By: Adam Myers
FOOTBALL IS BACK!!!
Well, football that matters is back. The return of the regular season marks the return of fantasy football matchups as well.
One of the biggest factors to a successful season is setting the correct lineup, starting and sitting the right guys. Start your fantasy season off strong and make the right decisions going forward.
Public Service Announcement: No Dolphins or Buccaneers players are included in this start-sit article as both teams are on an unconventional BYE week due to hurricane Irma. Don’t play anyone from Tampa Bay or Miami this week.
Cam Newton (@SF): Newton is coming off a down season last year in which he finished 17th among fantasy quarterbacks after being taken as the first quarterback off the board in fantasy drafts.
That kind of a let down in a player’s performance leaves a bad taste in the mouths of fantasy owners, and understandably so. Don’t let that bitter taste linger for too long however as Newton starts the season against the San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers gave up the 11th most points to the quarterback position last season, and this is a Panthers offense that has loaded up in the offseason adding Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel.
This Panthers offense has the big play and red zone threats of Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen, underneath and dump off threats in Olsen and McCaffrey, and when all else fails, Newton can still tuck it and run.
Lots of points will be scored and Newton will pad the stat sheet against a developing, rebuilding 49er’s defense. Start Cam Newton with confidence this week.
Derek Carr (@ TEN), Marcus Mariota (vs. OAK), Ben Roethlisberger (@ CLE)
Tyrod Taylor (vs. NYJ), Sam Bradford (vs. NO)
Eddie Lacy (@ GB): Marshawn Lunch. Feast Mode. Whatever hilarious nickname you choose to call Lacy by, he’s worth running out there week one.
Early news for Thomas Rawls isn’t looking super promising in regards to his week one status. Rawls is likely out and if he plays, expect his effectiveness and his workload to be diminished. Soft tissue issues tend to linger, and even with an endorsement from Pete Carroll, C.J. Prosise coming off a groin injury is simply not a large threat to Lacy’s workload, especially in an early down setting.
The added motivation is there for Lacy because he plays his former team the Green Bay Packers who let him walk in free agency. While the Packers were only ranked 23rd last season in terms of points given up to the running back position, that stat was a bit disguised as it’s difficult for teams to run when trailing by double digits like what often happens against Green Bay.
Seattle has the defense to slow down Rodgers, and the offense and quarterback play to keep pace. Expect a heavy dose of Lacy week one.
Dalvin Cook (vs. NO), Carlos Hyde (vs. CAR), Ty Montgomery (vs. SEA)
Lamar Miller (vs. JAC), Christian McCaffery (@ SF)
Stefon Diggs (vs. NO): Diggs has a juicy matchup this week facing the New Orleans Saints and that vaunted defense.
In a game that features one of the most explosive, highest scoring offenses in the league from last season in the Saints, the Vikings can be expected to be playing catch up or keep up for a majority of the game. That means plenty of pass attempts for Sam Bradford, and what should lead to plenty of targets for Stefon Diggs.
The Saints last season gave up the eighth most points to fantasy wide receivers, and there should be plenty of volume to go around in Minnesota. Even after the Saints added Marshon Lattimore in the offseason,they failed to completely address the glaring needs in that secondary, and a rookie corner isn’t exactly a sure thing.
Diggs has the high volume coupled with the scoring opportunity, as well as the talent and matchup you look for in a fantasy wide receiver.
Jordan Matthews (vs. NYJ), Martavis Bryant (@ CLE),
Sammy Watkins (vs. IND), Jeremy Maclin (vs. BAL), Eric Decker (vs. OAK)
Charles Clay (vs. NYJ): Let’s just go ahead and go on record saying this now; the Jets are a complete dumpster fire of a team. The Jets gave up the 11th most points to fantasy tight ends last season and have lost many starting pieces on that defense including their defensive signal caller David Harris.
When the Jets go on the road to play Buffalo, the Bills will be without both Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods who went to the Los Angeles Rams in the offseason. The Bills then traded for Jordan Matthews from the Philadelphia Eagles, who got hurt shortly after arriving in Buffalo. Right now it appears he’s trending in the right direction to play week one, but with his status up in the air, Tyrod
Taylor could go into the game with Zay Jones, a rookie wide receiver, and Clay as his primary pass catchers. Clay has established rapport with Tyrod Taylor and the benefit of playing the worst teams in football. Start Clay with confidence this week.
Kyle Rudolph (vs. NO), Coby Fleener (@ MIN), Tyler Eifert (vs. BAL),
Austin Hooper (@ CHI)
Houston Texans (vs. JAC): The Texans defense is loaded. Whitney Mercilus, JJ Watt, and Jadeveon Clowney can straight up rush the passer. This loaded defense is bad news for Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville offense.
Lots of pressure leads to hits and sacks which can rattle a quarterback; especially Bortles. In his career he has as many pick sixes as he does wins with 1. High opportunity, high upside, start the Texans defense.
Pittsburgh Steelers (@ CLE), Buffalo Bills (vs. NYJ), Atlanta Falcons (@ CHI),
Los Angeles Rams (vs. IND), Carolina Panthers (@ SF)
Mason Crosby (vs. SEA): Crosby plays on one of the best offenses in the game with one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever lace em up. This leads to a lot of scoring opportunities for Crosby. So what happens when one of the best defenses in the league clashes with one of the best offenses?
The Packers are still going to be able to move the ball, nobody shuts down Aaron Rodgers completely, but will they be able to punch it in on a consistent basis or settle for field goals more often than usual?
Either way, Crosby will have scoring opportunity in this game and should be played with confidence for fantasy purposes this week.
Dan Bailey (vs. NYG), Brandon McManus (vs. LAC), Will Lutz (@ MIN),
Matt Prater (vs. ARI), Steven Hauschka (vs. NYJ)
Kirk Cousins (vs. PHI): Maybe this is the first time you hear this, and maybe it isn’t, but it won’t be your last; This Philadelphia Eagles front seven is no joke.
Kirk Cousins and the Redskins first team struggled mightily in pre season action, especially in the week three “dress rehearsal” against the Bengals when Cousins’ was 10/19 for 109 yards and one interception. Now Cousins is up against a Jim Schwartz led defense in his second season with a legit front seven and lock down corner in Ronald Darby, and an offensive roster that suffered a lot of turnover this offseason.
Don’t be surprised if Cousins stumbles coming out of the gate. If there is another viable starter to fill in the roster spot left by Kirk Cousins, consider playing them instead.
Matthew Stafford (vs. ARI), Joe Flacco (@ CIN), Philip Rivers (@ DEN),
Trevor Siemian (vs. LAC)
Joe Mixon (vs. BAL): If Mixon is on your team, the odds are that the investment made in him was presumably as a starting running back. That simply isn’t the case. On the Cincinnati Bengals official depth chart Mixon was listed third among running backs behind Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard.
Couple this with Marvin Lewis’ history of being reluctant to hand rookie running backs the keys to the backfield and you have a perfect storm brewing for Mixon to disappoint fantasy owners not only week one but this season in general. Hill and Bernard will be involved, and if Mixon only receives 10-12 touches this game, it wouldn’t be all that surprising.
Find another option to replace Joe Mixon in your starting lineup for week one.
Adrian Peterson (@ MIN), Leonard Fournette (@ HOU), Bilal Powell (@ BUF),
Ameer Abdullah (vs. ARI)
All Receivers in the DEN/LAC Game: Yes, that means Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, the whole nine. There’s not all that much to say on this subject except look at the defensive side of the ball.
The Chargers have arguably the best pass rushing tandem in the NFL with Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. Pair that with one of the top cornerback tandems in the NFL with Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett and that usually spells trouble for pass catchers and quarterbacks.
In a similar fashion on the opposite side of the field, the Broncos have Von Miller and a host of supporting pieces that flat out get after the quarterback. The Denver pass rush is backed by Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. in the secondary who are both lock down, shutdown cornerbacks.
Expect a heavy dose of running backs in this game, and temper any expectations for wide receivers this week.
DeAndre Hopkins (vs. JAC), T.Y. Hilton (@ LAR), DaVante Adams (vs. SEA),
Terrelle Pryor (vs. PHI)
Eric Ebron (vs. ARI): Eric Ebron has been up and down in his career since being selected first overall in the 2014 draft, mainly due to his health. Ebron has suffered multiple injuries that have cost him playing time throughout his career and, while not being on the injury report for week one, has battled a hamstring injury for most of training camp and the preseason.
This cost Ebron time to reacquaint himself with Stafford and build that rapport, and is an injury to monitor going forward. The offseason injury coupled with facing the stout Cardinals passing defense is enough to warrant concern for Ebron this week. Have Ebron ride the pine.
Martellus Bennett (vs. SEA), Jason Witten (vs. NYG), Jack Doyle (@ LAR),
Hunter Henry (@ DEN)
Seattle Seahawks (@ GB): Honestly, this sit decision has nothing to do with the Seahawks defense as much as it does the Green Bay offense. Aaron Rodgers was hobbled a bit last year with some soft tissue issues and is 100 percent healthy to start the season. Rodgers also simply doesn’t turn the ball over at Lambeau field, and he puts up points. He’s got a healthy surrounding cast of weapons with Ty Montgomery having a full offseason as a running back, Randall Cobb back and fully healthy, and Jordy Nelson and DaVante Adams returning from dominant seasons last year. Don’t be afraid to start a team off the waiver wire if the matchup is better than what the Seahawks face week one.
Oakland Raiders (@ TEN), Minnesota Vikings (vs. NO)
Adam Vinatieri (@ LAR): Long story short here, I don’t trust Scott Tolzien against this Rams defense to move the ball and give the Colts the chance to score. I don’t think that the Colts defense will be able to give them stellar field position.
This game will be low scoring, and I don’t love the opportunity for Vinatieri.
Younghoe Koo (@ DEN)