It’s finally that time of year folks. Football season is here and that means fantasy football is back! I’m entering my 15th season as a fantasy football owner and in that time I have won six titles (not to toot my own horn but TOOT TOOT!). This year I am in two leagues, both of which my drafts were this past weekend. The first was a ten person league and the second was a twelve person league. I did not have the luck of the draw on my side as I picked from the ten and eleven spots. No big deal though, as I was surprised to see Joe Mixon and Dalvin Cook fall to me in each draft.
If you are new to fantasy football; I offer a few tips for your season. Stating the obvious first: know your players schedule (beware of bye weeks), keep an eye on the injury reports and don’t forget to set your lineups. Now time for more usefully and maybe not so obvious tips.
First, do not get inpatient and push the panic button too soon. Perfect example of this was me last season when I gave up on Houston Texans quarterback Desean Watson after four games. I grew frustrated with his average of just nine points through four games and I tried to trade him but no offers were coming in. I dumped him and his average over the next three weeks increased to 17 points per week. Needless to say he did not last long on the waiver wire and was picked up later that week.
Which brings me to my next tip; don’t jump on the hype train after a no-name player blows up for a week or two. Waiver wire claims are too precious to throw away on speculative adds. I use my waiver wire claims based on need. If one of my usual starters are on a bye week and I’m not confident in the matchup for my bench player, that’s when I hit the wire.
My third tip is to not draft or pick up waiver wire guys based off big names. If Adrian Peterson is sitting on the waiver wire and a young buck like Darwin Thompson is available I would take Thompson.
The best advice I can give out is to check targets/carries. If a wide receiver or tight end is getting eight or more targets multiple weeks, that is a positive and that player needs to be added to your roster. Volume is key to any player’s success so keep monitor those players that get the big workloads.
With all that said; I want to wish you all the best of luck this season. Here is a list of players to help you out in week one. Week one is always a crap shoot as we can only go off of how well a player performed last season. As the season progresses your regular starting lineup will become more consistent. Here are my top three players in each position that are must starts.
3. Aaron Rodgers at Chicago. Yes, the Bears defense is regarded as the best in all of football and it’s a Thursday night game on the road. Odds are you drafted Rodgers as your starting quarterback in roughly the fifth round (average draft spot for Rodgers in most leagues were between round five and seven). Rodgers has made a career of torturing the Bears and I see him throwing for 250-300 yards in the season opener, along with three touchdowns. Do not be afraid to insert Rodgers into your lineup.
2. Drew Brees vs. Houston. Brees plays in the first Monday Night Football game this season and it’s a home game. Hint: Brees is really good at home folks. This is a very favorable match-up considering the much downgraded overall of the Texans defense. I would start Brees in an instant.
1. Carson Wentz vs. Washington. Historically Wentz thrives against NFC East opponents. The upside for Wentz is astronomical and what a way to start the season for Wentz and his owners. I predict that Wentz will return to his 2017 self (where he nearly won the MVP before tearing his ACL).
Bust of the Week- Andy Dalton at Seattle. Dalton on the road is always a risk. This match up scares me as Dalton’s number one target, A.J. Green is out. Seattle is no longer the Legend of Boom as it been referenced throughout most of the decade but the defense did improve this offseason, most notably acquiring Jadeveon Clowney over the weekend.
3. Phillip Lindsay at Oakland. Lindsay surprised everyone last season when he became the starter in Denver. He made it a habit of destroying AFC West teams. If he can match the success he had in 2018 Lindsay is a must start week one against a week Raider defense.
2. Alvin Kamara vs. Houston. I predict that the Saints will build up a large lead in this game which means the Saints will be running the ball a lot against the depleted Texans defense. Kamara is a dual threat as he catches out of the backfield just as effectively as he does run the ball. Kamara should feast on Houston in the opener.
1. Saquan Barkley at Dallas. This one hurts me (as I am a Cowboys fan). Having said that; Barkley went number one in 95 percent of leagues this season and justifiably so. Even if the Giants are behind early in the game, they will depend on Barkley as both a running back and a receiver. I think Barkley can rack up north of 20 total fantasy points against my Boys.
Bust of the Week- Kenyan Drake at Baltimore. This is a disaster of situation for Drake. On the road against agreeably the best defense in the league heading into the season. The Dolphins are not going to be very competitive this season so I’m not sure how much of a workload Drake will see.
3. Tyreek Hill at Jacksonville. Hill is possibly the fastest guy in the NFL. His ability to break away from defenders has made him one of the best deep threats in the league over the last two seasons. I expect big things from Hill and it begins in week one. The Chiefs were the top offense last season so it does not hurt to start the best weapon on the team.
2. Julio Jones at Minnesota. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this game will be the highest scoring game of the week. Both teams have explosive offenses and can be a barn burner. Jones is the best overall player on the field in this contest and I expect the future Hall of Famer to have a monster game on the road.
1. Michael Thomas vs. Houston. Have you noticed a theme yet? Yes, start your Saints players without hesitation in week one. Thomas was drafted top three in his position and reasonably so. Thomas should be the number one target against the Texans.
Bust of the Week- T.Y. Hilton at Los Angeles Chargers. With the news of the sudden retirement of quarterback Andrew Luck just a week before my drafts, I downgraded all of the Colts weapons. I was very high on the Colts prior to the announcement but now with Jacoby Brissett under center there is not much upside to Hilton or any other Colt receivers this week.
3. Mark Andrews at Miami. Entering his second year Andrews appears to be ready to take on the starting role in Baltimore. His week one matchup is favorable and I expect big things from Andrews in the red zone. Against a weak Dolphins team, I can see Andrews having a career day in South Beach.
2. Evan Engram at Dallas. Again, it hurts to say this, but Engram maybe the number one target for Eli Manning early in the season, as Golden Tate serves his four week suspension. Engram blossomed into a reliable weapon last year and is expected to see many targets this season.
1. Zack Ertz vs. Washington. The tight end position is incredibly thin in fantasy football, and Ertz was grabbed early in most drafts. His quick speed, sure hands and power make him a powerful weapon for Wentz.
Bust of the Week- Eric Ebron at Los Angeles Chargers. Much like Hilton I don’t see a very high ceiling for any Colts players. Not only is there uncertainty at the quarterback position, Ebron will be splitting time with tight end Jack Doyle. Not a good situation to have at all.
3. Chicago vs. Green Bay. Chicago may not win this game and give up north of 24 points, but that’s okay in fantasy football. The Bears defense is as tough as they come and Khalil Mack and company have the ability to reak havoic on the field. Look for this team to get to Rodgers, and cause turnovers. Their special teams is one of the tops as well with Tarik Cohen and Cordarrelle Patterson returning punts and kickoffs.
2. Denver at Oakland. The Denver Broncos may not win very many games this season but the defense is a competitive group that features Von Miller, Bradley Chubb and Kareem Jackson. This unit will give Derek Carr and the Raiders fits on Monday night.
1. Baltimore at Miami. If ever there was a lock of the week it’s this. The Ravens defense may score two touchdowns against the Dolphins and Ryan Fitzpatrick. There is not a better matchup this week for a defense or special teams unit in fantasy.
Bust of the Week- Carolina vs. Los Angeles Rams. Not that long ago the Panthers were thought of as a primer defense in the NFL. Those days are long gone and the Rams are one of the best offenses in the league. The Rams will score close to (if not more) than 30 points in this road game.
3. Robbie Gould at Tampa Bay. A reliable kicker is hard to come by in todays NFL. Kickers do bring value to your team and there are not many better options than Gould. The 49ers kicker is accurate and can kick from long distance. Gould should see opportunities in this game and that could be the difference for you in week one.
2. Dan Bailey vs. Atlanta. Remember when I said that Atlanta and Minnesota could be the highest scoring game of the week? Well if I’m right you are going to want a own Bailey in this contest. Bailey is a proven kicker in the league who can connect under pressure.
1. Adam Vinatieri at Los Angeles Chargers. Not all bad news for the Colts. The 24 year veteran will be called upon for kicking duties once again for the Colts and for a team that won’t make it in the end zone very often, this leaves Vinatieri with a potential boat load of attempts this upcoming season. The Colts will be playing from behind in this contest so it leaves the possibility for Vinatieri to see lots of action.
Bust of the Week- Joey Slye vs. Los Angeles Rams. I’m not seeing much optimism in week one for Slye. It was announced earlier this week that Graham Gano was placed on IR. This only allowed limited time for Slye to get ready for week one.