FANTASY PLAYS: Start, sit and set your lineup for Week 1
As draft season comes to a close, it’s time to take stock of your roster and decide who to start each week.
Of course, start players like Aaron Rodgers, David Johnson and Antonio Brown – they’re matchup proof. For the rest, let’s figure out which players rostered in most leagues should be starting based on the weekly matchups.
– Carson Palmer, Arizona at Detroit
Palmer may not have played up to his average draft position last season, but in his last six games, he threw 13 TDs and was intercepted just four times. He faces a Lions defense that isn’t much better than the one that gave up the second most passing TDs (33), and the third most fantasy points to QBs last season.
– Sam Bradford, Minnesota vs. New Orleans
The Saints defense gave up the highest average passing yards per game last season (274) and pass coverage remains an issue this season. Bradford isn’t your prototypical high flying fantasy quarterback, but he was efficient, throwing just five interceptions and setting the NFL record for completion percentage (71.6) last season. He has solid receiving weapons in Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph, who should be able to exploit the Saints’ weak secondary.
– Jamison Crowder, Washington vs. Philadelphia
Crowder was one of QB Kirk Cousins’ favorite receivers last season, leading Washington in red-zone targets (16), red-zone catches (9) and touchdowns (7). Crowder faces an Eagles secondary that gave up the fifth highest average fantasy points per game to WR last season, and is ranked last by Pro Football Focus (PFF) heading into the 2017 season.
– Pierre Garcon, San Francisco vs. Carolina
Garcon will be the 49ers’ most targeted receiver this season. He is with head coach Kyle Shanahan again. They were in the same offensive scheme when both were with Washington in 2013, and Garcon led the NFL in receptions (113). Although the Panthers secondary is young and improving, it is largely the same unit that yielded the sixth most fantasy points to WRs last season.
– Christian McCaffrey, Carolina at San Francisco
The 49ers gave up the most fantasy points to RBs last season. They allowed 25 rushing TDs and an average of 165.9 rushing yards per game, the most in the NFL. The 49ers defense should be slightly better this season, but they haven’t improved enough to stop the dynamic, high flying McCaffrey this week.
– Melvin Gordon, San Diego at Denver
The Broncos overall defense is one of the NFL’s best, but they gave up the fifth highest average rushing yards per game (130) last season. Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn is instituting a simpler zone scheme which should help increase Gordon’s yards per carry this season. Gordon rushed for 111 yards, and gained 4.83 yards per carry in his last game in Denver.
– Zach Ertz, Philadelphia at Washington
Washington gave up the sixth most fantasy points per game and the second most receptions to TEs last season (106). With Washington cornerback Josh Norman expected to shadow WR Alshon Jeffery, Ertz could be in line for a high number of targets in Week 1.
– Evan Engram, New York Giants at Dallas
The Cowboys gave up the most fantasy points per game and receptions (120) to TEs last season.
– Dak Prescott, Dallas vs. New York Giants
Opposing quarterbacks scored the second lowest average fantasy points per game against the Giants last season (12.5). Prescott also struggled against the Giants, scoring 10.3 fantasy points against them in Week 1 and just 6.7 Fantasy points in Week 14. The Giants secondary, ranked as the NFL’s best by PFF, gave up just 15 passing touchdowns last season, the second fewest in the league.
– Philip Rivers, San Diego at Denver
The Broncos yielded the fewest average fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks last season (12.1), and allowed the fewest passing TDs (13) in football. They also still have one of the league’s best pass rushing units, which should keep the pressure on Rivers, who scored just 12.7 Fantasy points and threw for three interceptions in his most recent game in Denver last season.
– Kareem Hunt, Kansas City at New England
Hunt draws a tough assignment in Week 1 against the Super Bowl champs on the road in a nationally televised game. The Patriots were especially tough against the run last season. They gave up the fewest rushing TDs (six), and limited their opposition to just 3.9 yards per carry, and an average of just 88.6 rushing yards per game.
– Ty Montgomery, Green Bay at Seattle
Montgomery had an uneven preseason, and runs into a brick wall in Week 1 against a tough Seahawks run defense that gave up just 3.4 yards per carry on the ground last season. The recent addition of run stopper DT Sheldon Richardson will only make it tougher to run against the Seahawks this season.
Allen Robinson, Jacksonville at Houston
Allen Robinson took a step back last season, largely due to the poor play of QB Blake Bortles. Bortles remains the Jaguars starting quarterback for now and he’s got a tough matchup against the Texans’ formidable pass rush and dominant secondary. The Texans surrendered the fewest average passing yards per game (301.3), and yielded the fourth fewest fantasy points to WRs last season.
Eric Ebron, Lions vs. Cardinals
The Lions are hoping that Ebron will play a larger role in their red zone offense this season. They might want to put those hopes on hold because the Cardinals gave up just two TDs and the fewest average fantasy points per game to opposing TEs last season. Ebron has been limited due to hamstring issues this preseason and although he’s expected to play in Week 1, he may not be fully healthy.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com
- AFC West
- Blake Bortles
- Carolina Panthers
- Christian McCaffrey
- Eric Ebron
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Los Angeles Chargers
- Melvin Gordon III
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Philip Rivers
- Sam Bradford
- San Francisco 49ers