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NFL Fantasy Football: Blaine Gabbert and Top 4 Sleepers for Week 1

Sam McGawContributor IIOctober 20, 2016

NFL Fantasy Football: Blaine Gabbert and Top 4 Sleepers for Week 1

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    Week 1 of the NFL season comes with a lot of questions and concerns. This is the time of year where fantasy football owners must play their star players with hopes of a lopsided matchup.

    No performance is a guarantee, as no one knows how all the NFL teams will stack up this season.

    So before you take that shot in the dark, here are your Week 1 sleepers that can have a huge impact in your lineup this weekend.

Quarterback: Blaine Gabbert at Vikings

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    Blaine Gabbert and the Jacksonville Jaguars have a whole new look this season.

    With a new head coach in Mike Mularkey, the Jaguars are looking promising for the future.

    After acquiring former Cowboys receiver Laurent Robinson, and drafting wide receiver Justin Blackmon, Gabbert finally has some weapons to throw to.

    While it's easy to overlook a quarterback's stats during the preseason, it's difficult not to notice how well Gabbert played in his four preseason starts. In these four games, Gabbert completed 61 percent of his passes, while throwing for three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Quite impressive for a guy who struggled most of last season.

    This week, Gabbert and the Jaguars travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings. This is a matchup that is in favor of the Jaguars' passing game.

    Last season, the Vikings defense allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Not to mention, they also allowed the most passing touchdowns in the NFL.

    Yes, most people aren't looking for a replacement quarterback this week. However, if your quarterback has a very unfavorable matchup, look to pick up Gabbert.

Running Back: Ronnie Brown at Raiders

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    According to NFL.com, San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Matthews returned to practice on Monday. However, he has not been cleared for contact yet after suffering a broken clavicle on August 9. 

    With Matthews likely out against Oakland, the San Diego Chargers will turn to veteran running back Ronnie Brown.

    In Matthews absence this preseason, Brown managed to total 55 yards rushing on 15 carries. He also caught eight passes for 72 yards.

    Although his preseason performance was average, Brown heads into Week 1 with a promising matchup.

    Last season, the Oakland Raiders defense allowed the eighth most fantasy points to running backs.

    Stats from last year may not carry over to this year. With that said, if the Raiders defense hasn't improved, Brown could be looking at a huge Week 1 performance.

    Keep your eyes on Matthews' status throughout the week. If he is a no-go, look to pick up Brown as a potential Week 1 replacement.

Wide Receiver: Nate Washington vs. Patriots

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    Last year, Tennessee Titans receiver Nate Washington had a breakout season.

    After Kenny Britt tore his ACL in the second week of the season, Washington took over the No. 1 receiver role and played beyond expectations.

    This week, Washington keeps his No. 1 receiver role as Britt serves a one-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

    Luckily for Washington, he gets to play the New England Patriots on Sunday.

    While a lot of people are talking about how good the Patriots will be this season, many are overlooking how atrocious their pass defense was last year.

    In 2011, the Patriots defense allowed the second most passing yards in the league. Not to mention, they also allowed the most fantasy points to receivers last season.

    The Patriots could have very well addressed these issues in the offseason. However, until they prove they can stop the pass, receivers are always a threat against the Patriots defense.

    Start Nate Washington as a possible flex option this weekend. If the Titans fall behind early, Jake Locker will be forced to pass a lot more to catch up to the Patriots potent offense.

Tight End: Dustin Keller vs. Bills

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    While 'Tebowmania' took over New York City, the Jets offense quickly forgot how to score touchdowns.

    This preseason, the Jets offense only scored one touchdown. It was a pass thrown by third-string quarterback Greg McElroy that finally ended the Jets preseason touchdown drought.

    After the Jets acquired Tim Tebow in a trade with the Broncos, many speculated Mark Sanchez's job would be in jeopardy.  In spite of this, both quarterbacks played so bad that a quarterback controversy wasn't possible.

    This week, the Jets host the Buffalo Bills, a team who's defense is loaded with playmakers.

    After signing defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, the Bills head into MetLife stadium with a revamped pass rush.

    With the pass rush intact, Buffalo's secondary has a chance to be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks.

    On Sunday, Mark Sanchez will be harassed by the Bills pass rush. This will often force him to check down and throw to his tight end, Dustin Keller.

    Lucky for Keller and the Jets, Buffalo's defense is coming off a season where they allowed the most fantasy points to tight ends. This could very well be one of their biggest weaknesses this season, as well.

    Many people may be shying away from Keller due to the Jets inefficiency at the quarterback position. While Buffalo may have added many playmakers this offseason, they still need to prove they can stop tight ends from reaching the end zone.

    Start Keller this week and hope the Jets o-line can keep Sanchez up long enough to check down to his tight end.

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