Each week the Noise highlights 10 somewhat un-obvious names whom he believes will leave egg on his face. To qualify, each player must be started in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week using the scoring system shown here (Thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 12 fpts, WR: 11 fpts, TE: 10 fpts). If you’re a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 1 Lames in the comments section below.
Jacksonville to have Mahomes’ number again
Patrick Mahomes, KC, QB (99 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $39)
Matchup: at Jax
Vegas Line/Total: KC -4, 52.5
“Evans, you’re drunk. Just retire already.” I can hear the rebukes in regards to Mahomes’ appearance on this list. Critics, after all, probably spent a Round 2 pick chasing last season’s 50 touchdown passes — a questionable maneuver. Many in the pro-Mahomes group are “Always start your studs!” ne’er-do-wells. It’s their anthem.
Fantasy, however, is a matchup-based game, and the ballyhooed passer’s Week 1 affair is a doozy. Verbalized incessantly over the years in this space, no player, no matter affiliation, skill set or situation is immune from under-performing in a given week, including the reigning MVP.
When the KC hotshot wrestled with Jacksonville last year, he looked uncharacteristically erratic. If not rescued by a rushing score, he would have logged his worst fantasy performance of the season (313-0-2). The rematch, this time in Florida, could be equally unnerving. The Jags, spearheaded by Jalen Ramsey (73.8 passer rating allowed in ‘18) and A.J. Bouye (79.7), boast one of the league’s most stubborn secondaries. Last season, it surrendered just 6.7 pass yards per attempt. Etch it in stone, Mahomes finishes behind Dak Prescott, Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray in Week 1. Come at me.
Fearless Forecast: 297 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, 2 interceptions, 11 rushing yards, 14.9 fantasy points
Rams’ Gurley to pick up where he unfortunately left off
Todd Gurley, LAR, RB (97% started; Yahoo DFS: $28)
Matchup: at Car
Vegas Line/Total: LAR -3, 50.5
ARTHRITIC KNEE!!! You’ve heard me scream the phrase repeatedly, presumably to an ear-bleeding point. During the draft season, there was no RB yours truly faded harder. As stated previously, the feeling was warranted for several reasons. His cryptic management plan, McVay’s desire to feature more two-RB formations, the signings of Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown, and Charles Robinson’s report the former All-Pro could see only 65% of the snaps all accelerated the risk. For those who chose to walk the tightrope, the chances of you going full Wile E. Coyote off-the-cliff are substantial.
A couple weeks back, The Athletic reported the Rams were going to limit the veteran’s early season workload in preparation for December/January reps. The blueprint: feature Henderson/Brown often, keep Gurley fresh and unleash him for the critical home-stretch. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how much work he’ll receive in the opener, but exceeding 80% or possibly 70% of the opportunity share seems unreachable. The matchup, too, isn’t the greatest. Dontari Poe, Luke Kuechly, Kawann Short, and new arrival Gerald McCoy are plus run stoppers. Each graded out handsomely in the category, per Pro Football Focus.
It may seem Loony Tunes to debate alternatives, but Gurley is no slam dunk to finish inside the RB2 ranks in Week 1.
Fearless Forecast: 13 carries, 52 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 14 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 8.1 fantasy points
Expect a lighter load for Le’Veon in Jets debut
Le’Veon Bell, NYJ, RB (96% started; Yahoo DFS: $33)
Matchup: vs. Buf
Vegas Line/Total: NYJ -3, 39.5
Refreshed, refocused and rejuvenated after a one-year hiatus that featured rhyme butchering, jet ski rides, and bedroom escapades, Bell is primed for a bounce-back season. Eventually, he’ll emerge as the undisputed workhorse on an ascending Jets team. But notice the operative word in that last sentence — eventually. Adam Gase recently suggested Ty Montgomery will be heavily involved early in the season as Bell, 20 months removed from playing a meaningful snap, works his way back. In other words, expect a committee approach. All remarks from Jets staff and teammates last month were positive regarding Bell’s viability, but it’s entirely plausible his touches are scaled back over the first couple weeks.
With that in mind, the former All-Pro isn’t an unequivocal must-start in his Jets debut. He should net at least 15 touches, but the opponent is no pushover. Bills LBs Matt Milano and Lorenzo Alexander ranked appreciably in run-stop percentage last season. The addition of first-round hole plunger, Ed Oliver, only solidifies Buffalo’s ability to plug gaps. Behind a Jets front projected to be the fifth-worst in the NFL, Bell may collapse often at or behind the line of scrimmage.
Fearless Forecast: 13 carries, 59 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 21 receiving yards, 10.0 fantasy points
Falcons receiver to riddle backers in Minnesota
Calvin Ridley, Atl, WR (58% started; Yahoo DFS: $15)
Matchup: at Min
Vegas Line/Total: Min -4, 47.5
Riddle me this: Can a wide receiver who registered a mere 15.2% of the target share (WR70) again reach double-digit touchdowns if his workload only slightly increases? When it comes to the second-year wideout,‘tis the question. Cutting to the chase, it seems unlikely. Though Ridley is magnificently skilled, especially when establishing space from defenders (No. 6 in separation rate in ‘18), it’s doubtful he and Matt Ryan sustain the 124.4 passer rating from last season when connecting. Unless his workload widens into the 18-20% range, 6-7 TDs are more realistic, meaning his week-to-week unreliability is sure to spike. In other words, Ridley could become matchup dependent.
Minnesota’s pass D declined somewhat a season ago. According to PFF, Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith recorded career-lows in the site’s defensive grades. Despite the blip, most expect the Vikes to be a top-10 unit. Primarily deployed in three-WR sets, Ridley presumably won’t battle Rhodes, instead drawing Trae Waynes in coverage. The DB has had a rollercoaster career, but he conceded just 1.06 yards per snap and 11.6 yards per catch last season. Toss in what will be an ear-piercing road environment and Ridley vexes his backers.
Fearless Forecast: 3 receptions, 51 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 6.6 fantasy points
Moore no WR3 lock against the Rams in Week 1
D.J. Moore, Car, WR (58% started; Yahoo DFS: $16)
Matchup: vs. LAR
Vegas Line/Total: LAR -3, 50.5
Similar to teammate Curtis Samuel, Moore’s ADP increased with the mercury this summer. After a rookie campaign in which he occasionally grabbed the attention of spectators and stat geeks alike, he’s on an upward trajectory. Last season among WRs and TEs, only George Kittle accumulated more yards after contact. Moore’s running-back like demeanor after the catch is reminiscent of former Panther Steve Smith, a fellow fantasy player who clearly wants the young receiver to succeed. If not for Cam Newton’s compromised wing, Moore, WR53 in on-target catch percentage, would’ve likely finished inside the WR3 ranks.
Expectations remain high season long for the sophomore wideout, but a rocky road awaits in the opener. Pegged as the seventh-best secondary in the league according to Pro Football Focus, the Rams feature tons of veteran moxie. Marcus Peters (109.9 passer rating allowed in ‘18) underwhelmed last year, however teammates Aqib Talib (81.1) and Nickell Robey-Coleman (91.1) locked down on assignments. L.A.’s aggressive pass rush only ratchets concern. Whether working in the slot or outside, Moore is slated to post undesirable numbers in Week 1.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 57 receiving yards, 12 rushing yards, 0 touchdowns, 8.9 fantasy points
BONUS LAMES (Over 50% started)
QB: Aaron Rodgers, GB (Chi -3; $33) — Rodgers’ lip raccoon possesses mystical powers no mere mortal can comprehend. It’s glorious. However, the Bears have contained him, for the most part, in recent meetings. The future HOFer boasts a 45:10 TD:INT in 21 career contests against the arch-rival, but he’s failed to top 280 yards nor thrown a TD in his past two Soldier Field encounters. With arguably a top-three secondary led by Kyle Fuller (66.6 passer rating allowed in ‘18) and Prince Amukamara (82.9), Chicago trims the mustache. (FF: 264-1-1-12, 13.6 fpts)
RB: Joe Mixon, CIn (Sea -9.5; $23) – Seattle’s ferocious-looking defensive line, which added Jadeveon Clowney last week, is a terribly lopsided mismatch for a Cincinnati front expected to offer little resistance. Mixon is a superb talent who is sure to command upwards of 80% of Cincinnati’s opportunity share, however, abundant negative run plays are on the horizon. Just over 45% of his rushes last season went for three yards or less. (FF: 16-58-0, 5-27-0, 11.0 fpts)
RB: Josh Jacobs, Oak (Oak PK; $15) – If Jacobs dodges would-be tacklers like he did “Hard Knocks” cameras, expect a banner rookie season. A nonexistent presence on the show, he purposely avoided the distraction to focus on his game. Undoubtedly, he’ll be a featured player in Jon Gruden’s balanced attack, possibly commanding upwards of 280-300 total touches. Out of the gate, he’s in line for at least 15-17 grips against the Broncos. It’s an attractive workload, but Denver’s D under Vic Fangio is poised to snap back after a down year. Von Miller and Co. yielded 4.8 yards per carry to RBs in 2018. Underrated DT Shelby Harris (9.8 run-stop% in ‘18) and Bradley Chubb should help anchor a much-improved unit. (FF: 15-54-0, 4-22-0, 9.6 fpts)
TE: David Njoku, Cle (Cle -5; $10) – All aboard the Browns bandwagon. At least, that’s the story coming out of Nevada and New Jersey. The handle on Cleveland winning the Super Bowl is the highest of any NFL franchise. The hype is deafening. As a result, many bought into the Njoku fantasy buzz in August, banking on the average producer to finally tap into his otherworldly athletic skills. He did finish TE10 in PPR last season but was terribly unreliable week-to-week. Expected to see Titans LB Jayon Brown in coverage (0.64 yds/snap allowed in ‘18), Njoku starts 2019 on the wrong foot. (FF: 3-41-0, 5.6 fpts)
DST: Los Angeles Chargers (LAC-7; $16) – Whether in DFS or season-long, casual fantasy players are heavily investing in the Chargers D Week 1. Why? They don’t believe in Jacoby Brissett. The QB, better than advertised, is about to leave naysayers second-guessing. Frank Reich’s direction combined with a top-five offensive line places him in a much more favorable position compared to 2017. If you choose to pay up for a defense, slap the wallet for Philadelphia or Baltimore instead. (FF: 20 PA, 379 YDSA, 2 SCKS, 1 TO, 6.0 fpts)
#TEAMHUEVOS PICKS OF THE WEEK
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 “Lames” (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.”