Kickoff: Sunday, September 13th at 8:20 PM ET
Location: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, CA
Betting Odds: DAL -3, 52 Total via Oddsshark
Dak Prescott (Start, QB1)
Dak Prescott has a lot riding on this season and he opens with a strong matchup. The Rams were 22nd in fantasy points allowed to QBs last season but Vegas has this game with the second-highest total of the week (behind Texans @ Chiefs). The Rams also lost several pieces on defense including DC Wade Phillips. If this game is the shootout, like predicted, Prescott will produce QB1 points with ease.
Ezekiel Elliott (Start, RB1), Tony Pollard (Sit)
Like the Prescott blurb above, there won’t be too much to say about this backfield going into Week One. Ezekiel Elliott was a consensus top-three pick in fantasy drafts this year and is facing the Rams mediocre rush defense (ranked 17th per Football Outsiders). Draft ADP has shown to be the best indicator for fantasy points during the first four weeks of the season, so don’t stray too far from your board right now. While the loss of Travis Frederick to retirement and La’el Collins to IR will hurt the offensive line, Elliott will have plenty of work in this potent offense this week. Jerry Jones just recently talked about Tony Pollard factoring into the offense more this year but we need to see it before we can believe it. Elliott has been a workhorse his entire career and it will likely stay that way. Pollard remains a great bench stash in case Jones’ comments ring true or there is an injury to Elliott.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Amari Cooper (Start, WR2), Michael Gallup (Start, WR2), CeeDee Lamb (Start, WR3/Flex), Blake Jarwin (Sit)
Most Amari Cooper fantasy owners will be scared of Jalen Ramsey heading into this week but the addition of CeeDee Lamb should allow Cooper to play in the slot more often this season (last season Randall Cobb occupied that role). Cooper may be limited by Ramsey but not enough where you should be scared off of starting him in a likely high scoring game. Michael Gallup may also see some Ramsey if Cooper is in the slot but Gallup has come pretty close to matching Cooper and I think that will continue this week. Lamb is also a viable WR3/Flex play due to the pace of play, scoring, and potential defensive issues most teams will face early in the season, especially the Rams with some turnover on defense. Blake Jarwin is a potential breakout TE but unless you have no one else you should wait to see his role.
Los Angeles Rams
Jared Goff (Sit, QB2)
Having Jared Goff as a sit is probably a bit harsh. Goff is a solid streaming option this week in a matchup with the Cowboys 17th ranked pass defense (via Football Outsiders). The Cowboys also lost Robert Quinn and Byron Jones during the offseason, arguably their best two defenders last season. Additionally, this iteration of the Rams offense should flow through the passing game a lot more without Todd Gurley and Goff will be in passing situations trying to keep up with the Cowboys explosive offense.
Cam Akers (Start, RB2), Malcolm Brown (Sit), Darrell Henderson (Sit)
Of all the rookie RBs this year, Cam Akers has the best immediate outlook. The injury to Darrell Henderson has opened the door for Akers to see volume against the Cowboys. Malcolm Brown will get short-yardage work and maybe even some red-zone opportunity but without Henderson, there is little competition for receiving work out of the backfield in a matchup that favors a pass-catching back. I will be starting Akers with confidence. Brown will be the change of pace back and if you need to start him this week, there are much bigger issues for your team already. Henderson is someone I would avoid starting early on due to the injury and questionable role but I will still be holding onto him.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Robert Woods (Start, WR1), Cooper Kupp (Start, WR2), Tyler Higbee (Start, TE1)
Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp are both on the border of WR1 and WR2 this week. If you drafted them, you should not move off them this week. You can easily make the case the Kupp should be the WR1 and Woods the WR2, but I have them labeled this way because at the end of last year Kupp was coming off the field when the Rams were in 12 personnel (one RB, two TE, two WR). Woods was the receiver that stayed on the field no matter the situation which gives him the slight bump, but after this week we may see Kupp in a similar spot. Tyler Higbee is a player I had difficulty getting a read on this offseason. I am not sure the Rams want him as the focal point of the offense and when Gerald Everett was healthy he played more than Higbee. But for this week against the Cowboys, if you drafted Higbee, you have to start him and see how the offense plays out. The Cowboys gave up the seventh-most points to TEs last year so the matchup and game script should help Higbee.
-Frank Costanzo (@FrankQBList on Twitter, Zzzonked92 on Reddit)