Drafting your fantasy football team might be the hard part, but your job is far from over. Now, you have to put the right players in the lineup from week to week.
While a lot of people hate dealing with the byes that come in the middle of the year, Week 1 is truly the most difficult to predict all season. Coaches like to keep their plans close to the vest, which means we have little knowledge of which players will touch the ball in which situations.
As a result, fantasy owners should lean toward the safer options to start the season. This includes a number of less exciting veterans who will be smarter picks than the rookies who were shooting up draft boards.
Here is a look at the projected top 50 scorers for Week 1 of 2014.
|Top 50 Fantasy Football Players: Week 1|
|Rank||Pos. Rank||Player||Team||Opp||Pass Yards||Rush Yards||Rec. Yards||TDs||Fantasy Pts.|
|19||QB13||Robert Griffin III||WAS||HOU||231||47||0||1||17|
While Peyton Manning might regress a bit from his unbelievable 2013 season, he still has plenty of weapons and an offensive line that will give him time to succeed. Even against a solid defense in Indianapolis, he will post big numbers.
On the other hand, fans might want to temper expectations for normally solid players such as Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton. Rodgers is still one of the best players in the league at his position, but facing the Seattle Seahawks defense is never easy.
Newton has been dealing with a rib injury, but he is confident he will play this week, via Joe Person of The Charlotte Observer:
Still, considering his various injuries and his lack of receiving targets, it might be smart to stay away from Newton at this point.
You will see many of the same running backs near the top of lists almost every week, as LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte and Adrian Peterson are among the best in the league. McCoy could have a better-than-average week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Two players higher on this list than in most fantasy drafts are Arian Foster and Zac Stacy, two players who should be solid against questionable competition to start the season. Foster is a health concern, but the first game of the year should not slow him down.
The running backs to be careful about if you have alternatives are Le'Veon Bell, Ryan Mathews and Chris Johnson. Obviously, they were likely high picks in most drafts, but it is hard to predict a breakdown of carries, as LeGarrette Blount, Donald Brown/Danny Woodhead and Chris Ivory can steal touches—and touchdowns—in each case.
Also, do not forget to take Ray Rice out of your lineup as he serves his two-game suspension.
The best receivers were high on draft lists for a reason, and there is no reason to doubt them now. Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, Brandon Marshall and others should be top options every week, regardless of the matchup.
Dez Bryant has an easier opponent than many think, as the San Francisco 49ers have a completely rebuilt secondary that might not be ready for an elite receiver.
One name to watch out for early is Emmanuel Sanders, who fills in for Eric Decker in the Broncos offense. While this goes against the logic of playing people with secure roles, CBS' Jim Nantz thinks big things are ahead for the former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver:
That is the opposite of Decker and DeSean Jackson, who had big years but now go to weaker, less consistent offenses. Fantasy owners should not expect the same results.
Jimmy Graham is the best tight end in fantasy football, and it is not even close. Every week, he is a threat for at least one touchdown, and he can rack up the yards to be a strong play regardless.
After that, Julius Thomas and Rob Gronkowski are both top options when healthy.
However, many of the other options require seeing how they are used first. Breakout projects such as Ladarius Green, Zach Ertz or Travis Kelce could be great, but they also could easily be shut out.
Fantasy owners would be smart to roll with a veteran such as Heath Miller, Dennis Pitta or Greg Olsen in the first week.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.