It’s a new NFL season, and with that comes the return of the Page 2 Fantasy Football Challenge. Each week, a guest chooses a quarterback, wide receiver and running back. The only players off-limits are those selected by the previous week’s guest picker (in this case, it’s wide open). The guest — 17-year fantasy football veteran Nick Fritzen (@GingerFritzie on Twitter) — will go head-to-head against Star Tribune writer Michael Rand, who is not allowed to pick anyone ranked in the top 10 by NFL.com experts at their respective positions:
Nick Fritzen’s WEEK 1 FANTASY PICKS
QB: Peyton Manning, Broncos
NFL.com fantasy QB rank: No. 3
No brainer here — Manning is my week 1 QB. He always starts the season strong. He owes Indy after losing last year to his former team despite throwing for over 300 yards and three TDs. Despite losing two of his favorite WRs from last year, Manning still has the Thomases back.
RB: Adrian Peterson, Vikings
NFL.com fantasy RB rank: No. 3
He has yet to play in 2014. He’s looking to prove 2013 was a fluke as he tries to regain his MVP form. Norv Turner’s offense was built for a guy like AP. It’s scary what he could do this week and this year.
WR: Brandon Marshall, Bears
NFL.com fantasy WR rank: No. 8
I’m going to stay in the NFC North to find my wide receiver and go with Brandon Marshall. He is healthy. Quarterback Jay Cutler is healthy, and the Bears might. have to outscore everyone if that defense doesn’t improve.
Michael Rand's WEEK 1 FANTASY PICKS
QB: Aaron Rodgers, Packers
NFL.com fantasy QB rank: No. 16
Rodgers gets a low ranking from the experts this week because the Packers open on the road against the robust Seahawks defense. It’s probably the only time I’ll get to use him this year, and even if Green Bay falls behind he could get some cheap scores in the fourth quarter (maybe even a Hail Mary?).
RB: Ben Tate, Browns
NFL.com fantasy RB rank: No. 12
After backing up Arian Foster in Houston, Tate is looking to make his mark. I say he makes a Week 1 splash against a Steelers defense that gave up 18 rushing touchdowns and 4.3 yards per carry last year.
WR: Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos
NFL.com fantasy WR rank: No. 11
With Wes Welker getting a league-mandated four-game vacation, Sanders’ role in the potent Broncos offense could be expanded. Also, I’m a jerk and I like possibly negating Manning’s touchdown passes.
Check back next week for results of this week’s matchup and another guest challenger.