Having a great start in your fantasy football league is easy: Just win in Week 1.
That, of course, is easier said than done. Opening weekend presents a unique challenge for fantasy owners: Players haven’t suited up in a meaningless game since last winter, and as much as we overanalyze their preseason performances, everyone remains an unknown to some degree when they take the field in Week 1.
But that won’t stop us from trying to predict the future. With every NFL team in action this week, there are several intriguing matchups that could reveal who’s in for a big opening weekend and who might come up short.
Here are five players we’d start and five players we’d sit in Week 1.
Davante Adams, Wide Receiver, Green Bay Packers: We’ve been high on Adams since Jordy Nelson went down with an ACL injury. He has a great chance to get off to a hot start against an overhauled Chicago Bears secondary that likely will have growing pains out of the gate.
Jonathan Stewart, Running Back, Carolina Panthers: When in doubt, start whoever is playing against the Jacksonville Jaguars. That’d be Stewart and the Panthers, and the 28-year-old finally will have the backfield all to himself. Expect a hefty workload.
Nelson Agholor, Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles: Yes, he’s a rookie, but Agholor has looked very promising in the preseason and could play a big role in the Eagles’ passing attack. A Week 1 matchup against the porous Atlanta Falcons secondary certainly helps his case.
Tevin Coleman, Running Back, Atlanta Falcons: Coleman got the nod over Devonta Freeman for the starting job, so the Falcons clearly like what they see in the rookie. Against an Eagles run defense that’s average at best, Coleman should have ample opportunity to prove his worth.
Eddie Royal, Wide Receiver, Chicago Bears: Jay Cutler has to throw to someone, and while Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte still are there, Royal should see his fair share of targets if the Bears get down early against the Packers.
Isaiah Crowell, Running Back, Cleveland Browns: Crowell has the potential to do big things this season. Just not in Week 1. The Browns face a tough test in the New York Jets’ stingy run defense, so wait until Cleveland’s Week 2 matchup against the Tennessee Titans to roll out Crowell.
Brandon Marshall, Wide Receiver, New York Jets: There likely won’t be a whole lot of points to go around in this one, and Marshall should see plenty of Cleveland’s top cornerback, Joe Haden. Oh yeah, and Ryan Fitzpatrick is Marshall’s quarterback.
Melvin Gordon, Running Back, San Diego Chargers: Gordon looks like one of the most promising rookies in the league, but playing your first NFL game against the Detroit Lions’ defense isn’t exactly an easy task. Hold off on Gordon for a better matchup if you have other options.
Tre Mason/Benny Cunningham, Running Back, St. Louis Rams: Mason is a game-time decision for Sunday, but allow us to make the decision for you. Regardless of who starts, they’re playing the Seattle Seahawks in what likely will be a low-scoring affair. Look elsewhere for your RB.
Jameis Winston, Quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Winston has plenty of upside, and a matchup against the Titans bodes well, but NFL debuts by rookie quarterbacks hardly ever go well. We’d steer clear of both Winston and Marcus Mariota in this one.
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