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Monday night determines fantasy matchups

In the first Monday night game of Week 1, the New York Giants take on the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Both teams have new offensive coordinators so we're excited to see the differences in how these units have changed since last season.

In the late game, the Chargers will take on the Cardinals in Arizona. The big story in this one is the status of running back Andre Ellington who will be a game-time decision. Hopefully, not too many owners are relying on Ellington Monday night. Either way, both games are packed with fantasy starters, so let's take a look at which players have a shot a turning the tide in your Week 1 matchups.


**Rashad Jennings, RB:** 

We'll get our first real game look at what kind of role running back Rashad Jennings will play in the new Giants' offensive scheme. Jennings projects to be a three-down back with extra PPR value since he has good hands. There are rumors of him losing some goal-line touches to veteran plodder Peyton Hillis or rookie Andre Williams, but we will find out Monday night exactly how that shapes up. Look for Jennings to carry a heavy workload against the Lions on Monday night.

**Victor Cruz, WR:** 

The Gaints' abysmal preseason has fantasy owners fearing the worst when it comes to Victor Cruz's value for the 2014 season. Big Blue has apparently installed a new pass-happy scheme that involves a lot of short passes to receivers, making them work for yards after the catch instead of using the deep ball. Some have said Cruz might be a candidate for 100 receptions in 2014, so we'll be keeping a close eye on how many targets he receives from Eli Manning Monday night.

**Rueben Randle, WR:** 

Last season, Randle caught more touchdowns than any other wideout on the Giants. He poses a major red zone threat and should be able to be productive for fantasy owners in 2014 as the Giants' No. 2 option in the passing game and is looking to breakout in his third season in the league..


**Matthew Stafford, QB:** 

The Lions also have a new offensive coordinator in Joe Lombardi who has served as the Saints quarterbacks coach for the past few seasons. Stafford will be looking to connect with his favorite target, Calvin Johnson, early and often on Monday night against the Giants. Don't forget that he also has Golden Tate and Reggie Bush to work into his targets as well, making for a great fantasy play at the quarterback position on Monday night.

**Calvin Johnson, WR:** 

Still ranked a top fantasy wide reciever options, Calvin Johnson should be up to his usual activities on Monday night. In case you were unaware, his usual activities include catching touchdown passes in triple coverage and using his incredible size-speed combo to shed tackles and shred secondaries for yard after the catch. Fantasy owners are licking their chops at the idea of saving Megatron for a Monday night deployment.

**Reggie Bush, RB:** 

One of two popularly owned Lions' running backs in fantasy, Reggie Bush is known to do most of his damage on passing plays using his agility and speed to gain yards on screens and short dump offs. It's yet to be seen just how Detroit will split the workload between Bush and Joique Bell Monday night, but both should see a significant amount of work worthy of starting on fantasy rosters.

**Joique Bell, RB:** 

Bush's partner in crime, Joique Bell led Detroit in rushing touchdowns last season with eight on a significantly lower number of carries than Bush recieved. That might change in 2014 as Bell is the favorite to do most of the heavy lifting in the ground game while Bush plays the role of a passing-down back. We'll get a good idea of how the Lions plan to split their talented backfield up on Monday night.


**Philip Rivers, QB:** 

After falling from fantasy relevance in 2012, Philip Rivers reclaimed his stake as a valuable option at quarterback last season. He threw for 32 touchdowns and 4,478 yards and finished as the No. 6 overall signal-caller in total fantasy points. Rivers will look to continue that success and there may be no better place to start than in the primetime of a Monday night game. He has a good amount of weapons to throw to, but he will have to navigate the Arizona secondary, not an easy task, in order to post respectable numbers in his first game of 2014.

**Ryan Mathews, RB:** 

The Chargers' backfield is somewhat of a three-headed monster but Ryan Mathews has been dubbed the clear-cut bell cow and projects to get the goal-line work as long as he can hold on to the ball. He fumbled on a goal-line carry in a preseason game but coach Mike McCoy said he would keep feeing Mathews the ball in similar situations. He may lose some touches on third downs to passing-play specialist Danny Woodhead and also has Donald Brown creeping up, but as long as he is successful early, Mathews should be able to hold on to his lead role among the San Diego runners.

**Keenan Allen, WR:** 

Breaking out in his rookie season last year, wideout Keenan Allen posted 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns which was good enough to finish in top 20 among fantasy receivers. The San Diego brass has spoken highly of Allen's ability to separate from defenders and at age 22 he will look to improve upon his impressive rookie season. He practiced through a rib issue this week but is set to start Monday night. There is a chance that Arizona's talented cornerback Patrick Peterson has been assigned to cover Allen which could hinder his opportunites, but all owners can do is hope for one or two mis-steps on defense which may be enough for solid fantasy production.


**Larry Fitzgerald, WR:** 

Consider 2014 the return of the Fitz. Larry Fitzgerald battled hamstring injuries all of last season which seemed to limit his ceiling. He still finished as a top 20 fantasy wideout posting 10 touchdowns and 954 yards on 82 receptions. Fantasy owners still felt burned as they likely used a second or third round pick on him, an ADP which he didn't live up to. Now that Arizona has three solid wide recievers, defenses will no longer be able to key in on Fitz alone which should create some good opportunites. Start him with confidence on Monday night.

**Michael Floyd, WR:** 

A popular fantasy break out candidate, Michael Floyd enters his third season with high expectations. He rose to fantasy relevance after putting up over 1,000 yards receiving and five touchdowns last year and had an ADP of Round 8 in leagues heading into this season. With predictions of quarterback Carson Palmer poised for a big year, Floyd will look to play a major part of the Cardinals success beginning on Monday night.

**Andre Ellington, RB:** 

If you sweated it out this long, you are quite brave. Andre Ellington's status for Monday night has been unknown after news of a foot injury late last week. We cautioned fantasy owners to have a backup plan in place, so hopefully you started another running back in his place on Sunday. If not, we're nearing the moment of truth. Even if he does play, he could be limited but the chances for a homerun play make him a worthy start. Plus if you waited until now, what other choice do you have? Good luck with that!

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