Fantasy football is finally upon us. Below I will break down my picks for who will be the top scorer at their position for Week 1. Since there are no stats or trends to go off of for 2016, there’ll be a mix of projections for the week, also taking into account what teams did, and where teams ranked against specific defensive or offensive stats last season.
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders – Raiders vs Saints? Two bad defenses, two teams that rely on offensive production through the air, and inside a domed stadium? Points, yards, and offense, please! Derek Carr should be able to throw all over the Saints’ defense using Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree exclusively. Sleeper option this season at tight end is Clive Walford, and running back Latavius Murray and DeAndre Washington could very well see themselves due for some receiving yards.
1. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints – Noted here for the same reason above regarding Carr, just his receiving weapons aren’t as good. Plus, Coby Fleener didn’t look spectacular in the preseason, and if the rumblings of little playbook knowledge are true, then expect this game to be a shootout.
2. Brock Osweiler, Houston Texans – Kyle Fuller and Bryce Callahan are two of the Chicago Bears’ top three cornerbacks that were listed on the injury report this past Thursday. In a game where the Texans could flash their new offense with old and new playmakers in DeAndre Hopkins, and Will Fuller and Lamar Miller.
Other obvious good starts that could amount to top performances are from: Eli Manning, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, and Matt Ryan.
LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills – McCoy seems to be one of the only backs in the league who doesn’t split goal line, or passing down work. LeSean is going to be counted on for every carry on every down, any spot on the field, and any catches that are dumped off to half backs, he’s getting them. This may sound like an outlook for the whole year, but Rex Ryan is going to establish the run early, and what better way to start off the run against the Ravens defense?
1. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers – The Jacksonville Jaguars allowed a league-high 13 rushing touchdowns on its home field in 2015. That stat alone makes Lacy a threat anywhere on the field.
2. DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers – Williams should be in-line for 20 touches against the Redskins on Monday night. With no one else really threatening the carries picked up from Leveon Bell’s absence, he is also set up for every goal line chance. The Redskins also gave up 4.83 yards per carry last season, the second highest total in 2015.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons – Of course options like Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. are ideal, I don’t think they can amount to the number 1 option this week. Dallas’ slow paced offense could give Eli and Odell a hard time to get into rhythm, and the Steelers-Redskins game just isn’t going to be a shootout like we could very well have between the Falcons and Bucs. Julio is virtually a lock for 150 yards in this ball game and he’s going up against a secondary that isn’t exactly the league’s most talented.
1. Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders – With Carr being my prediction for top QB, why not go with his favorite target here? The Saints defense in 2015 allowed the fourth most fantasy points to WRs, along with 27 touchdown catches.
2. Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills – The Ravens a year ago allowed the sixth most fantasy points to WRs. Buffalo may be better rounded in terms of equal distribution between run and pass, but we can’t overlook Watkins as someone who could post amazing numbers this week.
3. DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins – This one may come as a surprise to some people, but one of Kirk Cousins weapons could shock some people this week. Since 2008, Mr. Jackson leads the NFL with 33 catches of 50 or more yards. He’s also raked in 100+ receiving yards in three of his last four Monday Night Primetime matchups.
Martellus Bennett, New England Patriots – With Rob Gronkowski set to sit out in this game, Martellus Bennett will step up in his place. With no real amazing TE matchups this week, predicting Bennett to be the top TE scorer is not normal. Him and Jimmy Garopollo did look nice together in the preseason, and the veteran has a chance to rack up the targets/catches.
1. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys – Not the usual option as a top scorer, but Witten has posted seven touchdowns in his last six meetings against the Giants.
2. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans – Walker was targeted 133 times last season (!!!!). With six TD’s in his last six games against the conference, Marcus Mariota will definitely be looking to hook-up with Delanie any chance he gets.
Kansas City Chiefs – The San Diego Chargers’ offensive line is one that is not healthy. Perfect for this Chiefs pass rush. There will be plenty of sacks to go around, and with Rivers most likely airing it out 35+ times in this game, plenty of chances for a great defensive unit to hold the Chargers off the scoreboard.
1. Houston Texans – The slight edge was given to the Chiefs because I think they will be able to hold their opponent to fewer points, which awards you more points in (most) fantasy leagues. But with Chicago due for a few turnovers against Houston, look for them to produce very well, even if J.J. Watt isn’t at 100% health.
Check back next week for a review of how these picks went, and another preview of what’s to come.