Week 1 is in the books, and man was it a fun one. We saw many memorable performances, along with a lot of old names getting back into the mix. Expect many players who put up duds in week 1 to get back on track. Here are my start and sit recommendations:
BEN ROETHLISBERGER (Start of the Week): QB Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
22.0 Projected Fantasy Points
Big Ben on the road is a thing. We all know that he struggles on the road, but he plays at an elite level at home. This week he draws the Kansas City Chiefs at home, a defense that just got gashed by Phillip Rivers for 424 passing yards, 3 TDs and 35 Fantasy Points. Kansas City is coming into this one with the 28th ranked secondary – one that was able to slow down WR Keenan Allen and RB Melvin Gordon. Expect Big Ben to throw for 300+ yards and 3 or more scores.
JIMMY GAROPPOLO, QB San Francisco 49ers vs. Detroit Lions
20.4 Projected Fantasy Points
Jimmy GQ played well last week against a very solid Vikings Defense on the road. While he did throw 3 picks, he put up a respectable 15 fantasy points against the second best defense in the NFL. This week the Niners play the Detroit Lions at home, who were just embarrassed on their home field against a surprisingly tough Jets defense to the score of 48-17. The Lions have a decent secondary which is ranked 12th in the NFL, but their pass rush is ranked 24th and will have a hard time getting pressure on Garoppolo. Even with Marquise Goodwin out Week 2, the Niners offense should find some success in the pass game. Expect Jimmy G to surpass 300 passing yards and 2+ TDs.
MATTHEW STAFFORD, QB Detroit Lions @ San Francisco 49ers
19.40 Projected Fantasy Points
Matthew Stafford threw 4 interceptions last week at home against a stiff New York Jets Defense. You can expect Stafford to turn the tables this week as this is a QB friendly matchup and may end up being a shoot out. The 49ers Defense gave up the 12th most passing yards (3,943), the 9th most TDs (27), 3rd most total Fantasy Points (293.62) and Fantasy Points per game (18.4) to opposing quarterbacks last season. Expect 300+ passing yards and multiple scores.
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY (Start of the Week): RB Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons
13.40 Projected Fantasy Points
I know you’re starting McCaffrey regardless, but here is something you should know: the Atlanta Falcons defense is terrible against pass catching running backs. In 2017, the Atlanta Falcons Defense Ranked:
- 1st in targets against (139)
- 1st in receptions against (110)
- 4th in yards against (814)
- 10th in TDs against (4)
While the Falcons were pretty respectable against the rush last season, Christian McCaffrey is no ordinary pass catching running back. He led all running backs last season with 113 total targets, or 7.1 targets per game. In his first game against Dallas he was targeted 9 times, which ranks 4th amongst running backs. Expect him to be targeted early and often, and he should be in line for 100+ total yards and a TD.
ALFRED MORRIS/MATT BRIEDA: RB San Francisco 49ers vs. Detroit Lions
8.45 Projected Fantasy Points
Since Jerick McKinnon was lost for the year in the preseason, the backfield in San Francisco has looked pretty grim. With the signing of Alfred Morris and the return of second year running back Matt Brieda, this is truly a running back by committee. It’s hard to tell who the favored back is since Morris played 51.5% of the offensive snaps last Sunday, while Brieda played 45.5% of the snaps. However, I expect Morris to be the more traditional ground and pound running back, while Brieda will be used more in the passing game.
The Lions gave up the 12th most rushing yards (1,562) and the 2nd most TDs (15) to opposing running backs last season. They also ranked 4th in targets against (132), 3rd in receptions against (99) and 6th in receiving yards against (797) to pass catching running backs last season. They also allowed the 6th most fantasy points to opposing running backs (325.90) and 6th most fantasy points per game (20.4). Start them both as a flex play this week.
ADRIAN PETERSON, RB Washington Redskins vs. Indianapolis Colts
11.25 Projected Fantasy Points
I never thought AP would be a thing again as running backs over 30 are non-factors in the NFL. But at 33 years old, the dude looked incredible last week, making defenders miss and really churning for extra yardage. AP logged 28 total touches, which was good for 66.7% of the total running back touches. He played 53% of the team’s total offensive snaps and was given bellcow volume, with 26 carries for 96 yards a TD.
The Colts defense was manhandled week 1 against Joe Mixon and the Bengals to the tune of 22 total touches, 149 total yards and 24 fantasy points. In 2017, the Colts defense ranked 7th in rushing yards against (1,682) and 7th in TDs against (12). They also ranked 7th in Total Fantasy Points Allowed (319.80) and Fantasy Points per Game (20.0) to opposing running backs. This may not last, but start AP with confidence Week 2 against the Colts.
DION LEWIS, RB Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans
8.25 Projected Fantasy Points
I don’t think anyone saw this one coming, but Dion Lewis had 21 total touches in Week 1. Derrick Henry had 11. Dion Lewis played 71% of the offensive snaps in Week 1, while Derrick Henry played 29%. While it was almost assumed that Derrick Henry would become a fantasy stud once Demarco Murray was out of the picture, Dion Lewis was signed in the offseason to throw a wrench in this Titans backfield. Henry is a big bodied North South runner, while Lewis really excels in the pass game.
The Texans are pretty respectable against the run, but expect the Titans to feed Derrick Henry early and often to wear out the defensive line. The Texans are returning the 5th ranked defensive line in the NFL, including All Pro JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. However, their secondary is ranked 25th in the NFL and Lewis should be able to find space in the passing game. I wouldn’t expect 16 carries out of him again this week, but expect 15 total touches and 1 score.
JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER, WR Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
13.70 Projected Fantasy Points
Juju is becoming a consistent fantasy asset. In Week 1, in a low scoring, bad weather outing, he managed 5 receptions on 8 targets for 119 yards, which was good for 15.5 fantasy points. This week, the Steelers get the Kansas City Chiefs at home, fresh off a victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. However, this win saw Phillip Rivers throw for over 400 yards and 3 scores on a porous Chiefs defense. In 2017, the Chiefs defense ranked against Wide Receivers:
- 3rd in receptions against (208)
- 2nd in yards against (2,834)
- 3rd in TDs against (18)
- 2nd in Total Fantasy Points Against (391.50)
- 2nd in Fantasy Points per Game (24.5)
Antonio Brown remains the guy in Pittsburgh, but Juju is coming. Start him with confidence and expect more targets and a touchdown.
EMMANUAL SANDERS, WR Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders
12.30 Projected Fantasy Points
Emmanual Sanders played 51% of his snaps out of the slot on Sunday, which resulted in 10 catches on 11 targets for 135 yards and a touchdown. This was good for 26 Fantasy Points. We have seen an increase in his usage in the slot since the preseason and the coaching staff had been hinting at this all offseason. Oakland ranks 23rd against slot receivers and Sanders should find plenty of room to work this weekend. I wouldn’t expect a similar yardage total, but the targets will continue to be there along with a score or two.
PS: Start Phillip Lindsay if you have a flex spot. The Raiders rank 29th against pass catching running backs and Lindsay is about to step into a Danny Woodhead like roll. Freeman is the bellcow, but Lindsay could be heavily targeted.
ADAM THIELEN, WR Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers
11.45 Projected Fantasy Points
Week 1 was Kirk Cousins debut in Minnesota and he didn’t disappoint, going 20-26, 244 and 2 TDs. Thielen managed 6 catches on 12 targets for 102 yards and 13 fantasy points. His 12 targets were 7th best in the NFL, while his teammate Stefon Diggs was only targeted 6 times. Green Bay ranked 7th in yards allowed (2,572) and 1st in TDs allowed (21) against opposing Wide Receivers last season. They also ranked 3rd in Total Fantasy Points Allowed (388.40) and 3rd in Fantasy points per game (24.3). Thielen should dominate in this one.
JONNU SMITH (Start of the Week): TE Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans
3.20 Projected Fantasy Points
He hasn’t played a full game yet in 2018, but I am already pegging Jonnu Smith as a breakout for this season. This big and physical receiver impressed in a small sample size last season and should continue to impress in 2018 with a full work load. The Houston Texans rank 30th against Tight Ends and Mariotta should feed him often. The Houston Texans ranks against the Tight End Position in 2017:
- 6th in receptions against (81)
- 6th in yards allowed (922)
- 5th in TDs allowed (9)
- 4th in Total Fantasy Points Against (146.20)
- 4th in Fantasy Points per Game (9.1)
This kid could be the real deal and next elite Tight End. Start him.
JARED COOK, TE Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos
6.80 Projected Fantasy Points Against
Jared Cook literally came out of nowhere last week with 9 catches on 12 targets for 180 yards and 24.5 fantasy points. This was against a Rams defense, who is historically bad against the Tight End position. Cook will have another favorable matchup this week against the Broncos. In 2017, the Broncos ranked against the Tight End position;
- 9th in receptions against (79)
- 3rd in yards allowed (1,023)
- 4th in TDs allowed (9)
- 3rd in Total Fantasy Points Against (156.30)
- 3rd in Fantasy Points per Game (9.8)
Jared Cook should continue to see a healthy volume of targets in this one. Start him with confidence.
DEREK CARR, QB Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos
15.40 Projected Fantasy Points
Derek Carr may be writing his ticket out of Oakland. In Week 1 he went 29 – 40, 303 Yards and 3 Interceptions. This performance was good for 11 total fantasy points and warrants bench consideration this week. On top of that, Amari Cooper was only targeted 3 times and was said to be open on a few different occasions. The Denver Broncos allowed the 3rd fewest yards (3,385) and was 12th for fewest Total Fantasy points (242.30) and fantasy points per game (15.1) to opposing QBs last season. Derek Carr can’t be trusted this week.
TOM BRADY, QB New England Patriots @ Jacksonville Jaguars
18.60 Projected Fantasy Points
I know you are going to start him and this may not be a popular take, but Jacksonville is the best defense in the NFL with the best secondary and best defensive line. They will pressure this line early and often and force Brady to get the ball out quickly. Jalen Ramsey is a pure shut down corner and will most likely draw Chris Hogan. Ramsey covered in the slot on less than 7% of his snaps last year and the Giants were able to expose this secondary in Week 1 by playing Odell Beckham in the slot on 36% of his snaps. If Belichick was smart, and he is, he will line Chris Hogan up in the slot more in week 2 (37% of his snaps were from the slot). I still think this matchup is brutal and would recommend sitting Brady.
KENYAN DRAKE, RB Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets
10.20 Projected Fantasy Points
The New York Jets surprised everyone on Monday Night by manhandling the Detroit Lions in Detroit. What is crazier is that the Lions are returning the 8th ranked offensive line in the NFL, while the Jets pass rush is ranked 32nd in the NFL…or dead last. I believe this NY Jets defense is for real, and with the Dolphins having the 29th ranked offensive line in the NFL, yards will be at a premium. I would recommend sitting Drake for a second straight week.
JAMAAL WILLIAMS, RB Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
8.90 Projected Fantasy Points
Minnesota is coming in with the 4th ranked run defense, 9th ranked pass rush and the 6th ranked secondary. The Packers have the 13th ranked offensive line in the NFL, but it won’t be enough in this one to find running room for Williams. Sit him against the Vikings.
CHRIS HOGAN, WR New England Patriots @ Jacksonville Jaguars
7.40 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS
As stated above, the Jaguars are returning the best secondary in the NFL and the best cornerback tandem in All Pro corners Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye. Targeting Bouye and Ramsey last season netted opposing quarterbacks a 36.8 passer rating. Chris Hogan may be able to avoid Jalen Ramsey by lining up in the slot, but there are too many talented players in this secondary. Avoid Chris Hogan.
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