To steal a line from former WWE superstar The Rock: “Finally, Fantasy Football has returned to the masses!”
Aside from Christmas and fall soccer, this is my favorite time of year. All the drafts are over and the projections look to come to life. What side you are on depends on your preparation and a little bit of luck. Speaking of luck, there are plenty of storylines to keep your eyes on this year as the fantasy season unfolds:
- Will Lev’eon Bell be able to put aside the contract situation and play up to capabilities?
- Will Tampa Bay fight back in the face of adversity and push Mike Evans to the Top tier status that is expected of him?
- How will the RB situation play out in places like Washington, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and the NY Jets?
- Who will step up in Dallas and Jacksonville?
- Will Jimmy G live up to all the hype?
This is just a sample of things to ponder as the NFL Redzone fires up its first broadcast. Week 1 is always the hardest since there is no hard evidence to analyze. Looking back at averages and consistency can be a huge distinction on what lineup decisions you decide to make. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to the picks!
As always, I look forward to your opinions and feedback. You can tweet me with any questions (@TCutillo23) and leave your comments below. Here are my [PPR] picks for Week 1:
Week 1 Stars
Deshaun Watson (@NE): I know it’s a tough place to play and BB is hard on young QB’s, but the loss of the Defensive coordinator, combined with a lackluster defense makes me think Deshaun and D-Hop will not be stopped!
Cam Newton (DAL): Dallas is still looking for an identity, while Carolina is loading up for another run. With a revamped WR core, a consistent target in Greg Olsen and a 2nd year CMAC (includes 10lbs of muscle) the Panthers are looking to explode. Oh, and the addition of offensive wizard Norv Turner helps as well!
Royce Freeman (SEA): Okay, I’ll buy into the hype. Freeman looks to lead a revitalized offense and the Seahawks continue to see the legion of boom deteriorate into a long lost memory. There should be plenty of room to run as Case Keenum spreads the ball all around the field.
Joe Mixon (@IND): This looks to be the rise of Joe this year in Bengaland. He showed last year he could keep his hands off the women and more around the football, which should equate to more work. Gio will still get his due, but Joe will be the lead dog. His matchup against a team that gave up 4.0ypc last and didn’t get any better on defense should add up to an exciting fantasy weekend.
Alvin Kamara (TB): Sean Peyton Loves AK and now will feature him as the lead back for at least 4 weeks. Combine that with his special skills and the fact that Tampa Bay is still trying to figure out how to run their preseason formations should add up to a bug day for owners.
Michael Crabtree (BUF): Joe Flacco looks to be reborn while the city of Buffalo is still trying to figure out if the commercials of their upcoming games are legitimate or instead an old promotional segment for Seinfeld (Peterman Plug). Crabtree will continue where he left off in Oakland.
Brandin Cooks (@OAK): He got paid in the offseason and now looks to explode on the field. He hasn’t been talked about enough, but now it’s his time to shine. Goff will look to him early and often against a defense that will undoubtedly underwhelm with the loss of Mack.
Tyreek Hill (LAC): The Chargers lost some key defensive pieces and Bosa could be watching from the sidelines. It is now the Mahomes era in KC and he will look to his offensive gadget man in Hill early and often. This is going to be a fun year in Kansas City!
Week 1 Stiffs
Andrew Luck (CIN): This is similar to a situation like the Peyton Manning dilemma years ago. However, this time we are talking about a QB in his prime building his strength back up instead of a QB past his prime looking for the fountain of youth. It may be Week 6 or 7 before Andrew finds his arm speed, so until him use with caution.
Dak Prescott (@CAR): No Dez. No Witten. Where will Dak turn? As we still wait to find out of Hurns and Beasley can turn into big targets, traveling to Carolina will be no easy task. I would stay far away from Dak in Week 1.
Lesean McCoy (@BAL): Shady has had a Shady type offseason and still is feeling the impact of offseason drama. He still has supreme talent, but with a poor offensive line and a lackluster QB, an 8-man front will be the only thing he sees for awhile.
Jamaal Williams (CHI): He has gotten a lot of hype in the offseason, but I’m not buying it. When Jones returns it will be his team and a week 1 matchup against the Bears and their brand new addition, Mr. Mack isn’t what the doctor ordered to boost confidence.
Marquise Goodwin (@MIN): There has been a lot of hype surrounding the 49ers offense, but a week 1 matchup against the Vikings could limit those expectations. Xavier Rhodes is a beast and will limit Goodwin’s big play potential all week.
Amari Cooper (LAR): The Gruden era has started off on shaky ground with the Mack move, but when we’re talking about the offensive side of the ball, Cooper makes Chucky smile. Unfortunately, a Week 1 matchup against the star-studded defensive backfield of the Rams proves to be a huge challenge. If you’re looking for huge number from Amari, look into Week 2!
Corey Davis (@MIA): I am still trying to figure out the love affair with CD. He possesses some skills, but still hasn’t put them all together. If you combine how bad Mariota looked in the preseason and the blanket coverage he will see against one of the up and coming CB’s in Xavien Howard, it equates to a poor Sunday showing.
Bilal Powell (@DET) – I know it’s the Jets. I know their RB is murky. However, BP always tends to turn it up in any PPR format. Starting with a young rookie who will be constantly looking for a quick dump off, BP could be a sneaky Fantasy play in week 1 and for the rest of the year.
James Connor (CLE) – Even if Bell plays, Connor will get his share of the rock. The locker room has already endorsed him as a viable replacement and now it’s his time to shine. For owners who handcuffed Bell, great work. For those who didn’t, there’s always next year.
Ben Roethlisberger (@CLE) – The Browns have an underrated defense and there is talk that Lev Bell doesn’t play week 1. Let’s face it; even if he does play it will not be at 100%. Ben has been known for his inconsistent performances throughout the year and my gut tells me this will be one of those games. Last two games vs. CLE:
167 yds, No touchdowns; 263 yds, 2TD/1INT (These numbers don’t blow you away.)
DeAndre Hopkins (@NE) – By no means would I ever suggest to bench a top tier talent like Hopkins, but I will make it known that his success against New England has been pretty null. Bill is always known for taking a team’s best player and over the last seven games vs. NE, Hopkins’ best performance has seen him go for 7/76/0. Owners beware!
The Week 1 Heat Gauge
Three Players Who Are Kicking up the Temperature
Cam Newton (DAL) – Superman is Back for another year of excitement in 2018!
Christian McCaffery (DAL) – Norv Turner + Extra Muscle + 20 touches = Fantasy Beast!
Davante Adams (CHI) – The Magic Man Rodgers was paid and will look to make Davante one of the top 6 WRs in the league. It starts in Week 1!
Three Players Who are Lowering the Setpoint
Marcus Mariota (@MIA) – Confidence seems to be an issue for MM and a week 1 matchup against an underrated Defense in Miami won’t help.
Kenyan Drake (TEN) – Is he the lead back? Will he continue to get the lion share of the rock? I’ll wait on the sidelines until I put him in the starting lineup.
Marvin Jones (NYJ) – Jones had a decent year, but was too inconsistent for my liking. Golladay and Tate look to be the main targets, while Marvin will have good games here and there. Week 1 isn’t one of those games.
As always you can stop by my Facebook page (FantasySportsAddiction) or tweet me (@TCutillo23) for questions or some nice fantasy debates. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can listen to The Heat Ratio (@TheHeatRatio) podcast every Wednesday at 12 P.M. on Wildfire Radio, and subscribe on iTunes here.
I can also be heard weekly via the internet stream live at WengRadio every Monday at 4:00pm EST for a weekend sports wrap. But most importantly, you can catch me here at Pi!