Hey there everyone! I’m back for Round 2 here to give you guys and gals the Fantasy Football matchups I like the most this week. I’m going to try to avoid going with the obvious superstars every week, because let’s face it, we don’t need Jon Gruden telling us to play Antonio Brown to ensure that we feel good about having him in our lineup. I’ll point out players that are probably not owned in every league, especially at positions like quarterback, tight end, and defense/special teams.
My favorite Week 1 matchups by position:
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (vs. New Orleans)
Now you all probably know that I am on the Carson Palmer bandwagon by now. I hyped him and his wide receivers up last week quite a bit, but I still cannot believe that he is owned in less than half (48%) of the leagues on ESPN. He is playing against a subpar New Orleans Saints defense that allowed the fourth most fantasy points to quarterbacks last year. Oh, and they are missing their best cornerback in Keenan Lewis, who is out with a hip injury for at least a month. Granted, the Saints still have Kenny Vaccaro playing safety, who is a heck of a playmaker in the defensive backfield, but he is not likely to play much man-to-man coverage on the Cardinals wide receivers. I see Carson Palmer finishing as a top-12 QB play this week.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (@ Oakland)
The Red Rocket has not exactly been a great fantasy option at QB over the last few years (which explains his 19% ownership), but it is hard to resist this matchup. He has one of the best wide receivers in the NFL on his team in AJ Green, and Green is playing for a new contract. It is safe to say he will be motivated to get near the same amount of money as Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, and Julio Jones. Dalton is getting his very athletic, pass-catching tight end in Tyler Eifert back from missing all of last year due to injury. We also should not forget that the Bengals have one of the best rushing attacks in the league, led by Jeremy Hill and pass-catching Giovanni Bernard. I like Dalton’s playmakers around him, and this is not even factoring in the opponent. Oakland has gotten better defensively, especially with the emergence of linebacker Khalil Mack, but they will still be overmatched in the passing game.
Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. Tennessee)
I’m not ready to buy back into the Doug Martin hype that he is back to his rookie form, but I do really like his matchup this week. He has looked really good running the football in the preseason, and Tennessee gave up the second most fantasy points to running backs last year. Tampa Bay has a very shaky offensive line, so there is a risk I am taking here, but I do think Doug Martin is an easy top-20 RB play this week because he should see some work in the passing game. I’m not worried about second-year RB Charles Sims taking over all passing-downs just yet.
Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (@ Dallas)
Dallas did not give up a ton of fantasy points to running backs last year (they were middle of the pack), but that is not because their defense was anything special. Dallas’s best defense was their offense last year, and their ability to dominate the time of possession. Well, things have changed since then. DeMarco Murray has left town, and while they still have one of the best offensive lines in football, I’m not sold on their running game being anywhere near as good as last year. This game is going to be a shootout, and while that might mean a lot of passes thrown, I’m not afraid to say Jennings is going to get at least 15 touches and has a good shot at a touchdown. I predict top-20 RB numbers for him this week.
Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins (@ Washington)
Jarvis Landry is the number one option in the passing game (at least until DeVante Parker gets up to speed recovering from his foot injury) in the Philly South offense. The Dolphins are trying to run an offense similar to the juggernaut that is the Eagles offense, and that means they will be running a ton of plays quickly. Landry is the possession receiver in this offense, which greatly increases his PPR value vs. Standard scoring, but this is too juicy of a matchup to pass up. Washington allowed the third most fantasy points to wide receiver last year, and they have not done much to upgrade their personnel. I like Landry to finish inside of the top-20 this week and be a “must-start” on your team.
Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans (@ Tampa Bay)
I am predicting a bounce back year for Kendall Wright. I think he gets off to a great start against the weak Buccaneers secondary. Tampa Bay gave up the fourth most fantasy points to wide receivers last year, and sorry, but I’m not buying 31-year-old Tim Jennings reuniting with Lovie Smith being a huge game changer. Marcus Mariota has shown great poise in the pocket, and that he can be a pocket passer in the NFL (something that was a concern of some evaluating him) and Wright is going to be his top target this year. Rookie Dorial Green-Beckham (no relation to superstar Odell) is a raw talent and not quite ready to take over the number one spot in the passing game. Wright will have more value in a PPR league than a Standard league, but I still see him being a good option to start for your team this week (you know, unless you drafted a ton of superstars at the WR position, and are stuck starting me at RB).
I could go with Tyler Eifert here for some of the reasons listed above in the Andy Dalton section, but I’m going to dig a little deeper and choose someone who is owned in less than 30% of ESPN leagues.
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins (vs. Miami)
The Miami Dolphins have a banged up, old secondary, and arguably one of the best rushing defenses in the NFL. So what does that tell us? Teams are going to have to throw the ball to score points on them. Jordan Reed has shown glimpses of being a superb route-running and pass-catching tight end. But he has never proven to us that he can stay healthy. He has missed twelve games due to injury in his first two seasons, and split reps with Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen when he was healthy. Well, Niles Paul is out for the year with an injury and Logan Paulsen is no longer with the Redskins, so this is Jordan Reed’s opportunity to shine. Durability is his issue, but for this to be a good call, I only need him to make it through the first Sunday of the season.
Minnesota Vikings (@ San Francisco)
The San Francisco 49ers offseason was one of the worst we have seen an NFL team have in a while. It was not that long ago that we expected the Niners to be a dynasty competing for NFC Championships and Super Bowls for years. Now, after this dumpster fire and a preseason that saw their starters score zero offensive touchdowns, I like this matchup a lot. Minnesota has a lot of young, talented players on the defensive side of the ball, with Harrison Smith being a force in the secondary, and a great linebacker trio of Anthony Barr, Chad Greenway, and Eric Kendricks. They have some question marks on the defensive line outside of Everson Griffen, but I think we will see them fly all over the field and disrupt the 49ers offense all day. I predict double-digit fantasy points from this defense in standard defensive scoring leagues that is, and a top-10 D/ST play this week. I consider them a sneaky good add for the rest of the season (just don’t get mad at me when they go negative when facing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers).
Those are my favorite matchups for week 1. Like I said, I’m trying to dig a little deeper and not point out the obvious matchups that have a great chance of producing at a high level. I want guys that are either not owned in many leagues, or at least not started in many leagues.
Good luck, and may all of your guys stay healthy this year.