Fantasy…football…is…finally…here. Get hype!
The wait is over. The summer is coming to a close. Football is upon us. Fantasy football begins on Thursday. It’s all happening!
So it’s time to start rolling out the fantasy projections for the top players in Week 1. Blast the air horns, guys, because it’s time to go.
Because we head into the regular season with more unknowns than knowns, the majority of the Week 1 projections will be a combination of three factors:
- Preseason rankings and expectations.
- A player’s proven track record (or lack thereof).
- The expected quality of the defense being played.
For all of those reasons, Aaron Rodgers is the obvious pick to top the Week 1 projections. He’s the best quarterback in the NFL, and he absolutely toasted the Chicago Bears last season, throwing for 607 yards, 10 touchdowns and no interceptions in his two meetings against them.
Losing Jordy Nelson for the season will hurt over the course of the year, yes, but you could give Rodgers a wideout corps comprised of peewee players and he would still torch the Bears.
The player who will challenge him for fantasy MVP this season, Andrew Luck, has a much tougher matchup against a good Buffalo Bills defense. The Bills led the league with 54 sacks last year and have one of the better defensive lines in the league. And now they have the very aggressive Rex Ryan calling the shots.
Luck will post some solid numbers, sure, but don’t expect him to carry your team this week.
One game that should be fun for fantasy owners is the Pittsburgh Steelers going up against the New England Patriots. Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady should both have very nice showings for owners, with Brady likely to light up the Pittsburgh pass defense after his crazy offseason.
Finally, Tony Romo should have a big week for owners against a pretty porous New York Giants defense. Romo threw for 554 yards and seven touchdowns last season, with just an interception and a fumble in two contests, so he’s a great bet to light them up again this year, especially without DeMarco Murray and a reliable run game to lean on.
DeMarco Murray is going to lose carries to Ryan Mathews this season and give up touches to Darren Sproles. He’ll likely have at least 100 less carries in Philadelphia’s balanced offense this season than he had with Dallas last year and will probably concede some fantasy points from a year ago, too.
But in Week 1, against an Atlanta defense that gave up 20.6 fantasy points to opposing running backs last season in ESPN standard-scoring leagues, he should absolutely tear it up and be the top player in fantasy to start the season.
Beyond that, trust your studs, bad matchup or not. There simply isn’t enough depth at running back to sit your top options just because the matchup isn’t great.
There are a lot of question marks at wide receiver, with Michael Floyd, Randall Cobb, Alshon Jeffery, Emmanuel Sanders and Mike Evans, among others, all having injury concerns to start the season. Add in the season-ending injuries to Nelson and Kelvin Benjamin, and the deepest position in fantasy starts the season in flux.
Ah, but the depth is real at wideout, and you’ll be just fine at the position if you drafted well. There’s no reason to believe the top stars at the position such as Antonio Brown or Dez Bryant are due for a down year, so start them with confidence to start the year.
Look for potential shootouts like the Eagles taking on the Falcons for a slew of receivers who could blow up. Julio Jones and Jordan Matthews are the obvious choices, but Nelson Agholor and Roddy White are sleepers worth keeping an eye on as well.
Ditto for the Cowboys playing the Giants, where Bryant and Odell Beckham Jr. will post huge numbers, but Victor Cruz and Terrance Williams could also post solid numbers as deeper sleepers at the position.
Like running backs, tight end is a position where you have to trust your stud. It’s generally harder to determine which defenses are built to stop tight ends, especially since the top options at the position generally transcend matchups and produce points against any defense.
I love the New York Jets this season under the aggressive Todd Bowles with their quality defensive line and the upgrades they made to the secondary. The matchup against the Cleveland Browns should be a heck of a way to open the season.
Outside of the Seattle Seahawks twisting Nick Foles in knots, the Jets are a contender to finish atop the rankings after Week 1.
Pick a kicker you trust and roll with him to start Week 1. There isn’t really a magical formula for picking a quality kicker beyond finding a consistent player on a good offense.
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