If you have Tom Brady, Wes Weker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez or Brandon Lloyd, you are starting them this week against what could be at best, an average Tennessee defense. But it’s another, less-hyped member of the offense who is the Start of the Week.
Patriot Start of the Week: Stevan Ridley
Week 1 might be the best week to start Stevan Ridley all year.
Despite a great preseason, Ridley was still a risky pick on draft day because of the Patriots’ history with running backs. Although he is listed as the starter, fantasy owners know that on any given Sunday, it could easily be Shane Vereen or Danny Woodhead getting the majority of the carries. But with Vereen missing the last two weeks of practice as he nurses a foot injury, Ridley finds himself with a grand opportunity as the main man against a Titans defense that ranked 24th in the NFL last year allowing 128.3 rushing yards per game.
Against a rookie quarterback and a shaky defense, the Patriots should find themselves with the lead in this game and may be running the ball slightly more than usual. Woodhead will certainly get a few carries, but all signs point to Ridley carrying the weight as a good RB1 play this week.
Prediction: 96 yards rushing, TD, 3 receptions, 24 yards receiving
Also consider: New England Defense
The Titans have been a trendy sleeper in the preseason, but this is still the very first regular start of Jake Locker’s NFL career. Despite mediocre defenses of late, head coach Bill Belichick is still a known terrorist amongst the rookie quarterback community. To make matters worse for Locker, he will be without top receiver Kenny Britt who will miss this game serving a one-game suspension for a DUI arrest.
If Tennessee has trouble moving the ball through the air, they will look to the running game, an area where they really struggled in 2011. The Titans finished 31st in the NFL with 89.9 rushing yards per game last season and even with a better unit this year, they will need time to gel.
So while the 2012 Patriots defense is something of an unknown, they still make an interesting sneaky play this week solely because of their opponent’s inefficiencies.