Hopefully you have at least one of these guys in your lineup. Here’s a look at the Week 1 schedule and the rankings for the top 10 players at each position.
Brady is in the No. 1 spot for quarterbacks this week as he and the New England Patriots take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. I like Brady over Aaron Rodgers this week because the Chicago Bears defense isn’t as bad as some make it out to be.
WalterFootball.com had this brief explanation for putting Rodgers in its top spot:
“Chicago’s sorry secondary stands no chance.”
It’s true the Bears secondary features second-year player Kyle Fuller and a bunch on nondescript guys who will seemingly be at Rodgers’ mercy. That might be the case if the front seven doesn’t get pressure on the reigning MVP.
Pernell McPhee and Jared Allen will be heard from all afternoon, and while the Bears won’t beat the Green Bay Packers, they will play well enough to keep Rodgers from putting up astronomical numbers.
Brady has to have some pent-up animosity after going through the fallout from Deflategate throughout training camp. He’ll take out his frustrations on a Steelers defense that figures to be really generous all season.
Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings were smart to allow their star running back to sit out the preseason. The 30-year-old veteran stood to gain nothing from participating in exhibition games. Per Dave Heller of Fox Sports, this is apparently something Peterson wants to do to stay healthy. Heller wrote:
“As Peterson has gotten older, he obviously is looking to conserve his body and isn’t worried about getting any game conditions in before the start of the season.”
Heller makes note of Peterson’s declining Week 1 stats over the course of his career and wonders if limiting his preseason workload is the culprit. That may have been the case in the past, but this year is a different situation.
Having played only one game in 2014 and missing the entire preseason this year, Peterson will be fired up and ready to explode on a vulnerable San Francisco 49ers defense. The unit is a shell of what it once was having lost a bevy of playmakers for various reasons.
Expect AP to run wild.
Another running back to keep an eye on is the Packers’ Eddie Lacy. While the Bears may slow the passing game down a little, they may experience some issues trying to curtail the large and nifty Lacy. With pressure coming off the edges, traps and draws up the middle with Lacy could gash Chicago’s interior defensive.
The Patriots vs. Steelers game will probably be high-scoring. Both teams have some questions on defense, and Pittsburgh has one of the most high-powered offenses in the NFL.
Per Mike Giardi of Comcast Sportsnet New England, the Steelers will be playing without running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver Martavis Bryant. In 2014, wide receiver Antonio Brown was targeted 11.3 times per game, per Fantasy Pros. That was second only to the Denver Broncos’ Demaryius Thomas.
With Bell and Bryant out, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Brown doesn’t get a ton of looks this game. With Darrelle Revis back with the New York Jets, the Patriots don’t have anyone who can match up with Brown.
A.J. Green is another player in position to shine. If Evan Silva of Rotoworld and I are right, Green could be one of the biggest sleepers at the wide receiver position.
The Oakland Raiders secondary is far from fearsome. TJ Carrie, who was a seventh-round pick in 2014, is the team’s No. 1 cornerback.
Green should have a clear advantage over him.
Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end in football when he’s healthy, but the Carolina Panthers Greg Olsen is the player to have at the position in Week 1. Carolina is on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Olsen is Cam Newton‘s only dependable receiving option.
Last season, Olsen set career highs in receptions (84) and yards (1,008). Those numbers came with rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin in the mix. Benjamin is out for the season, so Olsen should get even more opportunities.
This game should be the opposite of the Patriots vs. Steelers. In a low-scoring battle, the dependable Panthers tight end will go for a big game and make the biggest plays.
The Miami Dolphins and their new, fierce defensive line are tempting to tab as the No. 1 defense against a disheveled Washington team. Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake are possibly the best one-two punch on a defensive line in the NFL.
Still, the Seattle Seahawks have to be considered the top unit as they face the St. Louis Rams.
Seattle will be playing without strong safety Kam Chancellor, who is holding out, but it won’t matter. Seattle is just too strong at virtually every defensive position. Also, the Rams passing game is suspect with Nick Foles under center.
There won’t be a ton of points scored by the Rams in this one, but you shouldn’t rule out a defensive touchdown from Seattle.
If that weren’t enough, Seattle kick returner Tyler Lockett puts them over the top. The rookie out of Kansas State returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns in the preseason. He could be a major weapon in Week 1 for the Seahawks and beyond.
Picking a kicker is tough—especially in Week 1—but the Panthers’ Graham Gano stands out. It’s not because he’s the premier kicker in the NFL—because he’s not.
It’s more because the Panthers and Jaguars game has the look of a field-goal fest. Neither offense is high-powered, so while you may see a few drives by both teams, the prediction is that you’ll see multiple ones stalled inside the 30-yard line.
Because the Panthers figure to win the game, Gano is in line for a nice fantasy performance.
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