The wait is finally over.
With most fantasy football drafts out of the way, the focus is now on who to start and who to sit for your Week 1 matchup.
Here are the players you should have on your radar this week.
Phillip Rivers finally has an offensive line to protect him, which should provide for a challenging afternoon for a Jacksonville defense with a solid pass rush but not much behind it…Tyrod Taylor is once again in a position of holding down the starting job until a rookie is ready. Look for him to take advantage of the plethora of weapons the Chargers have and build his case for keeping that job all year…Cam Newton is playing under offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in New England, so things should get creative in their first game together — especially with Miami on the other side of the ball.
Kirk Cousins is down a receiver following the loss of Stefon Diggs and the Vikings’ offense will run through Dalvin Cook as long as he’s healthy…It’s OK to get excited about Joe Burrow and the potential he has under center, but he has a tough draw for his first career start against the Chargers. Leave him on the bench for Week 1 and see how he fares in his debut…Drew Lock may seem like an appealing candidate given all the receivers Denver added in the draft. However, those rookie receivers are exactly that — rookies — and the Titans’ secondary isn’t too forgiving on 50/50 deep balls.
Kerryon Johnson’s future as the Lions’ lead rusher may be doubt, but injuries to D’Andre Swift and Bo Scarbrough should make him the undisputed No. 1 option out of the backfield even with Detroit’s late signing of veteran Adrian Peterson…A similar situation is unfolding in Buffalo, where Zack Moss has put pressure on Devin Singletary for carries. Singletary should be the Bills’ top option out of the gate…Cam Akers is the Rams’ new toy and they’ll waste little time putting him on display in a prime-time game against the Cowboys.
Frank Gore’s presence on the Jets’ roster can’t mean anything good for Le’Veon Bell, and they’ve got the Bills to worry about in Week 1. Pass…The Buccaneers’ signing of Leonard Fournette may look pretty fun on paper, but it’s going to take time for him to work his way up the depth chart…It’s unclear how the Dolphins plan to split up carries between Jordan Howard and Matt Breida, but it very well could end up one-sided depending on who gets the most production. Better to wait and see, especially against the vaunted Patriots defense.
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Somebody’s got to be the Saints’ No. 2 option behind Michael Thomas, why not Emmanuel Sanders? He’s going to have every opportunity to rack up targets in New Orleans until he proves he can’t handle it…Jalen Ramsey will be playing close attention to Amari Cooper, leaving Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb up to the rest of the Rams’ secondary…Breshad Perriman is dealing with a knee injury but the Jets expect him to be ready for Week 1. He ranked second among all WRs in receiving yards after Week 12 last season and could be a sneaky play with the Bills focusing on Jamison Crowder.
- Marquise Brown, Ravens (vs. CLE)
- Christian Kirk, Cardinals (@ SF)
- Mike Williams, Chargers (@ CIN)
Marquise Brown was the Ravens’ surprise performer in Week 1 last season, catching four passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns against the Dolphins. He’s going to find it’ll be much more difficult to do that against Denzel Ward and the Browns’ secondary…DeAndre Hopkins is the guy now in Arizona, making Christian Kirk a solid option against exploitable defenses. The 49ers aren’t one of those defenses…Mike Williams will enter Sunday’s game with a nagging shoulder injury and a new quarterback who doesn’t throw downfield as often as his predecessor.
- Hayden Hurst, Falcons (vs. SEA)
- Noah Fant, Broncos (@ TEN)
Austin Hooper found plenty of success in the Falcons system even with their star-studded receiver core. Hayden Hurst takes his spot after being buried on the Ravens’ depth chart, setting him up for what could be a coming out party for the third-year pro…Drew Lock may be a sit ’em, but he’s going to have to dump the ball off to somebody. Fant should be able to find some holes between Titans linebackers, though the presence of Kevin Byard may limit his ability to go far after catches.
- Evan Engram, Giants (vs. PIT)
- Jonnu Smith, Titans (@ DEN)
The Giants’ offense doesn’t present much fantasy upside outside of Saquon Barkley, especially against Pittsburgh. Until Daniel Jones shows he’s ready to take a step forward, Evan Engram should only be streamed ahead of fortuitous matchups…Jonnu Smith doesn’t rack up very many yards, making his fantasy value touchdown-dependent. The Broncos’ defense is big enough of a challenge to keep him on the bench for this week.
- Eagles D/ST (@ WSH)
- Colts D/ST (@ JAX)
The Eagles added Darius Slay to their oft-injured secondary this offseason and he’ll be put to work right away facing Washington receiver Terry McLaurin. However, there aren’t too many other proven weapons after that with Washington going young over the last two years…The Colts go into their game in Jacksonville with a running back group capable of controlling the tempo and keeping their defense off the field. When they do have to come out off the bench and play, the Colts’ defense should give Gardner Minshew and Co. plenty of fits.
- Seahawks D/ST (@ ATL)
- Chiefs D/ST (vs. HOU)
Speaking of controlling the tempo, both the Seahawks and the Falcons will go into Sunday’s game looking to control the time of possession with talented lead running backs. But both teams also have several deep threats in their receiving corps, which could turn this game into a shootout in a hurry…Ah, yes. Shootouts. Expect nothing less Thursday when Kansas City and Houston take the field.