Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buf. The Bills are facing one of the best offenses in football, and Lesean McCoy is banged up. That means the Bills will have to throw the ball.....a lot. Luckily for Buffalo, Tyrod Taylor is a guy that can not only throw accurately , but can also rush effectively. He's not a well-known name, and this is his first NFL start, but he's looked good in preseason snaps and could be a big surprise in week 1. He's worth a start if you need someone.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Pit. Did you draft Joique Bell, Lesean McCoy, or Le'Veon Bell with hopes of starting them? Do you expect Bell or McCoy to miss this week? Then you need a running back. Williams is stepping into the Pittsburgh offense and should fill a similar role to that played by Le'Veon Bell. Even though his best years are behind him, Williams still has the talent to be an effective running back when healthy. Right now he's healthy and has a big opportunity to play. Give him a shot if needed. Final stat line: 21 carries for 127 yards, 1 catch for 5 yards. If you started Williams, he probably got you 12 to 13 points. Not a bad spot start.
Danny Woodhead, RB, SD. Danny Woodhead is going to catch a lot of passes this year, and if he went undrafted in your league, step away from this article and add him immediately. I'll wait. Got him? Ok. Why start Woodhead this week? Melvin Gordon is still growing accustomed to the NFL, and Woodhead wil always remain an active weapon on passing downs. What does that mean? You've got yourself a nice flex play all season long now that you picked him up. Early in the year, Woodhead could surprise and see a larger amount of snaps than expected, putting him squarely in sleeper territory.
Fred Jackson, RB, Sea. I get it. Somebody drafted Fred Jackson in your league. Then he got cut and signed with Seattle. Then they cut him. I still think that Fred Jackson has fantasy value. Marshawn Lynch is getting up there in years and the Seahawks will likely want to preserve him for a playoff run. That means that if they can find a competent #2 RB, he'll see more of a time-share. That spells great success for Fred Jackson. While he won't win you a matchup, Jackson could get you 5 to 6 points a game with the potential for a TD (and double digit fantasy points). The Seahawks are already talking him up and say they expect to use him a lot, so if you're a gambler, Fred Jackson is your man.
John Brown, WR, AZ. Michael Floyd may not play week 1, and even if he does, he will likely be somewhat limited. That means that Carson Palmer will need somebody to throw to. They play the Saints, who could still be a strong offensive team even with the turnover in personnell that occurred this offseason, which means that Arizona will likely want to make the passing game a strong part of their attack. Brown has looked good all offseason, and even stayed with Carson Palmer for a while this summer. I expect Palmer and Brown to hit it off quickly, and if Floyd doesn't play this week, Brown could wind up putting up WR1/WR2 type of numbers this week. Well worth a gamble.
Kamar Aiken, WR, Bal. Who wants the #2 WR in a Marc Trestman offense? Anybody? Anybody?! Raise your hands right now. All of you. Do any of you remember Alshonn Jeffery under Lovie Smith? Unless you're a draft geek or a Bears fan, the answer is no. Why? Because he put up no significant numbers. Does anyone remember Jeffery under Marc Trestman? Raise your hands right now. Under Trestman, Jeffery developed into a borderline top 10 fantasy WR. With Perriman injured, Aiken takes the reigns as the #2 WR in Marc Trestman's offense, and he's on hardly anybody's fantasy rosters. Heck, he might not even be on his own fantasy team. However, he should be on yours if you have a spare roster spot. Aiken is the type of sneaky pickup that could wind up winning you some matchups early on. Plan accordingly.
Heath Miller, TE, Pit. Heath Miller used to be a pretty decent fantasy tight end. This week, he could still be. The Steelers are missing some key cogs in their offense, which means that Miller could see some extra looks this week. He's not a guy you want to start all season, but if you need a one week filler, Miller might be worth grabbing. My bold prediction for the week? Barring injuries, Miller will see his top number of receptions in a game in week 1 or week 2 this season. Final stat line: 8 catches for 84 yards, 8 to 16 fantasy points. If you look back on this post, I said that Miller would see his top number of receptions in a game this week or next week. 8 catches? That just might be it.
Delanie Walker, TE, Ten. WHY DOESN'T DELANIE WALKER GET ANY LOVE?!?!?! Walker was a top 10 fantasy tight end last season with Jake Locker, Charlie Whitehurst, and Zach Mettenberger throwing him the ball. Think about that for a second. Now go add him if he's available in your league. NOW. I'll wait for a moment. Got him? Good. Now think about this for a second. Is Locker, Whitehurst, or Mettenberger a better quarterback than Mariota? Probably not. Even if you said yes, keep the following fact in mind. Mariota and Peyton share one huge thing. Both of them love throwing to tight ends. Walker will be a nice option for Mariota in a Titans passing game largely devoid of options (Wright is decent but not elite, and Green-beckham will be great, but needs some time to develop). I expect Walker to start out as the #1 or #2 option in a Titans passing attack that will be playing from behind on many weeks. Walker has TE1 potential, and should be on your starting radar in week 1.
Tampa Bay D/ST I play in a league that defines rosters by cap space alone, meaning we have essentially no maximum roster size. I nominated the Bucs defense, and one member of my league immediately responded that "I hope you get stuck with them." I did too. The Bucs are a sneaky good defense that will have their share of terrible games but will also have their share of surprisingly good performances. They are capable of firing on all cylinders and putting up great numbers against struggling offenses. Tennessee has one of the most unsettled offensive units in the entire NFL. A rookie quarterback, a very undefined wr corps, questions at the RB position? The Bucs defense could put up some surprisingly good numbers this week. They're a gamble, but I trust them enough to take a chance on them in my own league this week. The Titans could put up some decent defensive numbers this week as well, but I expect the Bucs to be the defense to target in this matchup.
Cincinnati D/ST. Remember a time when the Bengals were always a top 10 defensive unit? That could happen again this year once the unit gets healthy. However, the Bengals don't have to get healthy to feast upon an anemic Oakland Raiders offense. Geno Atkins is back to form, and will once again establish himself as a dominant force along the defensive line. This unit will look great against Oakland in week 1.
Miami D/ST. Two words. Washington Redskins. Two more words. Kirk Cousins. The Redskins have one of the most unsettled offenses in football right now, and Kirk Cousins is not the answer. The Redskins are opening the season with a quarterback controversy, and this will divide their offense and distract their team. I expect an improved Miami defense to take full advantage of Washington and put up a dominant performance. They should be a good start this week.
Cleveland D/ST. The Cleveland defense is the one fantasy relevant unit on this Browns team. They have good weapons across the board, and are extremely capable at generating turnovers. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a decent quarterback for the Jets, but he is also known for throwing interceptions. Cleveland will take advantage of this, and the Browns defense will put up start-worthy numbers for your fantasy team. Plan accordingly.
Hope this helps, and good luck and week 1!