It is time for the Gabriel Davis fans to have their day, on prime-time
no less. We last saw Davis scorching the Chiefs defense in the
divisional round of the playoffs in the wildest game of last season
- 8 catches for 201 yards and 4 TDs. Of course, that isnít sustainable.
Right?!? The Rams allowed the 7th most fantasy points (36.6 Fpts/G)
to wide receivers last year, so no reason to play it cautious
here. This is the chance prove all the doubters wrong, soak off
the guard rails and punch it!
Ok, put the guard rails back up. The backfield is muddy to start
the season. Sure, Singletary is the starter, but that is about
all I can say for him. The Rams were stingy against RBs last year,
allowing the 10th fewest fantasy points (15.6 FPts/G) to the position.
More problematic, the Bills backfield is crowded with Zack Moss
and newcomer James Cook. Even more problematic is the arrival
of Bobby Wagner to the second tier of the Rams defense. Singletary
will have to get dirty if he wants to stand out, but this matchup
is not in his favor.
The Rams are the champs, so they get to play host Thursday, however,
you should limit the expectations on how far they let the TEs
inside. Los Angeles allowed only four TD’s and the arrival
of the aforementioned Mr. Wagner only throws folding chairs in
the path of Knox. I expect a shoot-out, but Knox will be TD dependent,
which is not ideal. LA has a nice, spacious new place, but Knox
may get stuck hanging out in the foyer to start the season.
Does this sound familiar? Good player leaves bad midwestern team
and finds success out west with an offensive-minded coach. Thatís
the plot of ďStranger ThingsĒ right? A healthy Robinson walks
into an offense that finished 5th in passing yards last year,
averaging 273 yards a game, a slight uptick over the
188 yards the Bears averaged. Matthew Stafford put everyone on
notice in primetime Week 1 last year and expect Robinson to do
A shared backfield is on the horizon for the Rams. I have been
cool on Akers this off-season because of his situation and the
presence of Darrel Henderson. Last season, the Rams averaged 99
rushing yards per game and finished 30th with 10 rushing TDís.
That isnít an entire pie you are dividing; it looks more
like a slice. I think both RBs are going to be scrapping for crumbs
this entire season so set your expectations properly and please
clean up after yourself.
Sure, wideout Van Jefferson (knee) will miss this game leaving
the Rams down one of their better pass catchers, but the Bills
were mighty stingy last year to the TE position allowing only
7.9 FPts/G which placed them 3rd in the league. Higbee is in a
favorable position as the season progresses, but thereís probably
a better streaming idea on your waiver wire.
A year ago, the Eagles ran for 236 yards and four TDs against
the Lions in a 44-6 win... and that was without Sanders, who missed
the game due to injury. In his stead, the pair of Boston Scott
(12-60-2) and Jordan Howard (12-57-2) did major damage. While
itís a new season, this matchup still shades to Phillyís advantage,
and Sanders possesses more talent than either of the backs that
went off in 2021. Sanders is close to a weekly start anyway, but
his upside is higher than normal this Sunday.
As it happens, Gainwell was the only back that didnít have
success against Detroit in the aforementioned meeting as his 12
carries covered only 27 yards. Heís higher on the depth
chart now, however, and could offer value if the Eagles once again
canít be stopped on the ground in Week 1. Gainwell is still
more of a flier type in deeper leagues, though he boasts some
With 64 receptions, 916 yards, and 5 TDs, Smith enjoyed a solid
rookie campaign. While receivers typically make a jump in Year
2, the acquisition of Brown pushes the Alabama alum into more
of a secondary role in the passing game -- it might even be tertiary
based on Goedertís involvement. His season-long outlook
is decent, but if the Eagles feature the ground attack again,
Smith may not have many chances to make things happen with the
ball after catching just one pass versus Detroit in 2021. Smith
looks like a weak WR3 and could be benched depending on your receiver
Like Sanders, St. Brown is on the cusp of being a no brainer.
His reputation is largely built off a six-week kick to close out
his rookie campaign, however, so he still needs to put up some
numbers to earn that spot. Expect St. Brown to start doing that
in Week 1 against the Eagles, which registered six sacks against
the Lions last year and should lead to Detroit prioritizing getting
ball out of Jared Goffís hands quickly. When you think short passes
in Motown, you think Hockenson and St. Brown, and the latter has
the look of a low-end WR2 or high-end WR3.
Over the course of the 2022 season, expect Williams to get a
workload that isn’t too far below that of Swift, who needs
to prove he can stay healthy. For the opener, however, look for
the lead back to get more run, especially since he’s the
superior pass catcher and Detroit couldn’t get the ground
attack working against Philly last year (18 carries, 57 yards).
Williams is a fringe flex play most weeks. This Sunday, the bench
is the preferred destination.
I really donít understand why people arenít more excited about
Ryanís move to Indy. I realize that Jonathan Taylor will be the
focus of the offense, but so does every defensive coordinator
in the NFL. The box will be stacked every week, and while Taylor
will carry a significant load, donít be surprised to see a jump
in his targets and receptions, especially with a poised vet like
Ryan under center. Hereís a passer who put up nearly 4,000 yards
and 20 TDís last season in Atlanta with a struggling o-line, no
real running game, and a passing attack without Julio Jones or
Calvin Ridley. Here, heís got a full stable of young, talented
receivers, Taylor, and an excellent pass catcher out of the backfield
in RB Nyheim Hines. I think Ryan has top ten QB potential this
season, and it starts this week against that Lovie Smith Tampa-2
defense heís seen a thousand times before.
Pittman has all the tools and attributes of a WR1, and despite
coming off his first ever 1,000-yard season, it still feels like
he hasnít really broken out yet. That could be a function
of average QB play, but that wonít be the case this season
with Ryan under center. Now he gets his chance to really shine
with a QB who can get him the ball, and a system that allows him
to align all over the field. The NFL is a ďprove itĒ
league. I think he will, but until he does, Iím in wait
and see mode.
The Colts have taken TEís in the 3rd and 4th rounds of the NFL
draft each of the last two years. To me, that screams that he
not giving the Colts what they need. With that being said, the
Colts paid him this offseason and Jack Doyle is gone, leaving
the starting role to Cox for the first time. But, listening to
reports out of Colts camp, that may just be because of the struggles
of the young guys behind him.
Mills was solid as a rookie in a struggling offense that didnít
provide him with much of a supporting cast, and he got better
as the year went on, completing 68% of his passes for over 1200
yards, with nine touchdowns and just two interceptions over his
last five games. The surrounding talent isnít really improved,
but heís a smart player, with a strong arm who should make
a big jump in development from year one to year two.
Pierce is fast, tough, explosive, quick, and has ability and versatility
to make plays all over the field. He was impressive this preseason
in winning the job over Rex Burkhead and the departed Marlon Mack.
But he was never a starter in college, so I have questions about
his ability to truly carry the load at the NFL level. This week,
against a Colts team that struggled against the run a year ago,
he has a chance to emerge as a strong RB2 candidate. But over
the course of the season his value remains to be seen.
It looks like Pharaoh Brown is out for Week 1, which should have
meant a boost for Brevin Jordan as the TE1. He might still be
on paper, but the signing of O.J. Howard makes it seem like Jordan
isn’t really the guy they want out there. I don’t
expect Jordan to play much of a factor at all against the Colts.
Fellow TE Austin Hooper is gone and Njoku has this job to himself
for the first time in his career. Coupled with the fact that QB
Jacoby Brissett is playing in place of the suspended Deshaun Watson,
Njoku figures to be a primary target in whatever the Brownsí passing
game amounts to in the next few weeks. No doubt, HC Kevin Stefanski
will lean on his running game, but when Cleveland does have to
pass, look for them to play it close to the vest. Njoku is that
security blanket and a big target in the red zone, especially
with RB Kareem Hunt finding his way into Stefanskiís doghouse
Hunt is clearly second fiddle in this rushing attack to Nick
Chubb, so while Chubb is healthy early in the season, expect Huntís
looks to be limited. He does have some PPR value as an excellent
receiver out of the backfield, but with his training camp griping,
and the emergence of DíErnest Johnson, I see limited opportunity
for Hunt until one of his fellow backfield mates, namely Chubb
gets sidelined by injury.
Some will argue, as the teamís most (maybe only) viable
receiver, Cooper should be in play. But in a run-first offense,
with QB Deshaun Watson on the sideline, Cooperís value takes
a big hit. Iíve never been a big Cooper fan anyway, but
I thought he under-performed, particularly last season, in an
offense that was much more prolific than the one heís joined
in Cleveland. Iím not looking at Cooper until Watson is
back on the field.
Mayfield has always played on emotion, and anyone whoís heard
a single interview with him in his career knows that he is amped
for this one! Healthy in his own right, with a chip on his shoulder
against the team that gave up on him, with a healthy McCaffrey
in the backfield, playing for a coaching staff that NEEDS him
to play well, I expect Mayfield to pop this weekend if the re-vamped
o-line can hold up against Browns DE Myles Garrett and company.
I donít know if weíre allowed to put a ďno-brainerĒ
player in the ďon the fenceĒ category, but personally,
just being honest here, Iím on the fence about McCaffrey.
You donít need me to tell you how good he is and all the
great and versatile things he can do. He single-handedly makes
QBís better when heís on the field. But heís
played just ten games over the last two seasons. My biggest question
this week is, will he still be on the field at the end of the
game? If he is, then we can have a different discussion next week.
Moore’s production over the last three years with some
less than elite QB play is impressive, and his ability to make
plays after the catch will make him a valuable asset for Mayfield.
But this week, against a stellar pass rush led by Myles Garrett,
the game plan will call for a lot of McCaffrey, both as a runner,
and as a quick outlet in the passing game. Moore will be fine,
but I think it will be several weeks before we see he and Mayfield
coming together for significant production.
Although he made a couple of starts a year ago, this Sunday marks
the true start of the Trey Lance era in San Francisco. Expectations
are high for the second-year QB, and he has a good matchup on
deck to kick off the 2022 season as the Bears figure to be among
the worst teams in the NFL. Still, Lance has limited experience,
and you have to wonder how much Kyle Shanahan will ask of him
in the early going. Heís a borderline QB1 with risk/reward
potential due in large to his running ability.
You know Samuel is going to get his touches, but if you think
Shanahan is going to bring Lance along slowly there may not be
a ton of balls to go around in the passing game, at least in the
early part of the season. Aiyuk caught four passes for 45 yards
against the Bears last October, and it might be optimistic to
expect more than that on Sunday.
There arenít a lot of weapons in Chicago these days, but
Mooney clearly sits atop the pecking order after posting an 81-1,055-4
line a year ago. Six catches and 64 yards came against the 49ers
last season, which are fairly modest totals, though they easily
led the club in both departments. While heís not quite at
ďno brainerĒ status, Mooney would have to be staring
donít a particularly harsh matchup to be left on the bench.
Heís safe to use as a WR3 this weekend.
Kmet managed just 24 yards on three catches against San Francisco
in 2021, but his six targets trailed only Mooney (9), and fellow
tight end Jesse James scored Chicagoís lone passing touchdown
that day. Although Kmet isnít a bulletproof TE1 for Week 1, he
feels like the most likely player to contribute after Mooney,
and heís someone whose role could really grow as the season progresses.
If heís out there on the waiver wire, Kmet might be a savvy grab
Despite having one of his better all-around days against the
49ers on Halloween when he threw for 175 yards and ran for a career-high
103, Fields is staring down the barrel of a tough 49ers defense
this Sunday. The second-year quarterback took a beating as a rookie,
and it’s far from clear the team did enough to address its
shortcomings in the blocking and receiving departments. That running
ability does give Fields a little juice, but the downside here
looks to be significant.
Both Jaguars running backs, James Robinson and Travis Etienne,
enter the 2022 season with questions about their health following
season-ending injuries in 2021. For Robinson, the teamís starter
over the past few seasons, it was a devastating Achillesí injury
that only recently allowed him to get clearance to play in Week
1. Etienne, on the other hand, suffered a foot injury prior to
ever taking a regular season NFL snap as a rookie. Now recovered
and practicing in full, Etienne will certainly have to battle
with Robinson for playing time, but the reality is that he is
the more physically skilled player who possesses a more diverse
skill set. The Commanders also gave up a league-most 9 receiving
touchdowns to opposing running backs in 2021. Etienne is definitely
a gamble, but his versatility gives him a lot more upside than
most backs who are projected to be in a committee.
We do expect this to be a committee situation heading into Week
1, but if thereís one back who will end up seeing a majority of
snaps in this backfield, itís probably going to be Etienne and
not Robinson. Robinson was only cleared to play recently whereas
Etienne has been playing in the preseason and getting acclimated
with the new Jaguars offense. Robinson has been a great fantasy
player for a few years now, but donít let that cloud your judgment
here in Week 1.
The Commanders invested heavily in their passing game this offseason,
including spending a first-round NFL Draft pick on wide receiver
Jahan Dotson, but this remains an offense that operates around
Terry McLaurin until proven otherwise. The quarterback change
to Carson Wentz, who loves to pass the ball deep down the field,
should give McLaurin even more upside than heís had throughout
his first few years in the league.
The Washington backfield became a huge contention point late in
fantasy draft season, with rookie Brian Robinson Jr. being selected
before 2021 starter Gibson in some drafts. With Robinsonís recent
injury, however, the backfield now looks almost identical to how
it did a season ago. Many people have pivoted so hard toward Robinson
that itís difficult to remember that Gibson finished as the overall
RB8 in PPR scoring in 2021. Weíd like more from him before we
consider him a true must-start, but Gibson has the upside to be
a big-time producer, especially against bad defenses.
Those looking for a deep PPR option to replace an unexpectedly
injured back might also look toward J.D. McKissic. McKissic averaged
five receptions per game over his final six games in 2021 prior
to getting injured and should get a handful of carries out of
the backfield to go along with it. Heís a deep option with a low
Now on his third team, Wentz might actually be the quarterback
who gives Washington the highest ceiling they’ve had in
quite a few years. Unfortunately, in what is expected to be a
fairly low-scoring matchup, in his first game with the team, it’s
tough to trust that he’s going to deliver for fantasy purposes.
Let’s see what the Commanders’ offense looks like
before we start using Wentz in starting lineups.
Tight end fell off a cliff quickly in fantasy drafts this offseason
and that meant that at least a few teams probably ended up with
some ugly options at the position to start the season. He might
not be a sexy option, but Hunter Henry quietly finished tied for
the league lead in touchdown receptions at the tight end position
in 2021 and while his 50 catches for 603 yards were not anything
spectacular, he did go for five receptions for 86 yards - his
highest yardage total of the season - when these teams met in
Week 18. This isnít an offense with many locked-in options, so
this is more of a low-end TE1 option but heís someone who should
be owned and probably started in most leagues to start the season.
Reports this preseason continue to point toward more of a split
backfield for the Patriots in 2022 and that will undoubtedly have
major fantasy ramifications. Damien Harris quietly finished just
outside RB1 range for the season in 2021, despite rushing for
just 929 yards and catching just 18 passes on the season. It was
his whopping 15 rushing touchdowns - tied for second-most in the
league - that carried him to fantasy glory. We do have to be worried
that he will lose work, but Harris should still remain the teamís
primary goal line back, which has had tremendous value in New
England for a long time.
The committee backfield situation is normally an ugly one for
fantasy purposes and while we have to assume that Stevenson is
going to see more touches this season, itís too early to be trusting
that heíll see enough work to be fantasy relevant right away.
Some are way too quick to immediately anoint Stevenson as the
teamís ďnew James White,Ē taking over the pass-catching role in
the backfield, as we just havenít seen that play out yet. Not
only that, but the team retained Ty Montgomery who seemingly doesnít
fill much of a role in the offense at all if heís not going to
play on passing downs. Stevenson is a fine season-long bet, but
donít bank on him just yet.
Adding another high-end WR to the offense probably means fewer
targets for second-year wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, but the quality
of those targets should also go up given that the offense is expected
to be better as a whole. Waddle was targeted an average of over
nine times per game over his final six contests, so expect him
to see the ball coming his way plenty of times in this one.
Edmonds was one of the most unfortunate stories of the 2021 fantasy
season as the running back was significantly more efficient on
a per-touch basis than his Cardinals teammate James Conner, yet
he was massively outscored by Conner in fantasy due to touchdowns.
Now in Miami, Edmonds finds himself in another potentially difficult
situation in a loaded backfield. Fortunately, however, Edmonds
is the back that the Dolphins invested in most this offseason
and most reports seem to indicate that he will be the teamís primary
passing down back along with getting a decent number of carries
While the Dolphins offense should be better this season which
would theoretically give Gesicki more opportunities for touchdowns,
the glaring issue here is his potential usage in this new Mike
McDaniel-coached offense. McDaniel comes from San Francisco and
is expected to implement a 49ers-style offense, much of which
was predicated on utilizing athletic tight ends in the passing
Unfortunately, in order for the 49ers’ offense to work
effectively, they also needed those tight ends to be able to block.
That’s the problem for Gesicki, who has not proven to be
an effective blocker yet in his career and thus might find himself
playing significantly fewer snaps than he has in previous seasons.
Gesicki is a fun player, but we need to see his usage in this
new offense before we trust him in our weekly fantasy lineups.
With Mitchell Trubisky officially QB1 in Pittsburgh, expect the
recent Steelers trend of lots of short, low-risk passes to continue.
That approach should be good news for their young tight end after
Freiermuth caught 60 passes as a rookie, including seven TDs.
While the Bengals dominated their two meetings with the Steelers
a year ago by a combined score of 65-20, both of Pittsburghís
touchdowns were scored by Freiermuth. Thatís a positive trend
and one that should earn the second-year tight end a long look
as a decent TE1 here.
Claypool topped 80 yards receiving in a game five times in 2021.
Two of those outings came against the Steelers as he turned 12
catches into 178 yards -- one caveat, however, is that Johnson
missed the first meeting due to injury, thrusting Claypool into
the top spot. With both Johnson and rookie George Pickens available,
the Notre Dame product becomes more of a hit-or-miss option as
no better than a WR3.
Burrow (appendix) hasnít played since the Super Bowl, having
been brought along slowly in camp after undergoing an appendectomy.
That certainly brings the possibility of rust into the equation
for the opener. Despite the lopsided season score in favor of
Cincy, Burrow had two quiet performances against the Steelers,
passing for fewer than 200 yards in each game, though he did manage
three TDs in Week 3. If your backup has a strong matchup, it might
be a good week to keep Burrow on your bench.
Chase and Higgins each had one big game against Pittsburgh last
year, but Boyd had just six combined receptions, including one
TD. As the young receivers continue to ascend, it makes sense
that weíll see less and less from Boyd, who turns 29 this
November. He can still be a flex play in plus matchups, but this
Sunday he should ride the pine.
Second-year wide receiver Rashod Bateman became the de facto top
receiver for the Ravens when Marquise Brown left for Arizona this
offseason. Bateman was a first-round NFL Draft pick in 2021 and
while he had a quiet season in comparison to the monster year
that fellow first-rounder JaíMarr Chase delivered, Bateman was
still good enough to give his coaches confidence.
The Ravens signed both running backs Mike Davis and Kenyan Drake
in recent weeks, leading to speculation that starter J.K. Dobbins
will miss Week 1. If Dobbins does miss the game, most reports
close to the team, including their official depth chart, have
Davis ahead of Drake. Itís always risky to trust a situation like
this, but those who invested in Dobbins might need to pivot to
Davis on the waiver wire. The Ravens are about a touchdown favorite
in this one and theyíre a run-heavy team to begin with, so there
should be some good scoring opportunities for whichever back ends
up seeing more playing time against the Jets.
Dobbins missed the entire 2021 season after tearing his ACL in
the preseason, but he is expected to be back early this season
- we’re just not sure exactly when. Ravens Head Coach John
Harbaugh said that Dobbins “has a chance” to play
in Week 1, which certainly doesn’t sound very confident
and even if he does play, there’s a pretty decent chance
that he splits touches with at least one other back, if not multiple.
It might feel gross to bench a player of Dobbins’ skill
level this early in the year, but you don’t want to get
left with a donut in your lineup.
Reports in camp are that wide receiver Elijah Moore has established
himself as the clear WR1 for the Jets. The second-year receiver
will be working with veteran Joe Flacco, who might be an upgrade
from the inexperienced Zach Wilson who will miss at least the
first three weeks. Itís not a great offense, but the Jets could
find themselves behind multiple scores in this one and thus leaning
heavily on their passing game. Look for Moore to be the primary
beneficiary of some garbage time production if thereís any to
Itís difficult to start a running back whoís never played a meaningful
NFL down, whoís likely splitting touches, on a bad offense, but
many fantasy managers backed themselves into an early-season corner
by selecting Breece Hall with an early-round draft pick. Unless
you have other quality options, it probably makes sense to take
a chance on Hallís physical talent as opposed to rolling with
a lesser-talented player from your bench whoís also probably splitting
touches in his own backfield.
This looks like a potentially low-scoring game for the Jets offense
and that doesn’t bode well for their players who are further
down the depth chart. The quarterback situation is likely to be
bad and that could lead fantasy managers to lean more heavily
on the Jets running game, but this is more than likely to be a
split backfield. We put Hall as “on the fence,” almost
exclusively because of his pure physical talent and if there’s
one back who does end up getting the lion’s share of touches
in this backfield, it’s probably going to be him. Carter
isn’t bad himself, but it’s going to be tough for
the Jets to take Hall off the field.
Landry has landed in a great spot back home in Louisiana. Working
out of the slot, he has always been a high-volume receiver and
with Michael Thomas coming off two years on the sideline and Chris
Olave playing in his first ever NFL game, Landry figures to be
an early look in Jameis Winstonís progressions in what we expect
will be a controlled passing attack. I think this week, and the
next few weeks, Landry is a high end WR2 while the rest of the
offense gets back up to speed.
Coming off a torn ACL, Winston is going to need a minute. Heíll
take his shots downfield, but I expect HC Dennis Allen and staff
to take it slow with the QB. I expect a heavy dose of Alvin Kamara
and Jarvis Landry this week, taking a page from the Bucsí Tom
Brady offense and using the short passing attack to play the possession
game and get the ball out of Winstonís hands quickly. He showed
signs of QB1 material before his injury last year, but this is
a quick turnaround from a serious knee injury and Iím going to
have to see him back in action before jumping back on the wagon.
Thomas hasnít played a game in two years. Itís going
to take some time for him to get back in rhythm and become the
NFLís leading receiver again. Heís also playing with
a QB he hasnít played with, who is coming off his own serious
injury. Bothered by a hamstring issue late in camp adds to concerns
At 5-11, 224 pounds, Allgeier is a physical presence in the backfield
and a perfect fit for what HC Arthur Smith wants to do in the
run game. Remember, Smith is the guy who built the Titans offense
around Derrick Henry. Allgeier brings an element the Falcons havenít
had, and heíll have opportunities early in the season. Cordarrelle
Patterson is expected to move back to more of a receiving role,
and Damien Williams, though physical like Allgeier, hasnít played
a full season since 2018. Expect Allgeier to be the one to carry
Iím a Marcus Mariota fan, and Iím rooting for his to find success
in Atlanta, but heís playing for the coach who gave his job to
Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee a few years back. I donít expect HC
Arthur Smith to ask Mariota to do a lot, especially early in the
season. Heíll be a game manager with some upside as a dual threat
QB early in the season. The matchup against the Saints-D which
was stingy against QBs last season (only 1.4 TDs per game allowed)
isnít the best.
No one should be expecting Patterson to put up the numbers he
posted in 2021 (153 rushing attempts, 205 touches). At 31 years
old, he can’t carry the load at RB. The Falcons are expected
to use him more as a receiver this season (his original position)
and align him all over the field to create mismatches. He’ll
be an important part of the attack, but don’t expect him
to have the same impact as last year.
Speculation abounds for who will be the one to replace Tyreek
Hill on the Chiefs offense. I believe there will be a cobbling
together of different receivers to account for his departure,
a kind of Frankenstein-like player, but with better lateral speed.
JuJu will try and be the player exploiting the middle of the field.
He flew out of the gate early in his career, peaking in 2018,
posting a career high 81.8 PFF receiving grade and producing a
top-ten PPR season. Injuries have limited his production since,
but he is still only 25. He has a path to catch a lot of balls
in a potent offense and is on a one year prove-it contract. If
this doesnít happen for him this year, in this offense, Iím sure
there will be a few sarcastic TikTokís about him dancing on the
Another season, another year of diminished expectations for CEH.
The former first-rounder has gone from being a first-round pick
and fantasy pixie dust to the guy down in the mine getting dirty
and just doing his job. His PFF grade has fallen from 75.3 his
rookie year to 64.3 last year. The lead back role is his for the
moment with several others coming for the gig. He will have to
find his way to get back on the right track, but this game is
not going to be the breakthrough for him. The Cardinals only allowed
six rushing touchdowns last season, which tied for the fewest
in the league, so he will have his work cut out for him. Bring
a lunch pail.
In my player-cobbling replacement of Hill theory, MVS is the Tyreek
field-stretcher. Iím sure every person who drafted him imagines
a scrambling Patrick Mahomes turning his hips and uncorking a
long pass to a wide open MVS downfield. It is called fantasy football
for a reason. The dream is to return to 2020 form where he scored
6 times and averaged 20 yards a catch, but is this the match-up
where he gets on the good foot again? The Cardinals allowed the
most TDís to WRs last year with 27, but were 7th in yardage allowed
giving the impression that most at the TDís catches were not of
the field stretching variety. I think you have to sit MVS this
week and dream of a better matchup.
Thatís nice you get to work with your friends, but will you get
anything accomplished? The Cardinals traded a 2021 first-round
pick to acquire Brown and reunite him with his friend and former
Oklahoma teammate Kyler Murray. Getting together seemed like the
hard part, so what next? Baltimore struggled to utilize his downfield
ability as he never averaged more than 13 yards per catch. Arizona
was 8th in passing yards last season, so letís hope the situation
and chemistry can ignite Brown and help his game find another
gear. The Chiefs allowed the 10th most passing TDs last season
(19), so they can be had. Like any new pairing, the question is
how long will it take for them to click? Itís coming, but I would
like to see it first.
How do you follow up a career year in touchdowns? Regression usually.
That sounds anti-climactic and a bring-down, but that usually
is the case. Regression doesnít need to be the end of world, there
is plenty of good news to appreciate as well. Connor scored 18
times last year and his main competition in the backfield moved
on to Miami. A 25 percent regression will place him around 15
scores which makes him a RB1 and a must-start every week. It wonít
be easy against a KC defense that only allowed 7 rushing TDs,
which was tied with the 2nd fewest in the league. His path might
be through the air as the Chiefs allowed the 4th most reception
to RBs. You canít sit this guy. Let him run! Or catch! Just keep
If he can stay healthy, Ertz (calf) is going to be a good get
for this team. After trading birds in a Week 6 trade from Philadelphia,
he settled right into the offense. He reached double digits six
times, including four in a row to finish the season. The dilemma
is that a calf strain has limited him in training camp and might
keep him from making an impact in Week 1. The check the IR status
because you will receive the bird by having an injured or limited
player in your lineup.
Jones is going to be the biggest beneficiary of new HC Brian
Dabollís offense. Long known as a sort of QB whisperer,
Daboll will take advantage of Jonesí better than advertised
athleticism and help him limit some of the mental mistakes that
have haunted him in recent seasons. I expect to see Jones a little
more under control and showing as more of a driving force for
the Giants this season. Look for better than average production
in his coming out party this week against a defense that gave
up the 6th most passing yards last season.
Much like Carolinaís Christian McCaffrey, Barkley has not done
enough for me to jump on him early this season, despite the fact
that our own rankings have him at RB4 for Week 1. This is a guy
who has struggled to stay healthy, and wasnít particularly impressive
in 2021 when he was. This week he goes up against a physical defense
that allowed the second-fewest total rushing yards in the NFL
last season and yielded just 3.9 yards per carry. I see tough
sledding for Barkley this week.
Toney is another Giant who has struggled to stay healthy throughout
his brief career. There are expectations that he could be a valuable,
versatile weapon in a Brian Daboll attack. But heís missed
most of camp with multiple leg injuries, and doesnít appear
to be ready to contribute in a meaningful way in Week 1.
Despite tearing his ACL in November, Woods seems to have made
a remarkable recovery by all accounts out of Tennessee and is
practicing and playing without a brace. He is also the clear number
one option in a passing attack that no longer has AJ Brown or
Julio Jones. A reliable veteran, look for Woods to be QB Ryan
Tannehillís security blanket early in the season.
It seems Burks has really struggled in his early transition to
the NFL and has spent most of the preseason working with the second
and third offensive groups. While heís an explosive talent
with a laundry list of physical tools, heís got to put it
all together. Heís likely not going to be a huge fantasy
factor until the second half of the season at the earliest.
There’s little question that this will be a Derrick Henry
game against a Giants rushing defense that was the 6th worst in
the NFL in 2021. With the receiving corps still evolving, and
Tannehill needing to rebound from his worst game as a Titan in
the team’s playoff loss to the Bengals last season, expect
a slow start for the QB. I am excited to see what TE Austin Hooper’s
role becomes in this offense. He could be the catalyst for a revitalized
Tannehill in the weeks to come.
Dillon ran the ball effectively against Minnesota last year,
turning 25 carries into 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns in
two meetings. Expect a larger role from the third-year back in
2022 with Jones likely getting more work in the passing game.
There are a lot of questions right now as to what a post-Davante
Adams offense will look like in Green Bay but leaning on both
halves of arguably the best backfield in the NFL seems like a
decent way to go. The bruising Dillon is a midrange RB3 this week
A year ago, Rodgers lit up the Vikings for 673 yards and 6 TDs
without a pick. Based on that, the reigning two-time MVP should
be an easy QB1, right? Well, much of the damage was done by Adams
and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, neither of whom will be suiting
up for the Packers this season. Nominal No. 1 receiver Allen Lazardís
status is up in the air as well, which could lead to more running
and short throws, perhaps similar to what we saw from Green Bay
in Arizona last year when Adams, Lazard, and MVS were all out
due to injury -- Rodgers threw for 184 yards and 2 TDs in that
one. You can start No. 12, but with so much offseason change there
is some uncertainty.
Lazard (ankle) missed the first meeting with Minnesota last year,
and it looks as though he might do so again this year as he was
the only player on the 53-man roster not to practice this week
due to injury. He played well in the rematch, catching six passes
for 72 yards and a score, but even if he answers the bell in Week
1, he wonít be at 100 percent. Rodgers figures to spread
the ball around regardless, and itís probably better to
take a wait-and-see approach with all Green Bayís wideouts.
Over the last three seasons, Thielen has put together one strong
game against Green Bay... but only one. So, which will be getting
this Sunday? Thatís hard to say, but the Packers look to boast
one of the best (if not the best) secondaries in the NFL right
now, and that includes the return of Jaire Alexander, who missed
most of 2021, including both games against the Vikings. Weíll
see if Alexander shadows Jefferson, but even if he does Eric Stokes
and Rasul Douglas are no joke. Thielen is still savvy enough to
make things happen, but he looks like a hit-or-miss play this
For as much grief as Cousins seems to take, he’s actually
a solid quarterback. He can get rattled, however, and on paper
Green Bay’s defense looks like it might one of the nastier
groups out there -- an ESPN piece from earlier this week projected
the Packers to allow the fewest points in the league this year.
Cousins played arguably his best game of 2021 against the Packers,
but with Green Bay adding even more pieces while not losing anyone
that played significant snaps last year this is a week to keep
Something bigger and better has come along, but do you think
that will change Renfrowís approach? I donít. Always underappreciated,
I think he is going to be the key beneficiary of Adams having
coverage rolled his way. Renfrow improved as 2021 went along,
and after the bye in Week 8, he scored more than 16 points seven
times. The Chargers allowed the 8th fewest number of receptions
last season and the addition of J.C. Jackson (ankle) will give
them more depth to cover the likes of Adams. Plenty of routes
will be available underneath, so I think itís not the size of
the dog in the fight, itís the size of the Renfrow in the Renfrow.
Is it the contract or is it an injury? A chicken-and-contract
situation has arrived early this season for Wallerís hamstring
and the Raiders. He would like to get paid for being one the best
in the league, which is fair. Has that hamstring strain been amplified
due to the fact that deal hasnít been consummated yet? He
is missing his chance to do some scoring if he doesnít come
back in time for Week 1. The Chargers were not efficient against
the TE position last year. They allowed 13 TDs which was the 2nd
most in the league and their 12.3 FPts/G to the position put them
26th overall. Letís keep an eye on this situation and hope
everything gets put to bed regarding his contract.
Sometimes the roster moves work against you, other times, they
work in your benefit. I am trying to exude confidence for Jacobs.
He was a solid RB2 last season after scoring 9 TDs and catching
54 passes. He was rewarded by not getting his 5th year option
picked up and having the team draft Zamir White in the 4th round.
This added to a full backfield, but as the pre-season progressed,
he saw his main competition for touches, Kenyan Drake, get released.
And now he draws the Chargers run defense in Week 1. Los Angeles
allowed 25.8 points to RBs, which was 31st and surrendered 19
TDs which was 31st as well. I feel like Jacobs might be catching
a break, so letís enjoy the positive moment with him, until he
gets a really bad papercut or something.
Is Father Time clamping down on Allen or is FT just a savvy pro
with tight coverage and a small handful of jersey? A look at Allenís
career, in particular the past seven years, certainly tells an
interesting tale. Starting in 2015 and peaking in four seasons
later, his PFF receiving grade rose gradually every year from
78.8 to his career high of 90.5 in 2018. That was the height,
but his descent has been equally balanced since, with grades of
81.7, 85 to the 77.5 he posted last season. He is a must-start
here. Allen has always been a master of running the route and
keeping his guy guessing, however, it is starting to look like
we all know which direction he is going in.
Which Mike Williams are we going to get this season? Hopefully
it will be the fast-starting version from last year. He flew out
of the gates by opening with two 22-point games and had two 33-point
games in Weeks 4 and 5. In his next 11 games, he failed to reach
8 points in six of them. What gives? Letís live in the present
and think positive. Did we mention Las Vegas was 3rd against WRs
and only allowed 25.1 FPts/G and also tied for 7th with 12 TDs
surrendered for the season? I want to be positive and encourage
a fast start, but Iím too pragmatic for that.
Everett has done everything right to start his career. He has
only missed five games in five years, he increased his receptions
and yards each season and set a career high in TD receptions last
year with 4. He also won a ring with Rams last year. The Raiders
allowed 10 TDs, the third most in the league to TEs, so I believe
in incremental progress. This places him on the outside of the
TE1s this week but he will continue to grow so keep your eyes
on him as the year moves along.
The Buccaneers moved on from running back Ronald Jones this offseason,
solidifying Fournette as their starter for 2022. Fournette finished
as the sixth-highest-scoring running back in fantasy in 2021 despite
only playing in 14 games. Heís a true three-down back who should
play most of the snaps for the Bucs in Week 1, especially with
the teamís offensive line likely needing a bit of help in pass
protection to deal with the Cowboysí pass rush. Yes, Rachaad White
is a fun prospect who has big upside, but this is Fournetteís
backfield and thereís no reason to be worried about him.
A banged-up Buccaneers offensive line could have problems protecting
veteran quarterback, as the Cowboysí high-level pass rushers Micah
Parsons and Demarcus Lawrence look to get after him. Brady obviously
has been incredible throughout his career, but when heís struggled,
itís often when opposing teams are able to get to him quickly
without needing to bring additional help. A banged-up Chris Godwin
doesnít help the situation and while the Cowboysí secondary is
still weak overall, weíve seen Trevon Diggs make some impressive
plays on the ball and cause turnovers when opposing quarterbacks
start to get flustered in the pocket. Itís tough to bench Brady
given his high-end upside, of course, but if you happen to have
another viable option, this might be the week to bench the future
Hall of Famer.
Anytime a player is this much of a game-time decision heading
into Week 1, itís always a cause for concern. Godwin tore
his ACL in Week 15 of the 2021 season and hasnít yet played
a snap of football since. We all know what type of talent he possesses
and the level of upside he brings to a fantasy lineup, but thereís
a real chance that the Buccaneers activate him and then only allow
him to play a few snaps. Add in the fact that this is a Sunday
night game, leaving fantasy managers in bad shape if he ends up
not playing, and this is one of the easier fades of Week 1. Hopefully,
heíll get out there and show that heís ready to play
and weíll never have to put him in this section again this
Schultz could probably be considered a ďno-brainer,Ē but letís
elaborate on why this is a great situation. Not only did Schultz
catch six passes against the Buccaneers when these teams played
in 2021, but he did that in a game in which the Cowboys had more
target competition. Now with Amari Cooper gone, Michael Gallup
injured and likely missing this contest, and the offensive line
banged up, look for Dallas to lean on Schultz even more as the
second weapon in their passing offense behind CeeDee Lamb. Heís
a top-five option at the tight end position in Week 1.
It seems weird not to have Ezekiel Elliott in the ďno-brainerĒ
section, but after seeing how fantasy managers treated him this
draft season, itís apparent that he is no longer viewed
as a top-end fantasy RB. Elliott finished the 2021 season as the
RB7 overall with 10 rushing touchdowns and nearly 50 receptions
on the season. The Cowboys havenít changed their offense
significantly and there are no real reports of pulling back Elliottís
role in the offense, so look for him to continue to see significant
work. The main concern with Elliott, is the offensive line. After
losing Tyron Smith this preseason, the former star-studded Cowboys
offensive line now looks like a shell of its former self. Not
only could that affect the running game, but it could affect the
pass protection for Dak Prescott and ultimately lead to a less
effective offense overall, which would mean fewer scoring opportunities
for Elliott who delivers much of his fantasy points in the form
As tempting as it is to start putting the nails in the coffin
of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and make room for Pollard,
the truth is that the coaches in Dallas just don’t see things
that way…at least not yet. We saw that down the stretch
when the team was making a late-season playoff push, and even
on into the playoffs themselves. Whether Pollard was more efficient
than Elliott or not, the Cowboys just kept leaning on Zeke to
be their primary back and that’s what we should expect heading
into 2022. Perhaps we’ll see things change at some point
this season, but unless fantasy managers are looking for about
seven to 10 PPR points out of their Flex spot, then there’s
not much reason to be starting Pollard this early in the year.
Revenge, as the saying goes, is best served cold, but we still
want Wilson to cook, right? I think the consensus is that he got
out of town right on time and landed in a favorable setting with
strong receivers. He makes his return to Seattle Week 1 on Monday
night, so if you want to send a message, here you go. The fact
that Seattle allowed a whopping 4766 passing yards, the second
most in the NFL last season, only sets the table for what should
be a triumphant return. Wilson is a must-start and must wash his
hands after drubbing his former team.
People seem to be casting Gordon aside like he is yesterdayís
news. Letís not forget the 1,100 combined yards and the
10 total TDs from last season. He isnít washed yet. Will
he defer to Javonte Williams? It sure looks that way but Week
1 brings a Seattle rush defense that allowed the most fantasy
points to RBs last season at 27.5 per contest. The split hasnít
been figured out yet, but slightly less than half of that number
looks pretty good to me.
So who gets to be who here? The assumption is that with Wilsonís
arrival, things will turn into high-altitude Seattle. Cortland
Sutton will instantly be DK Metcalf, which he is not. Jeudy will
try to fill the Tyler Lockett role, which he hasnít shown he can
do yet. Crummy QB play has plenty to do with it and injuries last
year shut him down for six games early in the season. He draws
a Seattle-D Week 1 which surrendered plenty of yards, but only
gave up 26.5 points to receivers per game, 5th fewest in league
and they tied for 3rd by only allowing 10 TDs. I think Denver
fans would be happy with Jeudy just growing into the player who
was drafted 15th overall, but high expectations also abound and
this isnít the start you want for him this week.
After signing a new contract in the offseason, Metcalf can put
his mind at ease regarding his financials. The new QB situation
is the next mental hurdle to deal with. Metcalf has increased
his touchdowns every year, finishing with a career high 12TD last
season along with 75 catches for 967 yards. Even comparing his
PFF grade of last year to his Pro Bowl season of 2020, 82.5 to
82.7, the team just has to find a way to get him the ball. You
can be creative about what to call Geno Smith, but he is smart
enough to know that finding Metcalf is their best chance to win.
Expect Metcalf to be force fed Week 1.
Penny impacted many a fantasy championship last season with a
flurry of huge games down the stretch, scoring more than 25 fantasy
points in three of the last five weeks. This included a 32.5 bomb
in Week 17 to seal the deal for many league championships. He
got a new contract in the off-season, a new QB and a new offensive
system. Two of those things were welcome I bet. Penny gets to
be the bell cow for a team that will try to control the clock.
However, the team takes a large step back with the loss of Wilson.
Penny will get the carries Monday, but Denver only allowed 7 rushing
TDs last season, which doesnít bode well. I give him a punchers
chance on prime-time, but the new chapter of career starts now.
If Metcalf is going to be force fed, I think Lockett will be
left with the scraps. Coach Pete Carroll has finally wrestled
control of the team’s identity and it will be ball control
and low risk. Lockett, the recipient of many a lovely moonball
from Wilson, will be impacted the most. His is still frisky, leading
the team last year in receiving yards with 1175 and registering
his second-highest PFF receiving grade of his career with a mark
81. He might be spending this season wondering when is it his
turn to eat at the table.