Wed Sep 4 9:34am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Winston setup for big Week 1
I think I say something similar every season but it really rings true for me. There is no better time for a fantasy owner than Week 1 of the season. We all have hope for winning that championship. All our hard work is now going to be put to the test, showing that our draft decisions were shrewd and on the mark. It is a great time, filled with hope and happiness for the start of another football and fantasy football season. Here is to hoping you have a great Week 1!
Before I get to my random thoughts for the week, I wanted to give you a quick rundown of our content plan for this year at RealTime Fantasy Sports. We will have more original content than ever this year. I will be providing four columns a week: Studs and Duds, Waivering, Lineup Prep and Injury Status. I also will post a weekly mailbag, weekly rankings and a podcast. We will have two additional writers, Mike Barner and Charlie Wiegert, providing content. Barner is going to do a weekly DFS column, and Wiegert will provide his fantasy thoughts for the week, talking about waiver-wire pickups, games to target and other fantasy info. We are thrilled to have so much original content for you this season and hope you have a great fantasy season.
Now for my random thoughts. . . . .
First off, if I’m a Damien Williams owner, I’m worried about the team signing LeSean McCoy. I don’t think McCoy has much left in the tank but I also don’t think the Chiefs sign him if they don’t have some concerns about Williams as their starter. I think Williams is going to have to start fast to erase any doubts Andy Reid might have using him as their starter. If Williams has any hiccups the first few weeks, I would be worried about McCoy really cutting into his playing time going forward. This is not a good situation for fantasy teams.
The other late move before the start of the season was the Texans acquiring Carlos Hyde. Hyde is another player I’m not super high on based on his last few seasons, but he is the clear best lead back for the Texans right now. He should get the chance to start once he learns the offense. Duke Johnson still has more fantasy value in my view because he is going to serve as the third-down back. I like his reception potential in this offense. Hyde might be worth the occasional flex play but I don’t see him producing big - even in a starting role.
Here are a few things I’m excited about for Week 1. First off, I’m anxious to see Kyler Murray in action. I know he had some struggles during the preseason but that was the preseason. This is for real now, having a chance to run the entire offense and getting his full compliment of weapons. I think Murray can be a fantasy star.
I’m interested to see how the Colts offense operates with Jacoby Brissett the full-time starter now. I know he has started in the past but this is different. He is the official man now and gets to run the show. So how big of a dropoff will the offense see with Brissett starting? We won’t get the complete picture after just a week but a tough road game against a good defense will be a good test for Brissett.
I am also excited about the prospects of the Bucs offense. Will Jameis Winston finally take that big step forward and be a superstar? This offense has a chance to be special if Winston plays more consistent football and gets all his talent involved. I have invested a lot in Bucs during fantasy drafts, so I’m hoping things start off well for the Bucs in Week 1.
I know the team is a train wreck but I’m kind of interested to see the Dolphins offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick has posted some big numbers, so don’t discount this unit to still help fantasy teams even if they don’t win games. There needs to be some receivers that will step up to catch passes - like an Albert Wilson. And Kenyan Drake might not be starting, but he is another Dolphin I’m keeping an eye on. He is a dual threat that was 14th overall in fantasy running back scoring last year. He could end up being a steal for all the fantasy teams that took him in the mid to late round of drafts.
Lastly, I’m interested to see how Cam Newton looks. We have seen little from him throwing the ball all camp and preseason, so it will be good to see him throw the ball in a game. How strong will his arm be after another surgery this offseason? Newton has a favorable fantasy schedule and a lot of weapons to work with, so if he is healthy and on his game, Newton can be an elite fantasy quarterback once again.
As always, don't forget to check out our weekly rankings: Week 1 Rankings.
News and Notes: The Cowboys signed running back Ezekiel Elliott to a six-year contract extension Wednesday. He will report to practice and is expected to play this week. . . . .The Rams signed quarterback Jared Goff to a four-year contract extension Tuesday. . . . . .The 49ers' unofficial depth chart lists running back Matt Breida as the team's No. 1 back over Tevin Coleman.This guys are likely to split work but this is something to take note. Breida is playing his way into a big role this season.
Jameis Winston, QB, Bucs. Winston had an erratic season last year, losing out on playing time to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. Winston is the man this year, though, and has the confidence of new head coach Bruce Arians. He also is playing in a pass-first offense that has produced big numbers for past fantasy quarterbacks. Winston plays the 49ers to open the year, a team that struggles defensively. San Francisco allowed the seventh most fantasy points to quarterbacks last year and didn’t do much to shore up the secondary during the offseason.
Will Fuller, WR, Texans. Fuller had 100-yard games three of the seven games he played last year. He also scored four touchdowns in those seven games. Needless to say, he made plays when on the field. The issue for Fuller has been staying healthy. He is ready to go this year, though, and should be a big factor in this pass-first offense. Fuller has a matchup to start his season off well, playing the Saints. New Orleans allowed the most fantasy points to receivers last year and were just 25th against the pass in the preseason.
Kerryon Johnson, RB, Lions. Johnson is healthy and ready to go for the ’19 season. He showed flashes of great things last year but didn’t make it through the year healthy, impacting his numbers. Another positive for him this year is Theo Riddick gone. This could open the door for even more chances for him offensively, getting utilized in the passing game more. Johnson has a good matchup to start his season off well, playing the Cardinals. Arizona was a mess defensively in the preseason, allowing the most rushing yards of any team. And this is a team that allowed the second most fantasy points to running backs last year.
Tevin Coleman, RB, 49ers. Coleman might not start but he is going to play a lot in this offense. He is very familiar with this system and has excelled in past years. This is a positive for Coleman to get back his mojo after struggling some last season. Coleman plays a bad Bucs defense to start his season. Tampa allowed the third most fantasy points to running backs last year. Coleman scored touchdowns in both games he played Tampa last season.
Adam Thielen, WR, Vikings. Thielen was arguably the best fantasy receiver in football the first half of last season. He was pretty mediocre the second half of the year, though, causing his fantasy stock to drop. We aren't quite as down on him as others. Even though his numbers were down late last year, he was still getting his catches. He had five or more receptions five of his last seven games. He can still be a huge fantasy factor, especially in this offense. Thielen plays the Falcons in Week 1, a team that allowed the fifth most fantasy points to defenses. This game is setup to be a shootout with a lot of fantasy points to be had on both sides.
Derek Carr, QB, Raiders. Carr is looking much better this year, having Antonio Brown to work with as his No. 1 receiver and some other additions on the offensive side of the ball. He is going to have some big games this year. But for this week, we might avoid Carr. He has a tough matchup to start his season, playing the Broncos. Carr had one touchdown in two games against the Broncos last season. Denver allowed the ninth fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks last year and were fifth against the pass during the preseason.
Kalen Ballage, RB, Dolphins. Ballage has emerged as the starter for the Dolphins this year but that doesn’t mean he will be a great weekly fantasy play. He had some struggles during the preseason and just lost his starting left tackle to a trade. This doesn’t bode well for Ballage going forward. Plus, Kenyan Drake is lurking over him to steal carries. Bale starts his season against the Ravens, a team that was first against the rush during the preseason and allowed the second fewest fantasy points to running backs last year.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Chiefs. Watkins is always capable of the big game in this explosive offense, but he is more of a matchup play at this point. He was not targeted double-digit times in any game last season. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill are the top options in this offense on a weekly basis. Watkins will produce some big games but you can’t trust him as a weekly play, especially this week against the Jaguars. Jacksonville allowed the third fewest fantasy points to receivers last year and was ninth overall against the pass during the preseason.
Aaron Jones, RB, Packers. Jones gets a chance to start from day one this year in a new offense with a new coach calling plays. This bodes well for Jones to finally have that breakout season. Jones could disappear some weeks in an offense that could be pass heavy, though. And he isn’t matchup proof just yet. Green Bay plays a very good Bears defense this week. Chicago allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs last season.
Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants. Shepard is the No. 1 receiver for the Giants now with Odell Beckham gone. This should mean a lot of weekly targets for him. The issue is he has a shaky quarterback throwing him passes and could be double teamed many weeks with few other options in the passing game for the Giants. Shepard is still setup for his best season to date but he could have some hiccups along the way. He has a tough game to open his season, getting the Cowboys. In two games against Dallas last year, Shepard had seven receptions for 91 yards. If you have better options, go with them.
Josh Allen, QB, Bills. Allen had 21 or more points four of his last five games to end last year. He finished on a high note and hopes to carry that over to this year. He has a great matchup to start his year, facing the Jets. He scored 24.4 points against the Jets last year in Week 14. New York was dead last against the pass during the preseason and allowed the sixth most fantasy points to quarterbacks last season. Allen is a sneaky play in Week 1.
Duke Johnson, RB, Texans. Johnson might not be starting for the Texans with Carlos Hyde now on board, but he still figures to be on the field plenty. He is the pass-catching back for a team that is going to throw a lot. Johnson is going to be a productive fantasy player, producing consistent fantasy numbers because of his reception totals. Johnson could get a workout in the passing game this week, playing the Saints. This is setup to be a high-scoring game. Both teams have high-powered offenses and some question marks on the defensive side of the ball. Johnson is a good flex play in this one.
Malik Turner, WR, Seahawks. Turner has a chance to open this season as the starter opposite Tyler Lockett because of an injuries to rookie D.K. Metcalf and David Moore. Turner is no sure thing by any means but getting a chance to start in a good offense against a below average defense (Bengals) makes Turner someone to put on your radar. He is a good route runner with pretty good speed for the position. He is capable of the big play with the ball in his hands.
Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers. Henry might be a forgotten man because he missed all of last season because of a torn ACL, suffered before the season. But don’t forget about him. He is the top tight end on a team that uses the tight end often. Antonio Gates produced some huge numbers in this offense. Henry is capable of matchup the production of Gates from past seasons. He is a legit No. 1 tight end. Henry has a chance to start off the season fast, playing the Colts. Indy really struggled to stop the tight end last year, allowing the second most fantasy points to tight ends.
Justice Hill, RB, Ravens. Hill might not be starting but he is going to play a weekly role in this offense. The Ravens are going to run, run and run the ball some more. This means there will be plenty of weekly carries to go around, including Hill. Baltimore has a great matchup for their rushing offense this week, playing the Dolphins. Miami just traded off half their team and are going to be in rebuild mode all season. The Dolphins allowed the seventh most fantasy points to running backs last year.
High/Low Scoring Games
Each week we will take a look at some of the high and low scoring games for the coming week. In high scoring affairs, get your marginal players on those teams in your lineup to take advantage of the possible points barrage. And in the low scoring games, keep those marginal players on the bench and make sure to have your defenses involved in those contests.
High Scoring Games: Falcons/Vikings, Rams/Panthers, 49ers/Bucs, Steelers/Patriots, Texans/Saints.
Low Scoring Games: Ravens/Dolphins.
Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said that he wants to keep running back Aaron Jones fresh throughout the season and wants to "even up" touches between Jones and Jamaal Williams. LaFleur thinks the balance will change week to week. It's something to keep an eye on, but it shouldn't deter you from starting Jones this week at home against the Broncos, where he'll be a low-end RB1/high-end RB2. Jones had a career-high 23 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown in Week 2, while Williams ran the ball nine times. Jones had six targets in the passing game (four catches) while Williams had four (three catches). Williams is a necessary handcuff for Jones owners.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams (knee) won't practice on Wednesday, while the plan is for running back LeSean McCoy (ankle) to get in some limited work. Both running backs should be considered questionable to play in Week 3 against the Ravens right now. If one or both sit out this Sunday, rookie Darwin Thompson and Darrel Williams would be thrust into larger roles. As of now, both Williams and McCoy should be seen as risky RB3/flex plays in KC's home opener.
Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher (abdomen) will undergo core muscle surgery and will not play in Week 3 against the Ravens. Cam Erving will start in Fisher's place on Sunday. It's a notable downgrade against a good defense in Baltimore, but quarterback Patrick Mahomes remains an elite QB1 for fantasy owners. It remains to be seen how long Fisher will be out, but he should be expected to miss multiple weeks at the very least.
The Philadelphia Eagles Defense is not a particularly exciting option in a Week 3 matchup against the Detroit Lions. The Eagles defense came into the season with a lot of hype but have been mostly disappointing through the first two weeks. With two of the Eagles' top offensive playmakers likely to miss the game, the defense may end up tasked with a bit more work than usual. They're likely to end up as a middling option, so they're certainly not a unit to avoid, but they aren't one to get excited about this week either.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that the team planned to use running back Jeffery Wilson in the red zone in Week 2. "I wouldn't say he's our designated red-zone back, but that was how we planned going into the game... We tried to do that when we got down there," Shanahan said. Of San Francisco's six rushing attempts inside the red zone in Week 2, Wilson had five of them and scored twice. All three of Wilson, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert had double-digit carries, but the team was also up big on Cincinnati for most of the game. It looks like the Niners will employ this three-man committee with Tevin Coleman out, making it difficult to trust any one player in fantasy. Wilson will be a touchdown-dependent RB3/flex against the Steelers.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz is set for what could potentially be an enormous Week 3 performance. Ertz saw 16 targets from quarterback Carson Wentz in Week 2 and could be in line for a similar number or perhaps even more against Detroit in Week 3. With top receiving options DeSean Jackson (groin) and Alshon Jeffery (calf) trending toward sitting out on Sunday, Ertz will be the clear top target in the passing game. He's a threat to score every week, and is almost always a top-three tight end option. This week, he has the highest floor of any tight end and one of the highest ceilings.
Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott is looking like a strong option in a Week 3 matchup against the Detroit Lions. Elliott is always a solid and consistent option, but with the Eagles expected to be missing two of their top playmakers on Sunday, Elliott may see a few more field goal attempts as the passing game stalls out. He's a top-eight kicking option nearly every week, but looking like a top-five option in Week 3.
New York Giants wide receiver Cody Latimer (concussion) is not practicing on Wednesday. Latimer suffered a concussion in Week 2 and is looking very questionable to play in Week 3 against the Buccaneers. With Sterling Shepard also still in the concussion protocol, rookie quarterback Daniel Jones might be looking at a receiving corps of Bennie Fowler, Russell Shepard and T.J. Jones in his NFL debut this Sunday. Unless Sterling Shepard plays this weekend, expect the Giants to hand the ball off frequently to running back Saquon Barkley. Latimer wouldn't be a recommended play, even in deeper leagues, if he gets cleared.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor will likely be thrust into an every-down role in Week 3. With top wide receivers DeSean Jackson (groin) and Alshon Jeffery (calf) unlikely to suit up, Agholor will be wide receiver atop the depth chart. He spent the second half in Week 2 in the role, and despite some decent stats (107 yards and a touchdown), he also showed why he's so far behind Jackson and Jeffery when everyone is healthy. Agholor made some totally inexcusable drops when wide open in the second half. Still, he'll likely be peppered with targets from Carson Wentz and even if he drops half of them, he could still end up with seven or eight catches. Agholor is a solid WR3 option with touchdown upside this week.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Mack Hollins will likely see an increased offensive role in a Week 3 contest against the Detroit Lions. With top wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson both expected to miss at least one game, Hollins will be needed on offense. He's been mostly working on special teams, but he saw plenty of work on offense in the second half last week after Jeffery and Jackson were forced to leave the game. Hollins has flashed his talent in small bursts before, but it will be his first chance to show it throughout a whole game. He has some upside in a strong Eagles offense, but can't be trusted as more than a WR4/5 in most formats.
New York Jets head coach Adam Gase said that wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) will not practice on Wednesday. Thomas had just one catch in his debut with the team on Monday night before suffering an injury. He doesn't have a good chance to play in Week 3 against the Patriots, especially since DT hasn't even had a single practice yet with his new team. He's currently off the fantasy radar. Josh Bellamy and Braxton Berrios will fight for the No. 3 duties behind Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder if Thomas misses this weekend.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is suddenly looking at a starting role in Week 3. A preseason hero, Arcega-Whiteside was far behind on the wide receiver depth chart until both Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson got hurt in Week 2. Both were forced to leave the game and Arcega-Whiteside was on the field for almost every offensive snap in the second half. He still only ended up with one catch for four yards, but now with a week of practice under his belt, he should be ready for his expanded role. With only drop-machine Nelson Agholor and special teamer Mack Hollins left in the wide receiver hierarchy, Arcega-Whiteside could be a significant threat in the passing game this week. He's a very risky start, but has some legitimate WR2/3 upside if things go well. At the very least, he should be rostered in most formats by now.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans has been very quiet the first two games of the season. In two starts, he's caught only six passes for 89 yards. This is a bit of an anomaly compared to his first five seasons, including last year's first two games, where he compiled 17 receptions for 230 yards. His slow start is not all on him, though. Jameis Winston has struggled and he had a difficult matchup against Carolina Panthers defensive back James Bradberry in his last game and was also battling illness before his first. This all points to a much more positive outing Sunday in Tampa against the struggling New York Giants, who have been gashed every which way so far and should give Evans a serious bounce-back opportunity. He's a locked-in WR1 again regardless of his last two outings. Wipe your memory of the past two weeks and start him with confidence in all formats.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson (calf) remains out of practice on Wednesday. Wilson aggravated his calf injury in the season opener and sat out of the Week 2 blowout to the Patriots. He's not off on the right foot for Week 3 against the Cowboys. Wilson had some sleeper appeal in PPR leagues coming into the season, but his injury and a putrid Dolphins offense has made him unattractive in most leagues. Even if Wilson returns to the lineup this Sunday, he shouldn't be a starting consideration in most leagues.
Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens said that he'd love to give running back Nick Chubb more touches, which would include using him more on third downs in passing situations. Through two games, the second-year back has 35 rushing attempts and has caught seven of his eight targets in the passing game. It's pretty good volume already, but if he gets even more it'll just make him an even stronger RB1 for fantasy owners. Chubb and the Browns face the Rams in Week 3 on Sunday night, where he'll be a strong RB1 yet again.
Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott said that rookie running back Devin Singletary (hamstring) will not practice on Wednesday. Singletary's injury isn't believed to be serious, but his status for Week 3 against the Bengals is in question. If you own Singletary or are hurting at running back, you need to pick Frank Gore up off the waiver wire if he's available. The veteran hasn't looked that great so far in two games, but he'd be the lead back for Buffalo if Singletary was inactive and would have RB3/flex appeal. T.J. Yeldon would also see his role increase as the backup to Gore.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles is not a recommended fantasy option in any format in Week 3. After a somewhat surprisingly productive Week 1, Sproles took an expected step back in Week 2 and recorded just two catches for five yards. He did not record a single carry in Week 2. Sproles is a punt returner and a very occasional pass catcher out of the backfield. He may have some decent fantasy weeks here or there when he happens to find the end zone, but he'll be way too unpredictable to ever be a smart fantasy starter.
Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott said that tight end Tyler Kroft (foot) will practice in full for the first time on Wednesday since breaking his foot in May. Kroft hasn't played yet in 2019, but it looks like he'll make his season debut in Week 3 against his former team in the Bengals. Until we see what kind of role Kroft will have in this offense, it's best to leave him out of starting lineups in fantasy. Rookies Dawson Knox and Tommy Sweeney will take a back seat if Kroft returns.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Corey Clement is not a fantasy option in any format for Week 3. Clement has settled into a special teams role and has seen almost no offensive snaps so far this season. An injury to another running back could potentially thrust Clement into a more significant offensive role, but for now he's almost exclusively a special teams player and one that does not need to be rostered in most formats.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins (knee) returned to limited practice on Wednesday. Higgins' knee injury prevented him from playing in his team's Week 2 win over the New York Jets. The receiver's ability to return on Wednesday, even on a limited basis, bodes well for his availability for Cleveland's Week 3 showdown against the Los Angeles Rams. Look for Higgins to slot back into his role as the team's No. 3 wide receiver.