Week 1 of the NFL season is finally, finally here. Though some still have a fantasy football draft or two remaining (hand raised), most can put away all their preseason material, stop with the mock drafts and start focusing on setting lineups. In other words, the next phase of over-thinking begins.
Don't fret. I'll talk rankings, starts/sits and pickups throughout the year. Typically, my first weekly article for CSNmidatlantic.com will focus on the "Waiver Wire." Seeing as just about everybody team should be good with their lineups except for the unfortunate souls who somehow drafted Jordy Nelson and Kelvin Benjamin, this week's offering will include a sneaky start and potential bust along with a Waiver Wire option for each position...
Sneaky start - Ha, trick category. Owners should start the QB they drafted first for Week 1 in virtually all cases. Potential exceptions would be Eli Manning (at Dallas) or Matthew Stafford (at San Diego) if you backup is Sam Bradford (at Atlanta). Not an exception: Ryan Tannehill (That means start him).
Bust alert - Speaking of Matthew Stafford, here are his home/road splits from 2014:
Home: Touchdown passes (13), interceptions (6), yards per game (282), completion percentage (67.25)
Road: TDP (9), INT (6), yards per game (250), completion percentage (54.1)
Even if Stafford didn't struggle on the road, the Chargers ranked fourth against the pass last season.
Waiver Wire - Derek Carr doesn't receive the hype or attention like many of the NFL's young passers. Good. Now you can swoop in and grab him as an upside QB2. Those with Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan and such should shoot for the moon with your backup rather than hold no-trade-value types like Andy Dalton or perhaps Joe Flacco. Facing Cincinnati isn't ideal even at home, but the Carr-Amari Cooper connection starts taking off this week.
Sneaky start - Latavius Murray landed on plenty of sleeper lists this summer, but that doesn't mean owners selected the Raiders runner as a top-two RB. He opens the season against a Bengals defense that allowed nearly 22 fantasy points to running backs last season and won't have injured linebacker Vontaze Burfict around.
Bust alert - Plan on starting Lamar Miller against the Redskins, but the improvements along Washington's defensive line are sincere. The addition of nose tackle Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton is a game-changer. Better run support from the safeties, particularly Duke Ihenacho, helps as well. The Redskins have the goods to finish the season among the top 10 defenses against the run.
Waiver Wire - Perhaps you didn't select a lottery ticket RB in the late rounds or perhaps you did but David Cobb and Jay Ajayi are no longer worth keeping in redraft leagues. If so or you simply have some other dead weight, take a flyer on Christine Michael. Seattle bailed on the physical freak. Keep that in mind, but now Dallas takes a shot. Considering the uncertainty with projected starter Joseph Randle and the injury fear with Darren McFadden, Michael could end up as the Cowboys starter sooner than later.
Sneaky start - Arizona's John Brown turned into a big play threat during his rookie season. Expect opportunities against a New Orleans defense that allowed the eighth most point to fantasy wide receivers last season. Expect more targets than usual if Michael Floyd (dislocated fingers) cannot go in the opener.
Bust alert - Redskins fans probably like the call of DeAndre Hopkins except for those that drafted Houston's top option. While certainly worthy of his borderline WR1 status for the season, Hopkins' first matchup isn't pretty. Kansas City ranked second behind Seattle in passing yards allowed last season. This game screams low scoring; The 40.5 over/under is the lowest on the board in games not involving Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh McCown. Brian Hoyer fits perfectly with that journeyman crew and he's the man throwing Hopkins's way.
Waiver wire - This long distance dedication goes out for an emerging long ball threat, Seattle's Tyler Lockett. Don't dump proven players for the speedster, but Lockett could be the next unknown catching deep bombs from Russell Wilson. Actually, he did just that in the final preseason game. Opening for playing time exists. Should Lockett start strong against the Rams, the previous statement won't be true anymore.
Sneaky start - Hold for the Waiver Wire selection.
Bust alert - Coby Fleener/Dwayne Allen. Maybe one of them emerges as the Colts' main TE, but that's not super obvious now. Even if you have your fave, Indianapolis faces a Buffalo defense that allowed the fewest points to fantasy tight ends last season.
Waiver wire - Green Bay's Richard Rodgers probably won't end up with tons of catches, but six or more touchdowns playing with Aaron Rodgers is certainly possible. Considering the team scenario - no Jordy Nelson - and general blah with tight ends overall outside the top 7-8, taking a true flyer on this Rodgers wouldn't be that bad. Could consider starting Richard Rodgers against a Chicago that allowed the most fantasy points to tight end's last season.