Kickoff: Sunday, September 13th at 1:00 PM ET
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Betting Odds: SEA -1.5, 49 total via Oddsshark
Russell Wilson (Start, QB1)
Opposing quarterbacks averaged 20 fantasy points a game against the Falcons in 2019. I fully expect Russell Wilson, last year’s fantasy QB3, to put up some respectable numbers in Week 1. Although, I will admit Russ only put up 15 fantasy points when he played Atlanta last year (his sixth-worst performance of the season). Still, 15 fantasy points are Wilson’s floor. I’m confident he can get it done with all the weapons at his disposal.
Chris Carson (Start, RB2), Carlos Hyde (Sit)
Atlanta’s run defense was pretty much right in the middle of the league last year. It can be difficult for a running back to have a respectable week against the Falcons unless he is receiving plenty of carries. Luckily, the Seahawks are one of the most run-heavy teams in the league (3rd most attempts in 2019). Chris Carson had 20 carries against Atlanta last year and put up solid RB2 numbers. I don’t see why that can’t happen again.
With Rashaad Penny starting the season on the PUP list, it looks like Carlos Hyde is the current backup in Seattle in case Carson goes down. For now, Hyde is little more than a handcuff stash.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Tyler Lockett (Start, WR2), DK Metcalf (Start, WR2), Phillip Dorsett (Sit), Josh Gordon (Sit), Greg Olsen (Sit, TE2), Will Dissly (Sit, TE2)
Atlanta gave up 244.9 passing yards per game last year. There should be plenty to go around in Week 1. Tyler Lockett should continue to be Wilson’s reliable option, but I would like to see his targets even out more consistently over the year. Lockett put up 100 yards and 16 fantasy points when he played the Falcons last year. He should be capable of another WR2 week.
DK Metcalf had a great rookie season last year (fourth among rookie wide receivers in 2019), and the fantasy community is fully expecting him to take the next step up. I’m not sure where his fantasy production will be but he’s a safe start this week. Especially when he is most people’s WR1 or WR2 on fantasy teams. I’m listing Metcalf as a WR2, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his performance is more in the high FLEX territory this week. Phillip Dorsett was acquired from the Patriots during the off-season. Seattle likely wants him to be their deep threat, but he will be “boom or bust” at best for now.
Here’s the thing, I want to be as excited about Josh Gordon as you do. But we, as a fantasy community, need to end this toxic relationship. Gordon is like that crazy ex you just can’t quit. The fact of the matter is that Josh has been fool’s gold for a while now. He hasn’t played an entire season since 2012. I love you, Josh but I’m quitting you for real this time.
I’ve used this stat before for Greg Olsen, but I think it’s worth repeating. Since the 1970 merger, only six tight ends aged 35 or older have reached 100 PPR points. For reference, 100 PPR points would have ranked TE22 in 2019 (behind Jimmy Graham). Now, in fairness, Greg scored something like 123 fantasy points last year. It seems like the Seahawks are trying to utilize their tight ends more than usual, but I’m having a hard time getting excited about Olsen. It seems I’m in the majority. Greg is only rostered in about 10% of leagues. I would like to see Will Dissly healthy and back in the mix as well. Although he could get eased back in slowly. Neither could be fantasy relevant if the two tight ends start splitting reps right away.
Matt Ryan (Start, Low-end QB1)
Seattle gave up even more passing yards than Atlanta with 256.7 yards per game. That was bad enough to be in the bottom 10 of the NFL. I’m a big Matt Ryan believer this year, and this should be a great match-up to begin the season. Atlanta was the number one team in the league in passing attempts per game last year. A poor pass defense going up against the team that threw the ball more than anyone else? Sign me up.
Todd Gurley (Start, RB2), Brian Hill (Sit), Ito Smith (Sit)
Just a few short years ago, Todd Gurley was widely considered the best running back in the NFL. Last year, he put up the fewest yards of his career. Now that Gurley is back in Georgia (where he played college ball) and atop the Falcons depth chart, a change of scenery could be just what the doctor ordered. Still, Gurley will need to make the most of his opportunities on a team that didn’t run the ball much last year (bottom three in the league). You likely drafted him as your RB2, and I believe he will return that investment with a respectable performance.
It seems that Brian Hill is currently ahead of Ito Smith on the depth chart. Either way, these guys are mainly just there to back up Todd Gurley for now.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Julio Jones (Start, WR1), Calvin Ridley (Start, WR2), Russell Gage (Sit), Hayden Hurst (Start, TE1)
As mentioned before, Seattle was among the bottom 10 in passing yards allowed per game last year. Julio Jones had a WR1 performance against the Seahawks last year, and he didn’t even have Matt Ryan throwing the ball to him. Jones should be set for another WR1 performance to start the 2020 season. He should have a high WR2 week even if he falls out of WR1 territory.
Calvin Ridley, last year’s WR27, had some moments of excellence, and the fantasy community is expecting more brilliance from the young man entering his third season in the NFL. There should be plenty of targets to go around in this game, meaning Ridley should be more than capable of WR2 numbers. If you owned Calvin last year, you know he’s always just a few big catches away from a huge week.
Russell Gage could take another step up in his third season, but I’m not trusting him on any rosters just yet.
Considering it will be his first game with the Falcons and the fact there were no preseason games this year leaves me a bit hesitant on Hayden Hurst. I’m a Hurst believer this year and have him in a few leagues. Still, it’s tough to know how many targets he will receive in Week 1. Atlanta’s TE1 was the sixth most-targeted tight end last year. If Ryan targets Hurst just as much, the latter should be capable of a TE1 performance. If you want some encouragement to pull the trigger, Seattle was the third-worst team against fantasy tight ends last year.
-Ryan Kruse (@ryanpkruse on Twitter)