The best part about the NFL season being back is what comes with it: Sunday becoming binge sessions for NFL games, not Netflix, wings on top of wings all day, and fantasy football. Now, I still play regular full season fantasy football, but with that comes a lot of work in just managing a team week-to-week. What I fell in love with last year was Daily Fantasy Sports, in particular DraftKings. Unfortunately, Massachusetts is stupid though and raised the age this past year to 21. Until that day comes, which is not that far off, I will not tailor my picks to DFS. Rather I will just merely pick out what I see as the best fantasy match-ups for the upcoming slate of games.
Because we only have preseason games to go off of, I will be using statistics from last season. Unless there were huge acquisitions by a team that I believe to affect those stats, they shouldn’t be too far off. So, let’s go through each key position for fantasy (QB, RB, WR, and TE) and see who will standout or could be a sleeper for a breakthrough game. I’m not even going to discuss kickers, I may pick a defense if one really stands out.
Ben Roethlisberger vs Redskins
We all witnessed what this offense can do without Le’Veon Bell, so as long as this offense is managed by Roethlisberger I don’t see much drop off. They’ve still got the best fantasy producer in Antonio Brown, they have multiple options at WR other than Brown, and a capable dual threat in DeAngelo Williams. The Steelers are facing a defense in the Redskins that gave up the sixth most fantasy points to QBs last season. While they did add top CB Josh Norman in the offseason, one man won’t be able to stop Big Ben. Should be a good show with Kirk Cousins in the mix as well.
Derek Carr vs Saints
For how good the Saints offense has always been, the defense has been equally as bad. Last season, the Saints were the worst defense against QBs by far, giving up three more fantasy points on average than the next worst defense. I’ve seen there is a lot hesitation about giving Carr the recognition of a solid fantasy QB, but I don’t feel that way. Carr was in the top 15 of passing last year and he’s only going up from there. Going into his third year, he’s building chemistry with an already solid offense in Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and Latavius Murray. Carr could make some noise this week.
Dak Prescott vs Giants
Now I know what you are saying, preseason doesn’t mean anything. You say that, but what does mean something are the weapons surrounding Prescott. It all starts with the O-Line, which will keep the rush off Prescott and provide a strong run game for him. Also, it doesn’t hurt that he has a reliable target in Dez Bryant. The Giants have been one of the worst pass defenses in the past as well, so look for Prescott in his first game to perform well.
Todd Gurley vs 49ers
Todd Gurley is simply a beast and he’s on a team that will give him the ball plenty of times. They are going to have a lot of issues in the pass game with Tavon Austin being their main weapon, so Todd Gurley will take over this offense. 49ers did not have a good defense against RBs last season. With new coach Chip Kelly being known as an offensive coach, I don’t see their defense getting much better.
Eddie Lacy vs Jaguars
Now I realize this isn’t much of a sleeper pick because of the name. Yet, Lacy has been going somewhat disrespected after a lackluster season just a year ago. What I love most about this match-up is the Jaguars gave up the most red zone touches to RBs last season, which means Lacy should see a lot of opportunities to get a touchdown or two. Just the possibility of him getting more of those touches means he has a high ceiling, but at his worst Lacy can be pretty bad so this pick is a little risky.
Antonio Brown vs Redskins
Josh Norman is not going to be able to stop Antonio Brown. The Redskins defense will not have an answer for Brown. Brown is too dynamic of a receiver and the Redskins will do their best, but they had one of the worst pass defenses in the league last year, as I mentioned with the Ben Roethlisberger. Brown is guaranteed points in fantasy, with a high floor and an unreal ceiling.
Jordan Matthews vs Browns
Jordan Matthews is going to have a tough time getting chemistry with the newly appointed starting QB, rookie Carson Wentz. With Sam Bradford as the QB, I had a lot of hope he would have a strong season, maybe putting him in the conversation of being a top receiver. This is a very risky play. My reasoning behind it has to do with the opportunities and the opponent. Matthews is the best option at receiver and could become a safety blanket for the rookie QB Wentz. Also, the Browns have just been putrid in pass defense. I’d take the risk with him at a Flex position, especially if the league is PPR.
Coby Fleener vs Raiders
The issue with valuing an offensive player like Fleener, who is new to an offense, is that he may need a few games to get in a flow. The situation he is in though gets me excited about the production possibilities. The Saints are widely known for using their TEs extensively, especially in the red zone (Jimmy Graham). The Raiders gave up the most points to TEs last season, so even if Fleener doesn’t start out strong, he still has a good matchup to get into a groove.
Jason Witten vs Giants
Not one, but TWO Cowboys players on my list, and none of them are Ezekiel Elliott. Witten has a good matchup like the one Fleener has, since the Giants gave up the second most points to TEs just a season ago. Witten, unlike Fleener, has been with the Cowboys forever. So there won’t be any time needed to get into a flow, except for maybe getting used to Prescott. Witten may become a reliable target for Prescott early in the season.
Good luck to everyone in the start of their fantasy seasons. I’ll have more to stay and more to give statistics wise once the season starts. Can it be Sunday already?
Cover Photo via Wallpaper Cave