With the season fast approaching, that means fantasy football is kicking off as well. We already saw some impressive performances on Thursday (namely, Kareem Hunt going off for almost 50 points in PPR), and the rest of the weekend should be no different. Let’s take a look at some of the players you should consider starting or sitting for both the Bears and Falcons on Sunday.
WR Julio Jones
Look, this should be obvious. But, I’m highlighting Julio this week because he might be the highest scoring WR in fantasy in Week 1. The Bears have serious issues in the secondary, and Jones is supposedly fully healthy for the first time since early in the 2016 season. If CB Prince Amukamara can’t suit up (and even if he does, he’s barely practiced this week), Jones should have a field day against an over-matched unit.
QB Matt Ryan
In the same vein as Julio, the Falcons passing game will be the key to victory on Sunday. Ryan should have plenty of success against the Bears’ secondary, assuming the offensive line can keep him reasonably clean. This is an important test for Ryan and the Falcons, but I think they’ll look more like they did in Weeks 1 and 2 of the preseason than they did in Week 3. Start Ryan with confidence against Chicago.
WR Taylor Gabriel
Look, Gabriel isn’t a high-level play this week. However, if you’re in trouble at the WR position (maybe you had Mike Evans), you could do a lot worse than Gabriel. He’s being discounted in many leagues, but Gabriel is a boom-bust FLEX play with really big upside. Play him with the knowledge that he could get you 20, or 5. I expect that he’ll be a big part of the offense this season going forward, too.
RB Jordan Howard
Howard is likely a lock to be an RB1 this season, and I think he’ll have a decent performance (10-15 pts) against the Falcons on Sunday. This is a high-variance play, because I could see a scenario where the Falcons jump out to a big lead and Howard is marginalized, or a scenario where the game stays relatively close and he gets a lot of work. He’s worth starting, just don’t expect a monster game from the second-year RB.
RB Tevin Coleman
This is one of those situations where I’m not sure who is likely to get the bulk of the workload. The Bears actually have LBs that are capable of matching-up with Coleman, so he may not break loose for any crazy long plays in the passing game. Until we see a full game’s worth of action from Atlanta’s backfield to give us some clarity, Coleman will be a risky FLEX play.
WR Mohamed Sanu
Sanu is never going to get you zero points, but he’s not particularly inspiring as a fantasy option either. If you’re considering starting him, it means you’re in really bad shape. I think Sanu will be getting a lot of work in the slot this season, and the Bears most talented CB might be their slot guy, Cre’Von LeBlanc. Don’t expect a big game from him on Sunday.
WR Kevin White
If you were considering playing White, I’d advise against it. He didn’t look good in the preseason, and the Falcons have a pretty talented secondary to match-up with him. Plus, he’s got Mike Glennon throwing him the ball...I just don’t think that’s a recipe for success. White is more of a long-term, wait-and-see guy than someone you want to start Week 1.
WR Kendall Wright
Again, you might be considering playing Wright because “someone has the catch the ball, right?”. Wrong. The Falcons have the pieces on defense to keep these receivers from doing much of anything. There are likely more intriguing (and higher upside) guys out there on your waiver wire than these options. Until the Bears start Trubisky, I’d avoid this passing game if at all possible.
Kevin’s Spicy Play of the Week
TE Austin Hooper
From everything we’ve seen this preseason, it appears that Austin Hooper is locked and loaded to be a capable TE in 2017. Myself and others suggested that you pick up Hooper late in your drafts and stash him in case he breaks out, as he certainly has TE1 upside. Well, Week 1 is where you decide if you want to “wait-and-see” or jump right in. I think Hooper has a chance to catch a TD every single week, and it’s clear that Ryan trusts him. If you don’t have another TE you feel confident in starting right now, give Hooper a try against the Bears.
Those are my recommendations for Week 1. Please keep in mind that I am not omnipotent, only knowledgeable. If you have a strong feeling about a player that doesn’t line up with what I’ve said, follow your gut. It’s ultimately up to you to set your lineup.
If you have any fantasy questions, lineup questions, Falcons questions, whatever—you can tweet them to me @FalcoholicKevin. I’d be happy to help.