With Week 1 finally upon us, here’s who you should be plugging into your lineup to kick off the season.
QB: Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The 49ers have improved their receiving core with the additions of Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd to a receiving core that already had Dante Pettis, Marquise Goodwin and George Kittle. After some early preseason jitters, Garoppolo looked refreshed in his last outing. “Jimmy G” should run wild against Tampa Bay’s horrific secondary.
RB: Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens vs. Miami Dolphins
Free-agent acquisition Mark Ingram looks primed to be the workhorse in Baltimore’s run-heavy offense. Ingram couldn’t have asked to be in a better spot to start the year. The Dolphins gave up the fifth-most points to running backs last season and the loss of linebacker Kiko Alonso is only going to make things worse. Start Ingram with confidence.
WR: Will Fuller, Houston Texans vs. New Orleans Saints
When Will Fuller is healthy, he’s magical. The former first-round pick has a knack for catching deep balls and TDs. He only really needs one big play to pay off. With Keke Coutee leaning towards missing Sunday’s game, Fuller is in a prime blow up spot. Against a Saints secondary that gave up the most points to wide receivers last season, Fuller should feast in a game that projects to be a shootout.
TE: Evan Engram, New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
With Golden Tate’s suspension and Sterling Shepard possibly being limited, Evan Engram will be a true target for Week 1. Regardless of who’s under center, Engram will undoubtedly lead the Giants in receiving yards against a Cowboys defense that gave up the seventh-most points to tight ends last season. The former first-rounder is going to have a huge season debut.
QB: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers vs. LA Rams
I’m a big believer in Cam Newton’s bounceback this season, but we have to be patient. Andrew Luck had an MVP caliber season last year, but even he started the season off slow while his shoulder healed. With the addition of safety Eric Weedle, the Rams project to be one of the best secondaries in the NFL. It’s a tall task that even “Superman” can’t conquer.
RB: Damien Williams, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
After looking similar to a prime breakout candidate for months, Damien Williams quickly turned into one of the most irritating conundrums in fantasy football. The addition of LeSean McCoy and the emergence of 6th round pick Darwin Thompson are putting a damper on Williams’ appeal. Against a Jaguars defense that’s stout against the run, no one from this backfield should be started until we see the touch distribution on Sunday.
WR: T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts vs. LA Chargers
Andrew Luck is out of the picture, but Jacoby Brissett should be enough to keep Hilton’s value afloat. That being said, Hilton looks like a fade in Week 1 when he goes up against shutdown corner Casey Hayward and this elite Chargers secondary. “The Ghost” may truly disappear in Los Angeles.
TE: Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
Jimmy Graham has the chance to rehab his value under new head coach Matt LaFleur. However, that likely won’t happen Week 1. Playing through an injury against the best defense in the league, things are going to be tough for the former All-Pro tight end. Graham will likely see a ton of second-year LB Roquan Smith, who is sure to keep him under wraps.