As you get set to turn in your fantasy football lineup for Sunday, we have last-minute advice you can use to solidify your team.
Yes, it’s Week 1, and you should feel good about the team you drafted. But let’s be completely honest. You know you blew your second-round pick, and you don’t feel great about your third-round choice either.
You don’t win many games because you hit a home run in the fourth or fifth round.
So here’s a look at whom to start and sit Sunday if you are going to get off to a good start.
QB Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
The Panthers (7-8-1) were miserable last year, but they still won the NFC South title by virtue of the company they keep in the division. Despite the changes the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers made, it’s probably not going to get a whole lot better for them.
However, head coach Ron Rivera should have the class quarterback of the division. Drew Brees is almost certainly a Hall of Famer. But he is an older quarterback now (36), and he no longer has tight end Jimmy Graham at his disposal.
Newton is now at his peak, and while losing Kelvin Benjamin hurts, he still has his golden wheels and speedy Ted Ginn Jr.—4.30 40-yard dash, per ESPN.com’s Les Pasquarelli—up-and-down Jerricho Cotchery and dependable tight end Greg Olsen.
— David Newton (@DNewtonespn) September 3, 2015
The Panthers also open against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and that should mean plenty of opportunities for Newton to put it in the end zone.
RB Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders
Laugh at the Raiders if you want, but this is the year that Oakland begins to turn things around after suffering through 10 double-digit-loss seasons in the last 12 years.
The Raiders have their own version of the triplets now with Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Murray. This group will cause quite a bit of damage this year, and it begins in Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
** Raiders’ goal: Murray goes from relative unknown to ‘bell-cow back’ – http://t.co/KZhes1qTMp
— Raiders HotLinks (@TruthfulTalk) September 11, 2015
Murray is the member of this trio to ride on Sunday. He combines speed (4.38 40-yard dash), strength (230 lbs) and power, and he will run for at least 80 yards and a touchdown here.
WR Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys
There’s no doubt you play Dez Bryant if you have him against the generous New York Giants defense, and there’s no need to tell you that. But if you have locked up the Cowboys’ No. 2 receiver, you could have a huge day by playing him in the opening Sunday night game of the year.
— NFL (@NFL) September 5, 2015
The Giants will focus their defense on stopping Bryant and tight end Jason Witten, and that means Williams will not get anything more than single coverage at any point. He caught 37-621-8 last year, and one of those touchdowns came against the Giants.
He will catch at least five passes in this game and get into the end zone as well.
QB Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
This will be a prevailing lesson throughout the season, and we want to make sure you understand this trend early in the year.
Manning is not the all-time great who belongs in the same conversation with Joe Montana and Johnny Unitas. When he retires at the end of the year, he will go back to his rightful spot, but the Manning of 2015 is prone to injury and limited with what he can do on the field.
He may have a few good games this year before injuries set in, but you should not bank on him. The Broncos want to run the ball with C.J. Anderson this year, and they don’t want Manning to have to do too much.
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) September 7, 2015
He will be under the gun against what should be a nasty Baltimore Ravens defense, and he will throw for fewer than 200 yards and have just one TD.
RB Joique Bell, Detroit Lions
Bell is a hardworking back who will give everything he has on an every-game basis, but the Lions open the season on the West Coast against an AFC team in the San Diego Chargers that is desperate to prove it can play with the big boys this year.
You can’t play with the big boys if you can’t beat the Detroit Lions at home. The Chargers are not going to allow the Detroit running game to have any success.
They will punish the Detroit offensive line. Bell will not exceed 60 yards in this game, and he won’t get into the end zone.
WR Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
Injured throughout much of training camp, Jeffery still has calf issues, and he may not be able to go against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
Even if he is in the lineup, that calf injury will prevent him from anything more than limited playing time. Jeffery could not practice at full strength late in the week, per ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson.
Remember, the Bears no longer have Brandon Marshall, so that means Jeffery will get extra attention from opposing defenses. Extra attention plus an injured calf mean limited fantasy potential.
— David J. Chao, MD (@ProFootballDoc) September 9, 2015
Throw in erratic quarterback Jay Cutler, and you have a recipe for an underwhelming opening game from Jeffery.
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