Fantasy Football Week 1: Our experts answer big questions about Le'Veon Bell, Jimmy Garoppolo, more
Our experts tackle the biggest questions from around the league as we preview Week 1 of the NFL season.
Welcome to Week 1. Whether you've already drafted and have been patiently waiting for the season to start or still have to pick your team — HURRY UP! — it's time to start thinking about the start of the season.
Every week on Tuesday, we'll kick off our weekly preview coverage by asking our three Fantasy football experts five big questions about the upcoming week. Week 1 is a strange spot to do this exercise in, because there is both plenty of clarity — players are, on the whole, healthier right now than they ever will be again — and tons of questions — about roles, especially.
We'll get some clarity on our biggest quandaries by Monday, but for now, here's how Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard, and Heath Cummings are approaching the biggest questions ahead of Week 1.
1. We'll know more as the week goes on, but how concerned are you about relying on Le'Veon Bell in Week 1?
Jamey Eisenberg: I'm concerned, but if I drafted Bell, I'm starting him against the Browns without hesitation.
Dave Richard: Ask me on Wednesday. Maurkice Pouncey's proclamation that he'll be back with the Steelers by then eased my nerves. If Bell's back and practicing by then, he's a roster lock. If he's not, I'll get jittery like an old substitute teacher in a packed class of amped-up high schoolers. Hopefully this ends soon.
Heath Cummings: As long as Bell shows up by Wednesday morning, I'm starting him. That doesn't mean I'm necessarily confident in him — he only had 47 yards in a very similar situation last year. But even if you're telling me Bell is only getting 13 touches, I'll start him over most running backs in this matchup.
Dave: If your only quarterback is Mahomes or Garoppolo, you could make a one-week move from them to Dalton (32 percent owned) or Ryan Fitzpatrick at New Orleans (3 percent owned). But if you have one of Mahomes or Garoppolo and, say Carson Wentz (or if you have Mahomes AND Garoppolo), then the roster crunch is gonna get you because carrying three quarterbacks just isn't an option. In this case starting Mahomes and Garoppolo wouldn't be the end of the world because they both carry the kind of upside that makes them appealing even in tough matchups.
Heath: There is no chance I'm starting Mahomes and I'd prefer to avoid Garoppolo as well. These may end up as quarterbacks we trust against virtually any matchup, but I'm not ready to crown them yet. Dalton is my favorite streaming option against the Colts and he's available in more than 65 percent of leagues. If he's not available, I'm starting Tyrod Taylor over both Garoppolo and Mahomes.
Jamey: Morris. If Breida was healthy, I'd go with him because of his expected role in the passing game. But because Breida had the shoulder injury in the preseason, the 49ers will likely lean on Morris more against the Vikings.
Dave: Easy — Breida. The Vikings continue to boast one of the best-looking run defenses in the league, while the 49ers' offensive line is improved but not a huge strength. Morris' best weeks will come in favorable matchups where he can land a lot of carries and have a shot to find the end zone. This matchup suggests tough sledding for the Niners, so his touches could be limited. Breida has the better hands and is faster, so I'll start him on the assumption he'll get more work. I'm not excited to start either one, though.
Heath: It's format dependent for me. In non-PPR it's essentially a push, as they're separated by .06 points in my projections, but I'd lean towards Morris because I think it's more likely he scores a touchdown. In any format that offers any type of reward for a catch I prefer Breida.
4. Are you willing to trust Josh Gordon in Week 1?
Jamey: Yes. He might not "start," but Gordon will see enough snaps and targets to be considered at least a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in what should be a comeback effort against the Steelers.
Dave: I didn't draft him in Round 4 to be a bench ornament. We're expecting him to play. The Browns have their best quarterback situation in years, Gordon is surrounded by a bunch of really good teammates, and the Steelers defense isn't nearly as suffocating as it once was. Pair all of that with Gordon's incredible upside (it's not like he turned into a fat, slow receiver in the last month), and he's got to be in your lineup.
Heath: I'd really rather not. He's a boom-or-bust No. 4 receiver for me in Week 1 with his limited practice time this offseason. I still expect for most of the year he'll be a must-start No. 2 receiver, but I'd like to see him get his feet wet first.
5. Which RB are you keeping the closest eye on in Week 1?
Jamey: Kerryon Johnson. Please, Lions, just use him more than LeGarrette Blount, Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah. Johnson is the best running back in Detroit, and hopefully he'll prove that against the Jets.
Dave: There are so many, but first-rounder Kareem Hunt has his fair share of disbelievers. He'll take on a Chargers defense he throttled for over 170 total yards and at least one touchdown in both 2017 starts. If he does what I think he'll do then Fantasy owners will be happy. But if he looks like a slug it'll cause widespread panic across Fantasy circles — and I'll try to trade for him in every single league.
Heath: Definitely the splits in Denver and New England. It's satisfying that Royce Freeman has been named the starter, but I'd still like to see how much he's sharing with Booker. I'm also curious how the pie gets chopped up in New England. Specifically, whether Jeremy Hill is going to be the goal-line back and how much work James White gets in the running game.
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