The wait is over. Week 1 is finally here. Weeks of anticipation, research, bold predictions and drafting come to a head. We finally get to see Mahomes slinging it, Donald destroying offensive lineman and how many snaps it takes Matt Nagy to jump on the Justin Fields train with the rest of us.
Hopefully by now you have most of your line ups set, survivor selection picked (the answer is whoever the Texans are playing), and Pick’em picks done. But if you’re anything like me and you love a good line up tinker this is the place for you. I’m always looking for that little bit of extra information to help choose that final flex position or which QB to stream.
We’ve all had that sinking feeling at the end of a matchup when our final line up change five minutes before kick-off inevitably costs us the tie. But the more information you have, the higher your chance of making the right calls.
We will be providing three players we love in week 1, as well as a sneaky start for those looking for something a little more off peak.
Quarterback – Jalen Hurts @Falcons
While most people weren’t won over by Hurts’ short audition at the end of 2020, I saw plenty of fantasy potential. His rushing ability provides him with a safe weekly floor and the addition of Devonta Smith gives him a much-needed weapon to target. Goedert and Ertz are both a safe pair of hands and Hurts has already shown in Preseason that he is happy to involve his Tight Ends heavily.
Then you have the matchup. The Falcons ranked as one of the worst defences last year and haven’t done much to improve that. They gave up 23 points per game to opposing quarterbacks at home and the 9th most rushing yards to quarterbacks despite not facing anyone of Hurts’ ability on the ground.
Jalen Hurts should finish as a top 10 QB this week with top 5 potential and I’d have him over guys like Prescott and Herbert who both have tough Week 1 match ups.
Running Back – Raheem Mostert @Lions
Whilst there is no such thing as a dream match up, Mostert against the Lions is as close as you can get. The Niners have an extremely talented offense with no shortage of weapons and are one of the biggest favourites of the week. The Lions on the other hand gave up the most fantasy points to running backs last season.
San Francisco were one of the most run heavy teams last year when leading, so Mostert is going to get a tonne of work. And while I expect Trey Sermon to be a factor, I think it’ll take a few weeks for this to become an even committee. Mostert has all the stars aligned to put together a huge week and there are not many backs I’d have ahead of him.
Wide Receiver – Laviska Shenault Jr @Texans
One guy I’m expecting to have a big breakout year is Laviska Shenault Jr. Taken in the second round of the 2020 Draft by the Jaguars, he showed flashes of brilliance and had 33 targets over the final four games of the season.
His versatility enables him to make plays all over the field, but he will predominantly line up in the slot and as the Jags primary short pass option could lead the team in targets. He now gets Trevor Lawrence throwing him the ball and the week 1 matchup against the Texans promises to be a fruitful one. The Texans were the 7th worst defence against wide receivers last year and gave up 22 touchdowns to the position. Currently ranked in the mid-30s in many wide receiver rankings for the week, I expect Shenault Jr to smash that and flirt with the top 15.
Sneaky Start – Brandin Cooks vs Jaguars
The Houston Texans may be the least sexy team to look for a flex option all season but that doesn’t mean there aren’t viable options to help your team out.
It feels like Cooks has been overlooked for years as a fantasy option, but he has surpassed 100 targets and 1000 yards in 5 of the last 6 seasons. Tyrod Taylor is downgrade at quarterback but game script will ensure the Texans throw the ball often.
In two games against the Jags last year, Cooks totalled 21 targets for 244 yards and 2 touchdowns. If he can get close to repeating those stats he will be a difference maker in your line up this week.
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