Kickoff: Sunday, September 12th at 4:25 PM ET
Location: TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL
Betting Odds: GB -4.5, 50 total via Oddsshark
Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers (Start, QB1)
Aaron Rodgers’ first match-up of the season isn’t the best, but you would be crazy to bench the NFL’s reigning MVP in Week 1 of the fantasy season. The Saints were the fifth-best team in the league last year in passing yards allowed per game. That isn’t much for Rodgers to work with, but fortunately, he’s one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL. AR12 should be capable of a solid QB1 performance against New Orleans, especially if Jameis Winston helps turn this game into a shootout.
Aaron Jones (Start, low-end RB1), AJ Dillon (Sit)
Aaron Jones is going to have a tough match-up to start the season as well. The Saints’ defense allowed the third-fewest rushing yards in the league last year. Be that as it may, Jones was still a top-five running back in PPR leagues last year and is immensely talented. I believe the negative match-up will affect Jones slightly, but not enough to take him out of RB1 territory. AJ Dillon could be a flex-worthy start at some point this year, but fantasy managers should at least wait this week to see what sort of goal-line usage Dillon receives.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Davante Adams (Start, WR1), Randall Cobb (Sit), Amari Rodgers (Sit), Allen Lazard (Sit), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Sit), Robert Tonyan (Start, low-end TE1)
There’s a reason Davante Adams was the first wide receiver taken in most fantasy drafts this year. The guy is as elite as they come. Adams should be locked into all starting fantasy rosters right now. Unfortunately, predicting the other Green Bay receivers’ production will be a difficult task in Week 1. For instance, Randall Cobb and Amari Rodgers could easily split targets and reps in the slot, making neither a viable fantasy start in Week 1. I believe Cobb will likely get more work than the rookie because of his obvious connection with Aaron Rodgers, but I still can’t say with confidence that he will find fantasy relevance this week.
Allen Lazard is yet another talented receiver on this roster who will have difficulty finding fantasy relevance this year. Lazard only had two impressive fantasy performances last year, and I doubt he finds more consistency in 2021. Marquez Valdes-Scantling could very well be the most exciting receiver on this team outside of Adams. MVS doesn’t quite make Flex territory this week, but it’s worth keeping an eye on the young speedster. Valdes-Scantling had the highest average depth of target (aDOT) in the league last year among NFL players with at least 60 targets. “MVS” could become a boom-or-bust option if he and Rodgers are on the same page this year.
As we all know, the tight end position is rough every year. Many people don’t believe Robert Tonyan can match his touchdown production from 2020, but assuming he’s on your fantasy team, you’re likely starting Tonyan to see if he can continue his high-efficiency TE play. The Saints were pretty much right in the middle of the league when it came to fantasy points allowed to tight ends last year, so Robert should have a good shot at a TE1 performance in Week 1. Still, I’m predicting a performance somewhere within the overall TE7 to TE10 range.
New Orleans Saints
Jameis Winston (Sit, QB2)
Jameis Winston is a pretty polarizing quarterback. Ask ten people what they think about him, and you’re likely to get ten different opinions ranging from “gunslinger” to “garbage.” I believe that Jameis could find some fantasy success this year, but I doubt he has another year like his 33-touchdown and 30-interception season in 2019. Winston should be a bit more efficient within a Sean Payton offense. Green Bay was top-seven in passing yards allowed last year, so there’s a chance we could see Winston struggle again this Sunday. If your league has 12 teams or fewer, I can’t bring myself to tell you to start Jameis in Week 1. In deeper leagues, you may not have a better option. Either way, I’m not trusting Winston until he can show some improvement in this new system.
Alvin Kamara (Start, RB1), Tony Jones Jr. (Sit)
The Packers were top-10 in the league last year in rushing yards allowed per game, but they have a knack for letting elite running backs embarrass them. Plus, a lack of receiving options could mean more short passes to Alvin Kamara, especially if Winston starts panicking in the pocket. There’s a reason Kamara was a top-three running back pick in fantasy drafts this year, and you would be crazy to bench him. Alvin should be in line for an impressive fantasy performance in Week 1.
Don’t get too excited about Tony Jones Jr. just yet. He’s mostly a handcuff/stash for the time being.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Marquez Callaway (low-end Flex), Tre’Quan Smith (Sit), Deonte Harris (Sit), Adam Trautman (Sit)
Low-end Flex might be a bit lower than other fantasy writers’ predictions, but I can’t bring myself to place Marquez Callaway any higher. I understand that he is the best wide receiver option in New Orleans, but that could mean he draws plenty of coverage from Jaire Alexander, one of the NFL’s best corners. I would employ a wait-and-see approach with Callaway unless you are in a deeper league and need to start him. You likely have better options with safer floors available if you are playing in a fantasy league of 12 teams or less.
Tre’Quan Smith, Deonte Harris, and Adam Trautman will all have trouble finding fantasy relevance this year, and this week is no exception. Very few fantasy teams even have these guys on their rosters for a good reason. Keep them out of your starting fantasy rosters for now. Trautman could eventually find some consistency, but I wouldn’t want to trust him in Week 1.
-Ryan Kruse (@ryanpkruse)