Alright, one week in the books, and it’s time to panic! I’m kidding of course, but the first week of fantasy football was a mixed bag of crazy and wacky. Tight ends went nuts, some normally great offenses were crap, mid-tier WRs were blazing while first round selections fizzled (except El Nino Julio), and my first Lazy Man’s Guide to Fantasy Football was published with great fanfare, or something.
So what does it all mean? Will Gronk maintain his 48 touchdown pace? Will Keenan Allen actually catch 240 passes this season? Should I drop Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham, and A.J. Green? Look, there are definitely some key takeaways from the first week, but if you don’t listen to anything else I say this season (or for the rest of my life), please follow the Lazy Man’s week two roster advice: Do not overreact!
One week does not make a season, and the fantasy landscape will look a lot more normal and familiar in a few weeks. First round draft picks, especially those WRs, will put up big numbers, and week one will seem like a distant memory. So no, don’t drop anyone or enter into some crazy trade based on one week.
Conversely, if you benefitted from a breakout performance from an unheralded player last week, don’t expect that production every week. Prepare for a regression to the mean, but go ahead and gloat for a week about starting Marcus Mariota.
With “don’t overreact” now seared into the collective subconscious, here are a few things I learned last week that will impact my fantasy advice moving forward (and you should take note of):
- The really bad teams in the league—Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland, and Tampa—are much worse than everyone else. Stream DSTs against them with joy in your heart.
- Baltimore and Buffalo’s defenses are better than I thought they would be. Take note when playing match ups.
- Deandre Hopkins and Jordan Matthews will live up to the hype.
- Matt Forte and Philip Rivers are underrated every single year, and it makes no sense.
Weather and other non-football notes: Weather looks great across the land, should be no impact on games, thanks again to NFLWeather.com.
Games and player ratings:
Ballers Players expected to meet or exceed high fantasy point projections.
Bubble Players expected to squeak by with marginal production but not be total duds.
Bad Players you should avoid. Please note, just because a guy is in the “Bad” category this week does NOT mean you should cut him, and in some cases you’ll have to start him, but temper your expectations.
If a player is not listed I found them to be boring or obvious, so toss them in the bubble category.
I’m not including kickers because that would be dumb.
*indicates player has an injury and availability should be confirmed before game time.
St. Louis at Washington
This is a game to avoid if at all possible. I honestly have no idea how this will shake out. My gut tells me it will be similar to the Redskins / Dolphins game from Week One. Low scoring, sloppy at times, and lacking in fantasy certainty. I can’t point to any player as being a certain baller in this game, possible that Pierre Garcon or Jordan Reed pop in an unlikely win for Washington or by racking up some garbage time points. Tavon Austin could of course return six kicks for TDs against the Skins.
Bad: St. Louis RBs (Todd Gurley may play, unclear how carries will be divided, and tough match up)
Houston at Carolina
Last week Carolina muscled over a terrible Jacksonville team while Houston struggled against a stout Kansas City squad. This game looks to be pretty evenly matched on both sides, with two strong defenses teeing off on offenses with plenty of question marks. Ryan Mallett gets the start at QB for Houston, which may spark the offense, or lead to much pain and suffering, so you’re not starting him.
Bad: Ryan Mallett, Alfred Blue, Carolina WRs
San Francisco and Pittsburgh
Tough, early East Coast trip for the 49ers here, but luckily the porous Steelers DST awaits. Luckily for the porous Steelers DST, the 49ers are not the Patriots. The 49ers will try to slow this game down by giving Carlos Hyde a season’s worth of carries, but the Steelers offense behind Big Ben will pull away and put up big numbers for fantasy owners.
Bad: 49ers DST, Steelers DST
Tampa at New Orleans
I know my advice above stresses not overreacting, but seriously, this has slaughter written all over it. In case you were wondering, I mean the Saints will slaughter the Bucs. Normally Doug Martin would be a strong play based on this match up, but I expect Tampa to be down by four score and seven years by halftime, limiting his value. Jameis Winston and the Buc’s pass catchers may grab some points in garbage time, but hoping for that seems like a silly way to live.
Bad: Buccaneers DST, Saints TEs
Detroit at Minnesota
Combined, Calvin Johnson and Adrian Peterson scored one fantasy point last week. OK, I’m being a tad dramatic, but I’m all in on both this week, as I believe the universe will collapse upon itself in a spiraling storm of hellfire if these lads don’t return to form. Minnesota’s offense was abysmal last week, in no small part due to not giving AP the ball enough. The Lions secondary was torched by Phillip Rivers and the Chargers last week, so the Vikings should return to form and put some points on the yard. The Lions have too much on talent to not put up points, or at least we’ll all keep saying that until Eminem raps about Matt Stafford.
Ballers: Adrian Peterson, Ameer Abdullah, Calvin Johnson
Arizona at Chicago
The Bears D/ST no es bueno, and the Cardinals offense is quite the machine when led by the rickety knees of Carson Palmer. This game feels like it has shoot out potential, even with the duo of Johnson and Johnson possibly taking over RB duties for Andre Ellington in the Cardinals backfield.
Bad: Cardinals DST, Bears DST
New England at Buffalo
Great match up here with one of leagues best offenses in New England smashing skulls with a Bills defense that man-handled Andrew Luck and the Colts last week. Tom Brady and the Patriots have really owned the Bills over the past decade, including two victories last year, one of which was a 37-22 shellacking with Brady tossing four TDs. I think this will be a close game and relatively low scoring affair, play your Pats studs but temper expectations.
San Diego at Cincinnati
Philip Rivers is a neat young man. Down 21-3 last week, he led a Chargers comeback with more than 400 yards through the air, with 15 of those receptions made by Keenan Allen. Yeah, Rivers is making Allen and receiving mate Stevie Johnson most own commodities in fantasy. No one wants a guy to catch 15 passes in two straight games, so I’ll bet Johnson has a bigger game than Allen this week. Cincy steamrolled a terrible Oakland squad last week, and have enough talent to cause some issues for the Chargers DST.
Tennessee at Cleveland
In a match up of former Heisman trophy winning QBs whose careers have taken, uh, different trajectories, Marcus Mariota leads the Titans into Cleveland where Johnny Manziel and a pretty terrible Browns offense await. It’s actually hard to get really excited about anyone in this game beyond the Titans DST. Sure, Mariota had four touchdowns last week, but only threw 16 passes. Most NFL QB’s don’t average a touchdown on 25% of their throws for very long.
Ballers: Titans DST
Bad: The Browns
Atlanta at New York Giants
Boy did the Giants stink in fantasy last week, and still only lost to the Cowboys because they stunk in knowing real life things about football. I predict a big bounce back game for Odell Beckham and crew, with both teams likely moving up and down the field with ease. Start players from both these teams with great excitement.
Miami at Jacksonville
If you can flex your DST, do so with Miami this week. Lamar Miller may run all the way home to Miami, and the Dolphins should dominate this game from start to finish. I like the idea of T.J. Yeldon, but this is not a good week to start the youngster. It’s possible a Jacksonville WR puts up some points in garbage time, but if that’s what you’re betting on in week two, then you may want to try to get some time with the Pope during his visit next week.
Bubble: Ryan Tannehill
Bad: The Jaguars
Baltimore at Oakland
Another match up of good (Ravens) versus really bad (Raiders). Latavius Murray and Amari Cooper are good players, and it looks like Derek Carr will be able to start at QB, but I don’t know how much that matters or if you should be confident starting anyone from that offense against the Ravens DST that shut down the Broncos last week (and PS, Peyton Manning is not dead).
Bubble: Latavius Murray, Amari Cooper
Bad: The rest of the Raiders, including their DST
Dallas at Philadelphia
Last week, Dallas and New York didn’t really live up to the hype for fantasy owners, at least not until that last drive. Unlike last week, I believe this game will be a wild west shootout. The Eagles offense sputtered early but turned it on late against the Falcons, and the Cowboys will have all they can handle trying to kep up. Th absence of Dez Bryant of course looms large, so plug Cowboys secondary options such as Terrence Williams and Cole Beasley into your line ups.
Sunday Night game
Seattle at Green Bay
Great Sunday night matchup with the Seahawks coming off a tough loss to the Rams and the Packers fresh off a convincing win over the Bears. The absence of Kam Chancellor from the Seahawks DST looms large against the high-powered Pack-attack. Green Bay too many weapons at home and should put up big points, but the Seahawks will keep it close with their studs doing damage as well.
Bubble: James Jones
Monday night game
New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts
There’s some talk that the Colts may be in for another tough outing because some believe the Jets are a mirror image of the Bills team that gave Andrew Luck and team fits last week. Don’t believe the hype. Back home in their cozy dome, the Colts offense gets back on track, even if TY Hilton is unable to play (although it’s looking more likely that he will). The Colts defense is bad, and the Jets offense isn’t as bad as some think, so there’s some value to be had there.