As classes begin in earnest on Georgetown’s campus and students begin to worry about homework, recruitment sessions and applying to clubs, there is a silver lining to the busyness of autumn. Across the city in Landover, Md., and in stadiums around the country, men in pads are preparing for the greatest of all sports. The NFL season kicked off last night and, of course, that means the fantasy football season is right around the corner. If you’re reading this, I assume you have drafted your squad and are in the process of nervously toying with your starting roster in preparation for Week 1. If you have yet to draft, may I refer you to my past articles for advice and also a better league because, well, you and your friends are a little behind the time.
Week 1 can either give you a false sense of validation that your team is meant to win your league (trust me, it’s only a week, things will happen that will be quite unexpected) or propel you into a panic, causing you to send off a flurry of trade offers and try to redecorate your roster as soon as possible. Before we dive into the predictions that will help you secure a Week 1 victory, keep in mind that it truly is only a week. A regular season in fantasy football usually lasts 13 weeks with the following three reserved for the playoffs. To comfortably find yourself in the playoffs you will need at least seven to eight wins, but that also means you will lose from time to time. While a Week 1 win is great for bragging rights, it does not automatically lay the foundation for championship glory. That will take a season’s worth of shrewd moves and successful lineup decisions.
As you tinker with your lineup in these final days, here are some individuals that I expect will put up monstrous numbers, and some that I expect will suffer. Many of these predictions are based off of the defenses teams are going up against, as a cardinal rule of fantasy football is to pay attention to matchups. While you should never sit your studs like Jamaal Charles or Demaryius Thomas, regardless of their matchups, knowing which defenses are good or bad can help you make crucial start/sit decisions further down your lineup.
Players who deserve extra starting consideration this week due to their matchups with some of last year’s most porous run defenses include Chris Ivory of the New York Jets (facing the worst-ranked run defense in Cleveland) and Doug Martin of the Buccaneers (facing the second-worst run defense in Tennessee). I would consider rolling with either of those players over someone like Melvin Gordon of the Chargers who is facing the stingy Detroit Lions run defense and could disappoint in his first NFL regular season game.
Examining aerial attacks, the Falcons and the Eagles gave up the most and second-most passing yards per game, respectively, last year. These two teams clash in a Monday night showcase that I guarantee will feature plenty of offense. If you are the owner of Sam Bradford, Nelson Agholor or Zach Ertz of the Eagles, or Matt Ryan or Tevin Coleman on the Falcons, strongly consider slipping them into your starting roster this week. It goes without saying that DeMarco Murray, Jordan Matthews and Julio Jones should already be locked into your lineup.
The Rams are a team to avoid this week. Going up against the vaunted Seattle Seahawks defense that gave up the third fewest yards on the ground last year and fewest in the air, the Rams are in for a long first week. With Todd Gurley already confirmed to be out and Tre Mason bound to be a game-time decision, the running game is a mess, and I guarantee you can find better options than Nick Foles at quarterback or Brian Quick at receiver.
A footnote should be made that defenses can become better or worse in the offseason, so take last year’s numbers with a grain of salt. Key additions like defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh joining the Miami Dolphins or subtractions like Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner leaving the New England Patriots secondary will undoubtedly affect their teams and the fantasy aspirations of individuals on rival offenses.
Wishing you all the best come this weekend! Until next time, fantasy lovers, play on.
Joe Lanzilla is a senior in the School of Foreign Service. Fantasy Football Corner appears every other Friday.
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