Week 1 has finally arrived and after a long preseason and I am happy to finally get cracking on our latest QB List installment, Sink or Swim. I will be plugging some of the more mid-tier type players at each position, highlighting why you should start them this week, while also mentioning some prominent players who you shouldn’t expect to return great value. I also won’t be mentioning your typical plug and play studs, because well, there is no decision to make, as they are matchup proof. This can not only be a great tool for year-long fantasy leagues but also daily contests as well. With that, let’s get to it!
Ben Roethlisberger: Sure Ben has struggled in early road games in the past but I think this matchup is just too juicy to pass up in week 1. The Browns secondary isn’t much improved while Ben has all of his weapons at his disposal.
Carson Palmer: The Lions defense is currently in shambles and scrambling to find answers all over the field. Palmer is another QB, similar to Ben, who has struggled in early road games in the not too distant past, but again, it’s just too juicy of a matchup to pass up. He should be a very safe play against a team that should bleed TD’s to opposing QB’s.
Sam Bradford: Bradford’s accuracy and the Saints secondary being prone to allowing big plays makes Bradford a legitimate top 10-12 QB option this week. He has about as high of a floor as any QB going.
Dak Prescott: The Giants will be tough to throw on all season if they stay healthy and I’d expect a heavy dose of Zeke and Run DMC this Sunday night. Dak will be in pure game manager mode all night, and if the Cowboys fall behind, it could get ugly fast if Dak is forced to take chances down the field.
Matthew Stafford: After becoming a competent game manager last season, Stafford and co. will face a much tougher schedule this year, meaning the highest paid man in the NFL will have to prove he can carry the team on his back and carry them with his arm. I don’t see that happening this weekend against this Cardinals defense and while his floor probably isn’t too low, I don’t see much of a ceiling.
Andy Dalton: I’m expecting this game to be fairly low scoring between the two rivals. The Ravens will assuredly game plan to take away AJ Green, which if effective, would obviously limit any upside Dalton has this week.
Todd Gurley: This should be an easy call for most, as I fully believe in Sean McVay to improve the Rams offense. What better first “test” for the Rams than facing a banged up Colts team that will struggle to do much of anything this weekend. Gurley should easily see 20+ touches and has a good chance to find the end zone.
Theo Riddick: Riddick is one of my favorite sneaky plays this week, as he will most likely be used as the teams 3rd receiving threat. With Patrick Peterson shutting down one side of the field and Mathieu preventing anything over the top, Riddick should be involved heavily on Sunday.
Jonathan Stewart: I expect Stewart to be the better RB play for the Panthers this week as he should see some goal line work as well as plenty of late game carries, assuming the 49ers don’t surprise us all and actually take/keep a lead. San Francisco’s run defense was porous last season and there’s no reason to believe they are much improved this year.
Danny Woodhead: As long as Woodhead is healthy and ready for a full workload, which it sounds like he is, he could be in for a huge game. Flacco loves dumping off to his RB’s which was why Woodheads fit in Baltimore was near perfect. Baltimore RB’s caught 9.5 passes a games against the Bengals last season and I doubt that trend dips this weekend.
Deep Dives–C.J. Prosise, Darren Sproles, Shane Vereen: I think Prosise can be a potential week winning play this weekend as he may be in line for a lot of work in the passing game. Outside of Baldwin and Graham, the Seahawks pecking order in the passing game is unclear. Sproles could be a sneaky flex play as the only RB on the Eagles roster who will definitely have a role this week. I’d expect the Giants to air it out, meaning Vereen could lead the backfield in snaps. Could be a decent flex play if he can see 7-8 targets.
Devonta Freeman: Freeman has a very high floor based on the fact the Falcons should be playing from ahead, but the Bears were actually the toughest defense against opposing RB’s for fantasy purposes last season. They have a talented front 7 that should limit Freemans upside, and there’s always a chance Tevin Coleman vultures any red zone work.
Leonard Fournette: Fournette still has a chance to boom this week, but after a slow preseason and going against a tough Texans defense, it’s probably safest to stay away. If the Jags fall behind early, they could be forced to pass a ton, which means more reps for TJ Yeldon.
Marshawn Lynch: It’s hard to trust Lynch who will be playing in his first regular season NFL game in two years. The Titans are becoming a tough team to face on the road and their defense was stout against the run all last season.
Bengals RB’s: Jeremy Hill may be listed as the teams starting RB, but you have to imagine Joe Mixon will be in the mix for some carries. Bernard working on passing downs limits both guys value as well.
Doug Baldwin: Baldwin is basically a must play every week anyway, but this week in particular is very juicy for him. He has a solid match up working the slot against the Packers and outside of Jimmy Graham is Russell Wilsons only proven option in the passing game. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t see at least 10 targets.
Martavis Bryant: While Leveon Bell and Antonio Brown should be in for monster fantasy weeks, I still see a Martavis Bryant deep shot going down against a still shoddy Browns secondary. The offense has proven in the past to be much more explosive with him in the lineup, and I expect his game to be a reminder of that.
Larry Fitzgerald: Larry Fitz continues to show no signs of slowing down and has a great track record of starting off the season in great form. The Lions hardly ever move Darius Slay around, so Fitz should be able to take advantage of the Lions slot corners.
Jamison Crowder: Crowder didn’t have his best performances last season against the Eagles, but he should still be one of Kirk Cousins favorite options until he grows more of a rapport with Terrelle Pryor. In a game with high scoring potential, Crowder should see upwards of double-digit targets. Sidenote: Crowder showed up on the injury report Thursday, but it sounds like he should be a go Sunday and close to 100%.
Deep Dives–Adam Thielen, Rishard Matthews, Robby Anderson, Kendall Wright: I expect a ton of targets for Thielen in matchup he should dominate the majority of the night and should be in for a huge game. I always will like Matthews in a matchup that has high shootout potential. He and Mariota showed great chemistry last season and could potentially torch the Raiders secondary. Anderson is a sneaky play this week against a bad Bill’s secondary. I expect Josh McCown to take plenty of deep shots in this one, with most going towards the teams most talented wide out. Wright is a dart throw of an option, but I like that he should have by far the best matchup of all the Bears receivers in a game they should trail early and often.
Alshon Jeffery: Josh Norman may not be quite good enough consider himself an island corner, but he is good enough to limit talented receivers to WR3/4 status a lot of weeks. You probably play Jeffery in 12 team leagues, but definitely avoid in daily formats.
Deandre Hopkins: Jalen Ramsey is on his way to becoming one of the leagues best cover guy, and the fact that Hopkins has to deal with Tom Savage behind center doesn’t help. I expect the Texans to win a low scoring, ugly game, featuring a lot of Lamar Miller and keeping the passing game to a minimum.
T.Y. Hilton: It’s just way to hard to trust anyone on the Colts offense this week with Scott Tolzien behind center. It’s a shame, because if Luck were healthy, Hilton might find himself on the other end of this list. Hilton is merely a WR3/flex option for owners on Sunday.
Keenan Allen: Allen has struggled in his career against the Broncos (as do all wide receivers) and there is no reason to believe that trend will fade on Monday night. Chris Harris is as tough a match up as any for Allen in his first regular season game since tearing his ACL.
Demaryius Thomas: The Chargers themselves boast a terrific CB duo, which along with the pass rush, should make things very difficult on the Broncos offense. Neither Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders had any luck last season against the Chargers.
Zach Ertz: He is the only remaining starting offensive weapon from last year and should be able to do some damage in the middle of the field against Washington. Just see week 14 of last season.
Delanie Walker: I expect Mariota to lean on his two favorite targets from last season early and often in Sundays game and he has a tasty match up against a team that had a hard time containing opposing tight ends last year.
Coby Fleener: he disappointed so many people last season, but with Willie Snead out, he could be the teams #2 option in the passing game. He should have a reasonably high floor this week with a chance to go off and finish as a top 3 tight end.
Eric Ebron: Even if the Cardinals weren’t the toughest defense against opposing tight ends last season, the fact that Ebron did next to nothing this preseason would be reason enough to sit him this week.
Jack Doyle: Just like Hilton, it’s almost impossible to trust and options on the Colts offense this weekend. He could salvage some value if he can find the end zone, but that’s a complete shot in the dark behind Tolzien.
Austin Hooper: he still hasn’t proven much and is likely to be an afterthought in this offense in the early going. The Bears were also solid against opposing tight ends last season, so I’d expect Matt Ryan to attack the edges when throwing the ball.
BONUS: NARRATIVE PLAYS
Antonio Gates: I’m sure the Chargers will do everything in their reasonable power to get Gates the touching record as soon as possible, just to get it out of the way. I expect a lot of red zone targets headed his way this week.
Adrian Peterson: it’s not a good match up on paper, but I’ll buy into a highly motivated Peterson against his former team that gave up on him this off-season. I think Sean Payton is the kind of coach who will feed into it and make sure he gets the first few goal line touches.
Eddie Lacy: Lacy just isn’t good anymore and I’d expect Prosise and Rawls to carry the RB workload this week. No revenge game for Eddie this week.