Both the best and worst times of the year are upon us.
The start of the NFL and fantasy football seasons are moments many have had circled on their calendars for months, but they come with a certain aggravating, hair-pulling, self-butt-kicking weekly task: setting your lineup.
Fortunately, in Week 1, there shouldn't be many difficult decisions. Not much has changed between your draft and present day, so your lineup should mostly resemble the order of your picks.
Still, there are always those fringe players who you just don't know what to do with. Let's take a look at a few who belong in your lineup.
Quarterback: Robert Griffin III (at Houston)
Robert Griffin III's value will never be lower. A fairly disgusting preseason—141 passing yards, zero touchdowns, two interceptions and being sacked four times—dropped him to No. 15 among quarterbacks in average draft position. And a Week 1 matchup on the road against the pass-rushing talent of the Houston Texans isn't going to ease any of those concerns.
It's really quite ridiculous, though. Everyone always stresses not to overreact to preseason games, but when a player as polarizing as Griffin happens to struggle, pundits and fans are quick to write him off after a whopping 20 passing attempts. As Sports Illustrated's Doug Farrar argued, it's all overblown:
Doug Farrar @BR_DougFarrar
After watching RGIII's preseason (admittedly without the overhead to see coverage), I think the concern is a bit overdone.2014-9-1 14:44:42
Consider last season. RG3, recovering from ACL surgery, never really looked comfortable and was as bad as he's going to get. Yet, he still finished 18th in fantasy scoring, per NFL.com's standard settings, and that number rises to 12th overall when you go by points per game (16.39).
Now, he has another explosive playmaker in DeSean Jackson, a healthy Jordan Reed and a head coach in Jay Gruden who made a fantasy star of Andy Dalton last season. Most importantly, he's a season removed from the knee injury and is exhibiting more confidence.
“Like I’ve said many times this offseason, they go as I go,” Griffin told Zac Boyer of The Washington Times. “If I play well, we play well. If I don’t play well, we don’t play well. I understand that. They understand that, and I’m gonna do my best, and I promise I’ll play well for them.”
Even if he is inconsistent out of the pocket, Griffin plays in a fantasy-friendly offense and is healthy enough to beat teams on the ground. That's a recipe for QB1 numbers.
Running Back: Joique Bell, Detroit Lions (vs. New York Giants)
Fantasy owners are deathly afraid of timeshares, especially when it comes to running backs. But as we saw last season, one of the very few backfield committees capable of producing two legit fantasy stars is the one in Detroit with Reggie Bush and Joique Bell.
In standard leagues, Bush finished No. 11 among running backs, while Bell was 17th.
ESPN's Michael Rothstein explained how the latter's touches could be rising in new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi's system:
Both figure to receive a lot of touches as new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi will likely use many backs in a bunch of different roles. Bell may actually receive more carries as a straight runner and could be more valuable in goal-line situations. Bush is going to be a piece used out of the backfield and also out wide so his receptions could skyrocket.
Lombardi is coming over from New Orleans, and it sure sounds like he has a Pierre Thomas/Darren Sproles role reserved for Bush and a Mark Ingram/Khiry Robinson spot for Bell.
In games that Bush played last season, Bell averaged 12 touches, 67 yards from scrimmage and 0.43 touchdowns per contest. With his role expected to expand and goal-line touches in an explosive offense in store, we'll call that his floor for 2014.
At home against the faltering New York Giants—a game the Lions should have comfortably in hand by the fourth quarter—Bell is an easy candidate for 15 touches and RB2 production.
Wide Receiver: Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys (vs. San Francisco)
San Francisco at Dallas is a sneaky pick for a shootout on Sunday.
The Cowboys defense is atrocious, while the 49ers will be without NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith. Ray McDonald's status is also uncertain, and Antoine Bethea missed a large chunk of the preseason with his new team.
Either way, the 'Boys are going to be throwing a lot, and Terrance Williams is a tremendous young talent who will see a lot of one-on-one coverage with Dez Bryant operating on the opposite side of the field.
As Marcus Mosher of All22breakdown.com noted, Williams has already shown he can produce out of that spot:
Marcus Mosher @Marcus_Mosher
Prorate Terrance Williams' rookie year w/o Miles Austin and you are looking at WR17 in 2013 (via @rotoViz) http://t.co/tBYm9qTaJa2014-7-22 04:07:48
Miles Austin is now in Cleveland, and Williams will get all of the opportunities to take the next step after a tantalizing rookie campaign.
The 49ers defense has been something like a brick wall for several seasons, but don't let them scare you off in Week 1. Williams is a strong flex option with the potential to crack WR2 status.