Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots
Dolphins RBs: Jordan Howard will likely be the main RB on offense, especially on early downs. The Patriots have lost a ton of playmakers from their front-seven for 2020: LBs Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, and even lost two safeties in Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon. Howard has a chance of return RB2 numbers, and there’s no doubt that the Dolphins will try to attack the Patriots on the ground considering that their strong suit is in the secondary. Howard is a solid flex play, while Matt Breida is an upside desperate option.
Dolphins WRs: DeVante Parker was on the injury report earlier in the week, but him and Preston Williams are both off of it going into Sunday. Parker got the better of Gilmore in their second matchup, there are a few things working against Parker: a) I’m not sure he’s 100% with that thigh/hamsring injury he was on the injury report for, b) he’s being shadowed by Gilmore, and c) Fitzpatrick doesn’t have to force him the ball now that Preston Williams is back, and d) they can actually run the ball now with better RBs and an improved offensive line. As far as Preston Williams, he’ll also have a pretty tough matchup, as the New England secondary has been stout against WRs last year. I would let this week pass before putting either WR into your lineup if you have the choice to see how the target distribution works out.
Dolpins QB: Don’t be surprised if Ryan Fitzpatrick is a top-10 QB after Week 1. It’s a tough matchup, so I wouldn’t think about it, but don’t be surprised… he does these things. He’s a gunslinger, he doesn’t care who’s matched up with his WRs. Whether he locks in on one guy is another story.
Dolphins TE: Don’t be caught off guard with Mike Gesicki not named as the starting TE. That other guy is just there to block, and Gesicki is going to be running out of the slot. I wrote an article on how he fits into Chan Gailey’s offense. He’s a TE1 with a good matchup, since a bunch of guys from their front-7 and Patrick Chung not available for the 2020 season.
Patriots RBs: With Damien Harris on IR (will miss at least 3 weeks), James White is the only RB I feel comfortable starting against the Dolphins in Week 1, and only in PPR leagues. Sony Michel already return to practice in full, so he’ll be the early down guy. Michel will be a TD dependent flex, and has a chance to rack up 15 carries, while White seems locked in a solid PPR RB2.
Patriots WRs: Julian Edelman is a PPR WR2, but he wasn’t drafted as one. As long as he’s healthy, he’s going to get opportunity. Outside of James White, who else is going to get volume? N’Keal Harry still has a lot to prove, and Edelman is the only reliable WR for Cam Newton. Byron Jones will likely be on the outside anyway, so Edelman will have an advantage out of the slot; the Dolphins might be playing their first round rookie in the nickel.
Patriots QB: Cam Newton is a fringe QB1 option because of his rushing ability. The fact that he simply doesn’t have a lot of weapons means he’ll be using his legs as much as possible. Tom Brady was always sneaking in TDs, so Cam is going to definitely get that opportunity as well. I would love to see how this offense rolls before putting him in my lineup, but the rushing floor should be there either way.
Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens
Browns RBs: In a new run heavy offense, Nick Chubb is going to get a ton of work. We saw Kareem Hunt eat into Nick Chubb’s work last season, but both have good chance of finishing as top-15 options in any given week. Given Kareem Hunt’s extension, it’s the evidence we needed to acknowledge how involved Hunt is going to be this year. He will likely be the passing down back, along with being the 1b in the rushing attack. Chubb is a top-15 RB play this week, while Hunt should be treated as a solid PPR RB2. One thing to keep in mind is the possibility of the Ravens getting ahead too quickly; if that’s the case, Hunt can be on the field more than Chubb. As far as matchup goes, the Ravens added one of the best run stuffers in the league in Calais Campbell, so don’t be surprised if Hunt is the one who has the better game in Week 1 between the two RBs.
Browns WRs: Odell Beckham Jr has a tough task ahead of him in Week 1 against Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, assuming they each stay on their respective sides. Still, WRs have been able to put up some fantasy points against the Ravens last year because of the fact that teams tried to catch up to them every week. That possibility is likely in Week 1, and Beckham would be the beneficiary of that attack after coming back healthier than he’s been over the past couple of seasons. OBJ is a low-end WR2 this week because of the matchup. Jarvis Landry seems to be healthy enough to play after surgery, but he’s a wild card right now since he didn’t get much camp time. I would wait and see on Landry, personally, but he makes an okay flex in a better matchup than OBJ has.
Browns TE: Austin Hooper and David Njoku has the feel of Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith back in Kevin Stefanski’s old stomping grounds of Minnesota. We want one to be unleashed, but they will likely be blocking each other’s upside. I wouldn’t start either of these two, and I might not care to roster them either.
Browns QB: I wouldn’t start Baker Mayfield against the Ravens. He doesn’t offer rushing upside, and his weapons have some tough matchups.
Ravens RBs: Mark Ingram will likely get the start in Baltimore, but I would expect JK Dobbins to be right there as the 1b in the rotation, despite him being listed 4th on the depth chart. I can see Ingram getting the goal line work to start the year, so in a game against the Browns, Ingram has multi-TD upside. Dobbins is a high upside flex option this week, and there’s a possibility he’s the one who closes out the game for the Ravens in the fourth quarter. Remember, this is a run heavy team going against a Browns defense who gave up almost 5 YPC to opposing RBs.
Ravens WRs: Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown is set to take a major step forward in Year 2 after getting the screws removed from his feet. He’ll be a high-upside WR2 candidate against just about any team with him as Lamar Jackson’s WR1. Treat him as a WR3 for now, but his upside when healthy is very tough to bench. Cleveland was in the middle of the pack last year in terms of defending perimeter WRs.
Ravens TEs: Mark Andrews is a top-5 option this week against a Browns team that gave up the 2nd most TDs to the position last year.
Ravens QB: Start Lamar.
New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills
Jets RBs: Le’Veon Bell is going to see at least 70% of snaps, and he’s the primary pass-catching RB. When running routes and catching passes is a specialty on top of the opportunity, it’s hard to fail. The only thing that is concerning is his upside. His floor is relatively high, and very safe in PPR leagues because of the targets he’ll get, and we’re hoping that Adam Gase doesn’t let Frank Gore vulture goal line TDs. If he does, I don’t think Bell is going to be too happy about that, and I’m not sure that’s what Adam Gase needs right now in that locker room after Jamaal Adams did what he did. Bell is a very solid RB2 in PPR leagues this week.
Jets WRs: The only WR I would consider playing is Jamison Crowder, and I would only do it in PPR leagues, unless you’re in a deeper standard or half-point league and don’t have too many options. Crowder will have a low depth of target, but will likely rack up enough receptions to not disappoint. Buffalo allowed the 12th most fantasy points to slot WRs in their last 8 games of 2020, so we shouldn’t worry about the matchup.
Jets TEs: Chris Herndon is back and healthy (cross your fingers), and he gives Sam Darnold a bit of a security blanket on short to intermediate pass attempts. Herndon had a great camp, and can very well lead the Jets in targets. Remember, Herndon had a very impressive rookie year, and only a few TEs have had the type of rookie seasons he’s had. Looks like he has a chance to finally break out. He’s a TE1 this week with top-5 upside.
Jets QB: You probably have better options available than Sam Darnold. He doesn’t have enough weapons to make him stream-worthy this week.
Bills RBs: If you’re starting anyone out of this backfield, it’s Zack Moss. The way Devin Singletary’s camp has been reported, it would be a huge surprise if he leads this backfield in touches in Week 1. He has been fumbling, Moss hasn’t. He’s been looking good in the run game, Moss hasn’t. Moss is also underrated in the receiving game, while Singletary wasn’t efficient in his first year in the NFL in that category. Moss is also likely to get goal line work, so Moss is actually a solid flex option against the Jets this week in a game they should control. If you drafted Singletary, I would keep him on the bench until I see this backfield shake out. Or, I would trade him now before Moss completely takes over, and Singletary holds zero value.
Bills WRs: The Jets have nobody to match up against Stefon Diggs and John Brown. Due to the limited passing attempts, I would stick to Diggs and bench Brown this week. Brown saw enough targets to be a solid WR2 last season, and now that they upgraded their WR1 to Diggs, a solid WR2 might be Diggs’ floor in this great matchup. If Diggs sees 7-8 targets/game, that’s more than enough for him to do his thing and make you happy.
Bills QBs: Josh Allen is a top-8 start this week. His rushing floor combined with the great matchups for his weapons makes this an easy start.
Las Vegas Raiders @ Carolina Panthers
Raiders RBs: Josh Jacobs caught too much flack this offseason, from me included, because he wasn’t going to be involved as much in the pass game as we would like. It’s only because we like him, and we want the best for the guy. We want him to get all the opportunity he can handle. Unfortunately, he’ll likely come off the field in passing situations for Jalen Richard, and the Raiders have backups available for that passing down role if Richard were to go down. Game script can be an issue in some matchups, but not in this one.
Jacobs is a solid RB1 because of his Week 1 matchup in Carolina, who might have the worst defense in the entire league. The Panther gave up the most rushing yards to RBs on the third most allowed carries, and gave up 27 (!!!!!) rushing TDs; that’s 9 more TDs allowed than the next worst team. Fire him up this week.
Raiders WRs: Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards will be the primary outside WRs, while Hunter Renfrow will man the slot primarily. The Z has been the primary target in Jon Gruden’s offense over the years, so Ruggs would be my first option if I have to pick this week. Edwards is a great but underrated prospect as well, and he can make a very solid X receiver. I would temper my expectations for both guys in Week 1, as there’s no guarantee either will get a ton of targets right out of the gate. Darren Waller is still there, and the targets can be a bit distributed to start out. It’s probably better to wait it out to see how the target distribution plays out. Carolina struggled on the outside against WRs, and that was when they had James Bradberry. Well, they don’t have Bradberry anymore, so either of these guys can potentially ball out. They are dart throws in Week 1 without knowing their usage, but both have upside.
Raiders TE: Everyone seems to have forgotten about Darren Waller. While it’s easy to chalk up Waller’s stellar 2019 year to lack of weapons, a tight end doesn’t have a 90-catch, 1145 yard season simply because of lack of weapons around him. He’s a stud, and should be treated like one until further notice.
Raiders QB: Derek Carr’s weapons have improved, but we can’t assume they will blossom as soon as Week 1, even with the good matchup.
Panthers RBs: Start McCaffrey.
Panthers WRs: DJ Moore is a WR1, and he’s an auto-start in Week 1. The matchup couldn’t be sweeter against a couple of unproven corners on the outside. In what should be a pass-heavy offense, Moore will get his targets. Robby Anderson looks like the #2 based on camp reports, and he will is a shot-in-the-dark upside flex play in deeper leagues or in DFS tourneys. I’m a big fan of Curtis Samuel, but we will have to wait and see on what his usage looks like.
Panthers TEs: Ian Thomas should play in Week 1, and he’s a long shot play, but he should be a name we remember when we need a streamer.
Panthers QB: Teddy Bridgewater has been my favorite deep QB in drafts, and he’s going to get opportunity to pass a ton in what should be a good matchup for him. He’s a streamer if you need one in a deep league. Don’t be surprised if he finishes as a QB1 this week.
Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons
Seahawks RBs: Chris Carson is the RB1, but there’s a real possibility that both Carlos Hyde and Deejay Dallas are involved in the rotation; Hyde as a the 1b in the running game, and Dallas as a passing down option. I would label Carson a TD-dependent RB2 this week. The entirety of the Falcons defense isn’t great, so there’s a good chance Carson sees a goal line opportunity or two. Update: Pete Carroll said he’ll ride the hot hand, and that there can be a committee between Carson and Hyde. Pretty much just confirmed some of the above.
Seahawks WRs: Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf should be solid WR2s this week against what should be a terrible Atlanta secondary, especially after they lost Desmond Trufant. We wish that this was a more pass heavy offense so these two can go completely ape-shit, but they are good plays nonetheless.
Seahawks TEs: There’s a good chance that Greg Olsen has a decent-sized role given that he was paid at least $5.5 million. The Seahawks have featured a tight end in their passing game over the past two seasons while they were healthy, but you probably have more defined options for Week 1. He could be a waiver pickup for Week 2.
Seahawks QB: Start Russell Wilson in a great matchup.
Falcons RBs: Todd Gurley’s knee is always going to be a thing as long as he’s playing football, and while we don’t know how effective he’ll be, we know he’ll see opportunity out of the gate. Devonta Freeman’s usage in the passing game can transfer over to Gurley this year, which keeps his floor relatively safe in PPR leagues. His upside will only come from TDs, which can happen often considering the fire power on this offense; the Seahawks did give up the 2nd most TDs of any team last season. He’s a solid RB2 this week.
Falcons WRs: Start Julio. Calvin Ridley has an opportunity for an increased target share this year based on ability, and the hope is that some of the vacated targets left from Austin Hooper, Devonta Freeman, and Mohamed Sanu won’t just be transferred over to Hayden Hurst, Todd Gurley, and Russell Gage. Just remember that there is a possibility that it happens, and Ridley is still a victim of a widely distributed passing attack. Regardless, he should be treated as a high-upside WR2 in a neutral matchup. All Ridley needs is 8 targets/game to be a high-end fantasy WR1.
Falcons TE: Hayden Hurst comes into Dirk Koetter’s offense, which historically has featured a TE in the passing game. They traded a 2nd round pick for him, so they have big plans. He’ll likely have a solid outing, as the Seahawks gave up the 2nd most yards on the 3rd most receptions to TEs last season. Keep in mind that Jamal Adams is now in town, and he can shut that down real quick. I would treat him as a low-end TE1 this week.
Falcons QB: Matt Ryan’s on one of the most pass heavy offenses in the league, he has weapons, and his defense stinks. Recipe for success for a fantasy QB. Let’s see if he can come through this year. He’s a top-10 play in what looks like a neutral matchup without much of a pass rush.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington
Eagles RBs: Miles Sanders is still day-to-day with a hamstring injury. Buy low.
Eagles WRs: Alshon Jeffery isn’t playing, but DeSean Jackson is. He’s a high-upside WR2 this week against Washington, which is a great matchup for WRs. There’s a chance Jalen Reagor plays this week, but I would probably keep his as a high upside stash on my bench since he probably won’t be 100% in Week 1. D-Jax is the WR1 in Week 1, and he’ll get plenty of opportunities to do his thing. Kendall Fuller is dealing with a knee injury, so even if he does get on Jackson, he’ll be fine.
Eagles TEs: Zach Ertz has his target share locked up in Week 1. Reagor might miss, Alshon will miss, and Miles Sanders might have a limited workload. Because of the shallow amount of weaponry, Dallas Goedert gets a slight upgrade; he’s near the bottom of the TE1 discussion.
Eagles QB: Carson Wentz played very well last year despite the lack of weapons. He should be fine in Week 1, but I might shoot for upside with someone like Teddy Bridgewater available.
Washington RBs: I won’t be considering playing any RB outside of Antonio Gibson. Ron Rivera said that they will be using a committee approach, but who doesn’t? Gibson has a ton of PPR appeal, and he is an upside flex option, who can very well turn into a high-end RB2 if given the right role. There’s a large array of outcomes for Gibson, but if you need some upside, go for it. While the Eagles run D was stout last season, they did give up 87 receptions to RBs, which was 9th most in the NFL.
Washington WRs: Terry McLaurin has a great chance to fully break out in 2020, but he’ll have a tough task against Darius Slay in Week 1, who’ll likely shadow him. McLaurin caught only 3 of his 10 targets for 42 yards in Slay’s coverage in their matchup last year. If you have another good option that has a decent floor, you might want to plug him in for McLaurin to be on the safer side. Slay said that McLaurin was one of the two toughest matchups he’s had all year, so it’s possible McLaurin can still win this matchup. I would still start him as a low-end WR2 this week after a downgrade.
Washington TEs: Logan Thomas’ athletic profile is ridiculous, and there was talk about Haskins and him having a solid rapport in camp. He’ll have opportunity, as there isn’t a clear cut 2nd option in the passing game behind McLaurin. He’s not somewhat you want to just go ahead and start in Week 1, but keep an eye on him as a potential streamer for the future.
Washington QB: Dwayne Haskins isn’t quite there to be ranked as a legit fantasy QB option this year. Hope he proves us wrong.
Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions
Bears RBs: David Montgomery is practicing in full as of Thursday, which means he made a miraculous comeback from a groin injury that we all thought was going to keep him out a few weeks. He might be limited during the game, so Tarik Cohen can end up as a low-end PPR RB2. I won’t be trusting Montgomery in my lineup in Week 1 off of this soft tissue injury, because range of outcomes is too large. He’s a desperate flex option.
Bears WRs: It’s unfortunate that Mitch Trubisky has been named the Week 1 starter, but at least we know that he’ll be targeting Allen Robinson. Robinson averaged the 4th most targets/game of any player last season, so start him as a low-end WR1 against a Lions team that replaced Darius Slay with rookie Jeff Okudah. A good rookie, but it’s his first game as a pro against a beast in ARob. Update: Okudah suffered a hamstring injury, and was limited on Thursday. The Lions also have Desmond Trufant, but he’s not a worry.
Bears TEs: Jimmy Graham can be involved, but have no idea what his usage will look like. I would keep him on the waiver wire for now.
Bears QB: As bad a real life QB Mitch Trubisky is, he can get it done as a fantasy asset. He has put up high upside fantasy games in the past, but he’s tough to trust.
Lions RBs: Adrian Peterson will likely be the main RB in Week 1, which is crazy to say. D’Andre Swift should have a role in Week 1, but because of his injury he likely won’t be unleashed. He’s still a great stash, and there’s a possibility he’s the passing down back right out of the gate. Kerryon Johnson can be left on waivers or dropped for some upside elsewhere. Peterson is a TD dependent flex, and Swift is a PPR flex.
Lions WRs: Kenny Golladay has been downgraded to doubtful for Sunday. Marvin Jones gets upgraded to a solid WR2, especially considering that the Bears have no one who will be able to guard him 1 on 1.
Lions TEs: TJ Hockenson gets a bump to a low-end TE1, assuming Golladay sits. The Bears allowed the 7th most receptions to TEs last season; it’s a relatively neutral matchup for Hockenson.
Lions QBs: It’s unfortunate that Matthew Stafford will be without Golladay, but he still has a few guys who are great end zone targets in Jones and Hockenson. He takes a bit of a hit, but the Bears’ secondary doesn’t scare me off of him a ton. He’s a low-end QB1.
Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Colts RBs: Marlon Mack and Jonathan Taylor will share the early down work, while Nyheim Hines will likely work as the primary pass catcher on all three downs. It’s not a pretty situation when it comes to trying to make a decision; both Mack and Taylor have upside, but it seems like Mack is the 1a for now. Taylor doesn’t need a lot of work to come through, but it’s tough to rank either as more than a flex right now without knowing what the splits look like. If you want upside, this Jaguars defense definitely can provide it to both. If I’m starting one of these guys, it’s Taylor, and that’s only because he’s a beast of a RB, and he can take it to the house on any given play behind that offensive line. Hines is a PPR flex play.
Colts WRs: Colts WRs have a great matchup this week against an unproven secondary. TY Hilton will likely lead the team in targets, and should be treated as a solid WR2 this week. Parris Campbell is finally healthy, and he is a PPR flex play, but he has a tough matchup against DJ Hayden in the slot. I won’t be putting Michael Pittman in my lineups just yet.
Colts TEs: The tight room has been getting smaller and smaller due to injury, and now they Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox as the tight ends who are left. This should leave Doyle has one of Philip Rivers’ go-to, so he is a top-15 option at TE this week.
Colts QB: Phillip Rivers can be streamed this week, given that his guys are healthy and this is a cake matchup. He’s a borderline QB1.
Jaguars RBs: James Robinson is a flex option now that both Devine Ozigbo and Ryquell Armstead are on IR/COVID lists. There’s a lot of intrigue around him, and he shouldn’t be on waiver wires. Chris Thompson is the preferred play in PPR leagues, as he’s a mainstay in Jay Gruden’s offenses. The Colts gave up the most receptions to RBs in 2019, so Thompson is a legit PPR flex play with upside.
Jaguars WRs: The Jaguars defense is very bad, so there’s a very good chance Gardner Minshew will be chucking it all over the field. His WR1 DJ Chark has a chance to eclipse 10 targets this week, considering the lack of established weapons the Jaguars have as well. Jay Gruden also has a history of hyper-targeting is WR1. Xavier Rhodes will likely be the one who sees Chark the most, and that’s a good thing. Chark is a high-end WR2 this week. Laviska Shenault shouldn’t on waivers at this point, as it seems like the Jags have a lot of plans on using him all over the formation, including the slot and backfield.
Jaguars TEs: Tyler Eifert is not someone I want in my lineup. He can get some work, but let’s see it first before rostering him.
Jaguars QB: Gardner Minshew has a built-in rushing floor, and the entire offense will likely be put on his shoulders. He’s a high-end QB2, and someone you’ll likely be looking at as a streamer on a weekly basis.
Green Bay @ Minnesota
Packers RBs: There’s a possibility that there are three RBs in the rotation after drafting AJ Dillon in 2nd round. Still, Aaron Jones should be treated as a high-end RB2 with a high ceiling, but a low floor.
Packers WRs: Davante Adams will likely have a field day against these unproven Vikings corners. The Vikings gave up the 2nd most fantasy points to perimeter WRs last year, and had “better” corners on both sides of the field. Allen Lazard or any other Packers WR should sit on the bench or the waiver wire for now.
Packers TEs: Not going near them
Packers QB: Aaron Rodgers can do a lot against this secondary. He’s a low-end QB1 this week because of the unknown weapons outside of Adams.
Vikings RBs: Hopefully Dalvin Cook plays if he doesn’t get his deal. He’s a high-end RB1 in any matchup he’s healthy for. If Cook doesn’t play, Alexander Mattison will be the preferred option. Make sure to have Mattison on deck just in case you have Cook.
Vikings WRs: Adam Thielen has his target share locked up. Justin Jefferson didn’t have a great camp, and Olabisi Johnson isn’t someone I should even be talking about right now. Thielen is likely to get 25% target share, so he’s in as a borderline WR1, regardless of matchup. He’ll likely see Jaire Alexander, and he can potentially be followed, but unless Alexander improved mightily since last offseason, Thielen should be just fine.
Vikings TEs: Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith will likely keep each other’s ceilings and floors low, so I’m avoiding.
Vikings QB: Kirk Cousins is underrated, but there isn’t any reason why he should be starting in Week 1 unless you’re in a very deep league. He simply doesn’t have the weapons to be considered a streamer this week.
LA Chargers @ Cincinnati Bengals
Chargers RBs: Austin Ekeler is a PPR RB1 as long as he receives 65% of overall snaps, especially in this matchup. He’ll be one of the main pass-catching options for Tyrod Taylor; Taylor has targeted RBs at one of the highest rates in the league throughout his career. The battle for Ekeler’s early down complement is between Justin Jackson and Josh Kelley, and it’s been Kelley who’s been impressing throughout. Jackson is a bit banged up, so we could see Kelley with some opportunity early. I wouldn’t start Kelley just yet, but he’s a good bench stash to see how he operates in this offense.
Chargers WRs: I’m treating Keenan Allen is a low-end WR2 until I see that Tyrod Taylor will pepper him with targets. My concern is that the targets are too distributed, and that Allen doesn’t get the volume we’re used to with him. The fact that he runs a lot of his routes short to intermediate doesn’t help, so the efficiency on a per target basis likely won’t help you.
Chargers TEs: We’ve seen Tyrod pepper his tight ends in the past, and Hunter Henry might be the best one he’s had. I’m treating him as a high-end TE2 until I see that Henry has a nice-sized target share relatively locked up. He does have a good matchup.
Chargers QB: Believe it or not, Tyrod is streamable. He’ll always be streamable, because he tucks and runs a lot. 40 yards rushing is very doable for him, and if he throws 2 TDs as well, that’s an amazing day from your QB. You probably have a better option this week, but we might soon find out that he has one of the best floors out of the weekly QB streamers.
Bengals RBs: I’m starting Joe Mixon this week as a low-end RB1. Gio Bernard will likely spell Mixon a bit, but mostly come in on obvious passing situations. Neutral matchup, and likely the way the Bengal want to attack the Chargers – on the ground, and not through the air.
Bengals WRs: AJ Green will be shadowed by Casey Hayward in his first game in almost 2 years. For Green to come back at 32 years old after 2 years and do damage against Hayward seems like a daunting task to me, so I’m fading him if possible… at least for Game 1. Keep in mind that this Chargers defense gave up the 3rd least fantasy points to WRs last year, and they were stout all over the field. Derwin James is a big loss, but they still have their elite corner group. The loss of James initially might have seemed to benefit Tyler Boyd because standout nickel corner Desmond King might move back and have more responsibility besides defending the slot WR primarily; however, it seems as though the Chargers will be moving Chris Harris inside, where he has been a standout nickel during his years in Denver. Both guys have tough matchups, and while I’m very high on Boyd this year, feel free to find another option this week. I would still start Boyd as a WR3, but believe his overall value is closer to a WR2.
Bengals TEs: Nah.
Bengals QB: I like Joe Burrow, but I’ll stay away from him in a matchup where his two best weapons are being guarded by two of the best corners in the league.
Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco
Cardinals RBs: Kenyan Drake is locked in a RB1 this week, despite the tough matchup. The Cardinals line up 4 WR a ton, so it’s going to give Drake a ton of room to run without any stacked boxes. It’ll also force San Francisco to run defenses they usually don’t run more often than they would want to. We’ll get a good idea of whether Chase Edmonds is a real part of the rotation.
Cardinals WRs: DeAndre Hopkins is in lineups this week, especially when you consider where you drafted him. There’s a possibility he doesn’t hit the ridiculous raw target number he’s seen in Houston over the past few seasons, but he’s still an amazing talent on an up-and-coming offense. The 49ers pass defense was falling apart towards the end of the year last year, especially when it came to defending WRs. This is not a matchup you need to stay away from, especially considering Richard Sherman doesn’t shadow opposing WRs… not to say that he would necessarily be great doing it at this point of his career. Christian Kirk is a bench stash at this point to see how the target share distribution works out in Week 1. The ideal situation for Kirk is that he’s the clear #2 option behind Hopkins, which would free him up with the lesser coverage of the two most weeks and make him a legit fantasy asset. Let’s wait and see on him.
Cardinals TEs: There’s a lot of intrigue behind Dan Arnold, as he’s a physical freak, but he’ll probably be limited to being a streamer here or there throughout the season.
Cardinals QB: I’m starting Kyler Murray this week as a top-10 option, where he would normally be top-6 or so on average. It’s a relatively tough matchup, but Murray’s upside is hard to bench. I would only start legit QBs with cake matchups like Ben or Goff ahead of him.
49ers RBs: Raheem Mostert is the starting RB, and has been treated as the starter by the 49ers during camp. Tevin Coleman might not play this week because of the poor air quality in San Francisco (Coleman has sickle-cell trait, so he can be affected by poor air quality). That would leave Mostert and Jerick McKinnon as the two main backs. If McKinnon is available on your waiver wire, he’s a priority add, especially in PPR leagues. McKinnon is by far the best pass-catching RB on the team, and he can carve out a nice role… maybe the same role Shanahan envisoned for him when he signed him as a free agent a few years ago before his ACL injury? That might be a stretch, but he’ll have some extra opportunity right out of the gate. Oh yeah, start Mostert as a solid RB2 against the Cardinals.
49ers WRs: Brandon Aiyuk is the only 49ers WR worth talking about now that Deebo Samuel has been ruled out. Aiyuk has a ton of upside as a player, and seems to be a very ready rookie WR. He’s a stash if you’re not playing him Week 1. He’s an upside flex against a shaky Cardinals secondary.
49ers TEs: George Kittle is in, right? And he’s going against Arizona.
49ers QB: Jimmy Garoppolo would normally be a streamer this week, but you probably have a QB ahead of him. Without Deebo, he has his rookie WR and Kittle, and that’s about it. I need more from a non-mobile streaming QB.
Tampa Bay Bucs @ New Orleans Saints
Bucs RBs: Who knows? After the Bucs signed Leonard Fournette, Bruce Arians said that he never had a conversation with Ronald Jones about a role change, because there isn’t one. But, he also said that Fournette will have a solid role in Week 1. If I had to start one this week, it’s Jones, but he has a short leash. It’s a good offense to have the lead back for, but we don’t know who that guy is or will be as the season moves on. My money is on Fournette, but we’ll see. Both guys might be on my bench to see what this split looks like in Week 1, especially because it’s a tough matchup.
Bucs WRs: Mike Evans is doubtful to play, so Chris Godwin takes a step forward with some likely guaranteed target share. Him and Brady didn’t have the same connection in camp that Evans and Brady had, but there shouldn’t be a problem with these two hooking up often, especially when Godwin lines up in the slot. There was a bit of a concern about a lot more 12-personnel with Godwin, which we might see even more of with Evans off the field. If Godwin is on the outside, he’ll likely have a tough matchup against Marshon Lattimore. Godwin is a low-end WR1 play this week based on volume alone. Scotty Miller is next in line, but I’m not interested.
Bucs TEs: Gronk is the favorite to be a legit part of the Bucs’ passing attack. A lot of beat reporters have said that he looked great, so without Evans, Gronk has a good chance of having a Gronk-like day as a TE1.
Bucs QBs: We don’t know what to expect from Tom Brady without Mike Evans on the field, so he gets downgraded to a high-end QB2 this week for me.
Saints RBs: Let’s hope Alvin Kamara gets his deal done before Sunday. If he does, we know he’s in. He’s a high-end RB1 even in a tough matchup against the Bucs.
Saints WRs: Michael Thomas is the WR1 or WR2 overall… so he’s in. Emmanuel Sanders should be able to perform while healthy, but it’s hard to say what kind of role he’ll have, and whether the targets will be tightly distributed enough to the point where he’ll be fantasy relevant. He’s a great player, but he’s also 33 years old, so he isn’t on a lot of my fantasy teams. If you have him, I can see playing him as a flex in this good matchup if you had one of the big-three WRs who went down with injuries this week.
Saints TEs: Jared Cook’s target share is one you wonder about when it comes to the addition of Emmanuel Sanders. He’ll likely still get targeted around in the end zone; he was tied for 11 end zone targets last year, which ranked 9th in the NFL. That was also tied for 1st among TEs with Mark Andrews. He’s a back-end TE1 in a good matchup.
Saints QBs: Drew Brees has enough weapons for me to start him this week. The Bucs gave up the 3rd most fantasy points to QBs last year, so he’s in a good spot.
Dallas Cowboys @ LA Rams
Cowboys RBs: There’s a buzz around Dallas that Ezekiel Elliott will be even more involved in the pass game, which would be very welcomed. Either way, you’re starting him this week as an elite RB1.
Cowboys WRs: Amari Cooper has a tough matchup against Jalen Ramsey, who’s expected to shadow him. Michael Gallup gets an upgrade because of it, and so does CeeDee Lamb. With Cooper banged up (he’s always banged up), combined with the tough matchup, it’s tough to not look for a replacement, especially Dak Prescott has a ton of other weapons. Gallup is a borderline WR2 this week, and Lamb is a high-upside flex.
Cowboys TEs: Hopefully there will be some targets left over for Blake Jarwin. It’s very possible he’s a big part of the offense, but we really need to see how this target distribution works out. He does get a bit of a boost with the Cooper/Ramsey shadow situation, but I’m still not comfortable starting him just yet.
Cowboys QB: Dak Prescott is the QB3 behind Mahomes and Lamar Jackson most weeks, so he’s in.
Rams RBs: After nursing a hamstring injury, Darrell Henderson will be ready to go for Week 1, but we have no idea how this rotation between him, Cam Akers, and Malcolm Brown will play out. One guy will be that guy eventually, and Akers has the upper hand for that to happen at some point. I wouldn’t start Akers just yet, but there’s a chance he takes over the backfield relatively soon. Let’s watch this play out unless you have no other options outside of Akers as your flex. Neutral matchup.
Rams WRs: Robert Woods has morphed into the WR1 for the Rams, while Cooper Kupp will get his opportunities out of the slot as well. Kupp will be a bit more boom or bust if the Rams continue to tinker with 12-personnel, because he won’t have a slot position to play in, and will have to either be forced outside, or have Van Jefferson/Josh Reynolds come in for him. Either way, Kupp always has a ceiling and is Jared Goff’s favorite red zone target. There is no one in the Cowboys secondary that should scare you away for either guy now that Byron Jones is gone. Both guys have big upside this week.
Rams TEs: Tyler Higbee ended last season with one the best run we’ve ever seen from a tight end. He’s worth an upside play this week against the Cowboys, who allowed the 4th most fantasy points to TEs last year. Don’t be surprised if Higbee comes down to earth because of variosu factors, but we also can’t forget that the upside of him even 75% close to what he was is still there too.
Rams QBs: Jared Goff has a great matchup, so he’s a legit streamer this week. If you don’t like your QB1 matchup, I think Goff is the guy to stream as a top-8 option at the position.
Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants
Steelers RBs: James Conner is a RB1 while he’s healthy regardless of the matchup. Mike Tomlin proclaimed him as the bell cow, and those words match up with his history before last season.
Steelers WRs: Juju Smith-Schuster will continue from the slot, while Diontae Johnson has a shot to take a big step forward on the outside as well with Ben Roethlisberger back. Juju should be treated as a low-end WR1, with Johnson as a WR3 to start the year. James Bradberry might be on Johnson a bit in this game, so temper expectations. Still, this secondary is so beatable outside of Bradberry that Johnson is still someone you want in your lineups to take advantage.
Steelers TE: Eric Ebron has been hyping himself up big time this year. He thinks he’s going to have a big fantasy year, and he loves his new role. For now, we can wait and see, but if you want to just shoot for the upside, the Giants did give up 8 TDs last year, which tied for 3rd most given up.
Steelers QB: Ben Roethlisberger has a great matchup, has great weapons, so there’s no much to not like about this week. Him and Goff are the two best streaming options this week when you consider the secondaries they’re going up against.
Giants RBs: Saquon Barkley has a chance to end the year as the RB1. He’s in, despite the tough matchup.
Giants WRs: Sterling Shepard is the Giants best WR, and the one that will most likely lead them in targets/game. However, he will see a lot of Joe Haden and Steven Nelson. Golden Tate was limited in practice on Friday with a hamstring strain, and if he’s out, Shepard and Engram will likely see a boost in targets. Darius Slayton has upside, but the target share will likely be too low behind Engram, Shepard, and Barkley to depend on him in a tough matchup.
Giants TEs: Evan Engram might lead the team in targets, so he’s still a top-8 option at TE while relatively healthy. He’s that low only because of the matchup, but otherwise he’s in the top-5 discussion on a weekly basis.
Giants QB: Daniel Jones is one streamer I will likely stay away from this week, and for the first several weeks of the season… he has brutal matchups. Pick him once his schedule gets better for the upside he presents.
Tennessee Titans @ Denver Broncos
Titans RBs: You’re starting Derrick Henry regardless of the matchup! High-end RB1.
Titans WRs: It’s hard to sit AJ Brown’s upside… it’s also hard to envision him seeing the targets he should on a weekly basis. Hopefully they come up to a point where he’ll be dependable, and not just an upside play. Still, he’s a WR2 with WR1 upside every single week. This week’s matchup against Denver is very appealing for him if he gets the opportunity; he’ll see a lot of AJ Bouye and rookie Michael Ojemudia.
Titans TEs: Jonnu Smith is set to break out this season. There isn’t anyone behind AJ Brown who would demand targets over Jonnu, so his target share is relatively safe… the raw targets, however, is the concern because of how pass heavy this offense is. If the distribution is tight between Brown and Jonnu, you’re sitting pretty with Jonnu as your TE1. This week, he has a good matchup to start the year right.
Titans QB: Ryan Tannehill was built on efficiency last year, even though he was one of the most consistent fantasy QBs once he became the starter for the Titans. That might not last, but he has a pretty good matchup to continue his run from last year. He’s a deep-league QB streamer this week.
Broncos RBs: Melvin Gordon missed a lot of camp, and Phillip Lindsay was able to impress and potentially close the gap between the two. The question is… will Lindsay get goal line work over Gordon? Probably not. Will he get pass-catching work over Gordon? Probably not on passing downs. Gordon is still a RB2 this week against the Titans because of his presumed role. My guess is that Lindsay is a close 1b on early downs, but Gordon takes most of the work in the passing game and goal line to add to his early down carries. I don’t see a ton of upside for Lindsay unless he rips a long one. He’s a deep league flex option in a neutral matchup for RBs.
Broncos WRs: Courtland Sutton is questionable for Monday night’s game, but I personally don’t want to start him this week with him sustaining the AC joint sprain in the middle of game week. Jerry Jeudy takes an obvious step forward, and just thinking about him running routes of the slot makes me nervous for the Titans, especially against a rookie nickel corner in Kristian Fulton. Jeudy gets upgraded to a solid WR3 with upside if Sutton is out.
Broncos TEs: Noah Fant is set to break out at some point, but we don’t know when it’ll come together for him as far as opportunity. Sutton being out can definitely help shift some targets in his direction, and while he gets an upgrade, he’s still a streaming TE in case you’re trying to decide on one of your later round TEs in a deeper league. He’s in a positive matchup against the Broncos.
Broncos QB: Without Courtland Sutton, it’s hard to imagine Drew Lock having a great game out of the gate. He has potential, but we still have a lot left to see before he becomes a streaming candidate.