Fantasy Football Week 1: Marcus Mariota, Martavis Bryant flying up the rankings in Start 'Em and Sit 'Em
With those first decisions needing to be made, Jamey Eisenberg highlights those players who need to be in your lineup, and which stalwarts you might need to consider sitting.
It's here. The moment you've been waiting for. All the homework in the offseason to build your team and prepare for your draft - it's time to take the test. Or rather, the first part of a potential 16-part test.
This is marathon over 13 weeks - along with a potential playoff run to a championship -- and you're ready for that first step. It all starts now, in Week 1, with the 2017 season finally ready to kick off. And your Fantasy team is ready to dominate.
Hopefully, we've done our part to help you get ready for this season. And I want to give a quick shout out to my colleagues Dave Richard and Heath Cummings, as well as our entire staff at CBS Sports.
We know there are a lot of places to get your Fantasy information these days, but we've had an incredible preseason of written content, video content and podcasts, which we hope you've enjoyed. We also hope you've learned something along the way.
So let's find out if you're ready. The marathon is about to begin Thursday night with the Chiefs and Patriots. Good luck this year.
Editor's Note: Projections are provided by CBS Sports and not Jamey Eisenberg.
Start of the Week
Mariota is a MVP candidate this year in Fantasy and reality. I expect the Titans to win the AFC South, and Mariota should have a dominant season along the way. He has great weapons behind a tremendous offensive line, and this should be his breakout campaign.
That starts with his performance this week against the Raiders. It will be Mariota's first game with his entire receiving corps since Corey Davis (hamstring) and Eric Decker (ankle) were hurt in the preseason, but we should get to see how improved this passing attack should be when you add those guys to Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker.
This is also a terrific matchup against Oakland, which was ranked No. 26 against the pass in 2016 and allowed the sixth-most Fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. The Raiders also could be without starting cornerback David Amerson this week after he suffered a concussion in the third preseason game against Dallas.
There were nine quarterbacks to throw for at least 200 yards and score two touchdowns against Oakland last year, but Mariota wasn't one of them. He faced the Raiders at home in Week 3 and was limited to 214 passing yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions and 22 rushing yards in one of his worst games of the season.
DeMarco Murray carried the offense that game with 16 carries for 114 yards and one touchdown and five catches for 41 yards. That could happen again this week, with Murray and Derrick Henry dominating on the road.
But I'm expecting a big outing from Mariota, who averaged 21.4 Fantasy points in seven home games last year (he missed Week 17 against Houston with a broken leg). His MVP season will get off to a great start this week.
I'm starting Mariota over: Matt Ryan (at CHI), Aaron Rodgers (vs. SEA), Drew Brees (at MIN), Ben Roethlisberger (at CLE) and Cam Newton (at SF)
|20.0 Projected points|
Derek Carr Oakland Raiders QB
|Like Mariota, Carr also struggled the last time these teams met in Week 3 last year, and Carr finished with 249 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. But I'm counting on a stronger performance this time around. He's looked great in the preseason with 77 percent completions for 244 yards, four touchdowns and one interception in limited action over two games, and that should carry over to Week 1 against the Titans. This game has the potential to be high scoring, which is what I'm hoping for after touting both quarterbacks.|
|22.4 Projected points|
Kirk Cousins Washington Redskins QB
|There's something about facing the Eagles that gets Cousins to raise his game to another level. In five career meetings with Philadelphia, Cousins is averaging 27 Fantasy points, and his worst outing is 19. We'll take that as the floor, and the best performance was 40 points. He's coming off a shaky preseason where he completed just 57 percent of his passes for one touchdown and one interception, but his receiving corps battled injuries with Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder banged up. Everyone is healthy for Week 1, including newcomer Terrelle Pryor, and Cousins should again torment the Eagles. He's a solid starter this week.|
|19.8 Projected points|
Carson Palmer Arizona Cardinals QB
|As we've told you for the past few weeks, Palmer is the perfect replacement for the injured Andrew Luck (shoulder) because of his schedule to open the season, including this week against the Lions. He also could help if you don't have Jameis Winston (Hurricane Irma) in Week 1. We hope Palmer picks up where last year ended when he scored at least 21 Fantasy points in four of his final six games. He also did well the last time he faced the Detroit in 2015 with 161 passing yards and three touchdowns, and his receiving corps should be healthy with John Brown ready to go. Palmer is a great streaming option this week, and he gets Indianapolis in Week 2, Dallas in Week 3 and San Francisco in Week 4 if you want to plan ahead.|
|23.0 Projected points|
Cam Newton Carolina Panthers QB
|Panthers coach Ron Rivera expressed optimism that Newton is ready to go for Week 1 despite playing limited snaps in the preseason after offseason shoulder surgery. He only attempted two passes in the third preseason game against Jacksonville, but he completed both for 21 yards and a touchdown. We hope he's that efficient this week against the 49ers, and he beat up San Francisco the last time these teams met in Week 2 in 2016 with 353 passing yards, four touchdowns and one interception, along with 37 rushing yards. We'd love a repeat performance this week, but you should have modest expectations for Newton as he continues his injury comeback. Still, given the opponent, Newton is worth starting as a low-end No. 1 quarterback in all leagues.|
|17.0 Projected points|
Eli Manning New York Giants QB
|The Giants offense has struggled in the preseason, and their offensive line woes from last year look like they haven't gone away. But I'm still taking my chances with Manning this week given the matchup with Dallas. The Cowboys have a revamped secondary, and the pass rush could be an issue. Keep an eye on Odell Beckham (ankle) and his status, but Manning could go off this week. He's scored at least 24 Fantasy points in three of his past four games at Dallas.|
- Tyrod Taylor (vs. NYJ): He's dealing with a concussion, but he's expected to play. And the last time he faced the Jets in Week 2 last year he went off for 29 Fantasy points. The Jets defense could be terrible.
- Carson Wentz (at WAS): Wentz didn't fare well against the Redskins last year with a combined 21 Fantasy points in two games, but he didn't have the weapons he has this season. His sleeper campaign starts this week.
- Sam Bradford (vs. NO): Bradford could be a surprise Fantasy quarterback this week given the matchup with the Saints. If you don't have Luck or Winston this week, consider Bradford as a good fallback option.
|18.1 Projected points|
Matthew Stafford Detroit Lions QB
|The last time Stafford faced the Cardinals was 2015 in Week 5, and he passed for 188 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. He should be better than that, but it will be hard to trust him. The Cardinals still have a standout secondary led by Patrick Peterson, and only five quarterbacks last year had multiple passing touchdowns against this defense. And last season, Stafford struggled to the finish line, including a finger injury in Week 14, when he scored fewer than 20 Fantasy points in eight of his final 10 outings.|
|14.2 Projected points|
Philip Rivers Los Angeles Chargers QB
|The track record for Rivers against the Broncos is awful. In his past 12 meetings against Denver, which spans six years, he only has one game with more than 20 Fantasy points, which was 2014. The Broncos lost some key players this year on defense with DeMarcus Ware retired, Shane Ray (wrist) on injured reserve and T.J. Ward cut, but this defense is still going to be tough to pass on, even with the Chargers having a beefed up receiving corps. Rivers is just a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback at best.|
|16.4 Projected points|
Joe Flacco Baltimore Ravens QB
|Flacco can still be used if you're stuck in a two-quarterback league, but his track record against the Bengals is spotty, which makes him hard to trust, even with Adam Jones and Vontaze Burfict out due to suspensions. He's also coming off missing the entire preseason with a back injury, and Terrance West can carry the offense this week on the ground. Flacco has one game with more than 17 Fantasy points in his past seven meetings with Cincinnati, and he's averaging just 14.7 points per game against the Bengals over that span.|
|18.5 Projected points|
Andy Dalton Cincinnati Bengals QB
|Dalton doesn't have the same bad track record against the Ravens as Rivers has against the Broncos, but it's close. In his past nine meetings against Baltimore, which spans five seasons, Dalton is averaging 17.7 Fantasy points with three games over 20 Fantasy points and four games with 15 points or less. The Ravens defense has looked exceptional in the preseason with no points allowed when the starters were on the field for nine quarters against Washington, Miami and Buffalo. Maybe that doesn't mean much, but it's enough for me to keep Dalton on the bench this week.|
Prescott was awesome as a rookie in 2016, and he scored at least 20 Fantasy points in nine of the 15 full games he played (he barely played in Week 17 to rest for the playoffs). Two of the games he failed to score 20 points were against the Giants. In fact, he combined for 18 points in those matchups. The Giants allowed the second-fewest Fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks last year, and only Cousins, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger had multiple touchdowns against this defense in 2016. It should be another big year for the Giants defense, and Prescott is not worth starting in Week 1.
|13.5 Projected points|
C.J. Anderson Denver Broncos RB
|The Chargers will be without starting middle linebacker Denzel Perryman (ankle) for this game, and that should hurt their run defense, which allowed the eighth-most Fantasy points to opposing running backs last year. Anderson only played in one game against the Chargers in 2016 and had just 71 total yards, but he should do much better this week. He's coming off an OK preseason with 21 carries for 76 yards and two touchdowns in three games, and he should be the primary back for the Broncos for now, ahead of Jamaal Charles, De'Angelo Henderson and Devontae Booker, who is out with a wrist injury. I'm hoping this is the start of a big season for Anderson, and the Broncos also upgraded their offensive line.|
|11.7 Projected points|
Dalvin Cook Minnesota Vikings RB
|We'll see how much the Vikings rely on Latavius Murray this week, but Cook should get the majority of touches in his NFL debut. And hopefully he can build off his strong preseason performance. In three games, Cook had 17 carries for 70 yards and six catches for 35 yards, and the Vikings will hopefully feature him in a matchup against Adrian Peterson. The Saints allowed the third-most Fantasy points to opposing running backs last year and aren't expected to be dramatically better against the run. Cook is a great play in all formats.|
|7.7 Projected points|
Terrance West Baltimore Ravens RB
|Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict (suspension) is out for this game, and the Bengals have struggled with opposing running backs when he hasn't played the past two years. He's missed 11 games over that span, and an opposing running back has scored double digits in Fantasy points in eight of those outings. Danny Woodhead will also benefit with Burfict out, but he can still be slowed by the hamstring injury that limited him this preseason. West should get a heavy workload, and he could finish as a top-10 Fantasy running back this week if the track record for the Bengals holds up when Burfict sits down.|
|12.0 Projected points|
Christian McCaffrey Carolina Panthers RB
|McCaffrey passed the eyeball test in the preseason, and his stats were impressive in limited action. He had 17 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown and three catches for 51 yards. We'll see how the Panthers use McCaffrey and Jonathan Stewart, and this matchup with the 49ers is tougher than it looks on paper. The 49ers might have allowed the most Fantasy points to opposing running backs last year, but this is a different defense when linebacker Navorro Bowman is healthy, which is the case here. Still, McCaffrey should be able to make plenty of plays in this matchup, and it's sort of a homecoming for him going back to the Bay Area since he played at Stanford.|
|8.4 Projected points|
Rob Kelley Washington Redskins RB
|Kelley only had one start against the Eagles last year, but he finished with 88 total yards and a touchdown. Hopefully he can repeat that this week, and Kelley likes playing at home. In his final four home starts last year, Kelley averaged 13.3 Fantasy points. He had a strong preseason finale against Cincinnati in the third game with 10 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown, and he should carry that momentum into this matchup with Philadelphia. He's a solid No. 2 running back this week.|
Sleeper running backs
- Matt Forte (at BUF): I like Bilal Powell better this week, but Forte was good last season when the Jets were competitive. This is one game where the Jets can be competitive, and Forte had 28 Fantasy points at Buffalo in Week 2 last year.
- Derrick Henry (vs. OAK): DeMarco Murray should be locked into his regular workload, but the Titans want to get Henry more involved this year. And he closed last season with at least eight carries in four of his final five games. He's a sneaky starter this week.
- Wendell Smallwood (at WAS): I would expect LeGarrette Blount and Darren Sproles to get the most touches for the Eagles this week. But if you're stuck, take a flier on Smallwood. If he gets a hot hand, the Eagles could ride with him.
- James White (vs. KC): This will be our first look how the Patriots plan to replace Julian Edelman (knee). Don't be surprised if White has an expanded role. He's a good flex option in PPR leagues.
- Adrian Peterson (at MIN): Peterson has embraced the revenge game angle this week, which is great. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Peterson said "of course I want to stick it to them" when talking about his former team. He's a flex this week.
|8.3 Projected points|
Joe Mixon Cincinnati Bengals RB
|Mixon should eventually take over as the No. 1 running back for the Bengals, but Jeremy Hill is expected to start in Week 1 against the Ravens. Along with Giovani Bernard, we might not see Mixon get the workload he deserves until a few weeks into the season. For this week, Fantasy owners should keep him reserved, especially in a tough matchup. The Ravens defense once again looks tough, and last year they allowed the seventh-fewest Fantasy points to opposing running backs. Be patient with Mixon. His time will come.|
|9.3 Projected points|
Leonard Fournette Jacksonville Jaguars RB
|Speaking of patience, you might have to do the same with Fournette, who is expected to play in Week 1 despite missing time in the preseason with a foot injury. He should be 100 percent, but you might want to see how he performs this week before starting him in the majority of leagues unless necessary. In his lone preseason game against New England, he had nine carries for 31 yards and a touchdown, and he said the NFL is "really easy" after the game. We hope he says the same thing after this matchup with the Texans, who have not allowed a Jaguars running back to score against them since Maurice Jones-Drew in 2013.|
|8.0 Projected points|
Ameer Abdullah Detroit Lions RB
|I'm expecting Abdullah to have a good season in 2017, but I don't love this matchup against the Cardinals. Arizona allowed the fewest Fantasy points to opposing running backs last year and should once again be tough against the run. Abdullah faced the Lions once in 2015 and had just six carries for 17 yards and one catch for 9 yards. He should perform better than that, but no running back had double digits in Fantasy points against the Cardinals last year without scoring a touchdown. And it's hard to count on Abdullah reaching the end zone since he has just three touchdowns in his career. He's a flex at best in this matchup.|
|8.1 Projected points|
Frank Gore Indianapolis Colts RB
|No Luck. No center Ryan Kelly (foot). No chance you can trust Gore. Even if Rams standout defensive lineman Aaron Donald is out because of his contract situation, it should be a long day for the Indianapolis offense on the road with Scott Tolzien under center. In the lone game Tolzien started in Week 12 last year when Luck was out with a concussion against Pittsburgh, Gore had 15 carries for 28 yards and one catch for 3 yards. It would not be shocking if there was a repeat performance this week in Los Angeles.|
|5.6 Projected points|
Eddie Lacy Seattle Seahawks RB
|This isn't a revenge game to buy into. Thomas Rawls (ankle) could miss this week, and Lacy might still not get the majority of touches against his former team. The Seattle depth chart lists Rawls as the starter, but Lacy is second, which might not matter even if Rawls is out. Lacy was outplayed in the preseason by rookie Chris Carson, and he could get an extended look if Rawls can't go. And there's also C.J. Prosise, who would also get more work. It would be nice to see Lacy return to Green Bay and dominate his former team, but that seems unlikely to happen, especially if Rawls is active.|
Montgomery earned the No. 1 job for the Packers heading into this year, partly because of his own play and partly because no one else in Green Bay's backfield did anything of note in the preseason. But he's a risky starting option for Week 1 given the matchup with Seattle. The Seahawks run defense got better this season with the acquisition of standout defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, and it's going to be hard to find rushing room on the interior. Now, Montgomery did have a solid performance against Seattle last year when these teams met in Week 14 with nine carries for 41 yards and a touchdown and three catches for 45 yards. He could easily repeat that kind of performance again. But I would only trust him as a flex option this week because I don't think this is a good matchup for him to exploit.
|9.4 Projected points|
Terrelle Pryor Washington Redskins WR
|I'm hopeful that Crowder is able to play in this game with his hip injury, and if that's the case as expected then both he and Pryor should have big games. But Pryor has the higher ceiling given his matchup on the outside with cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills. Pryor actually faced the Eagles last year in Week 1 with the Browns and had three catches for 68 yards on seven targets, but he should perform better this time around with Cousins. Even though he had a quiet preseason with just two catches for 28 yards, the best is yet to come for this breakout candidate. Pryor should perform well in Week 1.|
|9.4 Projected points|
Martavis Bryant Pittsburgh Steelers WR
|We're thrilled that he's back from last year's suspension, and now the hope is he picks up where he left off in 2015. Bryant gets to start his comeback against what should be a suspect secondary with the Browns, and he once torched Cleveland for six catches for 178 yards and a touchdown in Week 10 in 2015. He's scored 14 touchdowns in 21 career games, and he's a big-play threat every time he steps on the field. He's a No. 2 Fantasy receiver with upside this week and likely every week of the season.|
|6.6 Projected points|
Sammy Watkins Los Angeles Rams WR
|I'm expecting a strong debut from Watkins in his first game with the Rams, and I also like Cooper Kupp as a sleeper this week. The Colts defense will be without top cornerback Vontae Davis (groin) this week, and Watkins is likely hoping to start his contract year off on the right foot. Speaking of feet, Watkins is also healthy, and whenever you can say that it's a good thing for his Fantasy value. We hope Jared Goff will look for Watkins and Kupp often in this matchup, and Watkins is a low-end No. 1 Fantasy receiver this week. Kupp is worth starting in three-receiver leagues and also as a flex in PPR.|
|9.3 Projected points|
Kelvin Benjamin Carolina Panthers WR
|Remember when Benjamin was overweight? That was so April. In August, Benjamin put on a show with eight catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns in three preseason games, and he's capable of being a dominant receiver this year. Benjamin is also two years removed from his torn ACL in 2015, which should mean he's back to 100 percent, and we'd love to see him repeat his season-opening performance from 2016 against Denver in this game when he had six catches for 91 yards and a touchdown. Benjamin followed that up in Week 2 against the 49ers with seven catches for 108 and two touchdowns. Benjamin has top-10 upside in this matchup at San Francisco.|
|8.2 Projected points|
Larry Fitzgerald Arizona Cardinals WR
|Fitzgerald has gotten off to a good start in each of the past two seasons, and we hope that trend continues for at least one more week. In his past two season openers, Fitzgerald has combined for 14 catches, 168 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a solid game against Detroit in 2015 when these teams last met when he grabbed five passes for 58 yards and a touchdown. You'll want to start Fitzgerald whenever he's rolling, and this matchup suggests he should play well, especially since it's early in the year. He's a solid No. 2 Fantasy receiver in all leagues.|
Sleeper wide receivers
- Stefon Diggs (vs. NO): He has 34 catches in his past five home games, and the Saints allowed the fifth-most receptions to receivers last year. He has the chance for a big game against this secondary.
- Eric Decker (vs. OAK): I like Rishard Matthews also given his rapport with Mariota, but Decker has a great matchup this week lining up in the slot. Don't be surprised if he scores because he's found the end zone in 14 of his past 18 games. Decker's a No. 3 receiver with upside this week.
- Brandon Marshall (at DAL): Marshall is expected to play through a shoulder injury, and he has a good matchup against this Cowboys secondary. He could see a significant amount of targets also if Beckham is out.
- Robby Anderson (at BUF): He has the chance to see a ton of targets this week and for the majority of the season. The Bills have a revamped secondary this year, and Anderson should be considered a No. 3 Fantasy receiver with upside this week.
- Zay Jones (vs. NYJ): It sounds like Jordan Matthews (chest) is going to play, but Jones should still see a significant amount of targets and might be the Bills' No. 1 receiver this week and this year. He's worth using as a flex in deeper leagues.
|9.4 Projected points|
T.Y. Hilton Indianapolis Colts WR
|In one game last year with Tolzien starting for Luck in Week 12 against Pittsburgh, Hilton had three catches for 54 yards on five targets. He's played 10 games without Luck the past two seasons, and he only has 41 catches for 630 yards and two touchdowns over that span, with the two scores coming in the same game in Week 12 against Tampa Bay in 2015. Hilton will be a good receiver without Luck, but he needs Luck to make him great. It's tough to start him this week with Luck out.|
|7.6 Projected points|
Allen Robinson Jacksonville Jaguars WR
|Let's hope that Blake Bortles and Robinson can get on the same page this week and start looking like the duo we saw in 2015. Because this combo was bad last year, and the preseason didn't give us any reason for optimism. Robinson has a good track record against the Texans with 100 yards or a touchdown in three of their past four meetings. But I would only treat Robinson as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver this week until we see him and Bortles connecting on a level reminiscent of their 2015 campaign.|
|7.7 Projected points|
Tyreek Hill Kansas City Chiefs WR
|The Chiefs are planning to use Hill in a variety of ways against the Patriots, which makes sense. They need playmakers, and he's an elite-level talent. But the Patriots know that also, and you have to imagine their standout cornerbacks in Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore are up for the challenge. You should view Hill as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver with upside, which is what he will be most of the season. I'm just expecting Bill Belichick to take away Hill and limit his production.|
|5.9 Projected points|
Tyrell Williams Los Angeles Chargers WR
|Williams has to face the best secondary in the NFL, and he struggled against them last season in two games with a combined four catches for 32 yards and no touchdowns on nine targets. He did that without Keenan Allen, and now Allen is back as the No. 1 receiver for the Chargers. Williams will have better opportunities to succeed moving forward, but facing the Denver secondary is daunting, even for Allen. He's still worth starting as a low-end No. 2 Fantasy receiver, but Williams should be benched in the majority of leagues.|
|8.7 Projected points|
Emmanuel Sanders Denver Broncos WR
|In his past four games against the Chargers, Sanders has combined for 16 catches, 216 yards and no touchdowns. His best game was nine Fantasy points over that span, and he scored four points or less twice. Sanders might see an uptick in targets this week with Demaryius Thomas (groin) banged up, but Sanders still had 32 targets in those past four outings against the Chargers. He's only worth using as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in most leagues.|
The Giants have a great secondary, and they were able to contain Bryant in two games last season. They could make things tough on him again this week. Bryant had two catches for 18 yards against the Giants last year on 14 targets. He also lost a fumble in Week 14 against the Giants, so his Fantasy production against them in 2016 was minus-1 point. He'll clearly do better than that, but it might not be by much. Just lower your expectations for Bryant this week and consider him a low-end No. 2 receiver at best.
|5.9 Projected points|
Delanie Walker Tennessee Titans TE
|The Raiders allowed the eighth-most Fantasy points to opposing tight ends last year, and it doesn't look like things will improve this season. Walker, like Matthews, has the best rapport with Mariota coming into this game, and he should have the chance to do plenty of damage. He's a top-three tight end coming into Week 1.|
|9.0 Projected points|
Kyle Rudolph Minnesota Vikings TE
|Rudolph had a breakout season in 2016 with Bradford and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, and we expect things to continue this year, starting in Week 1 against the Saints. He should see a significant amount of targets, and he closed last season with at least eight targets in four of his final six games. He also scored at least nine Fantasy points in three of those outings. Last season wasn't a fluke for Rudolph thanks for Bradford and Zimmer, and he should pick up where 2016 ended.|
|5.6 Projected points|
Charles Clay Buffalo Bills TE
|The Jets were one of five teams to allow at least 10 touchdowns to opposing tight ends in 2016, and their secondary got worse this year. Clay should have the chance to take advantage of this matchup, especially with Matthews at less than 100 percent. Buffalo's receiving corps is in rebuild mode this year, but Clay should remain a reliable resource for Taylor, And when the matchup is right, as it is here, Clay can be considered a low-end starting option in all formats.|
Sleeper tight ends
- Jason Witten (vs. NYG): Witten plus Giants plus season opener equals success. He's faced the Giants in Week 1 in three of the past four years, and he's combined for 25 catches, 196 yards and four touchdowns over that span.
- Coby Fleener (at MIN): Without Willie Snead (suspension), we could see Fleener have a big role. His best game in 2016 was Week 3 against Atlanta when Snead was out with a toe injury, and Fleener had seven catches for 109 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets.
- Zach Miller (vs. ATL): The Bears need help in their receiving corps with Cameron Meredith (knee) lost for the year, and Miller could play a big role, along with Kevin White and Kendall Wright. Miller is a good streaming option this week.
|6.6 Projected points|
Martellus Bennett Green Bay Packers TE
|Martellus will face off with his brother, Michael, this week, and that should be fun for the Bennett family. But Fantasy owners might not have much fun if they start Bennett against the Seattle defense. While he did go off against the Seahawks last year while playing for New England with seven catches for 102 yards, I don't expect a big performance this week. He's not someone I would drop to carry two tight ends, but I would also expect a mediocre performance at home.|
|6.2 Projected points|
Eric Ebron Detroit Lions TE
|Ebron appears on track to play in Week 1 after dealing with a hamstring injury in the preseason, but he's a risky starting option due to potential rust and a tough matchup. The Cardinals allowed the fewest Fantasy points to opposing tight ends last year is not at the level yet of being matchup proof. We hope he gets there, but for now keep him reserved in most leagues.|
|5.3 Projected points|
Jack Doyle Indianapolis Colts TE
|It's the same story with all the Colts players this week with Tolzien starting, which makes them all hard to trust, including Doyle. It's doubtful he will rule this week. In his only game with Tolzien last year in Week 12 against Pittsburgh, Doyle had two catches for 25 yards and no touchdowns on two targets. I'd hold off on starting Doyle until Luck is back, which will hopefully happen in Week 2 against Arizona.|
Eifert appears to be fine from the knee issue that bothered him in the preseason, but I'm always leery with him when it comes to injuries. And while he does have a good track record against the Ravens with at least 11 Fantasy points in two of their past three meetings, I expect this Baltimore defense to be tough. Only five tight ends scored against the Ravens last year and only two had double digits in Fantasy points. Eifert did that in his lone meeting against Baltimore -- he was injured in the rematch (shocker) -- and I consider him just a low-end starter at best this week.
Rams (vs. IND) - 10.2 Projected points
Have we made it clear that we like the Rams defense this week with Tolzien starting? We hope to see Donald play, but even without him this should be a standout performance for the Rams DST, especially under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. The Rams DST should be great in Week 1 but can also be serviceable all season long.
- Bills (vs. NYJ): Team X facing the Jets each week will make for a popular streaming option. The Bills DST gets lucky to face Josh McCown in Week 1.
- Falcons (at CHI): Mike Glennon showed in the preseason he can make some mistakes, and the Falcons should be able to capitalize. The Falcons had 34 sacks, 12 interceptions and five DST scores last year. They will make Glennon pay.
- Jaguars (at HOU): The Jaguars should be able to harass Tom Savage this week, especially with left tackle Duane Brown (holdout) not expected to play. The Jaguars defense will surprise some people this season, and this could be a rough Week 1 for the Texans offense.
Chiefs (at NE) - 8.3 Projected points
There are several elite DST options that belong in this category given their tough matchups, but don't give up on the Chiefs (at NE), Seahawks (at GB) or Vikings (vs. NO) just because they are facing good offenses. Either take your lumps this week with the chance of future greatness ahead or carry a second DST to start in Week 1. As for the Chiefs defense, it could be a long night facing Tom Brady in the first game of the season.
We don't often talk about kickers in the preseason, which could be a mistake since some people still find them important parts of your Fantasy roster. I was impressed with Walsh in the two games I watched Seattle play because of his volume, and he looks poised for a big year. He made 9 of 11 field goals in the preseason, and the Seahawks will lean on him just as they did Steven Hauschka, who was among the best Fantasy kickers every year. I own Walsh on several teams, and I expect him to play well in Week 1.
- Steven Hauschka (vs. NYJ): Stack your players against the Jets. Even the kickers.
- Ka'imi Fairbairn (vs. JAC): He's the new kicker for the Texans, and the Jaguars last year allowed the most Fantasy points to opposing kickers. Stream him.
- Brandon McManus (vs. SD): There were 12 times last year where a kicker made multiple field goals against the Chargers, and McManus did it twice. He's a good streaming option.
You guessed it. No Luck, no reason to trust Vinatieri. In that Week 12 game last year against Pittsburgh with Tolzien starting, Vinatieri attempted no field goals and just one extra point. You can get away with cutting Vinatieri until Luck returns, and then you can try and pick him back up off waivers.
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