Expect Matt Forte to continue his trend of a big Week 1 performance, this time at the expense of the Buffalo Bills defense.
The NFL season is finally here!
The first week for fantasy footballers brings those same feelings of a seven year old waking up on Christmas morning. We’re all excited to play with our new toys. Just don’t let the shiny new toys distract you from sound judgment. There’s a reason the “start your studs” mantra echoes from every fantasy football expert, particularly for Week 1.
It’s true for Fantasy Throwdown as well, but I don’t think you need me telling you to draft Peyton Manning or Demaryius Thomas in Week 1. Your studs will most likely do well, but I’m going to give you some information to help you spot some other Week 1 performances that may help you win your games this weekend. There are three profiles from recent history that may help you spot a gem or feel better about picking the stud.
Slow Starting Defenses
There are some defenses that have been very generous to teams in Week 1 in recent years. For instance, here is a graph of four quarterbacks that have faced the Green Bay Packers in the past four seasons.
Even the cautious side arm of Alex Smith had a successful opening day against the Packers defense. It was Colin Kaepernick’s best game of the entire year, and guess who gets to face them first this year – Russell Wilson.
Odds are that history will repeat itself, on Thursday Night, in a rematch of the Fail Mary. For those looking forward to Sunday games, don’t fret. Green Bay is not the only team with interesting trends on opening day. Here are three position profiles that are trending in the past two seasons.
I’ll start with running backs. Two Top 5 running backs have chopped up the Jacksonville Jaguars in the past two years, and this year, their first week they face LeSean McCoy. I’d say that’s a safe bet for a three-peat.
Buffalo Bills are squaring off against the Chicago Bears, and have given up big weeks to number two receivers the past two years. That’s enough to make me take Alshon Jeffrey over Brandon Marshall to see if the trend continues.
Ryan Fitzpatrick does not fit the profile of Drew Brees or even Michael Vick, but there’s a good chance he has an above average start versus the Washington Redskins this week.
Hot Start Players
Just like certain defenses start slow, there are certain players that have been trending towards hot starts.
I’ll start with quarterback first. For the past three consecutive years, there are only four quarterbacks who, when active and healthy, have averaged 20 fantasy points per opening day and Top 10 performances. The first three are Brees, Peyton Manning (injured one year) and Aaron Rodgers.
The fourth guy is Robert Griffin III. According to DraftBuddy.com (4 points per TD scoring), Griffin has finished 2nd and 10th in Week 1 each of the past two seasons, with a low of 24.9 points. He now pilots Jay Gruden’s high flying attack, plus has a fully healthy Pierre Garçon, Jordan Reed, and a new weapon in Desean Jackson at his disposal. Despite the porous preseason, Griffin could easily keep his trend going.
At running back, outside of Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte is the most consistent opening day starter in the past three years. He has breached 15 standard fantasy points for three consecutive years. He’s an underrated stud who should be the best running back in the Bears-Bills matchup.
Finally, at wide receiver, if you get stuck with the Broncos-Colts game, don’t fret if you lose out on consistent opening day freak Demaryius Thomas. The third most consistent opening day wide receiver in the past three years is playing for Indianapolis. His name is Reggie Wayne. Every year, people suggest Wayne is done, and every year he produces near 100 receiving yards and 1 TD in Week 1. In fact, his lowest yardage output in the past three is 96 yards, and one year he didn’t score (but did get 136 yards).
Dismal Defenses Ready to Get Lit Up
This happened at a profound level last season when Baltimore Ravens faced Denver. They lost several key players in the offseason, including future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. They were strong up front with Elvis Dumervil and Haloti Ngata, but struggled at linebacker and secondary. Pair that with the greatest offense the NFL has ever seen, and you get Peyton Manning with seven touchdowns (and almost every other Broncos player with a career day).
I’ll give you one defense this year that is struggling with almost identical issues to start the season, and they are located in Texas – the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas is reeling on defense right now. They lost DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher this offseason, and they lost Sean Lee (again) and Orlando Scandrick to injury. Pair this with an unheralded, unproven secondary, and you have another recipe for disaster.
Luckily, they’re not playing against Manning, but they are playing a very good offense in San Francisco. I’d say this is a huge advantage in Fantasy Throwdown, as most Cowboys, based on August Average Draft Position, will be picked before 49ers. But I could easily see Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis outscoring Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray and Jason Witten this week. As sloppy as the 49ers have looked, coupled with the losses of Navarro Bowman and Aldon Smith, this game could produce a lot of fantasy superstars.
Hope you have a good start to the fantasy season, and maybe one of these profiles will help you spot other gems in Week 1.