So after the season projections in the last post, here’s a quick look at how the Week 1 matchups look like, with several of them looking like they’ll be close contests:
The Replacements (-3) vs. Noord’s Team
In what will quickly become a theme of the week, these two teams are very evenly matched, something that will come from a by-product of the relative evenness of the four divisions, even though two are very strong and two are very weak – at least as projections go. Because the teams in the North Division are so similar to each other, it’s not surprising they mostly matchup well across the board. Both teams are fairly equal at quarterback and running back, with The Replacements having significant edges at wide receiver and tight end before Noord’s Team has the biggest advantage of the matchup – Steven Jackson’s projected 11 points versus Santonio Holmes’ one at the offensive flex spot.
The same thing goes on defense, where both teams are basically identical except for Demario Davis giving The Replacements an edge at the defensive flex. Given that these two teams had identical records last year, it’ll be fascinating to see who comes out on top in the opening week.
RG3 for President (-32) vs. Kamehamehaaa
In the first of the two annual showdowns of The Nolan Brothers, RG3 for President, as expected, has a significant advantage. RG3, despite its fragile namesake, has one of the toughest and deepest teams in the league, allowing it advantages at tight end and offensive flex spot (Montee Ball’s 20 points vs. Nate Washington’s eight). It also doesn’t hurt having J.J. Watt anchoring your defense.
Thomas also has a strong squad, though, and could easily pull the upset. We’ll see which brother gets early bragging rights.
Murrells Inlet Maya (-27) vs. Temujin
In the first of the two battles in what likely is the most even division in the league, the South, Murrells Inlet Maya’s entire advantage is almost completely derived from massive projected leads at quarterback (Tom Brady vs. Josh McCown) and running back (Matt Forte vs. Lamar Miller). That also doesn’t include, however, the 30-11 edge at tight end, where Murrells has Jason Witten and Antonio Gates, while Temujin has Charles Clay and the injured Clay Harbor – the unique Clay Squared TE combo.
Defensive points can always make things interesting, but with that kind of advantage at the offensive skill spots, it’ll be hard to see Temujin pulling this one out – even though North is pulling out some creative (and I think smart) management by going with McCown instead of the injured and receiver lacking Cam Newton.
Smokin Red Devils (-8) vs. Chef’s Menu
The Red Devils have the advantage here almost exclusively because Chef’s Menu is currently starting the suspended Matt Prater at kicker. Remove him from the lineup for someone who is going to play and this will likely be a toss-up. The Menu will be driven all season by their insane advantage at tight end, where Rob Gronkowski and Julius Thomas – if both healthy – given them an insane advantage.
Smokin Red Devils, however, have a balanced squad, featuring a deep core at both running back and linebacker that will make them a formidable foe in the South. This should be a fun matchup to watch.
Kobra Kai (-47) vs. Carnivorous Pigs
No offense to the Pigs, but this isn’t going to be a long writeup. They are not going to be favored in any matchup all season, barring weird bye week scenarios or injuries, and will struggle to win more than a game. Going up against last year’s division champ to open the season shouldn’t change that.
Bortles Kombat (-64) vs. AP Says PIIHB
AP Says (who is getting married this weekend I hear – congrats!) has a very, very competitive offense. But his defense leaves a lot to be desired – though it is reliant on a lot of young, inexperienced players like Khalil Mack and Ryan Shazier, which gives it a high level of variance and could make it a far more live dog than it may appear.
In its first year under new ownership, as pointed out in the season preview blog, Bortles appears to be the class of the division, with a deep roster – though one limited in depth, particularly on defense. We’ll see how that plays into things as the season progresses.
Bizarro Al Davis (-70) vs. Ground ‘N’ Pound
Surprise, surprise: the two-time defending champions have a massive advantage in Week 1. Bizarro Al Davis has a very deep, though top heavy, squad, and should once again be a tremendously difficult matchup for any team in the league all season long. It’s offense would be insane in a 10-team standard league – let alone in a 16-team, 40-man roster setup. But we’ll see if the projections about its shaky defense keep them from getting a third straight crown.
They should easily win this week against Ground ‘N’ Pound, though new owner Colin shouldn’t be too discouraged about his team’s long-term prospects. With names like Andrew Luck, Cordarrelle Patterson and Kelvin Benjamin, this should be a team that will be very good, very soon, and for a very long time.
That’s My-Danek! (-7) vs. The Sean Taylor Memorial Franchise
We’ve saved the best for last. In what will truly be a titanic struggle, the teams with the highest and tied for third highest projected point totals in the league this week will square off in what should be a thrilling matchup. My-Danek! was a hard-luck missing participant from last year’s playoffs, admittedly because of a dumb mistake by the commissioner in how the playoff tie-breakers were set up (something the commissioner, to this day, feels bad/stupid about).
That said, My-Danek! has a truly incredible team, featuring a ridiculous offense of Romo/Stacy/Bush/Green/Hilton/Randle/Wallace/Graham/Reed – one that would look good in absolutely any league format and makes him a formidable opponent no matter what week.
Sean Taylor is no slouch either, thanks in large part to having four of the top 10 receivers in the league – Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Jordy Nelson and Julio Jones – all in his starting lineup, a truly incredible advantage in a league like this.
This matchup, however, will likely come down to which defense outperforms the other. Both have their strong points, but given the relatively equal firepower of the offenses and often times chaotic nature of defensive scoring, that will likely tell the tale in what should be a thrilling matchup.
Best of luck to everyone in what should be a fascinating opening week of the season.