Finally, week one of the NFL season is upon us! Football looks like it will start off without a hitch as the NFL has recorded extremely promising COVID-19 testing results.
With that being said, it is now time to focus on winning week one fantasy football matchups. These are some players to lock into lineups and some to consider leaving off starting rosters for the opening week of the NFL season.
QB- Derek Carr (vs. CAR): Carr has always been the definition of a safe spot starter in the right matchup. He finished last season ranked as the QB16 and had six different weeks with over 19 points. All of those matchups were against bottom half defenses, so he has proven to consistently thrive against inferior competition. In the opener, Carr draws the Carolina Panthers, a team that completely retooled their defense in the offseason and looks to be one of the worst in the NFL. The Raiders added receiving weapons in Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards, so expect Carr to have more options to throw to under center. Carr can be drafted super late and started in week one, not a bad strategy for owners who are looking to start the season off on the right foot.
RB-Austin Ekeler (vs. CIN): Ekeler was an absolute monster last season before Melvin Gordon returned, but experts seem to be writing him off this season although Gordon was traded and Ekeler has the potential to be a RB1 throughout the year. The reason he is ranked lower in drafts is because Philip Rivers, Captain Checkdown himself, is no longer the starting quarterback for Los Angeles. Tyrod Taylor is the heir apparent, at least until Justin Herbert inevitably takes over later in the season. Taylor is a mobile QB and will not check the ball down as much, which leads to some concern about Ekeler’s role. Great players like Ekeler tend to get the ball no matter what, so the fears should not come to fruition. He is a mid-tier RB1 in week one and a player that owners should feel comfortable starting.
WR-DeSean Jackson (vs. WAS): Jackson on draft day is a great late-round pick. In his one and only game with Philly last year before his injury, D-Jax compiled 154 yards and two touchdowns against Washington. With injuries to Alshon Jeffrey, Jalen Reagor, and Dallas Goedert, Jackson may be the most dynamic player left on the Eagle offense other than Miles Sanders. In a matchup against the Washington Football Team, Jackson becomes a boom or bust flex option for week one. He will dominate and finish inside the top ten and be a potential week winner for fantasy teams.
TE- Blake Jarwin (vs. LAR): Jarwin is one of the most fun sleeper picks at the TE position this season. With the departure of Jason Witten and Randall Cobb leaving plenty of targets for the taking, Jarwin will most certainly receive a chunk of them. He takes on a mediocre defense in the Los Angeles Rams, who have dominant pass rusher Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey, so it might be tough for the running game and receivers. This leaves plenty of opportunities for Jarwin to catch a few passes. He can be a possible top five TE for week one if he can reach the endzone.
QB-Daniel Jones (vs. PIT): Jones is one of the favorite late-round quarterbacks throughout the fantasy community. He showed that he has tremendous upside when in the right matchup, scoring over 25 points in four games throughout 2019 as a rookie. The problem with starting him in week one is that the Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the toughest defenses in the league against the quarterback position. For a second year QB looking to improve on an up and down season, this is not the ideal matchup. Jones is a low-end QB2 with limited upside, but feel free to draft him for later in the season.
RB-Cam Akers (vs. DAL): The highly talented Akers finds his way onto this list for a couple reasons. Sean McVay has been extremely vague on announcing who is going to get the lion’s share of carries for week one. The most probable outcome would be a three-way timeshare between Akers, Darrell Henderson, and Malcolm Brown. Against a decent Cowboys front, ten carries for Akers most likely will not be enough to allow for any high-ceiling fantasy finish. Not to mention that the Rams will most likely have to throw the ball a ton to keep pace with the Cowboys high-flying attack. Akers is an extremely risky flex with ten carries and a few targets in his forecast.
WR-DeVante Parker (vs. NE): Parker was a fantasy sensation off the waiver wire for a ton of championship teams last season. His late season heroics truly were special to watch after four years of being a draft bust. Despite the success, Parker draws a tough first game against the Patriots and Stephon Gilmore. He did light up Gilmore last season for one of his best games of the season, so it is possible he repeats. The problem is that Preston Williams is returning for week one from his ACL injury from last season. Parker was hardly rosterable while Williams was around, a situation that is possible yet again. Couple that with his tough adversary on the opposing side, and Parker becomes a boom or bust flex guy.
TE-Rob Gronkowski (vs. NO): Gronk is a polarizing player for this upcoming fantasy season. Some people seem to think this is still the Gronk of old. The key forgotten detail is that he is coming off of a year of being out of the league due to retirement and had an injury-riddled season in 2018 as well. Paired with former teammate Tom Brady, there are some potential chemistry benefits for Gronk. Still, if he does not find the end zone against a tough defense in the Saints, he will likely be outside the top twelve for TEs.