Welcome to Opening Night of the 2012 STACK "Battle of the Brands" fantasy football league.
Each week, we will select a key player matchup in the Battle of the Brand, to be projected by the sports analytics firm numberFire, which will be helping us set team lineups with its advanced metrics and data-driven projections.
Week One action in the Battle of the Brands pits top-ranked Team Nike against an underdog Team adidas squad, and both teams feature key players in the NFL regular season opener between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.
Here, we turn it over to Zach Warren of numberFire to project tonight's match-up between Giants WR Victor Cruz (Team Nike) and Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (Team adidas):
The Victor Cruz versus DeMarco Murray battle should be a great one, especially since these two players provide different types of upside.
Victor Cruz enters this year off an incredible 2011 campaign, where he salsa-danced his way to 82 receptions, 1,536 yards and nine TDs. The biggest reason is simply his number of targets: the 131 times Eli Manning threw him the ball tied for 12th in the entire NFL. The average NFL receiver catches roughly 60 percent of the balls thrown his way, and Cruz's catch rate was even better at a pretty-good-for-a-young-guy 63 percent. numberFire thinks those opportunities will still be coming his way against Dallas as well, with a projected 5.74 receptions, 86.01 yards, 0.70 TDs, and 12.62 fantasy points in a standard league.
Meanwhile, DeMarco Murray showed flashes of brilliance in 2011, but he couldn't sustain his torrid pace over the entire year due to injury. His fractured ankle came against these very same Giants in Week 14 last year, and as a result, Murray only had five rushes for 25 yards against them on the season. However, other Cowboys backs were a mixed bag against the Giants D, as Felix Jones ran for 106 yards in the game where Murray was injured, but only 30 yards on 11 carries in week 17. Murray will add some value catching the ball—numberFire has him making 2.69 receptions with 20.84 yards receiving—but it might not be enough to overcome only 70 projected yards rushing.
Edge: Victor Cruz (12.62 projected points) over DeMarco Murray (11.99 projected points).
Be sure to catch the season opener tonight (8:30 ET, NBC) to see who puts his team ahead in the first player matchup of the inaugural Battle of the Brands fantasy football league. Head over to the league page Yahoo! Fantasy Sports to check the rest of the Week One matchups.
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