The day we’ve all been waiting for is finally here, well, I mean it was here and now we have more to look forward to (considering you’re reading this on Friday and the season starts on Thursday). Anyway, the NFL season is finally upon us, and with that the official start of our fantasy season. Glorious how it all comes together right?
There will be a slight shift in what’s written in the “Words of Ingram”, and the next 16 weeks will have a greater focus on quarterback and tight end players. Don’t fret my followers, I’ll still talk about some other positions and a variety of other topics; however my primary focus is QB and TE.
Before we get into that, I’d love to do a little draft wrap-up. This season, I’ll be managing 7 teams. To my great, great dismay, in 5 of those leagues I was draft position 8 or later. To be more specific, my draft ordering per league was as follows; 2, 10, 10, 9, 8, 9, 4, so you can see the obvious trend and my discontent. The 8th pick took place in our resident MLFS league, in which I had a pretty rough draft I think. Now, there is a perfectly justifiable reason for that! It was my first time in this league, and the league is quite in-depth. You have to start 11 IDP’s and you have a fairly extensive bench. It’s a 3 keeper league, and pre-draft there was a plethora of trading. I didn’t quite see the value in all the trades, until the draft started. In retrospect, I would have certainly done things MUCH differently, however there is no time machine. Hopefully I can still have a respectable season, but holy jeez was it kind of brutal.
The one thing worth noting is that, despite having ten and nine twice, I was still able to field teams in which there were no shared players. This was completely by design, and not a product of “drafting the best players possible.” The thing about the 9/10 spot, is that it allows you to follow 1 of 4 strategies fairly easily. So, I essentially followed 4 different strategies in the position (WR/WR, TE/WR, RB/RB, WR/RB). It was ok and I like some of my teams more than others, but I would have enjoyed a different spot.
So you may be asking what my point is with that last paragraph. My point is this: When you’re presented with lemons, make lemonade. I didn’t want that spot repeatedly, but I adapted to it (key factor of winning in fantasy) and found a way to have fun by drafting some wild teams. I’ll be sure to dive into these teams a bit more in the following weeks, but for now; what everyone really cares about is the hot QB’s and TE’s for Week #1!
A quick note (edited after the article was uploaded): Please remember this everyone. You’re pretty much always going to start your studs week 1. It’s easy to want to be cute in week 1, but those fringe players need to prove their worth early. I’m a big fan of staying comfortable for week 1, and then moving and shaking once week 4 hits. Give your players, and their teams, time to adjust to the rigors of the NFL. Be patient, keep your eyes open, and remember…
- Matt Ryan – Ryan wasn’t given a top 10 ranking in the pre-season, but he’s surely a top 10 play this week. He will face division rival New Orleans, at home, and will look to prove that he is an elite player. The New Orleans defense is no joke, but the Falcons are out to make a bold statement in week 1, and Ryan will be the catalyst to that! Expect to see a healthy dose of Julio Jones and Roddy White, as this is sure to be a score fest. Matt Ryan is a clear “hot play” this week.
- Nick Foles – I’ve made no secret of my feelings for Nick Foles, however he too is a clear “start” for week 1. The Eagles offense, while early and healthy, will be quite formidable. Chip Kelly is excited to show off the multitude of toys in his box, and does so against a mostly soft Jacksonville defense. I’ll be the first guy to make the following two statements: Foles is going to massively regress and the Jaguars are grossly under-rated and will finish 2nd in their division. Having said that, the Eagles are going to come out firing on all cylinders and the Jag’s will be brutalized. Keep your eyes on Zach Ertz and Jordan Matthews. While Ertz may have been drafted, Matthews is still available in many leagues.
- Russell Wilson – I like Wilson a lot this week, especially going against a not so impressive Green Bay defense. The Packers are one of those teams with a pretty big chip on their collective shoulders; and these two teams are budding rivals. We all remember the 2012 “Hail Mary” that shook the NFL with controversy; and I can promise you both teams remember.
Wilson, for some odd reason, is still discounted by many as a top-tier QB; but he will prove the negative Nate’s wrong this season. I like Wilson to start in week 1 and force people to game plan differently for the ‘Hawks. Players to watch: Doug Baldwin and any RB in Seattle other than Marshawn Lynch. Watch how each player is utilized, and play the waivers accordingly.
- Tony Romo – Romo will lead the Cowboys at home against one of the Super Bowl favorites, the SF 49ers. We are all too aware of the terrible Cowboys defense and of the 49ers intentions of crushing their previous rival. This will force the Cowboys to turn to Romo early and often which will result in a very good fantasy day. Romo should have stats that read: 398 yards, 3 TD, 1 Int. I don’t fear the 49ers D and neither should you. Romo is a solid bet and could easily crack the top 10 for week 1.
- Jay Cutler – Some people feel very strongly about the Buffalo defense, but I am not one of them. Well, at least not for week 1. The Bears, at home, want to send a message to the rest of the NFL. That message, “We are going to the Super Bowl.” The Bears have not been picked to appear in the Super Bowl in 2014, nor are many professionals picking them to even win their division. (I did pick them to win the division, which you can see by looking at our pre-season rankings) I love Cutler this season and could easily see him as a top 5 QB. He and his offensive weapons will put on a show week 1. I really like the Bills, but you shouldn’t expect much from them in Week 1.
- RG3 – I’m not as down on RG3 as the rest of the world. I think Houston will be a great test for the 3rd year starter, as he will face a devastating pass rush in the Texans. This will be a defining game for Griffin as he looks to put the doubts he generated during the pre-season to rest. Normally I’d have him higher, but I need to see something this week.
- Alex Smith – Not always the sexiest pick, but a sensible one. The Titans have a great pass defense, but Smith thrives in short passes to Jamaal Charles. Most leagues only go 16 deep, but if you’re forced to start Smith; it’s not too bad of a play. I think he has some value in week 1.
TE Hot Plays
- Jordan Cameron – It goes without saying that Jordan Cameron is set to be an elite player this season. The loss of Josh Gordon, the starting nod to Brian Hoyer, and a lack of other weapons will make him the primary target. I don’t fear the Pittsburgh secondary any longer, and Cameron will be poised to make a huge statement in week 1. If I had a little bit more courage, he would be the #2 guy this week. Also, this dude is dating Erin Heatherton! Good for you Jordan!
- Dennis Pitta – I’m a big believer in Joe Flacco’s BFF. He will find ways to remain open and should receive 11-13 targets against the Bengals. Cincinnati has a fine defense, but Flacco and Pitta will have big numbers. Week 1 will be the coming out party for Dennis Pitta, and the fantasy world will be, in short time, talking about how crazy it was that Pitta went so late in many drafts.
- Jason Witten – See the above for Romo. Witten is a favorite target of Romo and the Cowboys will be in a position that will force them to throw. Bryant may get the touchdowns, but Witten will be the one amassing receptions and yards. A great play for week 1.
- Charles Clay – I think the Dolphins have a very underrated offensive unit, though much of that is based on the belief that OC Bill Lazor will make dramatic changes. They will face a strong New England defense with a revamped secondary which will spend most of its day taking away the vertical passing plan of the Dolphins. This will result in plenty of opportunities for Charles Clay to be a featured part of the Miami offense in week 1. Clay became a favorite target of Tannehill late in the season, and based on pre-season action and discussions; Clay will be much more utilized in the offensive scheme.
- Jace Amaro – So I need to stick with my guns and early season predictions. I had Amaro as one of my breakout players this year, and I think we’ll get a fine showing of this young players potential in week 1. No one should fear the Oakland defense. Let’s get that out-of-the-way immediately. The Jets may not be getting the respect the deserve, and young Geno Smith is a prime example of underrated players. I think that Smith will utilize his tight end very efficiently, and I very much see Amaro snagging a touchdown reception in week 1. I do have him ranked ahead of some others, which may be a bit bold, but I think this will be the tight end that is quickly snagged off waivers come Wednesday morning. If your team is super solid and you want to take a chance, or you drafted TE very late; give Amaro a shot. I certainly like him more than Ertz, Green and Gates.
So that’s a quick look at the QB/TE players whom I think are worth playing in week 1. Please let me know how you feel about this format, and/or if you have suggestions on what you may like to see. I’m always excited for feedback, but even more excited for football to finally begin. In our house, we have a yearly tradition of having roast chicken, mashed potatoes and stuffing for week 1. Boy oh boy, do I love me some mashed potatoes. After that, it delves into wings, beer, pizza, beer, chips, beer and I believe you can see the pattern. What kind of traditions do you have for week 1?
Major League Fantasy Football Radio: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday September 7th from 11am-12pm EST for another episode of our fantasy football show sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network.
This week Jeff Nelson will be joining us for week one of the regular season. We will be discussing match ups and players on both offense & defense to either avoid or to play. Jeff is a High School defensive backs coach in the Lehigh Valley of PA. You can call in at 646.915.8596, listen live online, bluetooth in your car, or listen to the podcast. You can download the podcast on I-Tunes or Google Play stores.