Week 1 Fantasy Football Flames: S-Kyler Murray to take flight in debut

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Each week, the Noise highlights under-started names whom he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week (Scoring thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 12 fpts, WR: 11 fpts: TE: 10 fpts; .5 PPR). If you’re a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 1 Flames in the comments section below.

Expect fireworks for Kyler Murray in debut

Kyler Murray, Ari, QB (31 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $26)

Matchup: vs. Det

Vegas Line/Total: Det -2.5, 47.5

Forget the great chicken sandwich debate (Wendy’s FTW!), nothing has divided the football community quite like the Arizona Cardinals. The glass-half-full crowd steadfastly believes Kliff Kingsbury’s “Air Raid” scheme, a breakneck system predicated on quick, high-percentage strikes and occasional downfield throws, will take the league by storm. Meanwhile, the half-empty bunch eschews any and all parts involved, especially given Arizona’s bottom-barrel offensive line. Those who’ve followed my work throughout the summer clearly know where I stand.

It’s time the chickens come home to roost.

Admittedly, Kingsbury and Murray thumbed through a vanilla playbook this preseason. Many jumped ship after Oakland’s blitz barrage enveloped the rookie in Week 2. However, his handful of brilliant tight-window threads in the dress rehearsal raised eyebrows. Don’t be discouraged by his unsightly 5.4 YPA, 0 TDs and 25.0 sack percentage in weightless August games. Murray, who owns pinpoint accuracy, a complete understanding of the offense and jackrabbit wheels, is about to unleash.

His opponent, Detroit, projects No. 20 in pass defense, according to Pro Football Focus. Darius Slay (80.1 NFL rating allowed in ‘18) is a tremendous ball hawk, but ancillary components Justin Coleman (90.0) and Rashaan Melvin (101.6) leave much to be desired. The Lions’ upgraded defensive line is a concern for Arizona’s trench piglets. Still, the passer’s improvisational ground skills are top-notch. In what should be an uptempo affair, Murray finally shows what cards he and Kingsbury have been holding.

Fearless Forecast: 258 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, 38 rushing yards, 20.9 fantasy points

[Week 1 Fantasy Rankings: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | FLEX | DST | Kickers]

Complementary RB Matt Breida brings the noise

Matt Breida, SF, RB (13% started; Yahoo DFS: $14)

Matchup: at TB

Vegas Line/Total: TB -1, 49.5

Every year prognosticators enter the season believing certain teams will greatly over- or underachieve in specific areas. Many times they’re right. Often they’re embarrassingly wrong. Universal predictions pointing to Tampa’s D finishing in Davey Jones’ locker won’t be inaccurate. Already without Jason Pierre-Paul and possibly top interior defender Vita Vea to begin the regular season, the Bucs are wielding a dull sword. In competition with Arizona, Tampa is arguably the league’s softest defensive team on paper. Though underwhelming offensively throughout the preseason, the visiting Niners should promptly establish a scoring groove, Breida included.

Tevin Coleman is expected to handle the heavy side of Kyle Shanahan’s proposed RBBC, but with Jerick McKinnon on IR, Breida will be featured as a jack-of-all-trades back. Impactful when healthy in 2018, the complement compiled a sensational 6.0 yards per touch and the eighth-highest breakaway run percentage of any RB with at least 50 carries. Just over 42% of his yards came on big plays (15-plus yards). His dynamite athletic profile (93rd percentile SPARQ), tacky hands and versatility will often capitalize on mismatches, scenarios he’s sure to see plenty of in the opener. Fire him up in the FLEX.

Fearless Forecast: 10 carries, 46 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 37 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.8 fantasy points

Fast-rising Devin Singletary worth your attention

Devin Singletary, Buf, RB (6% started; Yahoo DFS: $10)

Matchup: at NYJ

Vegas Line/Total: NYJ -3, 40

No player received a post-cuts value boost quite like Singletary. Buoyed from the draft/waivers depths after LeSean McCoy’s release, the rookie is poised to become Buffalo’s featured back. Yes, Frank “The Count” Gore impossibly continues to dodge wooden stakes at age-36, but all indications suggest Singletary will earn at least 14 touches per game moving forward. No, T.J. Yeldon isn’t a major threat. The kid will be immediately effective on approximately 60-65% of the opportunity share.

Though it was against mostly meek competition at Florida Atlantic, Singletary posted an unfathomable 42.2 broken tackle percentage last season. His powerful running style, slick moves, and dependable hands mesh favorably with Brian Daboll’s scheme. Buffalo’s upgraded offensive line, top-10 defense, and Josh Allen’s rushing ability are also positives.

New York’s defensive line will be a stiff challenge. Adding run-stopping rookie Quinnen Williams to an already formidable unit has the Jets inside the top-10 projected run defenses. However, the loss of RB gobbler Avery Williamson (knee) is a significant blow. Don’t fret over Singletary’s 3.5 ypc in the preseason. He’s easily FLEX employable in 12-team and deeper leagues.

Fearless Forecast: 13 carries, 53 rush yards, 3 receptions, 12 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.0 fantasy points

Devin Singletary's value has jumped more than any other player in fantasy over the past week. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
Devin Singletary's value has jumped more than any other player in fantasy over the past week. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

Marvin Jones ready to roar vs. feckless Cards secondary

Marvin Jones, DET, WR (17% started; Yahoo DFS: $14)

Matchup: at Ari

Vegas Line/Total: Det -2.5, 47.5

As fantasy drafters were going gaga for Kenny Golladay, Jones steadily flew under the radar in most exercises. Reportedly a potential trade chip when the deadline nears in October, he’s motivated to not only prove himself with current management, but potentially future. Jones, largely selected as a WR4 in 12-team exercises, could turn an instant profit off the blocks. Why? Arizona’s secondary is comically understaffed, a unit missing All-Pro Patrick Peterson for six games and fellow starter Robert Alford (leg). Journeyman corner Tramaine Brock and greenhorn Byron Murphy are Vance Joseph’s stopgaps. Entering his 10th season, Brock has allowed a 92.6 passer rating and 14.6 yards per reception to his assignments. Presumably, he’ll most often tango with Golladay, leaving Jones with a rookie in his first start. Umm, yes, please!

The Lions are expected to be a run-heavy team this season under Darrell Bevell, but given Jones’ prominent red-zone role (No. 1 in end-zone target% in ‘18), separation talents (No. 22 in separation yards/target) and ability to stretch defenses outside the numbers, he’s in a prime spot to deliver WR2 level numbers, at a minimum, in the desert. Toss him a steak.

Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 72 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.7 fantasy points

Michael Gallup to continue rapid rise vs. rival Giants

Michael Gallup, Dal, WR (9% started; Yahoo DFS: $14)

Matchup: vs. NYG

Vegas Line/Total: Dal -7, 45.5

Throughout the offseason and into August, Gallup’s buildup has gone from whispers to full-blown screams. Nearly unstoppable in practice sessions and brief preseason appearances, the second-year wideout is on the precipice of a breakout. A premier sideline target, he balled out along the edges, leaping over defenders on several high-degree of difficulty catches. Due to Amari Cooper’s bum heel, which kept him sidelined during the exhibition slate, Gallup took advantage by establishing a strong rapport with Dak Prescott. No surprise, he earned accolades for his performance from qualified onlookers. The relationship should pay immediate dividends. To say his No. 117 rank in WR success rate from 2018 is about to improve would be a gross understatement.

With or without Cabo beachgoer Ezekiel Elliott for Week 1, the Cowboys are sure to lean more heavily on Dak, which could lead to a workload uptick for the young receiver. No matter if matching wits against Janoris Jenkins (109.3 passer rating allowed in ‘18) or rookie Deandre Baker, Gallup is on track for a top-30 WR opening week. Employ his services at WR3 or the FLEX in 12-team and deeper leagues.

Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 66 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.6 fantasy points

SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10% started)

Justin Jackson, LAC, RB (2% started; Yahoo DFS: $10)

Matchup: vs. Ind

Vegas Line/Total: LAC -7, 44

As Melvin Gordon posts Madden highlights on social media and fruitlessly explores potential trade suitors, fantasy players wait with bated breath for his return. When he’ll again grace a football field is anyone’s best guess. Because it’s highly doubtful any franchise, particularly at this juncture, would shell out $12 million per for his services, all roads, at some point, should eventually lead back to Los Angeles. What we do know is this: Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson are going to shoulder the load for the Chargers Week 1, elevating both rushers into complimentary fantasy positions.

To those who relish the weekly puzzles deep leagues provide, Jackson is worth your FLEX consideration. Ekeler is expected to command the heavy side of a projected timeshare, but even on 35-40% of the workload, the former Northwestern marvel, who forced a missed tackle on 20.0% of his 2018 touches, is a solid bet for double-digit fantasy production. Colts LB Darius Leonard is a tackling machine, but most view Indy as a middling run defense. If LAC’s suspect offensive line, which ranked No. 17 in run-blocking efficiency in 2018, holds its position, Jackson crosses the chalk at least once in the opener.

Fearless Forecast: 11 carries, 52 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 9 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13.1 fantasy points

BONUS FLAMES (Under 60% started)

QB: Lamar Jackson, Bal (Bal -5, 37.5; $26) – Among respected fantasy prognosticators, Jackson finishing top-five among QBs is a popular sentiment. It may seem bold, but his Michael Vick-like abilities whether in a real or pixelated environment leave the opposition confounded. Looking more accurate and comfortable in the pocket throughout August, surrounded by a bolstered cast and blessed with a top-10 O-line, he’s poised to rocket up the ranks. Against a projected bottom-half Miami secondary, Jackson picks up where he left off, and then some. Recall from Weeks 12-17 last year, a rough-edged Lamar led all fantasy passers with 0.83 points per dropback. (FF: 229-2-0-68-1, 29.9 fpts)

RB: Duke Johnson, Hou (NO -7, 53.5; $15) – In his first game as a Texan, Duke is going to be smoother than a Bourbon House sazerac. No matter if he’s splitting the load with Damarea Crockett, Buddy Howell, Carlos Hyde or the ghost of Ron Dayne, he’s bound to be a featured component in a contest with high-scoring appeal. Saints DT David Onyemata, LB Demario Davis and DE Cam Jordan flexed against the run last year (3.2 ypc allowed to RBs), but still, expect Johnson, who sports a career 2.76 YAC/att and 18.0 missed tackle percentage, to be very active in the pass game. New Orleans, virtually unchanged defensively, allowed 5.4 receptions per game to RBs in ‘18. (FF: 13-47-6-41-1, 17.8 fpts)

WR: Dede Westbrook, Jax (KC -4, 52.5; $15) – Coughing up 295.1 pass yards per game and 7.5 yards per attempt last fall, the Chiefs were routinely sliced and diced vertically. Projected to have the fourth-worst secondary in the league per PFF, KC could experience a case of déjà vu. Westbrook is a classic dirty worker who gained 90% of his yards on interior routes last season. His 50% success rate didn’t sparkle but blame Blake Bortles’ imprecise arm. Dede’s 82.5 on-target percentage ranked No. 45 among eligible wideouts. Given Nick Foles’ affinity for the slot, voluminous targets are on tap for the former Heisman finalist. Against Chiefs slot CB Kendall Fuller (69.1 catch% allowed in ‘18), Westbrook lassos at least five catches. (FF: 6-58-1, 14.8 fpts)

WR: Josh Gordon, NE (NE -6, 51; $16) – Shaking off the rust in the Pats’ preseason finale, Gordon resembled the outside-the-numbers, tackle-shedding receiver who posted WR23 stats in .5 PPR leagues over a nine-game stretch with New England last year. With a clear path to 21-23% of the target share, Tom Brady’s earned trust and Gordon’s appreciable yards per target (11.0 in ‘18) he’s likely to turn a mammoth profit, assuming he stays on the straight-and-narrow. Steelers CB Joe Haden (81.0 passer rating allowed in ‘18), Gordon’s primary assignment, has a tall task of containing him under the primetime lights. (FF: 5-74-1, 15.9 fpts)

TE: Jack Doyle, Ind (LAC -6.5, 45.5; $15) – Hampered by hip and kidney setbacks, Doyle was lapped by Eric Ebron last fall. Now healthy and with best fantasy friend Jacoby Brissett manning the controls, he’s set to experience a value resurgence. Inseparable in 2017, the pair connected 80 times over 15 games. Expect the duo to rekindle their on-field chemistry against an assertive Chargers pass rush. (FF: 5-42-1, 12.7 fpts)

DST: Dallas Cowboys (Dal -7, 45.5; $14) – The Giants offensive line is expected to advance, but DeMarcus Lawrence, who was responsible for 41 QB hurries and 13 sacks alone last season, is sure to breathe down Eli Manning’s neck. A season ago when New York visited Big D, it surrendered six sacks and tallied a measly 13 points. A repeat of that dismal Sunday is in the works. (FF: 343 YDSA, 16 PA, 4 sacks, 2 TOs, 11.0 fpts)


Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their “Flames” (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?

Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also check out his TV show, “The Fantasy Football Hour,” now available in 100 million households on various regional sports networks, along with his work on the “Yahoo Sports Fantasy Podcast” and his award-nominated podcast, “The Fantasy Record.”

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