That fading sunshine and cooler evenings in September can only mean it’s time for football. The football that counts. A wild off-season, would you agree? I think we’re all glad it’s over because the cart came on to the field far too often. Early drafters suddenly lost important guys they held in August to the dreaded IR.
The rough spots came not from just injuries, but also from unforeseen trades and suspensions. I’ve never seen it this messy for quite some time. Remedies and consolations were few for fantasy, but the show must go on and here we have it.
The first week of football tells us a lot of things. This is where we start to gauge more accurately what the strength of schedule will actually turn out to be. I say start, because it takes a couple more weeks for the power rankings to settle. The NFL season is a fluid, not a solid. You’ll notice by October that many of our August projections are out the window. But hey, we gotta start somewhere, right?
2017 Fantasy Football Week 1 Preview
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Games to Watch
As usual, we’re going to learn plenty of what works and what doesn’t for NFL teams after Week 1. A couple of games showcase “former team” player storylines, but for fantasy, I’m especially interested in how some of these system backfields work. I do know this, there is always a dilemma or head scratcher. Let’s just hope the injuries stay low.
Our thoughts and prayers at F6P go out to the many fantasy enthusiasts who might be unable to concentrate on NFL football because of Hurricane Irma and Harvey.
Feature Game: Seahawks at Packers
Something of an inter-divisional rivalry developed after the infamous “Fail Mary” game between these two teams. Whenever they play, it still comes up. Not only that, the games they play are never short on excitement.
On paper at least, Eddie Lacy received a demotion to second back this week. I somehow find it unfathomable that he should receive low usage against his former team. He should at least get chances to punch it in if the Seahawks get near the goal line.
Above all, this is a story of two quarterbacks. Rodgers will get respect, but give none to the Seattle defense. For Wilson, the offensive pass protection is looking much better; allowing Wilson’s dual-threat of breaking contain and outlet seeking to maintain drives. If you have fantasy players in this game, this is just the matchup you want to start with.
Sleeper: Paul Richardson, WR, Seahawks
High OU Game (51.0): Raiders at Titans
For two teams seemingly moving in the right direction, this matchup could provide a fantasy feast. When the Raiders and Titans meet, they tend to at least approach or push the over/under margin (6-5-2 since 1997). Look for the Raiders to use Lynch to his classic strength – wearing down a defense.
A 15+ fantasy point outing for Lynch is certainly attainable and even if the numbers do fall short, I still expect owners will likely have positives to take away from this game. For DeMarco Murray owners, it’s almost a mirror image situation, but expectations are higher.
As for passing, this matchup is a concoction for a shootout and late game touchdown trading. I don’t think Mariota or Carr will end this game with knee downs. We may expect some big surprises out of Rishard Matthews and Eric Decker to exceed their projected fantasy points, while Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper at least attain theirs. The omnipresent Delanie Walker could be in line for a monster game.
Sleeper: Jared Cook, TE, Raiders
Sunday Night Football: Giants at Cowboys
Somewhere out there, in the mysterious future, an answer about Ezekiel Elliott awaits. However, in the less-mysterious future, he plays the Giants on Sunday night in front of everybody.
Would Zeke like to break the bank in this game? You bet. He might as well because after Sunday we might not see Ezekiel Elliott for a long time. What stood out in the appeal decision earlier this week was the entire six game suspension being upheld. It tells me that the arbitrator deemed the suspension fair, and perhaps light, from the facts set before him.
There’s still a football game. The Giants play strong in Dallas and the OU line has never gone below a 45 total since 2010. Besides Elliott, the game storylines abound. For instance, Dez Bryant and Janoris Jenkins are ready for business after their feuding.
Odell Beckham Jr. is questionable for this game, and as of writing, not had a full practice yet this week. Brandon Marshall, not coming out of preseason healthy himself, could cash in as a fantasy WR1 for this week if all is well. With these banged up Giants premium receivers, it makes my sleeper pick just that bit more intriguing…
Sleeper: Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants
Update: Elliott’s suspension is under a temporary restraining order. He plays all of 2017.
Monday Night Football: Saints at Vikings
As is usual for Monday Night Football telecasts in Week 1, there are two games on tap. The second game is Chargers at Broncos.
All fantasy eyes will focus on Dalvin Cook – the rookie of so much discussion in this off-season. Cook will have much to prove, especially with Adrian Peterson watching from the opposite side of the field. I am interested in the fan reaction when Peterson takes to the field in Minnesota and I’m certain the ESPN crew will provide that during the game.
The Saints are without Brandin Cooks now, and so the target share is something we look forward to analyzing. It’s flawed data because Willie Snead is under suspension, so we’re left to Ted Ginn Jr. and Coby Fleener to mop up.
Watch the Vikings offensive line. The Saints defensive front is not near the toughest the Vikings will face in 2017. If the run-blocking and pass-protecting isn’t sound enough for these guys, then we could be in for a troublesome period in the early season while the Vikings offense adjusts.
Sleeper: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Vikings
Some Players to Watch
Naturally, all eyes converge on rookies in the opening week, but several players on different teams from last season are just as worthy of attention. Some players will come out of the woodwork sooner or later. September doesn’t always tell the whole story. People play down the stats of Jay Ajayi last season, but the real fact was his usage as a feature back didn’t really start until Week 6 in 2016.
Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
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So many mixed signals and a Marvin Lewis RBBC system that favors none. Mixon should see some decent touches and Hill is a starter in name only. That dreaded phrase “hot hand” came up this week.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
San Francisco is hardly a litmus test, but it’s actually how McCaffrey is used is the bigger question. This could be said of the outside dark-horse Curtis Samuel as well.
Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers
Bryant led a good example of how players should handle a suspension. He’s back. The only wide receiver on the Steelers that casts his own shadow; instead of inside the one cast by Antonio Brown.
Younghoe Koo, K, Chargers
Interesting story. Born in South Korea and didn’t know anything about gridiron football until he was asked to play in 7th grade. He does trick kicks as well. Missed only one field goal in his senior year at Georgia Southern. I might want him on my team – just for kicks.
Martellus Bennett, TE, Green Bay Packers
A soft-hearted big man, who sobbed after the unfortunate incident involving his brother Michael Bennett with police in Vegas. He founded a company that produces children’s learning material across the spectrum. Green Bay fans will fall in love with this fellow and especially if Rodgers hooks in with him. I expect a steady gain of confidence between Rodgers and Bennett – similar to what we saw with Cook in 2016.
In the Booth
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Here is a list of who’s calling the games
Raiders at Titans: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo
Steelers at Browns: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green
Jets at Bills: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
Ravens at Bengals: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta
Jaguars at Texans: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton
Colts at Rams: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Falcons at Bears: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis
Eagles at Redskins: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber
Cardinals at Lions: Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston
Seahawks at Packers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman
Panthers at 49ers: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman
ESPN (Monday Night)
Saints at Vikings: Sean McDonough, John Gruden
Chargers at Broncos: Beth Mowins, Rex Ryan
Check out the rest of our 2017 Fantasy Football content from our great team of writers.
Source: NFL News