My claim to fame is winning my $100 dollar money league fantasy football championship against nine other guys over the age of 45 the semester before I started college. I used my $232 dollars of earnings to buy all my college textbooks that semester.
This is my 13th season playing fantasy, and if you’re like me, you over obsess over who you should start each week. Do I know everything there is to know about the players you should start? Absolutely not. But, I know enough that many people throughout the week coming to ask for advice.
Now, while I’ll still be reading Jamey Eisenberg’s “Start Em, Sit Em” every week, probably more than once, I was talked into making my own predictions and giving it a shot.
I’ll do my best to keep to just three starts, three sits, one sleeper and one bust alert per position weekly (aside from kickers and defensive units), unless the matchup is just too good. My predictions will be based off of 10 team, No PPR leagues. But let’s be honest, if a receiver has a top-ten matchup, they’re going to be catching balls anyway. Might as well still read whether this is your exact set up or not.
1) Deshaun Watson, Houston vs Jacksonville
Watson went 20-for-30 with three TDs and one interception, with 40 rushes in a week one game that the Texans would’ve won had it not been against Drew Brees and New Orleans. Watson and one of the best receiving corps in the league are going up against a Jacksonville defense who got obliterated by the Kansas City Chiefs without Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt. A projected top-10 defense got -8 or worse in most formats, and some would argue the unit was more on their toes with Nick Foles breaking his collarbone early. However, I argue differently. Backup Gardner Minshew (shoutout East Carolina) was excellent in his first career NFL game (22-for-25, 275 yards, two TDs). If the Jaguars give up nearly 200 yards and three TDs to a receiver like Sammy Watkins in a corps with current no-name guys, there’s no way DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller IV and Kenny Stills won’t have a field day.
2) Tom Brady, New England at Miami
Similar to Houston, New England should have a field day down in Miami. The Dolphins just gave up five passing TDs to Lamar Jackson (a running back, even) and allowed two receivers to go over 100 yards, one on minimal catches (Marquise Brown, four catches 147 yards). 24-percent of Miami’s players signed a contract with the team in the last two weeks, with its defensive unit having the most newly signed players. Brady will have open receivers all day, not to mention the option of throwing to his running backs, especially James White. Brady may be pulled early depending on the score (currently a -18.5 favorite), but he’ll do enough damage in whatever time he plays.
3) Lamar Jackson, Baltimore vs Arizona
I know I just joked about him being a running back, but if it weren’t for his matchup, I wouldn’t put him here. While Jackson showed me he can use his arm, it was against a Miami defense whose TD gates were open wider than its stadium gates for the game. Arizona’s defense came around late, but still gave Matthew Stafford 375 yards and three TDs in a game ending in a tie. The Cardinals also couldn’t seem to cover guys who kept burning them in the game. Most notably, 33-year-old Danny Amendola (13 targets, 104 yards) who has jumped from team to team over the past few years. Even if Marquise Brown is limited, Willie Snead and Mark Andrews will be available. Andrews is coming off an eight catch, 108-yard day in week one.
1) Joe Flacco, Denver vs Chicago
Even in the week one loss, Chicago kept Aaron Rodgers, Devante Adams and the Green Bay Packers to just 10 points. This included an early fluke-TD to TE Jimmy Graham early, but its offense failed the Bears. Denver lost a game it should have won against Oakland, with a defense who is not nearly as good as Chicago. The Bears are going to be upset they didn’t get the win in the NFL opener when the defensive side of the ball clearly did enough to win. Even though WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton each had 85 yards or more, Chicago should stifle RB Philip Lindsay, forcing Flacco to throw to covered receivers.
2) Jacoby Brissett, Indiannapolis at Tennessee
HELLO TENNESSEE. I figured Cleveland was up on its high-horse a little, but hello, what a statement on the road. Brissett didn’t play as bad as I thought he would against the Chargers. He even came back to force overtime. However, Tennessee made Browns QB Baker Mayfield try too hard to outsmart them, and I believe the Titans will go up early and force Brissett into a similar situation. Tennessee will lock down on T.Y. Hilton, and it doesn’t have as many offensive weapons to worry about against Indy as it did against Cleveland.
3) Kyler Murray, Arizona at Baltimore
Murray came alive in the fourth quarter last week against the Lions and salvaged a decent fantasy day in his first career start to force OT and tie. However, the Cardinals are coming into Baltimore with one of the best defenses in a cross-country road trip with a 1 p.m. eastern start. The Ravens forced veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw an interception on just his third career Dolphins pass and forced Josh Rosen to do the same on his first career pass. Murray has too many factors working against him this week to trust.
Sleeper: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati vs San Francisco
I almost went with Ben Roethlisberger here and went back and forth for a few days. But, I cannot ignore Dalton’s 418 yards against a perceived top defense in the league after last week IN Seattle. Dalton showed that an injury early to Joe Mixon wasn’t going to slow his roll and embarrassed the Seahawks defense with Tyler Boyd and John Ross, without A.J. Green. I don’t care that the Bengals lost this game, wins and losses don’t matter in fantasy. RB Giovanni Bernard is in this week which could limit Dalton a hair, but the 49ers have too many injuries and not enough weapons on offense to keep up with Cincinnati. This could turn into a home blowout for the Bengals.
Bust Alert: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay vs Minnesota
Minnesota defeated a highly-talented Atlanta offense last week despite Kirk Cousins attempting just 10 throws. While that speaks volumes about RB Dalvin Cook, it also speaks volumes about its defense. Rodgers and GB couldn’t do much against Chicago last week and in the win, their only TD went to Jimmy Graham on a fluke play. The Packers run game looked horrible (credit Chicago defense) but if it can’t get going again, Rodgers didn’t succeed with his receivers last week and won’t succeed again this week.
1) Dalvin Cook, Minnesota at Green Bay
Cook rushed the ball 21 times for 111 yards and added two TDs against the Falcons. The Vikings didn’t even need Kirk Cousins. I think the passing game will be a little more involved this week, but Cook is on a roll and GB had a hard time keeping track of RBs in week one. He’s a must-start in all formats.
2) Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas at Washington
Even though he’s on the road, Elliott should get more volume this week after almost two weeks of practices. Despite Philadelphia beating Washington through the air last week, they played from behind and had to throw the ball. It just happened that DeSean Jackson was insanely open more than once. I don’t think Dallas will be playing behind in this game, although it could be a closer game than predicted. With that being said, the Cowboys’ most reliable offensive weapon is Elliott.
3) Alvin Kamara, New Orleans at LA Rams
This will be the highest scoring game of the week. Even if it’s a back and forth game, or New Orleans is down, the Saints won’t abandon Kamara in the run or pass game. Kamara is too valuable to not play every week, especially because he went in the top three in almost every fantasy league this year. If he didn’t, you’re in a whack league. With all the points up for grabs on the board in this game, Kamara arguably has the best upside this week.
1) Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville at Houston
Fournette hasn’t impressed me with his yards per carry nor his ability in the passing game. His six targets last week appear to be an outlier from where I sit, and I think Houston will get up big early and eliminate the run from Jacksonville. I’m also not sold on Jacksonville’s defense and think they’re a few ticks behind when it comes to covering guys, especially unlikely ones. I’m not a huge Sammy Watkins supporter, but what he did last week is undeniable. If Fournette could catch the football and make a difference, I’d feel differently. But he can’t.
2) David Johnson, Arizona at Baltimore
Again, a cross-country road trip against, in my opinion, a top-three NFL defense. Arizona’s offensive line still isn’t that great and I feel like the Ravens are going to force QB Kyler Murray to win this football game. Even if Arizona gives Johnson 15 carries, give or take, I don’t see his yards per carry being high enough to salvage his fantasy day. The opportunity for a red zone TD is still there, but the Cardinals have to get to the red zone first.
3) Philip Lindsay, Denver vs Chicago
Green Bay’s rushing attack was horrible last week and I expect Chicago to be pissed off about its loss when it did more than enough to win. The Bears are going to shut down the rushing game again and force QB Joe Flacco to win in the air. Lindsay has some upside, because he can catch the football, but I think Chicago has the best defense in the league and its not going to lose to Flacco when it should’ve beaten Rodgers. Lindsay does 75-percent of his damage on the ground, so once that’s gone his production will be severely limited.
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Sleepers: Sony Michel and James White, New England at Miami
Does this game even have to be played? Yikes. There’s no way the Patriots don’t win this game and it’ll be over early. Mark Ingram torched the Dolphins defense last week and now that the most successful RB committee is coming to town, Miami will be turned around all over the field. They both can run and catch the football and they’re going to be more than wide open in this matchup.
Bust Alert: Le’Veon Bell, NY Jets vs Cleveland
If Jets QB Sam Darnold didn’t have mono this would be a completely different game. Although backup Trevor Siemian has chemistry with Adam Gase and newly-acquired WR Demaryius Thomas from their Denver days, there hasn’t been enough time for the unit to work together. The Browns know Bell is the Jets’ best chance on Monday and they’ll prepare better for that than they did against Derrick Henry.
1) Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, LA Rams vs New Orleans
These two WRs lead the Rams in targets in week one with 23. Woods was 8-for-13 and Kupp saw no limitations coming back from injury and went 7-for-10. This will be the highest scoring game of the week between the two teams combined and LA’s receiving game is currently healthier than its run game. Although RB Todd Gurley is active, he didn’t look entirely himself. LA will without a doubt use the passing and rushing game, but Woods and Kupp are too much of factors to bench at all.
2) Tyrell Williams, Oakland vs Kansas City
RB Josh Jacobs stole the show in week one, but Williams proved to be QB Derek Carr’s favorite target. Oakland’s passing game shouldn’t be overlooked, especially with the emergence of tight end Darren Waller. Williams is clearly the No. 1 in Oakland and he will be for the foreseeable future. The Raiders will also be trying to keep up with Kansas City so there should be a shift in attempts in the passing game that aids Williams.
3) D.K. Metcalf, Seattle at Pittsburgh
This even shocks me. I’m going out on a limb here due to the injuries to Tyler Lockett and David Moore. Moore has already been ruled out in this game and Lockett was a limited participant in practice again and is questionable. Even if Lockett was healthy, Metcalf got more targets than him in his NFL debut. Seattle is a running team, but if the Seahawks start to struggle with the score, QB Russell Wilson has no choice but to throw.
1) Corey Davis, Indianappolis at Tennessee
What the hell happened to him in week one? He’s the No. 1 listed receiver for the Titans (still) and he caught no passes in a game that the Titans won by 30. Derrick Henry and Delanie Walker stole the show for Tennessee, and No. 3 wideout A.J. Brown hit the century mark. Until the Titans look like they want to use him, bench him in all formats. There’s no reason for him to have zero fantasy points in a 43-point offense.
2) Randall Cobb, Dallas at Washington
You probably used a waiver claim on Cobb after his performance against the NY Giants. Sit him. The Giants defense is worse than Washington’s in my opinion, especially after holding the Eagles to seven points at the half and zero until more than midway through the second quarter. RB Ezekiel Elliott will have a better day and Cobb is still the No. 3 WR behind Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Even Gallup’s numbers were elevated in week one and I don’t trust either in this matchup.
3) Donte Moncrief, Pittsburgh vs Seattle
Moncrief showed us why he has bounced around the league in just six years. He dropped to pivotal TDs against the Patriots in a blowout game and had just seven total yards. He also only hauled in three catches on 10 targets. All bad. Even with Seattle getting embarrassed by Andy Dalton, until Moncrief can catch a football I’m not even rostering him. Ryan Switzer is a better play in desperate measures at this time. Switzer caught all six of his targets in week one.
Sleeper: Terry McLaurin, Washington vs Dallas
McLaurin was Washington’s leading receiver in catches, targets and yards against Philadelphia. Although he had a long TD reception, I think he’s the best WR in this core. QB Case Keenum also played well and I hope Washington is working to utilize McLaurin more him in practice this week. McLaurin is also in the same weight range as NYG TE Evan Engram who was the Giants’ leading receiver last week against Dallas. With RB Derrius Guice out due to injury and Adrian Peterson a healthy scratch last week, it’ll probably take him a little while to find a rhythm which helps McLaurin.
Bust Alert: DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia at Atlanta
You can’t tell me Jackson’s eight-catch, 154-yard, two-TD day is something he normally he does. If you started him last week you got lucky, but there’s something off about his performance. Most likely, it’s the fact that the Eagles found themselves down embarrassingly to the Redskins at home and QB Carson Wentz just started chucking balls up for wideouts to run under. This exposed Washington’s defense, not Jackson’s skills. In a crowded offense with Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery and four RBs to choose from, this can’t be a constant stat line.
1) Darren Waller, Oakland vs Kansas City
Well hello, No. 2 receiver in Oakland. That didn’t take long. Waller showed that the preseason hype on a no-name guy was relevant in week one. With RB Josh Jacobs and WR Tyrell Williams stealing the show in a dominant win, Waller was arguably not even needed. However, he caught seven of eight targets for 70 yards in a run-heavy game. He’s not owned in 64-percent of leagues, and with Hunter Henry going down, there’s no reason why he’s not on your roster. If he’s available in your league — change that. Kansas City is going to make this a high scoring game, calling on Derek Carr to throw more to try and keep up.
2) T.J. Hockenson, Detroit vs LA Chargers
Hockenson had six catches for a record-breaking 131 yards against Arizona in week one. This comes when Detroit also held a 24-6 lead into the fourth quarter and had no need to throw. He had more targets on average than any Detroit WR in 2018 and the highest receiving total by any tight end in his first career game since the 1970 merger (CBSSports). This game will likely be a shootout now and Hockenson has the opportunity for a lot of conversions on passes thrown his way.
3) Delanie Walker, Indianapolis at Tennessee
Walker made his first game back from missing all of last year, except for the first half of week one, count with two TDs in a blowout win at Cleveland. He is clearly back to being QB Marcus Mariota’s favorite receiver and with the uncertainty at WR, he and Derrick Henry will be running the show for the foreseeable future.
1) Jimmy Graham, Green Bay vs Minnesota
Graham has been cleared to face the Vikings (finger), but his TD performance last week was a fluke. Chicago had a broken play that left Graham nearly wide open in the end zone, and then GB’s offense couldn’t do anything after that. He only had two other catches in the game and he’s going up against another strong defense this week.
2) Eric Ebron, Indianapolis at Tennessee
Ebron had just one catch for eight yards in the season opener that saw the Colts have to throw from behind and force OT against the Chargers. He also only had three targets for new starting QB Jacoby Brissett. However, he had the most targets to his fellow tight ends, so if that doesn’t tell you how much Indy’s TE’s are not involved in the offense yet with a new gun-slinger, nothing will.
3) Evan Engram, NY Giants vs Buffalo
This is a judgement call on how I think this game will go. Despite the Giants being at home, their best WR slated to play is Bennie Fowler with Sterling Shepard out with a concussion and Golden Tate suspended. With injuries to go around, the Buffalo defense is going to make quick work, even on the road. The Bills had a slow start last week, but the defense came back to hold the Jets and get enough help from their offense to win a one-point game. Additionally, Buffalo also forced Kaare Vedvik to miss an extra point that eventually lost them the game. Vedvik was released following the game and Adam Gase through everyone under the bus. Not classy, but it shows how much went right for the Bills defense. I think this game gets ugly fast even though the Giants have Saquon Barkley.
Sleeper: Austin Hooper, Atlanta vs Philadelphia
Hooper lead all receivers, including newly paid Julio Jones, with collecting all nine of his targets for 77 yards in the loss against Minnesota. In a game that didn’t have much offensive production for the Falcons, QB Matt Ryan liked Hooper. Sunday night’s game is also indoors and is a more evenly-based matchup. I expect Hooper to be used heavily.
Bust Alert: David Njoku, Cleveland at NY Jets
Njoku got the Browns’ only TD in a wakeup call in week one. However, with a banged up Jets team, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry should have scores, and RB Nick Chubb should run all over the Jets secondary. There’s only so many balls to go around here.