Buckle up, fantasy football owners. The NFL season is about to get off to a roaring start.
The New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers will kick off the 2015 campaign Thursday night at Gillette Stadium, and if last year was any indication, there should be plenty of fantasy points to go around.
The Steelers, whose 6,577 total yards last season trailed only the New Orleans Saints, will be without Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant but still have three-time Pro Bowler Ben Roethlisberger and one of the best wide receivers in the league in Antonio Brown to pick up the slack.
But that doesn’t mean everyone will eat in this Week 1 feast, as a couple players have red flags that could justify leaving them out of your starting lineup.
Let’s take a look at who to start and sit in Thursday night’s season opener.
Tom Brady, Quarterback, Patriots: We all know Brady will be the most motivated player on the planet come Thursday. But he’ll also be without starting running back LeGarrette Blount, so expect TB12 to air it out early and often against a Steelers secondary he lit up for 432 passing yards and four touchdowns during the teams’ last meeting in 2013.
Markus Wheaton, Wide Receiver, Steelers: Wheaton was pretty frustrating for fantasy owners last season, and we could see more of the same in 2015. If there ever was a time for him to produce, though, this is it. Bell and Bryant both are suspended, essentially making Wheaton the Steelers’ No. 2 offensive weapon behind Brown. Against an overhauled Patriots secondary which could struggle out of the gate, that’s a good sign.
Brandon Bolden, Running Back, Patriots: With Blount and now Jonas Gray out of the mix, it might be tempting to roll with Bolden as a spot starter. Don’t. New England has other options — James White, Dion Lewis, Travaris Cadet — and is notorious for dishing out carries at random. Unless you’re in a very deep league or had the worst draft ever, you have better options than Bolden on your roster right now.
DeAngelo Williams, Running Back, Steelers: Unlike Bolden, Williams is the pretty obvious replacement for Bell. But that doesn’t mean the 32-year-old will put up Bell-like numbers, especially in a Steelers offense that likely will try to test New England’s secondary out of the gate. Williams isn’t the worst option, but don’t overvalue him based on his circumstances alone.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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