After a long NFL offseason, fans can finally start caring about actual games. More specifically, they will think about what they will do with their fantasy football lineups in Week 1.
For those fans still yet to complete their drafts (hurry up!), look for a handful of players late who can help out your team on a matchup basis, even if they might not be the best overall.
If your squad has already been drafted, look to either add these guys off waivers or hopefully start them if they are already on your roster. There is no rule that says you have to start your highest draft picks in Week 1, so do not be afraid to keep it interesting.
Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Most people drafting Michael Vick are looking at his high upside in Chip Kelly's system. However, he might even be a solid option out of the gate in Week 1.
The veteran quarterback has looked good in the preseason both as a passer and as a runner to win the starting job over Nick Foles. He has also done extremely well in his career against the Washington Redskins, winning six of his seven career starts and posting big numbers in most of them.
While the Redskins actually had a good preseason defending the pass, the competition was not something to brag about. They mostly faced rookie quarterbacks drafted late or not at all.
In reality, this is mostly the same secondary that was torched for 282 yards per game last year.
If your starting quarterback has a tough opening matchup (like Cam Newton vs. Seattle), it would be a worthwhile risk to give Vick a shot in Week 1.
Brian Hartline, WR, Miami Dolphins
While the addition of Mike Wallace makes Brian Hartline the No. 2 target in Miami, this could end up being a better situation for him.
Hartline has great hands and straight-line speed, but he does not have the physical tools to handle the increased attention that comes from being a top receiver. Wallace can take the pressure off of him, and it could lead to another big year after totaling over 1,000 yards last season.
The best example for this will be in Week 1, when the Dolphins face the Cleveland Browns. Joe Haden is one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL and has the physicality to shut down Hartline. However, he will likely focus on Wallace, allowing Hartline to match up against Buster Skrine or Chris Owens.
If Ryan Tannehill makes the jump in his second year that everyone is hoping he will, it will give the Dolphins a formidable attack through the air. This will not only make Hartline fantasy relevant, but he can become a legitimate starter in good matchups like this.
Shane Vereen, RB, New England Patriots
This is obviously an incredibly risky play due to the uncertainty in New England's backfield. Shane Vereen finished fourth in rushing attempts last season, and there is a chance he remains on the bench for most of the game.
However, he appears solidly locked as the No. 2 running back behind Stevan Ridley, and the Patriots had the second-most rushing attempts in the league last season.
Considering the starter has not proven himself as a pass-catcher and Vereen had a handful of receptions in the preseason, there will be more opportunities for touches early and often.
Additionally, Week 1 represents a nice matchup for Patriots running backs as they face the Buffalo Bills. The division rival gave up the second-most fantasy points to running backs last season—including a league-high 23 touchdowns—and things have not been much better in the preseason, allowing 4.7 yards per carry on the ground.
If Vereen gets the opportunity to shine like he is expected to, he can have a strong first week in fantasy.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, all stats courtesy of ESPN.com.
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