Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season is finally upon us, and thus a new fantasy football season is also set to start. Streaming options may not be on the mind of a lot of fantasy owners coming out of a draft, but using that strategy right out of the gate can be viable.
Kicking off a second straight year, here are my quarterback, tight end and team defense streamers for Week 1.
Quarterback: Sam Bradford, QB, Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints (Monday night)
Bradford set an NFL record for completion percentage last year (71.6 percent), due mostly to an inept offensive line that made short passes mandatory, but he also set a career-high for passing yards (3,877) and threw just five interceptions in 552 attempts.
Week 1 brings a favorable matchup against the New Orleans Saints, who allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterback (18.3 per game, ESPN scoring) and the third-most (gross) passing yards (284.4 per game). They’ve also placed cornerback Delvin Breaux (leg) on IR to start the season, so an already talent-thin secondary is a little thinner.
It may not always look pretty in the first game next Monday night, but when it’s all said and done Bradford should have over 250 passing yards and a couple touchdowns through the air. As a streamer, especially if you’re looking to replace Andrew Luck in Week 1, the former No. 1 overall pick is a worthy option.
Yahoo! Ownership: 18%
Other Options To Consider: Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams vs. Indianapolis Colts; Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets (check status); Mike Glennon, Chicago Bears vs. Atlanta Falcons; Jay Cutler, Miami Dolphins vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tight End: Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns
McDonald was acquired from the 49ers just a week ago, as Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin suggested the team’s incumbents at tight end were not at a “varsity” level. There will be some learning curve to get fully acclimated, and a snap split with Jesse James may be coming out of the gate, but it’s hard to ignore McDonald’s matchup in Week 1.
The Cleveland Browns allowed the most touchdowns to tight ends last year (13), which helped them yield the second-most fantasy points to the position (17.2 per game, ESPN scoring). Somehow Pittsburgh’s tight ends were allergic to that feast, with a total of three catches for 21 yards in two games, but McDonald is an upgrade and in line to take better advantage of the matchup.
McDonald may not catch more than a few passes in Week 1, but I’m ready to book him for a touchdown to bolster his fantasy day.
Yahoo! Ownership: 5%
Other Options TO Consider: Evan Engram, New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (Sunday night); Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Miami Dolphins
Team Defense: Los Angeles Rams vs. Indianapolis Colts
Even without standout defensive tackle Aaron Donald, unless he ends his holdout and is somehow deemed ready to play, the Rams defense is in a failure-proof position in Week 1. Why? two words-Scott Tolzien. He is starting under center for the Colts in place of an injured Andrew Luck, with three starts on his resume and a backup center in place.
The Colts are sure to try to run the ball a lot, and score just enough to win with Luck on the sideline. The more Tolzien has to throw the ball, the worse it will be for Indianapolis and the better it will be for the Rams’ defense in terms of turnover potential.
Based purely on the likelihood the Colts score less than 17 points and surrender a few sacks, and with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips sure to dial up a scheme that renders Tolzien even more inept, the Rams’ defense has a safe fantasy floor. If the game gets one-sided and Tolzien has to throw a lot, which is possible, that upside is worth taking a bet on.
Yahoo! Ownership: 56%
Other Options To Consider: Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets; Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans; Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears; Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Miami Dolphins; Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens