With week one of the fantasy season in the books, it is time to put some of the preseason narratives to bed. But it is also just the right time to start overreacting to some of the narratives we saw during the first week of NFL action, and this is just the column for that. Here are the players you should start and the guys that you should bench this week.
Editor’s note: Eddie Velazquez is a football fan with very little to do other than consistently check the waiver wire. He is currently very happy that he is undefeated so far this season. He is also playing for sums of money he has only seen once in his life. Wish him luck on twitter @ezvelazquez…and I guess also send him your fantasy questions there.
Quarterback start of the week: Alex Smith, Washington Redskins (vs Indianapolis Colts)
The Alex Smith doubters multiplied in the offseason. However, Smith is in place with a highly productive offensive system under coach Jay Gruden. The offensive-minded coach might not ask him to do a lot to be a fantasy viable quarterback week in and week out, especially if his top weapons in running back Chris Thompson and tight end Jordan Reed can stay healthy for the remainder of the season.
The other factor to consider here is the fact that the Colts defense allowed 6.6 yards-per-play to the Bengals offense during week one (per NFL.com).
Quarterback sit of the week: Sam Bradford, Arizona Cardinals (at Los Angeles Rams)
It may seem hard to believe in hindsight, but Bradford had relevant fantasy value coming into the season.
However, the Arizona offense performed so poorly that the former Sooner’s days as a starter are nearing the end with rookie Josh Rosen creeping up ever-closer in the rearview mirror.
With only 2.8 fantasy points so far, playing behind a below-average offensive line—ranked 27th coming into the season by Pro Football Focus (PFF)— and facing a Rams defense that scored 15 fantasy points during week one.
Running back start of the week: Jay Ajayi, Philadelphia Eagles (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
With the absence of starting quarterback Carson Wentz for the second week now, the Eagles should look to their leading fantasy scorer in Ajayi to continue carrying the offense. Following the season opener, head coach Doug Pederson called Ajayi a “workhorse.” While he did not deny the presence of ball carriers Corey Clement and Darren Sproles, he did say we would see more of Ajayi going forward.
Last week, “Jay Train” averaged 4.1 yards-per-carry on 15 carries and found the end zone twice. I anticipate the Eagles defense to keep the game within reach and a heavy workload for Ajayi to aid a weak passing game.
Running back sit of the week: Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Raiders (at Denver Broncos)
One of the big talking points in the national media—for what feels like an eternity now—has been how much Marshawn Lynch looked like a Pokemon Trading Card Game player in the high school photo shown by ESPN on Monday night. But the conversation should be focusing on his playing time outlook for week two.
While “Beast Mode” displayed some juice during the season opener against the Rams, he—as much as the Raider offense did—faded down the stretch. Now it appears as if Lynch could be limited in game action due to a shoulder injury. He was listed as a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice and the Raiders have enough running back depth to limit Lynch’s touches this week.
Even if Lynch has a workhorse-type load, the Broncos defense looks as loaded as ever with defensive lineman Derek Wolfe and linebacker Brandon Marshall making plays against the run. If the playing time is there Oakland center Rodney Hudson v Broncos nose tackle Domata Peko is the matchup to watch for due to Lynch’s productivity being best through the middle. According to Rotowire, he has averaged 5.2 yards-per-carry when running behind Hudson.
Wide receiver start of the week: Golden Tate, Detroit Lions (at San Francisco 49ers)
Despite getting eviscerated during the home opener, the Lions did flash a bright spot in wideout Golden Tate. Taking over the slot position, Tate looked as explosive as ever while also seeing an expanded target share. The Notre Dame alumn saw 15 targets go his way and caught seven for 79 yards and a touchdown. Oddly enough, the Niners allowed seven catches and a touchdown when defending the slot against Minnesota in week one.
Wide receiver sit of the week: Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers (vs Minnesota Vikings)
Unless he is playing quarterback, I want not part of the Randall Cobb experience. It is safe to say that he can be a situational playmaker and can be a force in the slot if unaccounted for, but he is also not one of the primary targets in that offense anymore. The solidifying of Davante Adams as the number one wideout, the addition of Jimmy Graham in the offseason and the emergence of Geronimo Allison as a reliable pass catcher have all bit into Cobbs relevancy in this offense.
History isn’t on his side either as he has always been silent when facing the Vikings. According to NFL.com Cobb has never toppled 62 yards in 10 career contests.
Pick up of the week: wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, New York Jets
I am still torn trying to decide whether to buy into the Jets this year or not. However, this is just a smart fantasy pick up and not just a homer’s delusion.
During Enunwa’s breakout season as part of an overall forgettable 2016 for the Jets, he still had 14 plays of over 20 yards (per NFL.com).
Not only is that big-play ability there, but the target share is also heavily favored for the former Nebraska product. During the Jets’ systematic dismantling of the Lions, Enunwa saw 10 targets go his way, while no other wide receiver on the team saw more than three.
Enunwa could be a big part of a decent offense this year and according to CBS Sports, he is only owned in 32 percent of leagues across the board.
Other notable receiver adds: Chris Godwin (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Kenny Golladay (Detroit Lions), Phillip Dorsett (New England Patriots).
Tight end start of the week: George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers (vs Detroit Lions)
While the Lions had success targeting their slot receiver, they were also gashed on defense on plays targeting the slot, allowing 71 yards and a touchdown. Kittle ran 28 of his routes from the slot against Minnesota, caught five of his nine targets and also flashed big-play ability before dropping a long touchdown pass.
Tight end is one of the hardest positions to be safe at in fantasy football, but Kittle is in a nice situation with a steady workload and a good quarterback.
Tight end sit of the week: O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs Philadelphia)
The target share in Tampa is going to be a week to week proposition, with the only steady starter being wideout Mike Evans. The Bucs offense is loaded with offensive talent and that can complicate things for fantasy in terms of targets.
Add to that the fact that the quarterback situation is still unstable and that they play a top three defense in the NFL this week and that should be enough for you not to start Howard this week.
Defense and special teams starts of the week: Los Angeles Chargers (at Buffalo Bills), Los Angeles Rams (vs Arizona Cardinals), Denver Broncos (vs Oakland Raiders).
Defense and special team busts of the week: Kansas City Chiefs (at Pittsburgh Steelers), Atlanta Falcons (vs Carolina Panthers), Cleveland Browns (at New Orleans Saints).
Kicker starts of the week: Cody Parkey, Chicago Bears (vs Seattle Seahawks), Brandon McManus, Denver Broncos (vs Oakland Raiders), Will Lutz, New Orleans Saints (vs Cleveland Browns)
Kicker busts of the week: Aldrick Rosas, New York Giants (vs Dallas Cowboys), Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers (vs Minnesota Vikings), Sebastian Janikowski, Seattle Seahawks (at Chicago Bears).