Handicapping Sports

Week 1 NFL Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet

Quarterbacks

Top Picks – Guys you HAVE to start if you have them
  1. Deshaun Watson vs. New England – As much as the passing is going to add up, it’s the rushing where you really expect Watson to bring you a ton of value this week.
  2. Cam Newton vs. Dallas – The Cowboys secondary is beat up, which should mean a decent amount of longer balls, in particular to the tight end.  Dallas plays the run well, so that may force more passing attempts.
  3. Philip Rivers vs. Kansas City – The entire KC defense is suspect, but it’s more that Rivers looks primed for a good year and this is just the start of it.

Players to watch – Players worth picking up if you didn’t already

  1. Nathan Peterman vs. Baltimore – Last year the guy looked AWFUL, and he gets a touch match-up in week one, but he’s a starting QB on a team that figures to be down a lot which may force a lot of passing and a lot of yards.  I wouldn’t pick him up just yet, see how he does, but if he does well against the Ravens he might be worth picking up if you’re short on QB talent.
  2. Mitch Trubisky vs. Green Bay – Trubisky hasn’t shown anything that makes you think that he’s going to be an all-star, but the Packers don’t have good corners and he is a starting QB that might be forced to throw to keep up with Rogers if he’s hot.  Worth keeping an eye to see how Mitch progresses this year.

Players to avoid – I’d rather not start these guys if I can avoid it

  1. Carson Wentz vs. Falcons – Wentz didn’t play on Thursday night, however in more of a general note I’m not sure what kind of player Wentz will be when he comes back.  He’s worth keeping if you have him, but if the right offer comes along consider a trade.  For the same reason Foles is also worth avoiding as you’re not sure how much work he’ll get when Wentz comes back.
  2. Andrew Luck vs. Cincinnati – The Bengals have a good defense, but really this is about wanting to see Luck play at game speed for a bit before assuming he can be elite again.

Draft King Bargains – Decent matchups you can pick up on the cheap

  1. Joe Flacco vs. Buffalo ($4,900) – Flacco is a good QB and he’ll be up against a Buffalo team that has more wrong with it than virtually any other squad in the league.  The Ravens could lean on the run, and could be up a bunch, but Flacco is so cheap that he is still worth a look if you’ve blown your wad on RB’s and WR’s.
  2. Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. New Orleans ($5,000) – Fitz is super cheap, has a good set of receivers, and figures to be down early.  This means really good value for the money.

Running Backs

Top Picks – Guys you HAVE to start if you have them
  1. Todd Gurley vs. Oakland – With Khalil Mack gone and the Raiders still reeling, look for the Rams to focus on a run game early, and then leaning on the run game late in the contest.  The only reason to avoid this start is if you are worried that the Rams build a huge lead and Gurley get’s pulled in the second half
  2. Alvin Kamara vs. Tampa Bay – Mark Ingram is out of the lineup and with that it means that Kamara will get virtually all the work, and around the goal line as well.  Much like with Gurley the only concern here is if the team gets up large against an undermanned Tampa squad and backups get playing time in the later stages of the game.
  3. David Johnson vs. Washington – With new QB’s in the mix in Arizona, the Cardinals will lean on Johnson heavily in both run and pass.  Washington may have a decent defense, but the offense figures to be dysfunctional and that means more reps for the Arizona offense.

Players to watch – Players worth picking up if you didn’t already

  1. LeSean McCoy vs. Baltimore – This is a huge risk vs. reward play.  On the one hand McCoy is all the Bills have, and the Ravens know it.  He will be keyed on all game.  Also if the Bills are getting crushed he’ll likely get pulled to help prevent an injury.  On the other hand he is all the Bills have and will get the Lion’s share of carries and catches.  If no one has him in your league and you’re short of running backs he might be worth a flyer.  If you have him it might be worth sitting him to see how he does.
  2. Jay Ajayi vs. Atlanta – The Falcons have a much improved defense over the last few years, and the Eagle quarterbacks haven’t looked great in the preseason, so that all lines up well for a lot of rushing.  The downside is that Sproles and Clement figure to rotate, especially on third down and goal like situations.  Watching how the team uses him will be key in understanding his fantasy value (and the value of Sproles) moving forward.  Ajayi is taken in most leagues, but trading him away or trading for him should depend a lot on what he does here.

Players to avoid – I’d rather not start these guys if I can avoid it

  1. Le’Veon Bell vs. Cleveland – The Browns are better against the run than they were a year ago, but this has everything to do with the hold out and the fact that he might not play, and even if he does how many touches will he get?  The sad thing is since he went in the first round in most leagues you’re almost forced to start him.
  2. Marlon Mack vs. Cincinnati – At last check Mack was injured, and unlikely to play at all.  Even if he did manage to sneak onto the field the team would likely limit his touches in the hopes of not aggravating the injury.
  3. Sony Michel vs. Houston – The Texans have an amazing run defense, so don’t expect the Patriots to focus on a running attack.  Michel is also currently not slated to play, but even as a game time decision in a similar situation he likely won’t be given much work for fear of getting injured all over again.

Draft King Bargains – Decent matchups you can pick up on the cheap

  1. James Conner vs. Cleveland ($4,500) – This really comes down to Bell, and if he plays.  If the team opts to keep him out Conner would be the bell-cow back with twenty plus touches.
  2. Rex Burkhead vs. Houston ($4,200) – This is all about value for money.  Burkhead will come cheap and get virtually all the carries and all the red zone work.  He’s not going to put up amazing numbers, but is coming just too cheap for a guy who will be the primary runner.

Wide Receivers

Top Picks – guys you HAVE to start if you have them
  1. Antonio Brown vs. Cleveland – With or without Bell in the lineup the Steelers figure to be very pass happy in their first game, especially picking on the banged up Cleveland secondary.  Brown figures to get targeted and put up large numbers.
  2. DeAndre Hopkins vs. New England – The Patriots have a questionable secondary, and Hopkins gets a lot of targets and produces good numbers with them.  The figures to be a high scoring game on both sides so Hopkins could end up with a monster game.
  3. Keenan Allen vs. Kansas City – The Chiefs have a sad situation at corner, and while there is still a good pass rush there Allen figures to get a ton of targets throughout the game.

Players to watch – Players worth picking up if you didn’t already

    1. All the Dallas Cowboys Receivers vs. Carolina – There are four or five players here that are all about equal when it comes to where they could have been drafted, if they were drafted at all.  Allen Hurns, Terrance Williams, Michael Gallup, Cole Beasley and Tavon Austin all bring different things to the table.  It’s really hard to know who Dak might develop chemistry with first.  If you’re lacking WR depth there could be some guys from the Cowboys worth picking up.
Players to avoid – I’d rather not start these guys if I can avoid it
  1. Pierre Garçon vs. Minnesota – I like the 49ers offense, but it’s more that Garçon hasn’t developed the connect with Jimmy G that Goodwin has thus far.  It also doesn’t help that the Vikings have a good pass rush and defensive backs.
  2. Danny Amendola vs. Tennessee – The Dolphins are lacking at QB and I haven’t seen anything from Amendola that makes me think he’s going to be stellar with his new team.  The Titans also have a decent back end.
  3. Jordy Nelson vs. Los Angeles Rams – So I haven’t seen anything from Nelson that leads me to believe he’ll be a major factor this year.  But aside from that the Rams boast one of the best, if not the best, defensive groups in the league.

Draft King Bargains – Decent matchups you can pick up on the cheap

  1. Stefon Diggs vs. San Francisco ($6,300) – The 49ers have a good defense, but if anything is questionable it’s the secondary.  If the Vikings are going to put up yards in chunks it figures to be in the passing game.  Diggs is coming out a lot cheaper than some of the other Vikings receivers and his skill set allows for a higher ceiling.
  2. Jarvis Landry vs. Pittsburgh ($5,500) – It’s entirely possible that the Browns get down early against the Steelers, meaning the team will be forced to pass more and that could lead to a big day for Landry.  Don’t expect a ton of touchdowns, but he could rack up yards on the cheap.

Tight Ends

Top Picks – Guys you HAVE to start if you have them
  1. Rob Gronkowski vs. Houston – He’s the best tight end in the game, the Patriots move the ball with him, and he’s the only real red zone target in the passing game.
  2. Travis Kelce vs. Los Angeles Chargers – The second best tight end in the game, and he figures to be Patrick Mahomes security blanket in a pinch.

Players to watch – Players worth picking up if you didn’t already

  1. Everyone on the Dallas Cowboys vs. Carolina – The Cowboys are carrying four TE’s into the game.  Blake Jarwin should be the primary, but see who the Cowboys use in the goal area. Don’t sleep on Rico Gathers.
  2. Antonio Gates vs. Kansas City – Gates hasn’t had a lot of reps and is older than dirt.  With that said, he’s done this forever and has chemistry with Rivers.  He’s worth watching to see how his production is.

Players to avoid – I’d rather not start these guys if I can avoid it

  1. Evan Engram vs. Jacksonville – The Jags have an amazing defense.  Don’t expect good numbers here at all.
  2. Jared Cook vs. Los Angeles Rams – The Rams also have an amazing defense, and I’m a little worried about how Carr and company adjust to the new Gruden playbook (which has never been TE heavy).

Draft King Bargains – Decent matchups you can pick up on the cheap

  1. David Njoku vs. Pittsburgh ($3,400) – Short passes to large targets might be all the Browns have time for.  Njoku is too cheap not to look at here.
  2. Tyler Eifert vs. Indianapolis ($3,400) – It’s more that I expect the Colts offense to sputter, so the Bengals should get a lot of short fields and opportunities to work with.

Defenses

Top Picks – Teams you HAVE to start if you have them
  1. Titans vs. Miami- The Colts offense is going to struggle as Luck looks to get back on track.  They have the potential to overwhelm this team and create turnovers.
  2. Baltimore vs. Buffalo – Peterman threw so many interceptions in his last start he got a game check from the other team.  The Ravens have the opportunity to put up amazing numbers here.
  3. Steelers vs. Cleveland – Both QB’s for the Browns aren’t really into the team at the moment, which could mean a big day for Steelers defenders.

Teams to watch – Teams worth picking up if you didn’t already

  1. Dallas vs. Carolina – The Cowboys could quietly put together a very good defense with a solid pass rush.  The safeties are questionable at best, but this team is one to watch and pick up if they look the part.
  2. Tennessee vs. Miami – The Titans are a solid team top to bottom.  Miami could get the first overall pick next year.  If you’re in a pinch for a last minute pickup this could be it for you.  Don’t fall in love with this team for what they do against Miami though, but hold onto them and maybe use for a trade if the opportunity is there.

Teams to avoid – I’d rather not start these guys if I can avoid it

  1. Tampa Bay vs. New Orleans – This could be a long day for a defense that already had some question marks coming into the season.
  2. Buffalo vs. Baltimore – Buffalo let their starting QB go, and has a lot of other issues.  The defense will be run over based on volume if nothing else.

Draft King Bargains – Decent matchups you can pick up on the cheap

  1. Cincinnati vs. Indianapolis ($2,700) – I’m not convinced Luck doesn’t struggle in his return.  The Bengals defense comes cheap and is worth the pickup if you need cap space elsewhere.
  2. Washington vs. Arizona ($2,800) – This is a gamble, but the injuries have hurt the Redskins in years past.  They have the potential to be elite, and the QB careless in Arizona means this could work out.
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