Posted: Thursday, September 8, 2016
This is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst matchups for Week 1 of the 2016 NFL season. Decisions are based upon the FFN rankings and matchup analysis. Given the known conditions, these matchups are the ones to watch and/or avoid.
Please Note: This list does not generally include the elite players that you are going to start regardless of matchup. You don't need us to tell you to start Aaron Rodgers, Rob Gronkowski, or Antonio Brown. Instead, we take a look at other players on your team that we believe either have great matchups or should be avoided for multiple reasons. Factors like opposing defense, performance trending, and peer comparisons may influence our decisions.
Start 'em Matthew Stafford (DET, QB)
In his first season without Megatron, you might wonder why we're recommending Matt Stafford, but the combination of a fresh, dynamic receiving corp (Marvin Jones, Anquan Boldin, and Golden Tate), an expected shootout, and a Colts defense that Stafford should be able to pick apart, this could be the kind of high-scoring game that fantasy owners will enjoy.
Start 'em Dak Prescott (DAL, QB)
With Tony Romo out for at least half the season, it's Dak Prescott's turn under center. If you play DFS
, Prescott makes for a great value play given his salary. He should also be able to help your fantasy team this week in what has historically been a shootout. Dez and Witten are healthy. Zeke is the real deal and will keep the NY defense honest. This is a roll of the dice that we're ready to take.
Start 'em Spencer Ware (KC, RB)
Like Prescott above, Spencer Ware is a great value play in both daily fantasy football
and Week 1 for season-long leagues. It doesn't look like Jamaal Charles will suit up this week. Charcandrick West will rotate in, but this will be Ware's show against a Chargers D that allowed the 4th-most fantasy points to RB's last season.
Start 'em DeAngelo Williams (PIT, RB)
With Le'Veon Bell on suspension, DeAngelo Williams should shoulder the workload against the Redskins this week. When given the opportunity to play in Bell's absence last season, he averaged almost 70 yards/game on the ground and 4 receptions. He hit the 100-yard mark three times. Williams should shine in Bell's absence.
Start 'em Golden Tate (DET, WR)
Both Golden Tate and Marvin Jones have great matchups this week against the Colts who will be without stud CB Vontae Davis. Tate will likely see a ton of targets and Jones figures to be the hot target in the redzone. Indy was one of the Top 10 most favorable defenses to wide receivers last season. Expect Tate and Jones to have solid days.
Start 'em Donte Moncrief (IND, WR)
Opposite field - similar situation. Donte Moncrief will reward fantasy owners who took a chance on him as their WR2/Flex. T.Y. Hilton has a tough matchup but Moncrief should find himself with plenty of opportunities. It's not that far of a stretch to think that Moncrief will lead the team in receptions this year and that starts in Week 1.
Start 'em Jason Witten (DAL, TE)
Jason Witten is the Freddy Krueger of the NFL - the guy just keeps coming back. That's good news for fantasy owners. He's a safe play and should be a regular target for Dak Prescott in his first NFL regular season start.
Start 'em Jared Cook (GB, TE)
For the first time in his career, Jared Cook finally has an elite quarterback throwing him the ball. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have needed a big, fast TE since losing Jermichael Finley in 2013. Cook is a solid redzone target and his rapport with Rodgers has improved through the preseason. Cook is one of the most underrated TE's in the NFL.
Start 'em Dan Bailey (DAL, K)
Quick guess: what one team does Dan Bailey do the best against every year? Yep, that's right. Bailey has come out a winner against the Giants each time he has faced them. He's not alone though. Nobody gave up more points to fantasy kickers last year than New York. Feel free to drink Bailey from a boot this week.
Start 'em Los Angeles Rams (LA, DEF)
Let's face it. The San Francisco 49ers offense is questionable at best right now, and the Rams defensive front is solid. Expect them to put heavy pressure on Blaine Gabbert and Carlos Hyde all game long.
Sit 'em Jay Cutler (CHI, QB)
It looks like JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney will both suit up and face the Bears. That's not good news for Jay Cutler. The Texans gave up some of the fewest fantasy points to opposing QB's last season and that was without the combination of Watt and Clowney. Tough match up to start the season for Cutler.
Sit 'em Philip Rivers (SD, QB)
Even though the Chiefs will be missing Justin Houston and Sean Smith, their secondary is very tough and held Rivers to an average of 220 yards over their last two games, picked him off twice, and wouldn't let him throw a single score. Keenan Allen missed both of those games, but even a healthy Allen shouldn't warrant putting Rivers into your starting lineup.
Sit 'em Arian Foster (MIA, RB)
Tough to sit Foster now that he's healthy, but he's in a new offense, coming off a torn Achilles, and facing a Seattle defense that gave up the fewest fantasy points to opposing RB's last year. The Seahawks didn't give up a single receiving TD to a RB last season. This will be a tough game for Foster.
Sit 'em Melvin Gordon (SD, RB)
We think this will be Melvin Gordon's year to shine, but we'll need to wait a week to start that journey. The Chiefs gave up the fourth fewest fantasy points to opposing RB's last year and kept them under 4 yards a carry.
Sit 'em Kelvin Benjamin (CAR, WR)
Kelvin Benjamin is like the shiny new toy that everyone wants to play with. Yes, he's super talented and he's the lead WR on one of the most dynamic teams in the NFL. Yes, he's got Cam Newton under center. Yes, you drafted him in the 3rd/4th round, but temper your expectations. He always has the chance of putting up big numbers, but he's expected to be on a snap count this week as the Panthers look to ease him back into action. He'll also face Aqib Talib and a Broncos defense that gave up the fewest fantasy points to opposing WR's last year.
Sit 'em Kevin White (CHI, WR)
There's so many question marks around Kevin White that it's awfully difficult to predict what's going to happen when he finally steps onto the field. He'll see Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, and a Houston defense that gave up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to WR's last year. Tough matchup.
Sit 'em Zach Miller (CHI, TE)
It's starting to feel like we're beating on the Bears here, but coming off a preseason where he didn't play even a single game snap and a history of dealing with injuries, Zach Miller is a tough option this week. The Texans gave up the 11th-fewest fantasy points to TE's last season.
Sit 'em Mike Nugent (CIN, K)
We like Mike Nugent to have a solid year this season, but he'll struggle to put up fantasy points for you this week against the Jets who gave up an average of just over six points to fantasy kickers last season.
Sit 'em Dallas Cowboys (DAL, DEF)
You could put the Giants in this category as well because the Cowboys/Giants games are always high scoring. That makes them fun to watch but not exciting for fantasy defense scoring. Expect a heavy dose of Eli to Beckham and Shepard in this shoot out.