Fantasy Football Week 1: The Best Starts at Every Position
Week 1 of the NFL and fantasy football season is officially upon us. OK, I guess it officially started Wednesday night with the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, but the majority of fantasy football owners are only interested in this weekend's games.
While there may be plenty of great options at each position heading into Week 1, the following players will outshine the rest.
Here are the best fantasy football starts at every position.
Quarterback: Tom Brady (at Tennessee Titans)
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With Brees adjusting to life without Sean Payton, and Rodgers taking on the San Francisco 49ers, Brady becomes the clear favorite.
He gets the Tennessee Titans in Week 1 with no Cortland Finnegan to worry about. While the Titans still have talent in the secondary, they simply don't have the talent to slow down the bevy of weapons at Brady's disposal.
The big winner in this game could be Rob Gronkowski. He's a mismatch against any team he plays, but the Titans really lack the players to match up well against Gronkowski.
Look for Brady to consistently look to Gronkowski while putting up huge numbers in Week 1.
Bonus Sleeper Pick: Jake Locker (vs. New England Patriots)
If this game turns into a shootout, which it likely will, the Titans are going to depend on Locker throwing the ball. That means a lot of opportunities for the second-year quarterback to have a huge game.
Running Back: LeSean McCoy (at Cleveland Browns)
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LeSean McCoy gets the cupcake defense of the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, and fantasy owners couldn't be happier.
The Browns were one of the worst teams against the run last year, as they gave up 4.4 yards per carry. They should be even worse this year due to the offseason loss of Phil Taylor, who was their best run defender last season.
Look for the Philadelphia Eagles to get McCoy involved early and often against Cleveland.
He'll do damage on the ground and as a receiver. He should give you multiple touchdowns in this matchup.
Bonus Sleeper Pick: DeAngelo Williams (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
With Jonathan Stewart looking like he'll be out against Tampa Bay, Williams will be looking at receiving the majority of the carries for the Carolina Panthers.
While he may lose the goal-line carries to Mike Tolbert and Cam Newton, if he can break one big run, he could be a top scorer this week.
Wide Receiver: Andre Johnson (vs. Miami Dolphins)
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It will be very rare for Calvin Johnson to not be the No. 1 choice at receiver this year, but his Week 1 matchup against the St. Louis Rams could be rather difficult. Against Cortland Finnegan, who plays well against bigger receivers, and Janoris Jenkins, Megatron could have a difficult time.
Andre Johnson, however, will have a walk in the park against the depleted secondary of the Miami Dolphins.
Instead of Finnegan and Jenkins, he'll be going up against Richard Marshall and Sean Smith.
While the Houston Texans will lean heavily on Arian Foster and Ben Tate, look for Johnson to get plenty of looks in this opening game.
He's finally healthy, and when he is at full strength, there are only a handful of receivers in the same league as him.
Bonus Sleeper Pick: Justin Blackmon (at Minnesota Vikings)
It's hard to think of any target belonging to Blaine Gabbert as a sleeper, but Blackmon and Gabbert displayed great chemistry during the preseason.
With Blackmon as Gabbert's clear No. 1 target, and the horrid secondary of the Vikings, Blackmon could have quite the game in his first-ever NFL outing.
Tight End: Jimmy Graham (vs. Washington Redskins)
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While I'm expecting Rob Gronkowski to have a stellar game against the Tennessee Titans, Jimmy Graham barely beats him out for the top spot this week.
One reason is that Graham doesn't have to deal with the amount of other options that Gronkowski does. Don't get me wrong: Gronkowski will still get a ton of targets, but Graham won't be fighting for looks with the likes of Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Aaron Hernandez.
Graham is Drew Brees' No. 1 target, and against the weak secondary of the Washington Redskins, the Saints tight end should have a field day.
Bonus Sleeper Pick: Kyle Rudolph (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars)
Don't be surprised if Rudolph ends up being a top-five tight end in fantasy football this year. He should quickly become one of Christian Ponder's favorite targets this season.
While the Jaguars boast an underrated defense, Rudolph should be able to take advantage of Jacksonville's linebackers and safeties. Look for a touchdown or two and plenty of yards for this second-year tight end in Week 1.
Flex Position: Rashad Jennings (at Minnesota Vikings)
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With Maurice Jones-Drew finally ending his contract holdout, Rashad Jennings no longer looks like he'll be much of a fantasy option this season.
However, Week 1 could be a different story, with Jones-Drew still getting up to speed for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
While Jennings doesn't garner a starting running back spot on your fantasy team, he does have the potential to be the top flex-position scorer in Week 1. He should end up being a big part of Jacksonville's offensive game plan this week, which means he should put up quality numbers at the flex position.
Bonus Sleeper Pick: Peyton Hillis (vs. Atlanta Falcons)
Jamaal Charles is the unquestioned No. 1 running back for the Kansas City Chiefs, but Peyton Hillis will certainly get his fair share of touches.
With Charles still recovering from an ACL injury suffered in Week 2 last year, Hillis will have a great opportunity to have a big game against the Falcons.
Kicker: Garrett Hartley (vs. Washington Redskins)
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Whenever you're the kicker for a Drew Brees-led offense, you are pretty much guaranteed to have a huge fantasy week.
Garrett Hartley is an accurate kicker with a big foot, and the New Orleans Saints should have no issues scoring points against the Washington Redskins.
That means that Hartley will likely end up as the top scoring kicker this week.
Bonus Sleeper Pick: Mason Crosby (vs. San Francisco 49ers)
The 49ers have one of the league's best defenses, which means the Green Bay Packers might be settling for more field goals than usual.
Defense: Houston Texans (vs. Miami Dolphins)
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The Houston Texans boast one of the best defenses in the NFL. They have the ability to create turnovers at will and are one of the best pass-rushing teams in the league.
This week they get the Miami Dolphins and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Do you know who causes a lot of turnovers and gets sacked often?
The Texans should steamroll the Dolphins on both sides of the ball, and Houston will have a huge scoring week in fantasy football.
Bonus Sleeper Pick: Chicago Bears (vs. Indianapolis Colts)
The Bears also get a rookie quarterback this week, but Andrew Luck is years ahead of Tannehill as a prospect. However, Chicago's defense has the ability to make rookie quarterbacks look worse than they really are.
Look for Chicago's defense to have a big week against an overmatched Indianapolis Colts offense.