Each week, TSN.ca's NFL Editor Justin Boone and Fantasy Editor Scott Cullen will compare fantasy football rankings and provide justification for some of the more notable differences in their opinions.
Matt Schaub (Texans) vs. Matt Ryan (Falcons)
Cullen (Schaub #9, Ryan #14): I'm still high on Matt Schaub because I think that, as long as WR Andre Johnson is healthy, the Texans won't shy away from throwing the ball. Sure, they have a great ground game, but the Dolphins' run defence wasn't bad last season (3.7 yards per carry against) and there may be more opportunities to advance the ball through the air.
When it comes to Matt Ryan in Kansas City, I'm just not ready to accept the Falcons' passing game as prolific, particularly heading on the road to face a Chiefs team that ranked 11th in passing yardage allowed last season. While they did lose CB Brandon Carr as a free agent to Dallas, they also get FS Eric Berry back from injury, so the Chiefs may be able to provide some resistance to the Falcons aerial attack.
Boone (Ryan #8, Schaub #16): Ryan is entering the year with one of the best receiving corps in the game at his disposal. Roddy White is one of the most reliable pass catchers in the game, Tony Gonzalez continues to get it done late in his career and Julio Jones is on the verge of a massive breakout. The Chiefs top cornerback Brandon Flowers (heel) will be a game-time decision and the club will also be without their best pass rusher Tamba Hali (suspension). Arrowhead is a difficult place to play, but Ryan will make quick work of the Chiefs' depleted defence.
Schaub's days as a QB1 have come to an end and that will be evident against Miami. The Dolphins defence is better than advertised, but with their offence set to struggle, Miami's defenders will be worn down by the run-heavy attack of the Texans. Arian Foster and Ben Tate will be the stars for Houston on Sunday and they will have to be, because outside of Andre Johnson the Texans lack playmakers in the receiving game.
Michael Turner (Falcons) vs. Fred Jackson (Bills)
Boone (Jackson #11, Turner #17): If the Buffalo Bills are going to make the post-season, Fred Jackson will be the one to carry them there. The Jets defence has been a solid unit since Rex Ryan arrived, but they will likely be without one of their best run defenders in DT Sione Po'uha (back). After a strong pre-season, Jackson asserted himself as the lead back in the Bills backfield and in Week 1 he will remind the NFL that his impressive start to 2011 was no fluke.
Jackson may be a year older than Turner, but in football years he is a far younger back. Since arriving in Atlanta, Turner has carried the ball over 300 times in three of his four seasons, with the lone exception being an injury-shortened campaign in 2009. All those miles are going to catch up to Turner in 2012. The Falcons' backup RB Jacquizz Rodgers is a much faster player and is better suited to new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter's scheme which often capitalizes on screen passes. With Ryan throwing more, Turner's touches will decline, making him a much less desirable fantasy option.
Cullen (Turner #7, Jackson #16): The Chiefs ranked 26th in rushing yards allowed last season (132.0 per game) and Kansas City's front seven is more questionable in its ability to win the battle at the point of attack, so I still think Turner has a chance to have a productive day and, at the very least, punch in a touchdown.
I like Jackson and think he's going to be vital to the Bills' success this season, but I expect that the Jets know the Bills need Jackson to move the chains. With Darrelle Revis handling a lot of man coverage on Steve Johnson, the Jets won't be afraid to force QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to beat them when they bring eight in the box to stop Jackson, who has run for 221 yards on 62 carries (3.6 yards per carry, 44.2 yards per game) in five games against the Jets over the last three seasons.
Reggie Wayne (Colts) vs. Dwayne Bowe (Chiefs)
Cullen (Wayne #19, Bowe #26): Call this a vote of confidence for Colts rookie QB Andrew Luck. I expect that it could be a long day for the Colts in Chicago, but if the Bears get the lead, as expected, Indy will throw a lot and Wayne can benefit as Luck's most obvious target since Austin Collie remains sidelined, leaving Donnie Avery to start on the other side. In that case, I could see Wayne with at least half a dozen catches and possibly a score.
Bowe could very well have a productive game against Atlanta, because his size (6-foot-2, 221 pounds) could give the Falcons' cornerbacks problems, but I have a few doubts. Mostly, it's about QB Matt Cassel, who I'm not particularly high on, and some concern that emerging second-year WR Jon Baldwin (who is 6-foot-4, 228 pounds) could take some red zone targets away from Bowe.
Boone (Bowe #19, Wayne #27): Kansas City will be running the ball every chance they can this season, with Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis potentially combining for 500 touches. Some might deem that bad news for a receiver like Bowe, but the reality is that it should free him up. With team's focused on the run, Bowe will be left to single coverage perhaps more than he ever has and when the Chiefs reach the redzone he will be a monster.
The Colts are going to be a much more exciting team to watch with Luck under centre, but the rookie will be running for his life behind a unproven offensive line. I believe Wayne is poised to have a much better year with Luck throwing the ball, however I don't expect that will start in Week 1 against a stingy Bears' defence. Collie may still be cleared to play and even if he isn't on the field, Luck is the type of quarterback to find the open man and not lock on to one target. If you have Wayne on your team be happy, just keep him out of your starting lineup this weekend.