The wait is officially over, NFL is back. Unless you are fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, or an owner of Jameis Winston in fantasy.
The top story line going into Week 1 is that the Dolphins-Buccaneers matchup has been postponed due to Hurricane Irma. As the third option in the list above, I already feel like the world to conspiring against me.
Never the less, here are the “expert” opinions for the opening week of fantasy football.
Yes, he is getting up there in age, but there is no doubting Carson Palmer can still play. The 37-year-old is at the helm of one of the more quietly efficient offenses in the NFL. Arizona scored three touchdowns a game last year, given there was help from his running backs. But there is no doubt David Johnson can catch just as well as run. Spread around J.J. Nelson, John Brown and Mr. Catch Everything Larry Fitzgerald, Palmer is worth the shot. A game at Detroit could end in a shootout, and Palmer could come out guns a-blazin’.
Dak Prescott will not have as good of a year as he did last year. That is not to say he will have a bad year, but he won’t be as excellent as last year. Even with Ezekiel Elliot back for this week, it is a tough task. The Giants allowed the second least fantasy points to quarterbacks last year and have had a whole summer of preparation for this matchup in Jerry World.
Other notes: Three soft matchups to keep an eye on this week. First, Derek Carr returns from injury against Tennessee. Russel Wilson at home is usually a good idea, and the Packers defense was not great last year. Ben Roethlisberger goes to Cleveland, but more on that in a bit.
Pittsuburgh is at Cleveland, so all the Steelers are start worthy. Le’Veon Bell was always start worthy, but even more so now. Big Ben averaged 12.5 fantasy points on the road last year, including 8 (!) at Cleveland. If the passing game struggles, Bell and the backs will pick up the slack.
So, Ezekiel Elliot will play this week, but his six-game suspension has been upheld. Elliot owners should take what they can get for this week, though the Giants defense is tough. Darren McFadden is a must own for all Elliot owners, as he will be more than serviceable in Elliot’s absence. Remember that McFadden was a 1,000-yard rusher behind the Cowboys’ offensive line in 2015, averaging 4.6 yards per carry.
The saying that it is better to buy in bulk, but what about selling? In the case of the Seattle running backs, sell like crazy. Eddy Lacy joins a backfield already occupied by Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise. That situation is as clear as a stereotypical Seattle day. It should be interesting seeing that situation develop.
Other notes: The Saints gave up the third most points to running backs last year. San Francisco gave up the most. Both teams face rookie running backs in Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffery, respectively. Both rookies could put up big numbers. The only issue with McCaffery: Jonathan Stewart lurks in the background to steal touchdowns.
If you drafted Ted Ginn Jr., then you are a saint (no pun intended). But with Brandin Cooks off to New England and Willie Snead suspended, Ginn is now the second starting wide receiver in New Orleans. And if the words second, receiver and Brees together don’t get you excited, well, I am not really sure. Still, Ginn has big play ability even if he struggles with drops.
Anyone remember the fact that the Browns actually had a top-20 receiver on their team last year? Terrelle Pryor remembers. And because the front office in Cleveland is dedicated to spending the next ten years rebuilding, he is off to Washington. So now with a quarterback that has the ability not to throw into the stands once a drive, he could put up some big numbers, especially at home against Philadelphia this weekend.
Other notes: Low ball T.Y. Hilton this week, as Scott Tolzien will man the huddle for the Colts in Week 1. Demaryius Thomas is currently listed as questionable for Denver’s game against the Chargers. Should he not go, then Bennie Fowler is next in line to go with Emmanuel Sanders.
Now here is where I was going to make a comment about how while doing my research for this article, I came across something interesting in my 12-man league. Last year’s sixth ranked tight end was still available for pick up. That tight end was Cameron Brate of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and I picked him up. Well that backfired for this week, in the medium picture, it was a good pick up. As for the big picture, O.J. Howard waits in the wings for his chance in his rookie season.
Other notes: Top tight ends facing defenses that ranked in the top-10 of fantasy points allowed to tight ends are Rob Gronkowski (home to Kansas City, 8th), Travis Kelce (away to New England, 5th), and Jordan Reed (home to Philadelphia, 2nd).