Falcons @ Eagles
Story To Watch: There are always massive expectations for a team coming off a Super Bowl victory, but what the Eagles accomplished in 2017 will be nigh impossible to replicate. Namely, when your backup quarterback turns into Roy Hobbs for the three most important games of the season (and in this case, the franchise’s history), there simply isn’t a lot of room to go up from there. Still, even having said that, during the preseason Nick Foles has looked, well… like a backup quarterback. While some of the poor play could be blamed on the Eagles missing their primary receiving weapons during the entire summer, I simply think it’s too much to expect Foles to revert to Big Dick Nick form out of the gate on Thursday. The Eagles may have to settle for his standard, 7 inch flaccid preseason play until Carson Wentz returns. With nearly every skill player returning and one of the best lines in the league, however, that may be enough to cut the mustard in the interim. It should be an interesting game!
Safe Bets: Typically the season opener produces some big time fireworks from a Fantasy perspective, but this NFC playoff rematch is slightly more difficult to forecast. Obviously you’re starting Julio Jones, who should roast Jalen Mills or Sidney Jones with impunity throughout the night. Outside of him, though, I’d be hesitant to put all of your chips on any player given the quality of these defenses. On a strictly volume basis only, you can feel good about the recently recovered Jay Ajayi. He won’t net 20+ carries like everyone is suggesting, but he’s definitely the featured back without Legarrette Blount in the picture. Even if Alshon Jeffery was active, which he isn’t, Zach Ertz is easily the best receiver on the Eagles. I’m not expecting Foles to be sharp, but Ertz will still see his fair share of looks.
Hope For The Best: For the first time in both of their young careers, the gap between Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman is nearly closed. It is a borderline 50-50 play with these guys this season, but in any event, I wouldn’t expect either to single handedly win your opener this week. The eagles rush defense was a brick wall in 2017, and they only added Haloti Ngata and Michael Bennett since then. You’ve been warned. Matt Ryan should be perfectly serviceable this week – no more, no less. He shouldn’t have any issues netting 240 yards and two scores, but there will be an interception and a strip sack or two mixed in for good measure. I was high on Nelson Agholor going into this season to be begin with, but with Alshon Jeffery sidelined, the 4th year player has a true opportunity to shine. He’ll be a nice PPR option this week, but I think he’ll have difficulty getting over the top of the Falcons defense.
Hell No: It’s just too much of a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde situation with Nick Foles, only if the beast form occurred just 8% of the time. As I stated above, there’s enough talent surrounding the well-endowed signal caller for him to succeed, but his shaky play lately is a major red flag. He’s a Philly folk hero, but he’s also a hard pass in week one. Corey Clement will have a major role this season, although I think the Eagles are going to lean on Ajayi in the early going. Something to keep in mind though – Clement has a nose for the endzone and the Eagles love to employ him in creative ways around the goal line. I’m also waiting to see how both Darren Sproles and Dallas Goedart are utilized before seriously considering starting either of them. Mike Wallace might get open deep once or twice, but I highly doubt BDN connects. Calvin Ridley is a great investment, but an away game against the defending Super Bowl champion defense isn’t the best environment to trot out the rookie in Fantasy.
Postgame Headline: Eagles, Ajayi hold off Falcons despite Foles struggles, win thrilling season opener 27-24.
Colts @ Bengals
Story To Watch: He may not be able to throw the football farther than 20 yards, but as I live and breathe, Andrew Luck is slotted to start an NFL game again this Sunday! I won’t officially believe it until the Colts’ first offensive possession, and even then, I might still be as incredulous as Legolas upon seeing Shadowfax.
He is the lord of all fantasy QBs, indeed, but will he have the arm strength to return to his pre-2016 dominance? Remember, this guy’s shoulder was essentially worn down to a nub at one point last season…
Christ, he looked like Eastern Bloc political prisoner there. Anyway, the myriad of shoulder issues are resolved to the point that he’s able to actually grip and throw an NFL sized ball again, so he’s got that going for him. He’s too talented to fade into obscurity, so it’s just a question of health for getting his career back on track. It’s been a difficult road back, but I think we’ll look back on September as the “buy low” period for Andrew Luck.
Safe Bets: The Bengals are being touted as a sleeper team for fantasy purposes this season, and I tend to agree. With an improved offensive line and a more creative offensive philosophy, Joe Mixon should start the season off with a bang against a less than intimidating Colts front. The Bengals have been lining him up all over the field for the Bengals this preseason, and it’s been paying dividends for the short-tempered 2nd year running back. Andy Dalton should similarly find himself with plenty of space to operate in the pocket, making him a valuable streamer if you waited on QB in the draft. If you sunk the capital to acquire AJ Green, then you’re clearly playing him. I’m not sure the juice is worth the squeeze with him this season, but he should come out of the gate strong. There were some plays last season when Eric Ebron looked like he was trying to catch a greased up piglet when the ball came his way, but he’s had a good offseason and should be the primary red zone threat for the Colts. I like him for a score in this one. TY Hilton should also see plenty of targets, but don’t expect the big one until Luck is back up to speed.
Hope For The Best: If the preseason was any indication, then you truly are “hoping for the best” with Andrew Luck. It doesn’t look like he can make all the throws yet, which seriously caps his upside. Then again, he isn’t a civil war meme for nothing – the guy is still a very capable field general. If Luck’s return after a prolonged absence is greeted as a triumph of determination and modern medicine, then Tyler Eifert’s can only be viewed as a black magic monstrosity. He’s had so many injuries and ailments over the years that I wouldn’t be shocked if Maester Qyburn was brought into the Bengals facility in order to get him active in time for the opener. But active he is, so I’m starting him… at least until his chronic back cancer kicks in again. Marlon Mack’s injury paves the way for rookie Jordan Wilkins to grab the bull by the horns. While he’ll be a serviceable volume play against the Bengals, his season long outlook is much more enticing.
Hell No: Although he has dazzling ability, the inconsistency makes it difficult to ever recommend John Ross. The Bengals should be in control of this game, so I doubt they’ll take many shots to their deep threat. The same goes for Gio Bernard, whose value takes a nosedive in positive gamescripts. Jack Doyle will typically be targeted more frequently than Eric Ebron, but I don’t know, I think I’d rather have Ebron’s touchdown upside in this one.
Postgame Headline: Andrew Luck’s cautious Colts don’t have enough as Mixon, Bengals dominate 28-14.
Panthers @ Cowboys
Safe Bets: I’ve never seen a more gangster ass move than when Cam Netwon confronted disgruntled former coworker Kelvin Benjamin a few weeks ago. The way he shoo’s away Thomas Davis is just the icing on the cake. I was 100% starting him anyway against the Cowboys, but now you can definitely book it. He’s got something to prove. I constantly bagged on Christian McCaffrey last season, but give me a break, that was mostly due to the fact that I didn’t think he could compete at the NFL level. He clearly can, and now with a featured role, the sky’s the limit. Dallas was susceptible to getting burned by tight ends in 2017, so I’d give Greg Olsen a serious look as a top 3 position play this week.
With his legal troubles from a year ago finally behind him, Ezekiel Elliot can once again indulge his voracious eating habits on the field. I’ve referred to Zeke as the grim reaper of fantasy because he’s coming for that ass whether you like it or not. If you’re facing him this week, there’s nothing you can do except brace for impact.
Hope For The Best: While Cam has all of the talent in the world and fails to live up to the hype at times, Dak Prescott is the polar opposite. He failed to capitalize last season when his star running back was given a commissioner sponsored vacation, sporting ugly to pedestrian numbers during the entire Zeke-less stretch. I think Dak’s a fraud, but he’s a low end QB1 surprise this week. Jason Witten’s decision to leave football behind and become the most bland color man in MNF history doesn’t help matters, but rookie Michael Gallup should pick up some of the target slack. Devin Funchess is the defacto WR1 for the Panthers, although that honor doesn’t mean too much. Still, it’s reasonable to expect 5 catches, 55 yards and a possible score in this one.
Hell No: There’s a chance that CJ Anderson will become a thorn in the side of CmC owners this year, but little more than that. We’ll need to see a more defined role before he can warrant even flex consideration. Going from Blake Bortles to Dak Prescott isn’t a life changing upgrade for Allen Hurns, and I think he’ll especially struggle in this one. Tavon Austin is a 16-Team league dart throw at best. Love DJ Moore as a stash, but you simply can’t start him yet.
Postgame Headline: Zeke’s effort not enough as Panthers hold off Cowboys 23-20
Ravens @ Bills
Story To Watch: One time during training camp in High School, our offensive line coach cryptically asked for a volunteer. Since appearing disinterested was verboten if you wanted to make the team, I quickly responded with all of the feigned enthusiasm I could muster. It wasn’t long before I realized that I was the only person standing on one side of the field with the entire kickoff team standing on the other. Before I had time to realize the mountain of shit I had just voluntarily stepped in, a quickly bouncing onside kick rolled my way and was followed a deluge of Seniors with demented grins on their faces. Needless to say I got demolished, and after scraping myself off the ground, I muttered, “hey, that wasn’t in the job description” to my coach.
Did I have to run laps for the remainder of practice? Oh yea. Was I wrong? Definitely not. Is Nathan Peterman going to live out my bone crushing memory every single snap on Sunday behind Buffalo’s turnstile offensive line? 100%, yes.
Safe Bets: Alex Collins
Hope For The Best: Lesean McCoy, Joe Flacco, Michael Crabtree, John Brown
Hell No: Nathan Peterman (RIP), Kelvin Benjamin, literally any other active player in this godforsaken matchup.
Postgame Headline: Peterman sacked 7 times as Ravens blow out Bills 26-10
Giants @ Jaguars
Safe Bets: While Odell Beckham Jr. was conspicuously left off of Jalen Ramsey’s “hit em up” style takedown tour this summer, that’s not to say he’s going to completely blow the doors off in the opener. Still, OBJ has a better shot than most against the league’s premier shutdown corner. Ramsey has a tendency to get in opponents’ heads, so the only thing I’m worried about is Odell losing his cool again. Leonard Fournette is a beast and he will put up beast numbers, simple as that. I targeted him in every draft this year and was unfortunately unable to grab the guy. Oh well, I’ll just have to watch from the distance like the friendzoned loser as some Chad gallivants with the object of my desire.
Lenny’s NYG counterpart Saquon Barkley should also eat early and often in this one. The dude set the PSU campus records for power lifting, so he has the requisite strength to handle the ball 25+ times. Even against the Jaguars defense, the volume alone will guarantee a positive outcome.
Hope For The Best: While the opportunity is there for Keelan Cole, it’s hard to see mind-blowing numbers when your signal caller is Blake Bortles. Still, he offers value as a WR3 with upside. You could generally feel a lot better about Evan Engram, however you’ll need to temper expectations against the Jaguars.
Hell No: Even with the fantasy buffet of weapons at his disposal, Eli Manning is the proverbial turd in the punchbowl that’s spoiling the party. I’m down on him this year, and I’m definitely down on him this week. Sterling Shepard could theoretically see a lot of targets with Odell presumably being locked up on the outside, but I’m still not risking it. Love Dede Westbrook’s talent, but A.) Do you think he’ll see enough targets to be fantasy relevant? And B.) Of those potential targets, how many will be 2 miles over his head towards the sideline? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Postgame Headline: Fournette grinds Giants into dust, Jaguars hold on to win 23-17.
Chiefs @ Chargers
Story To Watch: Few teams in the NFL offer a more tantalizing fantasy situation for potential shareholders than the Kansas City Chiefs. In addition to Travis Kelce, Kareem Hunt, and the electric Tyreek Hill, Andy Reid and the Big Red Braintrust added a potential stud wide receiver in Sammy Watkins (emphasis on potential, as that word will likely be on Watkins tombstone when he dies). If you’ve invested heavily, or even marginally, in the Chiefs’ offense then you’d be forgiven for to making arrangements for the championship parade already. But before you preemptively etch your name on whatever gaudy monstrosity passes for your league’s trophy, some words of advice from Winston Wolf….
The reason for the caution light flashing is that the potent Kansas City offense is now in the hands of the electric and unproven Patrick Mahomes. Armed with playmaking talent that would disintegrate most defensive backfields, Andy Reid shockingly jettisoned the capable Alex Smith this offseason to hand the keys to the second year Texas Tech product. Most analysts seem to believe that the weapons surrounding him essentially guarantee he’ll be a fantasy success, but I’m not so sure. He’s a 16 year old taking his dad’s Mercedes to junior prom – it’s up to you if you want to jump in the car.
Safe Bets: The usual suspects for KC should all be trotted out with confidence, meaning that Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce, and TyReek Hill should all be locked into your lineups. The Chargers have a borderline demonic pass rushing tandem with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, but Mahomes’ mobility should ensure that he uncorks at least a few bombs to his new toys. I don’t know what’s more impressive, Philip Rivers’ consistency or his fertility. In any event, he’ll feast against a Kansas City defense that suffered a brutal offseason. Speaking of which, Eric Berry’s potential absence means that prodigal old man Antonio Gates should cash in at least one fat guy touchdown in this one. I wasn’t ready for a league without Gates, and thankfully, that sad day has been postponed. Lastly, you’ve gotta love what Melvin Gordon can offer you this season. The offense will run through him, and I think he comes out of the gates with a bang.
Hope For The Best: Call it a gut feeling, but I just don’t see Keenan Allen completely erupting in the debut. He’ll get you a nice 7-86-0 line, which is 100% welcomed, but I don’t think he’ll blow the doors off. The same goes for Mike Williams, who’s looking to rebound after an injury plagued rookie campaign. Love his upside, but we’ll need to see his red zone usage before starting with confidence. There are simply too many weapons surrounding Patrick Mahomes for him to fail, but I’m betting his in for a rude awakening on Sunday. Let’s let the guy get his feet wet before starting with confidence.
Hell No: If a grudge is never starting Sammy Watkins regardless of matchup, target share, or spot on the depth chart, then yea.. I guess you could say I have a grudge.
Postgame Headline: Chargers electrify all 43 fans in attendance in 31-24 season opening win.
Seahawks @ Denver
Story To Watch (with glee): Damn, I… I just can’t believe this is happening. After all these years, is it really true that the Seahawks Super Bowl window has finally closed? You mean we’re not going to hear about the 12th man anymore? I wish the lord would take me now. Wait, what about the Legion of Boom? Surely they’re still anchoring one of the premiere defenses in the NFL, right? Oh, half the team was traded, cut, or voluntarily entered free agency and the defense is a steaming heap, huh. Well, I’m sure the offense can pick up the slack. I mean this is one of the marquee franchises of this era of the NFL…*checks depth chart* Oh, nevermind. I suppose all good things come to an end, but with the Seahawks trending rapidly towards irrelevance, who will pick up the slack as the resident team to hate watch? Only time will tell.
Safe Bets: As mentioned above, the vaunted legion of boom should be renamed legionnaire’s disease, as the secondary won’t be able to put up much of a fight this season. That means Emmanuel Sanders is in a prime spot to start off the season on a positive note. Similarly, Royce Freeman should be a quality RB2 play, provided that he actually is the “starter” as listed. Despite the lack of weapons around him, Russell Wilson will still contend for the QB1 overall crown this year. He’ll be running for his life against the Broncos, but then again, that’s when he’s most dangerous.
Hope For The Best: The post-Peyton Broncos have arguably been one of the most faceless franchises in the league, so who better to excite the fanbase than journeyman Case Keenum! I would argue he got exposed a bit in the NFC Championship last season (and by a bit, I mean a 38-7 dismantling), but hey, it’s a new opportunity in Denver. I wouldn’t start him with confidence, but he’ll be serviceable enough in the opener. The same could be said for Doug Baldwin, who admitted that he likely won’t be 100% until the end of the season. That’s encouraging. There’s just something about Demariyus Thomas that falls to light my fire. I understand he has his uses, but Sanders is clearly Keenum’s preferred connection to start the year. Chris Carson is opening the season as the Seahawks starter – emphasis on “opening”, as these things always tend to change with Pete Carroll. If you own him, though, no harm in cashing in while you can.
Hell No: Devontae Booker is nothing more than a roadblock for Royce Freeman, and I suspect that will be the case throughout the season. Count me out on Rashad Penny, or any other Seahawks starter for that matter.
Postgame Headline: Keenum, Sanders’ late game heroics vault Broncos over Seahawks, 28-23
Rams @ Raiders
Story To Watch: Let’s start with arguably the biggest change that occurred this NFL offseason – John Gruden being lured back to the sidelines after years of being well compensated for extolling the virtues of “this guy” to millions of Americans on Monday evenings. There has been a veritable backlash from the twitter analytics crowd deriding this as an anachronistic move by the Raiders, mostly citing Gruden’s affinity for the fullback position and offensive packages from the 1970s, but I’m not ready to declare the Chucky hire a total disaster before the season even starts. This is a Super Bowl winning head coach who was once traded away for multiple first round picks. Plus, we’re conveniently forgetting that Jack Del Rio seemed to lose the team last season after what was looking like a promising turnaround the past few years, so let’s not write off the 2018 Raiders just because Gruden’s playcalling may hail from an era when his signature visor look was still fashionable. The system could well provide a few viable fantasy starters, and that kind of fake production is all we care about.
Safe Bets: The Raiders defense never exactly struck fear into opposing offenses, and now minus one perennial defensive player of the year candidate, let’s just say you can safely fire up your Rams. Todd Gurley, Jared Goff, and even Brandin Cooks are all bankable plays to kick off your season.
Hope For The Best: With newly acquired Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters controlling the outside of the field for the Rams, it’s very difficult to get behind the Raiders’ passing game in this one. I’m giving Derek Carr a decent chance to provide serviceable numbers, but turnovers will definitely be mixed in. To say that Marshawn Lynch’s best years are behind him would be generous, as this season will almost certainly be beast mode’s swan song. It stands to reason that newly acquired Doug Martin would be the primary beneficiary of Gruden’s approach, but his inconsistent play and injury history make him difficult to hitch your wagon to. I still like Lynch as a low end RB2, but his upside is capped thanks to the enduring presence of Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. These two guys are the Tweetledee and Tweetledum of Raiders running backs, hamstringing the fantasy potential of the entire Oakland RB corps over the past two seasons. As long as those guys are still around, I’m out. Speaking of still around, apparently Jared Cook is slotted to start after a better than expected 2017 campaign. There’s not much to say about the veteran other than if the top 12-15 tight ends are off the board, he’s your guy. Robert Woods should rip off intermediate gains throughout the night, making him a decent PPR option.
Hell No: Every year I blow the Amari Cooper trumpet, and every year the tune sounds like a fucked up muffler backfiring out of a Model T. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, so… you can go ahead and put a straight jacket on me. I’m all in on Coop this season, but I’m sure as shit not confident about him this week. He’ll pay off eventually if you’re patient. It’s too early to assume that Jordy Nelson will simply fill in where Michael Crabtree left off as Carr’s red zone preference, let alone if he can still gain any separation. He’s a hard pass in the opener.
Saints @ Buccaneers
Story To Watch: This past weekend, I was doing my best impression of a sober person (and failing) while waiting for a flight at a bar in the Chicago airport. Some old timer saddled up next to me under the misguided impression that I wanted to chat. He turned his gaze towards the preseason game on TV, gave a look of disgust and muttered, “Hmphh… I’m protesting the protesters, I’ll tell you that.” As if my bloodshot eyes and chartreuse complexion didn’t properly send the memo that couldn’t have given less of a shit, and I simply nodded and returned to my horrendous $17.95 breakfast sandwich. But then, astoundingly, he proceeded to comment, dissect, analyze, and even cheer over the course of the next 20 plays or so. Hey man, I call bullshit on that! You can’t claim to be boycotting McDonalds but then secretly enjoy it just because you ordered from the dollar menu. I hope he continues his devout “protest” by “not watching” football this year. Oh, it was a Saints preseason game.
Safe Bets: Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Peyton Barber
Hope For The Best: Mike Evans, Mike Gilislee, OJ Howard, Ben Watson
Hell No: Ronald Jones, Desean Jackson, Cameron Meredith, Ryan Fitzpatrick
Postgame Headline: Saints go marching all over the Buccaneers, win 34-23 in season opener.
Steelers @ Browns
Story To Watch: Le’Veon Bell’s gameday status notwithstanding, this current Steelers core group of players has had more cracks at success than a CEO’s dumbass son just coasting up the company food chain. With only a modicum of effort, the Pittsburgh offense could have ruled the league over the past 5 seasons, and yet they’re content to just skate by and barely contend for the playoffs every year. Well, another year of flab on Roeth, another year of tread on the tires on Antonio Brown, and definitively the last year of Le’veon Bell’s acrimonious relationship with the team means that this truly is the last shot for this crew of letdowns. Will the acquisition of Mason Rudolph in the draft light a fire under Roeth’s ass? Perhaps. Or hey, perhaps they’ll go 9-7 and get unceremoniously trounced in a road playoff game again. Yea, it’s probably that.
Safe Bets: Sometimes being featured on “Hard Knocks” can really endear the masses to a group of players, and sometimes the spotlight can reveal a distaste for players that you didn’t even know existed within. It’s certainly the latter concerning Jarvis Landry, who might’ve single handedly turned me into an Atheist just so I don’t have to risk hearing “Bless em” again in my life. As annoying as the catchphrase may be, there’s no denying that Jarvis should be locked in your lineup until prodigal son Josh Gordon gets back up to speed. While Carlos Hyde was conspicuously absent from the HBO program, he should be slotted into your lineup wherever available. He had a great summer and Hue Jackson seems set in his ways when it comes to his starters. You are 100% playing Le’veon Bell if he’s active, but James Conner warrants a serious look if Bell is still doing whatever the hell doing he’s been doing instead of collecting money. Antonio Brown will never come out of your lineup, but I have to move him up even more against the Browns because there’s the outside chance for a dropkick to the face. This will never get old.
Hope For The Best: When the dust settles this season, I think Ben Roethlisberger will be near the top of the QB rankings for fantasy. However, with Myles Garrett and the retooled Browns defense breathing down his neck, it could potentially be a slow start for Roeth. These Browns-Steelers games are always a bit ugly, so Juju Smith-Schuster isn’t anything more than a PPR play in this one, too. Tyrod Taylor will do what he’s done his entire career – play it safe, never throw deep, and put up serviceable QB2 numbers thanks to some rushing stats. There’s no telling what you’re going to get out a clean and sober Josh Gordon, but chances are it will take a while for him to get up to speed after missing all of training camp with… I don’t know what, exactly?
Hell No: This is not a “hell no” in the literal sense, but I think the hype train has run off the rails a bit with David Njoku. He’s a stellar talent, but there are a lot of mouths to feed in the Browns offense and there are plenty of waiver options with a more dedicated target share. He’ll definitely flash this season, though. Same goes for Nick Chubb, as we have no idea how the rookie will be deployed yet. Duke Johnson has officially arrived in shitsville in my book, but I understand if he holds some sentimental value for you in full PPR leagues. I’m moving on.
Postgame Headline: Steelers pour cold water on the Hard Knocks hype with 31-20 takedown of new look Browns.
Bears @ Packers
Story To Watch: In what is always a tightly contested rivalry game, it will be interesting to see how the recently improved (and financially tapped) Bears front line stacks up against the obscenely wealthy Aaron Rodgers. I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I do want to see newly acquired Khalil Mack sack Rodgers at least once, because that is literally $190 million guaranteed dollars crashing into each other. I’m fully expecting coins to shoot all over the place like when Sonic the Hedgehog falls onto a spike trap.
Safe Bets: While he doesn’t have a reason to work for the for the rest of his natural life, you know that the flush Aaron Rodgers is going to prove he’s worth his fat contract and then some. The Bears are going to surprise some people on Sunday night, but Rodgers is still going to get his. Davante Adams will be the primary beneficiary in this game and beyond, as he’s primed for a huge season. With Jordy Nelson and his red zone targets scuttled off to Oakland, the only thing stopping Adams from elite WR1 numbers is Danny Trevethan’s bloodlust and apparent interest in gray matter. Here’s hoping Davante just stays on the outside in this one. If Jim Graham could muster one catch, 6 yards, one touchdown lines regularly with Russell Wilson, then surely he can haul in 2 catches, 14 yards and two touchdowns with Aaron Rodgers. Not that his owners are complaining, but Graham should put up the most hilarious yardage/touchdown split in ages. Provided the game doesn’t get out of hand too early, Jordan Howard is the clubhouse favorite for touches across the league for Week 1. Look for 110 total yards and a score out him. Super Bowl winning quarterback Trey Burton will try his luck at tight end for the Bears this season, and something tells me the kid will flourish in the role. Burton has always had the talent, and he truly shined in games in which Zach Ertz was sidelined last season. With no competition for targets at the TE spot, Burton should easily be Mitchell Trubisky’s preferred option.
Hope For The Best: It remains to be seen if Jamaal Williams will capitalize on the opportunity in front of him, but he’ll get the lion’s share of carries for the first two games of the season while Aaron Jones is suspended. I’m not convinced he’ll become “the guy”, but he’s a locked-in volume play against the Bears. You could do a lot worse in your RB2/flex spot. Allen Robinson clearly didn’t recognize the genius of Blake Bortles, and that’s on him, but I’m not sure he’s going to find things much better with Mitchell Trubisky. Still, he’s the WR1 on a team that’s trending in the right direction, so the targets should be there. Speaking of Trubes, this will be a “show me” game. He’s going to need to engineer points to keep up with Rodgers and the Packers, so this primetime spot is an excellent setting to showcase what he’s made of. I think he’ll be up to the task.
Hell No: I’m a documented Tarik Cohen hater. It has nothing to do with his athletic prowess, which is remarkable, but he simply doesn’t get the volume to warrant starting in most formats. That said, the Bears plan to line him up all over the field and get him into space this season, which is a step in the right direction, at least.
Postgame Headline: Bears stun Packers, put league on notice with 24-23 win at Lambeau.
Jets @ Lions
Safe Bets: Since you have to capitalize on every opportunity imaginable to say “Jim Bob Cooter”, I’m going to go ahead and recommend Matt Stafford this week. Cooter’s quick-passing scheme isn’t so much revolutionary as it is safe, but I think Stafford will cash in on a few strikes in the red zone. There’s a decent chance he doesn’t eclipse the 300 yard mark all season long, but the touchdowns will be there. Marvin Jones Jr. stands to benefit the most at the outset of the season, as he typically shows off in September before settling into his true journeyman form, much like a molting tarantula. Quincy Enunwa was looking very good in the preseason, which shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who witnessed his talent in 2016. After a derailed sophomore season, I think he’ll be Darnold’s preferred target over the middle.
Hope For The Best: I’ve never been a Golden Tate guy. He is definitely the most talented receiver on the Lions’ roster, and you’re starting him if you have him, but the back-to-back 90+ catch, 1,000+ yard seasons hide some serious dud games. He’ll be serviceable enough, but I expect him to get better as the season moves along. Luke Wilson takes his talent of catching worthless touchdowns to Detroit, where hopefully someone is actually starting him for once. Stafford targeted tight ends 117 times in 2017, so there’s some value here. Isaiah Crowell probably won’t show you how dem big dicks swang, but he’ll get plenty of touches with Elijah McGuire on the IR. Volume is king in fantasy, and the crow should get plenty of totes in what should be a fairly vanilla gameplan for the Jets rookie-QB led offense. In PPR, I’d lean toward Bilal Powell for what should be numerous dumpoffs and checkdowns on Monday night.
Hell No: Though an exciting prospect, Kerryon Johnson is completely useless to me until he busts a big gain that makes an Ian Eagle shout, “Carry on my wayward Johnson!!!” Given the shitshow of a timeshare that the Lions are employing at the running back position, that means the rookie is a stash until further notice. On that note, Super Bowl Ronin Legarrette Blount, scatback Theo Riddick, and resident bum Ameer Abdullah are all hard passes as well. It’s just a nightmare. Kenny Golladay is a darling of the fantasy community for his potential as a vertical threat, but there’s only one problem – Jim Bob Cooter doesn’t run a particularly vertical passing attack. He will flash some 33 yard touchdown grabs here and there, but I really can’t trust him on a weekly basis unless something changes with the WR corps. Speaking of untrustworthy, there’s just something about Robby Anderson that’s not sitting right. Love his talent, but it remains to be seen how he’ll fare with his rookie quarterback. And finally, let’s talk about that rookie. Sam Darnold may look like a jock transported from 1986 to cream nerds in the parking lot after school, but he’s also the recently named starting quarterback for the hapless Jets. He has a very bright future, but I don’t see him taking many shots in the early going. He’s in for an uninspired debut.
Postgame Headline: Darnold serviceable, safe in NFL debut as Stafford, Jones dismantle Jets 27-16