It wasn’t just the NFL season that kicked off last night. As the New England Patriots defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-21, fantasy football returned as well. Football is here to stayfor the next several months. No more talk about Deflategate. No more contract disputes. No more suspensions. With the coming of a new NFL season comes the fantasy football season, which is arguably as popular as the NFL itself. At this point, all fantasy drafts are done and all excitement about members’ teams have reached a maximum. Now, it’s time to set your lineup for Week 1. (Congrats if you had Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski last night.) Here is a list of a few players at each position that I feel are good choices to start or sit this week.
Start: Eli Manning (NYG) Last season Manning threw for 3 TD and at least 250 yards in both games against the Cowboys. Now, the already shaky Cowboys secondary is without their best cornerback in Orlando Scandrick for the season due to a torn ACL. Expect many targets for Odell Beckham Jr. and maybe even a salsa dance from Victor Cruz.
Matt Ryan (ATL) Despite the Falcons downfall in the past two seasons, Ryan has still remained one of the better QBs in the NFL. Most fantasy owners don’t realize he went to his third Pro Bowl last year. This week, he goes against last year’s 31st-ranked passing defense in the Philadelphia Eagles. Despite now having 2 members of the Seattle Seahawks “Legion of Boom” in Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond, the Eagles will not have enough to guard Julio Jones and Roddy White.
Sit: Jay Cutler (CHI) Out of all the teams that Cutler has struggled against, the Green Bay Packers have proven to be his toughest opponent. He has a career record of 1-10 against them and has thrown 21 interceptions to only 14 touchdowns. Also, his number one target, Alshon Jeffery, is banged up with an injured calf. Cutler is a better candidate for negative points than for top 5 QB status this week.
Start: Latavius Murray (OAK) A top fantasy running back in the second half last season, Murray is poised to have a breakout season. The Raiders go up against the Bengals this week, who were 27th in the NFL last year in keeping RBs out of the end zone. Also, 2014 Pro Bowler middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict is out for Cincinnati.
Jeremy Hill (CIN) Murray’s teammates on the Oakland defense should be worried about Jeremy Hill. As a bigger and more physical RB than teammate Giovani Bernard, he should get most of the carries against a defense who struggled against other big backs such as Chris Ivory and Marshawn Lynch last year. Hill is almost a lock to get into the end zone at least once against the team with the 4th most TD allowed to opposing RB.
Sit: Joique Bell (DET) Bell was prepared to take on a huge workload this year as the Detroit Lion’s number one RB, but a concussion in preseason ruined his hopes, at least for this week. Head coach Jim Caldwell announced that rookie Ameer Abdullah will get the majority of the carries this week as Bell works to get back to 2014 form, when he had 7 touchdowns in only 6 starts.
Start: Davante Adams (GB) Jordy Nelson is out, and Randall Cobb is the obvious Packer to rack up most of the catches from MVP Aaron Rodgers this season. However, Rodgers is known for spreading the ball and getting everyone involved. Adams will line up as the second WR today as he did in Week 12 last year when he had 11 targets and 121 receiving yards.
Brandin Cooks (NOR) This young New Orleans receiver is another good pick for breakout player of the year in fantasy football this year. The Saints go up against the Cardinals, who as a good scoring defense, still allowed the 3rd most receiving yards last season.
Sit: Sammy Watkins (BUF) The talented young receiver showed much promise for the Bills in his rookie season. This year may be a bit of a different story. They start out the season with Tyrod Taylor at QB, who is more known for running than for passing. Also, Rex Ryan loves to run the ball, and is expected to do so with Lesean McCoy.
Start: Delanie Walker (TEN) Marcus Mariota will have to rely on someone if he starts struggling in his NFL debut. A tight end is usually a QB’s best friend, and the Titans have a pretty good one in Walker, who was fourth among tight ends in receiving yards last year. This week he plays the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who he scored a TD against the last time he played them.