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Fantasy Football Preview: Week 1

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Evan Birchfield is here to prepare you for your fantasy matchups!

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Greetings, Falcoholics! The preseason is over, your fantasy leagues have drafted, and Week 1 of the 2019 regular season is upon us. This weekly feature will highlight some fantasy players who should have a big game this week, and at the end I’ll answer some of your mailbag questions. As always, you can ask me fantasy questions via TheFalcoholicEvan@yahoo.com or on Twitter @EvanBirchfield.

So, without further ado, let’s get started.

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If you drafted early, hopefully you were able to pick up Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant. After dealing with a hamstring injury in 2018, Bryant finished off the season as a top-10 kicker. The two previous seasons, Bryant finished in the top 5 at his position, and was the best fantasy kicker in 2016. If the Falcons do one thing well, it’s stalling in field goal range, and so Matt Bryant should be rostered in all fantasy leagues.

A non-Falcons player I love this week is Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay. Sure, the Lions aren’t exactly exciting but Golladay has been making a name for himself lately. After having limited action in 2017, Golladay had an impressive 2018 season where he finished as the 21st highest scoring fantasy wide receiver. The Cardinals will be without cornerback’s Patrick Peterson, who is suspended, and former Falcon Robert Alford, who is on injured reserve.

If you have players with doubts surrounding them, such as running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley don’t panic. Every season, these question marks pop up and owners tend to overreact and bench players the first week. My advice is to shy away from this overreaction.

The Dallas Cowboys aren’t going to give Zeke a six-year, $90 million extension if they don’t intend to use him, and they will. Also, the New York Giants allowed the 8th most fantasy points to opposing running backs in 2018. Todd Gurley had an incredible 2018 season, but it finished poorly as it’s been reported that he has arthritis in his knee. Even if he only gets 15 carries, it’s still Todd Gurley – you’re starting him until the wheels fall off. Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay told ESPN recently that Gurley would not be on a snap count.

Finally, there’s former Oakland Raiders’ wide receiver Antonio Brown. Between his ugly departure with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and now the Oakland Raiders, Brown owners (I imagine) are very upset right now. My advice is don’t do anything crazy, like release him, wait and see what happens. Brown is free to sign with anyone and if he signs with a team like the New England Patriots, his release from the Raiders only benefited you. Remain calm, but plan accordingly for the next few weeks.

Mailbag

I think Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown should have an excellent 2019 season. Brown has tremendous downfield speed and should turn quarterback Josh Allen’s deep passes into touchdowns. With that being said, start Calvin Ridley. Ridley will get more targets and has a much higher floor than Brown. It wouldn’t shock me if Brown has a solid game and catches a long touchdown. But Ridley, even against a stingy Minnesota Vikings defense, should have a better overall day.

Great question by my best friend who is trying to troll me. If you had any player(s) in the opening-night game on Thursday, you’re likely worried right now. Well don’t be. Week 1 is all about learning who you should be starting and getting a vibe for who you shouldn’t be.

Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky had an abysmal game, getting his fantasy owners around 10 points. It’s too early to tell if he’s awful or the Green Bay Packers defense is just that good – but I’m going with that he’s awful. If he’s your starting quarterback, I’d start looking around the waiver wire for next week. Packers wide receiver Davante Adams also likely let down his fantasy owners, as he finished with just 7.6 points. I wouldn’t panic however, it was the first game against a touch opponent who barely allowed Aaron Rodgers to throw the ball. Never sell low, and that’s what panicking and trading him before week 2 would be doing.

Good question. Unless he doesn’t play, you’re starting Julio Jones. I’d also start Antonio Brown (see above). The third spot is where it gets tricky. As high as I am on Ridley, I’m not generally a fan of doubling up on same-team wide receivers. With that being said, the other three options are unproven. We know what Ridley’s role is in the Falcons offense. I think D.K. Metcalf, James Washington and Mecole Hardman could have great fantasy seasons, but for week 1 I tend to go with a sure thing.


Big Boy Bruski asks via email: “Being my first time doing Fantasy league. Should I start Ridley vs Vikings or S. Shepherd vs Dallas? I’m leaning towards Ridley because Jones will probably be doubled team the whole game. Thoughts?”

This is a very tough one, but I’d lean Sterling Shepard here. Odell Beckham Jr. being in Cleveland, Shepard is all of a sudden the New York Giants’ best wide receiver. Even with Julio possibly being double-teamed, the Minnesota Vikings gave up the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers last season. You should be fine with both options, but I’d lean Shepard here just because he has less competition for targets.

Even though the Vikings are projected to have one of the better defensive groups in 2019, I’d still roll with Matty Ice here. Although I do like Phillip Rivers, Matt Ryan finished as the 2nd best fantasy quarterback in two of the last three seasons. Unless we witness a total meltdown on Sunday, Ryan should continue to be started over Rivers going forward.

All three of the players mentioned in the question should have decent days this week. If I had to start one (assuming it’s PPR) I’m going with Alshon Jeffery. Westbrook may overall have the better season, but in Week 1 I like to not take as many risks as we don’t actually know how certain players will be used. He’s more touchdown-dependent, but with a healthy Carson Wentz, I’d feel good about Jeffery’s chances of scoring.

Well that does it folks. I wish everyone who took the time to read this the best of luck in their week 1 fantasy matchups. As mentioned above, if you have any fantasy questions, be sure to email me at TheFalcoholicEvan@yahoo.com or find me on Twitter at @EvanBirchfield. Remember, when it comes to fantasy football – always go with your gut!