Famous Jameis and O’Doyle rules
It’s been 214 days since I last saw a meaningful NFL game. In the time since, I’ve experienced heavy football withdrawals and have done some things I’m not proud of. I’ve watched reruns of every regular season game from last year. I’ve harassed several Facebook FIFA comment sections, telling them to go watch “real football.” Since mid-May, I’ve been carrying a football with me at all times, stiff-arming anyone who gets too close (my family says it’s a problem).
At last, fantasy football season is finally here. Each week of the fantasy season, you can find my selections for the starts of the week here. Note that these aren’t my predictions for the top performers of the week. If that were the case, I would write about Travis Kelce every week. Instead, I will pick players that might be just on the edge of your starting lineup, or even players that are unowned. My goal is to help you make the hard decisions. With that in mind, these are my picks for Week 1.
QB – Jameis Winston
It may or may not surprise you, but the starting quarterback in Tampa was very good last season. If you combine Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick as one quarterback, they were second only to Patrick Mahomes in fantasy points last season at quarterback. While they fired their offensive coordinator and released a few receivers, they gained Bruce Arians, one of the most prolific pass-heavy head coaches in recent football history. The Bucs face off against the 49ers on Sunday. San Francisco’s defense isn’t exactly dominant, so this should be a competitive game. Winston should air the ball out enough to support QB1 numbers.
RB – Any Replacement RB
The backs in mind here are Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson of the Chargers and Tony Pollard of the Cowboys. With Melvin Gordon and Ezekiel Elliott both likely to miss week 1, these guys should all be in your starting lineup. Ekeler is probably going to see more work than Jackson, but Jackson will still be involved. When Gordon missed playing time last season, the work became more like a 50/50 timeshare. Jackson even outscored Ekeler in Week 13. The Chargers are expected to beat Indianapolis this Sunday, and I expect there to be plenty of carries available for both players.
I’m much more bullish on Tony Pollard this week. His situation in Dallas seems eerily familiar to James Conner’s last year. A young back flashes in preseason, the lead running back is holding out, and the team’s administration wants to prove they don’t need said lead back. Tony Pollard could easily get 20 touches in Week 1, and might even push for 30. The Cowboys play the Giants this week, who I expect little resistance from on defense. Start Pollard and don’t look back.
WR – Dede Westbrook
Remember how the Vikings offense did last year? We passed the ball. So much in fact, that we fired our Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo. This offseason, he landed as the OC in Jacksonville along with new starting QB Nick Foles. In the last few years, the offense has relied on the unreliable Leonard Fournette to steady their offense. With DeFilippo there and a new QB, I’m expecting a slight shift in their offensive game plan. Westbrook might be the only proven WR in town, and he happens to play in Nick Foles’ favorite spot: the slot. Last season, according to NFL.com, Foles targeted the slot 71 times compared to 54 outside receiver targets. Jacksonville plays the Chiefs on Sunday, meaning they’re going to sling the ball around the yard to give themselves a chance.
TE – Jack Doyle
Any player from Indianapolis is a risky start now that Luck is gone, but I believe you can trust Doyle. Last time we saw Jacoby Brissett for a whole season, the year was 2017. Doyle led the team in targets (108) and receptions (80) and made the Pro Bowl. That was two years ago, and now Eric Ebron accompanies Doyle at tight end. I still think Doyle will be used more than Ebron, and potentially more than T.Y. Hilton in the first few weeks. The Colts play the Chargers in Week 1. With T.Y. Hilton battling cornerback Casey Hayward on the outside, Brissett just might throw to his old pal Jack.