The 2016 fantasy football season is finally here.
Each Friday during the NFL season I'll release some of my favorite and not so favorite fantasy football and Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) plays of the week.
Let's get cracking on the Week 1 thoughts before Mark Sanchez gets cut by another team.
— The Stud - Todd Gurley, Rams, RB.
This category isn't about stating the obvious seeing as Gurley was a top-5 pick in most drafts, but noting that this is a week where the fantasy franchise player will live up to the hype and then something.
Consider the opener a tone-setter for the Rams. With Case Keenum at quarterback, that means smashmouth running combined with the Aaron Donald-led defense.
Gurley faces a 49ers defense that allowed the second-most points to fantasy backs last season.
— The Sleeper - DeSean Jackson, Redskins, WR.
I've been leading the DeSean Jackson fantasy football bandwagon for weeks so might as well get to high-stepping from the start.
Lost in the chatter about Kirk Cousins saying this week of Jackson, "When he wants to be elite, he's elite" is that the playmaker is looking like a top shelf threat right now. One difference this year is that the deep threat looks like a more versatile target this campaign based on the outs and sideline routes he's running. The Steelers secondary will include two rookies and isn't a shutdown unit. Jackson will at least match his career-high with nine touchdowns this season. At least one comes Monday night.
— The Super Sleeper - Clive Walford, Raiders, TE.
Put me down for buying into Oakland's offense exploding this season with quarterback Derek Carr leading the attack, Latavius Murray in the backfield and Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree at receiver.
Those four will remain the headliners, but look for key support from a second-year tight end the Raiders selected in round three last season. That support could come in the opener as Walford faces a Saints defense that allowed the most points to fantasy tight ends last season.
— The Sit - Mike Evans, Buccaneers, WR.
Johnny Manziel's former go-to target at Texas A&M is now the main man for Jameis Winston. Most weeks, that's a tasty combination. On the surface, this might not be one of those weeks.
Evans can score from anywhere on the field, but few do against Falcons CB Desmond Trufant. Collectively, Atlanta allowed the fewest points to fantasy receivers last season. Don't sit Evans just because of the matchup, but if you have viable options on the bench, this looks like a good spot to give him the week off.
— The DFS Trifecta - I'm participating weekly in FanDuel's Daily Fantasy Accuracy Cup (DFAC) along with other fantasy football thinkers.
Here are three plays I like and plan on using for Week 1.
- Julio Jones, WR, $9000 — At a base level, fantasy football is about opportunities. The more one receives, the better chance they produce. Jones received 30 targets in two games against the Bucs last season, turning those opportunities into 20 receptions for 255 yards one touchdown. Tampa has a new corner duo in veteran Brent Grimes and first round pick Vernon Hargreaves. That won't alter Atlanta's plans.
- Spencer Ware, RB, $5400 — Get an RB1 for RB2 pricing as Ware is expected to take over with Jamaal Charles out. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry last season and opens this season against a Chargers defense that gave up 19.9 points (28th) per game last season. Ware will be a popular DFS pick, which makes his value less valuable, but there's a reason.
- Titans, DST, $4100 — Saving money for other bigger point producing options by going light on defense is good strategy. When that defense is at home, even better. When that cost-effective team is home and playing the backup, even one who has been around the block like the Vikings' Shaun Hill, get excited.