Every week fantasy football owners have to make decisions on who to start, who to sit, and who to potentially pick up off the wavier wire to play. Sometimes those decisions can be tough. For help with that, check out my weekly rankings. In addition, I will be giving my weekly take on starts, sits, and sleepers.
Each week I will be giving two players I like starting, two guys I would like to bench, and one sleeper per position (except for D/STs, there will only be one start and sit). Now of course every week you will start Aaron Rodgers, David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown, among others, assuming they play. This weekly article is to help fantasy owners decide on their “non-elite” players. If you have more specific questions regarding fantasy football or your team, ask me on twitter, and as always happy hunting fantasy friends!
Kirk Cousins vs 49ers: In his first game as a Viking, I fully expect Kirk Cousins to take advantage of a 49ers defense that struggled against quarterbacks last season. The 49ers ranked 29th in the league against opposing quarterbacks. While they did add Richard Sherman in the off-season, how well will he rebounded from a torn Achilles injury at 30 years old? I expect this game to be a blowout pretty early, and for Cousins play a big role in that.
Jared Goff at Raiders: Speaking of potential blowouts, the Raiders ranked 25th in the league against opposing quarterbacks last season and the defense has only gotten worst. The tandem of Gareon Conley and Rashaan Melvin is one of the weaker starting cornerback duos in the league, and I expect the Rams’ wide receivers to have a big game against them. Last season Jared Goff finished as the QB12, while the Raiders allowed opposing quarterbacks to finish as a QB1 in half of their games.
Russell Wilson at Broncos: Unless your league has a lot of streaming options on the waiver wire, fantasy owners are stuck playing Russell Wilson. Last season Wilson finished the year as the QB1; averaging 21.7 FPPG. However, he lost his second- and third-most targeted receivers from last season in free agency. The Broncos ranked 12th in the league against opposing quarterbacks last season and spent their first round pick on pass rusher Bradley Chubb. The Seahawks offensive line is still an issue, and Wilson is in line for a long day on Sunday.
Patrick Mahomes at Chargers: Everyone is excited about Patrick Mahomes this season and what the Chiefs explosive offense can do, but I would sit him this week if possible. Mahomes played in one meaningless game last season and in his first meaningful start, he has to fast the best pass rush duo in the league. Last season the Chargers ranked fourth in the league against opposing quarterbacks, giving up an average of just 12.3 FPPG. Furthermore, over their last six games of 2017, the Chargers held opposing quarterbacks to just 9.9 FPPG.
Case Keenum vs Seahawks: Case Keenum is one of my favorite streaming options this week against a Seahawks defense that is a shell of what it once was. While the Seahawks ranked sixth against opposing quarterbacks last season, the defense underwent a total change in the off-season. Earl Thomas may not suit up for this game despite reporting to the team on Wednesday. Last season, Keenum finished as the QB14 while averaging a solid 15.9 FPPG. The Broncos offense as a whole should be much better this season with Keenum, starting this week against a weak Seahawks defense.
Derrick Henry at Dolphins: The Titans backfield has been a polarizing topic all off-season long. Last season, Derrick Henry was stuck behind DeMarco Murray and had limited carries. In 16 games last season, Henry averaged just 11 carries per game; averaging 8.4 FPPG. However, in the games where Henry had 14 or more carries, he averaged 18.5 FPPG. The Dolphins ranked 26th in the league against opposing running backs last season, giving up an average of 23 carries per game. Henry should see at least 14 carries this week and has the upside to finish as a RB1.
Alex Collins vs Bills: No team in the league was more friendly to opposing running backs last season than the Bills, who gave up an average of 27.8 FPPG. Furthermore, over their last five games in 2017, the Bills gave up an average of 29.6 FPPG to opposing running backs. Meanwhile, Alex Collins averaged 16.7 FPPG over his last seven games in 2017. Collins has full control of the Ravens running game and, given the lack of positive match-ups on the outside, Collins should have a big game on Sunday.
Dalvin Cook vs 49ers: While fantasy owners can’t afford to sit Dalvin Cook, as he was a likely first or early second round draft pick, his expectations for week one need to be tempered. Coming off a torn ACL from last season, Cook played in just one preseason game and had just two carries for one yard. Clearly Cook is still recovering him the injury and the Vikings want to be careful with him. I wouldn’t be surprised if this game is a blowout early in the fourth quarter and the Vikings let Latavius Murray run out the clock in order to protect Cook.
Adrian Peterson at Cardinals: Adrian Peterson has been a hot name to start or play in daily fantasy against his former team, but that would be a mistake. Last season the Cardinals ranked sixth in the league against opposing running backs. Peterson will get the start for the Redskins, but Chris Thompson says he is healthy and ready to go, which will cut into Peterson’s snaps. The Redskins are more likely to have success in the air verses on the ground against the Cardinals this week. However, Peterson isn’t human and will probably make me look like a fool.
Jordan Wilkins vs Bengals: Even though Marlon Mack returned to practice on Thursday, he isn’t expected to play Sunday. With Mack inactive, Jordan Wilkins is expected to get the start. During the preseason he led all Colts running backs with 27 carries. Last season the Bengals ranked 31st in the league against opposing running backs. The Bengals are much better against the pass than the run, and if the Colts want to win this game, they will need to get production out of Wilkins.
Amari Cooper vs Rams: Last season the Rams ranked 10th in the league against opposing wide receivers. With the addition of two great cornerbacks, they should be even better this season. However, Amari Cooper should see plenty of targets this season, starting this week against the Rams. The Raiders defense has no chance slowing down the Rams offense, leaving it up to Derek Carr and Cooper to score enough points to keep the Raiders in the game. I expect a lot of “garbage time” production from Cooper, as this game could be a blowout early.
Brandin Cooks at Raiders: Speaking of the Raiders defense having no chance against the Rams offense; Brandin Cooks should have a monster game. Last season the Raiders ranked 14th in the league against opposing wide receivers. but did very little to improve their cornerback situation in the off-season. Last season Cooks had the second highest yards per reception in the league among wide receivers with at least 60 catches. Look for the Rams to feature their new shiny weapon with several deep shots against a weak Raiders secondary early and often on Sunday.
Michael Crabtree vs Bills: As I stated above, the Bills are awful at stopping the run. However, they are pretty good against the pass. Last season, the Bills ranked 11th in the league against opposing wide receivers, in large part due to Tre’Davious White. During the off-season the Bills signed Vontae Davis and Phillip Gaines in free agency. Michael Crabtree should see plenty of White on Sunday and with the Ravens having success on the ground, Crabtree may be more of a decoy than an impact player this week.
Keelan Cole at Giants: After the Marqise Lee injury, Keelan Cole is currently the Jaguars’ top wide receiver and he was the only one I would consider drafting in standard-sized leagues. However, this week I would leave him on the bench, as he is likely to see plenty of Janoris Jenkins. Last season the Giants ranked 21st in the league against opposing running backs and 31st in the league against opposing tight ends. I fully expect the Jaguars to focus on the running game and feature Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the red zone.
John Ross at Colts: It was a rookie season to forget for John Ross; one carry for 12 yards, a lost fumble, and the end of his season. While that is funny, Ross wasn’t healthy last season coming off multiple injuries during his time at Washington. During the preseason, Ross had a couple of impressive big plays. Last season the Colts ranked 21st in the league against opposing wide receivers and didn’t do anything to improve their cornerback situation. Ross is sneaky DFS play or a flex option in double flex leagues.
Delanie Walker at Dolphins: While he is undervalued, Delanie Walker has been a good fantasy tight end the last couple of years. Last season, Walker finished as the TE4; averaging 10.9 FPPG. The Titans were one of the worst passing teams last season, and should be better this season under new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur. Last season, the Dolphins ranked last in the league against opposing tight ends; giving up an average of 16.1 FPPG. While there is some concern Walker slow downs this season, his week one match up is very good.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins at Giants: Currently Austin Seferian-Jenkins is dealing with an injury and is questionable for the game, so fantasy owners needs to keep an eye on the injury report. However, assuming Seferian-Jenkins’ plays, he is in line for potentially a big performance. As I mentioned above, the Giants were horrible against opposing tight ends last season; giving up an average of 15.8 FPPG. Furthermore, the Giants gave up 11.5 or more fantasy points to opposing tight ends in 13 games last season.
Kyle Rudolph vs 49ers: Last season, while the 49ers defense was picked on by fantasy owners they actually did a good job against opposing tight ends; ranking 14th in the league. While I believe the Vikings will win this game early and easily, Kyle Rudolph won’t have a big role in the victory. Last season the 49ers held opposing tight ends to seven fantasy points or less in half of their games. While I wouldn’t recommend dropping Rudolph in order to grab another tight end, fantasy owners should consider carrying two tight ends this week.
Evan Engram vs Jaguars: Evan Engram is expected to play Sunday after suffering a concussion in the preseason. However, his match up this week isn’t very friendly. The Jaguars ranked 10th in the league against opposing tight ends last season, giving up an average of just 10.3 FPPG. Given his rookie success, the Jaguars are likely to try to take him out of the game. With the healthy return of Odell Beckham, Jr. and Saquon Barkley, Engram could find himself used more as a decoy this week than a fantasy contributor.
Ricky Seals-Jones vs Redskins: After being a game day inactive during the early part of last season, Ricky Seals-Jones produced back-to-back performances with 17 or more fantasy points. With Jermaine Gresham still a few weeks away from seeing game action, Seals-Jones should have full control of the starting tight end role. Last season, the Redskins ranked 27th in the league against opposing tight ends, giving up an average of 14.1 FPPG. With the Redskins trying their best to contain David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, Seals-Jones could easily finish as a top-12 tight end this week.
Rams at Raiders: Catching a theme here with this game? The Rams should have a good day against an offense that had very little run in the preseason and lacks a lot of weapons. Last season the Rams finished as the fourth best D/ST; averaging 9.6 FPPG. While the Rams’ D/ST could take a hit if the Raiders rack up a lot of “garbage time” stats, they should have a strong performance in the earlier part of the game.
Chargers vs Chiefs: While I like the Chargers D/ST this season, they have a poor match up in week one. Joey Bosa hasn’t practiced yet this week and his availability for the game is in serious doubt. Even if Bosa can play, the Chiefs have a lot of fire power on offense. This game could turn into a shootout really quick. Last season, the Chiefs were the third-toughest opponent against D/STs, and this year they could be the toughest.
Titans at Dolphins: Quietly, the Titans improved their defense in the off-season. After signing Malcolm Butler in free agency, they spent their top two draft picks on linebackers who can rush the passer. The Titans averaged 2.7 sacks per game last season and should easily get three against a poor Dolphins offensive line on Sunday. Furthermore, last season the Dolphins were the sixth-friendliest offense to match up against, as opposing D/STs averaged 9.1 FPPG when playing against the Dolphins.