Merry Christmas everyone. We made it. We did it. Football. Is. Back! I can’t tell you how excited I am for this season to kickoff. After a rocky and unpredictable 2020, this figures to be one of the best and most exciting seasons in NFL history. And it all starts with week 1. The first test to see if your draft was a bust or a success (not really though, don’t panic after one week). And here to help you out this week is your old friend Jeremy, who’s articles I’m sure you’ve been reading religiously for the past couple of months. Here are some players I love, and some I hate for week 1 of the fantasy football season.
Patrick Mahomes vs. Browns: This is a joke. Of course I love Mahomes this week and every week after that. If you need my help to decide to start him, I hope your league does not have a last place punishment.
Tom Brady vs. Cowboys: Ok this one is for real. While Brady may not have been super high on most draft boards for QBs, this matchup is the perfect storm for the GOAT. I mean they’re playing Dallas, what more do you need? Last season Dallas gave us 29.6 points per game (28th), and 386.4 yards per game (23rd). On opening night they face off against the reigning Super Bowl MVP and his star studded collection of skill position players. Can they stop the defending champs?
No. They can’t. But what they can do is keep the game close with Dak Prescott and HIS star studded collection of skill position players. Opening night will have some fireworks in the form of big plays and lots of touchdowns. Brady will be the beneficiary. Other than Mahomes, Allen, and maybe Kyler Murray, there is no one else I love more.
Matt Ryan vs. Eagles: Matt Ryan is the most fickle mistress in all of fantasy football. I feel like every year we expect great things from him. Sometimes he does it, and sometimes he throws for only 26 TDs in back to back seasons (2019-2020). But, Ryan has certainly had his fair share of dominant fantasy seasons. In both 2018 and 2016, he was the 2nd highest scoring QB in fantasy. So all is not lost with Matt Ryan, and this opening matchup with the Eagles is a great way for him to kick off his season and make it on my “love” list.
The Falcons have struggled to run the ball for as long as I can remember. After trading Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley is ready to become the superstar WR1 he was meant to be. Lining up next to him is a man who is best described as a mythical creature, the unicorn himself, Kyle Pitts. Against a stout Eagles front-7, I expect the Falcons to look to expose the weak secondary, led by old-man, I mean big-play Darius Slay. Ryan is a sneaky start for someone questioning what to do at QB in week 1.
Justin Herbert vs. Washington: Ugh, I hate that I’m writing this because Herbert is the starting QB for my fantasy team. But the matchup against Washington is undeniably terrible. Last season they gave up the 3rd least passing yards per game, and their defensive unit has only improved. With their terrifying defensive line going up against the young and unproven Chargers O-line, I think Herbert is going to have a rough day. Not only that, but the Chargers defense should have little trouble stopping the weak Washington offense. Chances of the Chargers needing to throw to stay in the game are low. It’s a hard week to be confident in Herbert, but if he has a poor performance, feel comfortable knowing this is arguably his most difficult game of the year.
Joe Burrow vs. Vikings: I know it’s incredibly tempting to start Burrow against a Vikings defense that was consistently torched last season, but don’t do it. I think this whole Bengals team is going to take some time to get their footing this season. Ja’Marr Chase is dropping more passes than he is catching (literally), the O-line is still a mess, and Burrow’s knee brace is the most eye-popping part of his uniform. Come mid-late season, this offense will be humming for sure, but patience will be required (especially for Chase owners). Hold off on starting Joey B despite an attractive matchup.
Raheem Mostert vs. Lions: This 49ers backfield is as messy as it gets, but Mostert is the starter for the time being. He’s an incredibly talented back, and the Niners like to use him, but he can never stay healthy. Lucky for us, he IS healthy for this matchup against one of the saddest teams in the NFL. Mostert is a big play guy with a 5.6 career yards per carry. The Lions have one of the worst defenses in the NFL and an offense that is going to get absolutely dominated by the 49ers defensive unit. Game flow and matchup quality are both strongly in Mostert’s favor. I think he easily gets 20+ carries and scores at least once, which is something you should love. He’s got to be in your starting lineup unless you somehow ended up with the greatest RB trio in the history of fantasy football.
Kareem Hunt vs. Chiefs: Last season the Chiefs gave up a 24th ranked 4.6 yards per carry to their opponents. The Browns have the best offensive line and one of the run-heaviest game plans in the NFL. Not only that, but the Browns will undoubtedly have to throw the ball late in the game to catch up to the red hot Chiefs offense. Being the receiving specialist of the backfield, Hunt will likely see more reps than usual this game due to flow. That’s in addition to his usual workload on the ground, which should be productive given the matchup. I would rank Hunt and Chubb pretty close to one another this week. I love him as a flex or borderline RB2 against the Chiefs.
Chris Carson vs. Colts: This is just an incredibly tough matchup, especially for a guy who has had some inconsistency in his workloads. The Colts defense is dominant against the run, giving up a league best 3.8 yards per carry last season. The “Let Russ Cook” chants have been heard, and Seattle is no longer the extremely-run heavy offense that it used to be. I think the Colts offense will hang with Seattle and prevent late-game clock milking on the ground. There’s no reason not to throw the ball against the weak Colts secondary, and even if they do choose to run it, it will be tough sledding. Carson is a hard guy to put on the bench, but be prepared for a poor performance.
Josh Jacobs vs. Ravens: The Raiders defense is so bad, it’s so bad. And the Ravens defense is awesome. There’s no way Lamar and the Ravens don’t go crazy on offense. And there’s no way Jacobs doesn’t get absolutely stonewalled in the running game. Kenyan Drake was brought in to be the pass-catching back after Jacobs proved he couldn’t handle the 3-down role. In a game where Vegas is certain to be trailing, Jacobs will have trouble staying on the field. And even if he does, he’s going to have a tough time. I see Jacobs as a very matchup dependent player this year due to the presence of Kenyan Drake. This week, the matchup is not in his favor.
Ceedee Lamb vs. Bucs: Screw it, I’m gonna be selfish and say I love a guy that I just traded for in my league. Don’t sneer. Don’t roll your eyes. What would you do if you were in my position? The exact same goddamn thing. I wrote about how much I love Ceedee Lamb in my last article, and I’m planning on tweeting this article at him in hopes he will acknowledge me. Do the Bucs have a great defense? Yes. Did they also give up the 21st most passing yards per game last season? Yes. So while the defense is great, the secondary is not the strength of this team.
As I said above, I think this game is going to be a massive shootout. Naturally I would like Lamb in that scenario, as I think he will end up as the leading receiver on the Cowboys (even if not the most targeted). I hope this prediction is true, and you should too.
Julio Jones vs. Cardinals: Who do the Cardinals have playing CB these days? That’s a good question. An even better question is what those guys plan on doing to stop Julio Jones. Obviously this Titans offense is getting a lot of hype after acquiring Jones, and it’s warranted. With Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, and Jones, it will be one of the rare “pick your poison” units from a defensive perspective. Given the upgrades to the Cardinals front seven, I believe they’ll slow Henry down a bit (which still isn’t much given his dominance). Also, with Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins on the other side of the field, Tennessee will not get the chance to ground and pound throughout the game. They’re gonna have to throw and expose this weak secondary, and I fully expect Julio to be the beneficiary. I love him this week.
Dallas Goedert vs. Falcons: Atlanta was the worst defense against the pass last season from a statistical perspective. Not much has changed, and combined with my expectation that the Falcons offense will hum, I think Goedert will see a lot of targets. There are very few receiving threats in this offense, and Goedert is one of the few. In a game where the Eagles are likely to be playing catch-up, I see a heavy workload against a weak defense for good ol’ Dallas G. I love him this week and I think you should feel comfortable inserting him into your starting lineup.
Allen Robinson vs. Rams: Jalen Ramsey. That’s it, that’s my analysis. I don’t remember the exact statistics, but last year Jalen Ramsey completely shut down the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, D.K. Metcalf, and Stefon Diggs. Against Robinson, he only gave up one catch for 42 yards. Brutal matchup, the worst at any position in fantasy football. He’s going to have a bad game, guaranteed.
Adam Thielen vs. Bengals: I see this as an incredibly Dalvin Cook heavy game for the Vikings. The Bengals defense isn’t going to give them any trouble, and with my expectation of a flustering Cincy offense, Cook should see an insane workload this game. There’s no reason to throw the ball a lot, and since Thielen is the WR2 in this offense, I can’t imagine a ton of targets for him. It’s a good matchup, and he could easily score a touchdown, but expect an underwhelming performance here.
T.J. Hockensen vs. 49ers: This offense is so terrible it’s ridiculous. And they’re going up against arguably the best defensive unit from 2019, which has returned to full strength after an injury-riddled 2020 campaign. I just don’t see the Lions producing anything offensively this game, and while Hockensen is the top target, he won’t be able to do anything if the offense gets shut down. Additionally, the Niners will likely double team him since there are no other real receiving threats. Just a terrible situation for an incredibly talented player.