is a club that allowed 161.8 total yards per game to RBs a season ago, the sixth-most in the NFL. Make no mistake, Detroit is a pass-first, past-often club, but because of Smith's plus hands, he's a strong candidate for 3-5 catches per game, enhancing his worth in PPR leagues. In what should be a one-sided contest, expect the rusher to rack the points on roughly 15-20 touches. Employ him as a RB2 even in 10-team formats.
Malcom Floyd, SD, WR (22-percent started)
Matchup: vs. Oak
Blessed with the neck of Merton Hanks and the long strides of Herman Moore, Floyd is a gangling downfield weapon who, quietly, could be on the verge of a breakout campaign. Many publications talked up Vincent Brown and Robert Meachem pre-camp, but with the former out for the next several weeks due to a fractured ankle and the latter coming off a tepid preseason, the Chargers' No. 2 WR from 2011 is in an excellent position to build on last year's success. Though injuries have occasionally plagued him, Floyd has performed terrifically when off the trainer's table. His 9.6 per game average a season ago ranked No. 20 among wide receivers. Oakland's defense, particularly up front, appears much improved. Still, the overhauled secondary is loaded with question marks. Veteran corners Ronald Bartell and Shawntae Spencer, on paper, are marginal options. Weighing that and considering Ryan Mathews likely won't be in the backfield, despite his return to the non-contact portion of practice Monday, Norv Turner will lean heavily on Philip Rivers' arm Monday night, increasing Floyd's chances for a profitable week. Promote him to WR3 or FLEX in 12-team and deeper leagues.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 86 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 18.4 fantasy points
Matchup: at TB
The He-Man doppelganger has gained considerable momentum over the past couple weeks. Steve Smith's foot infection, minimal excitement over Brandon LaFell and Ron Rivera's bold prediction Olsen could be the next Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham, moved the target's needle in late drafts. Those that played the patience game and nabbed the ex-Bear in the double-digit rounds could cash immediately. Linebackers Mason Foster, Lavonte David and Quincy Black are outmatched. Last season, Foster and Black ranked near the bottom of the league in pass coverage, together surrendering a near 80-percent catch rate. Look for offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, who was an instrumental force behind the rise of Antonio Gates in San Diego and Kellen Winslow in Cleveland, to attack Tampa's weakness. Olsen has always possessed the physical tools to be a star, but inconsistencies in route-running and the presence of Jeremy Shockey hindered him. Now with Shockey out of the picture, he should emerge as Cam's No. 2, attracting upwards of 7-9 targets per game. Coming off a standout camp and given the fantastic matchup, look for him to make a great first impression. Wield the Power Sword, deep leaguers.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 52 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.9 fantasy points
SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10-percent started)
Matchup: at NO
In order to get a leg up in this business sometimes you have to be a little nutty. Attempting to read Lucifer Shanahan's innermost thoughts is usually a futile exercise, but it's possible Morris gets the first crack to establish himself as the 'Skins' lead rusher. Tim Hightower was kicked to the curb last week, Roy Helu is slated for third-down duties and Evan Royster, though listed atop the team's initial depth-chart, could be the fallback option on early downs. Then again, who the hell knows. As Chris Cooley noted last year, everyone, even players in the locker-room, were routinely kept in the dark about the RB pecking order. If Morris nets the start, bank on him seizing the moment. Admittedly, the sixth-round rookie isn't anything special. He's tight-hipped, a suspect blocker and had a fumbling problem in college. But that's the beauty of a one-cut-and-go scheme. If you're an effective downhill runner with quality vision and break-tackle ability, you can succeed, provided you squeeze the rock. See Foster, Arian. As stated above, the Saints are hurting defensively. Key losses due to injury and suspension definitely favors Washington's above average offensive line. The Hogs will lead Morris to the trough. Recall last year, a healthier New Orleans team conceded 5.2 yards per carry to rushers. Because of its depleted state, that number could rise this season. Again, assuming he carves out a substantial role, expect "The Butler" to serve the Saints.
Fearless Forecast: 18 carries, 83 rushing yards, 1 reception, 5 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.6 fantasy points
BONUS WEEK 1 FLAMES
TEAM HUEVOS PICKS OF THE WEEK
Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their "Flames" (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Mondays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?
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