It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And y’all know we aren’t talking about a fat bearded man breaking into your house to deliver presents. No, no, no… football is back baby! The brutal, dragged-out wait is finally over. And what a game to kick off the season! We have what should be a barn burner shootout between two Super Bowl contenders, the Bills & Rams. That’s followed by a delicious looking matchup on Sunday when our beloved Ravens take on the Jets, in New York, on 9/11. As if having a real Ravens game wasn’t enough to give you goosebumps, add Super Bowl MVP & elite QB Joe Flacco to the mix as well.
Let’s get into what really matters. Fantasy football! Week 1 of the season is always the most difficult but exciting week of the season, as we see teams with new players, coaches, schemes, etc. I do not look at this as an obstacle, but more as an advantage. Most fantasy players will either start the players that are projected the most points (which is worth about as much as monopoly money at the liquor store) or players on their favorite teams. Luckily as Ravens fans, we can play our guys this week without it feeling gross. So, for the first time this season, let’s look at some players you want to start or sit this week!
Ravens-Jets Fantasy Outlook
As the new WR1 on the Ravens, I think we are about to witness a coming out party right out of the gate. It is no surprise that all around, the Jets are pretty trash. I expect Devin Duvernay to get most of the coverage by Sauce Gardner and Bateman to see more of D.J. Reed. Bateman has the skillset and now the improved chemistry with Lamar Jackson. While the Ravens likely will not need to pass too often this week, there is incentive to pass the ball. Lamar is in a contract year playing with a very young, inexperienced, and unproven WR corps. Week 1 against the Jets could not be any better of a matchup to boost confidence in their receivers and get a taste of what this receivers room is capable of. Mark Andrews is an obvious weekly start but I think Bateman is being overlooked and undervalued in fantasy this week and this season in general. Fire him up with confidence!
With very minimal, and quite frankly, disgusting options this week on the Jets for fantasy, I am most confident in Corey Davis. This is simply because he is the best red zone threat they have and with Flacco under center, I could see the Jets trying to make a few chunk plays downfield to Davis, who is probably the best 50/50 ball receiver they have as well. Elijah Moore will likely lead the Jets in targets but they will mostly be short & intermediate targets. I expect it to look similar to the 5-yard slants and dump-offs that became all too common while Flacco’s time as a Raven was coming to an end.
So if I need to start a Jet, I am rolling with Davis’s big play ability and TD opportunity.
It is tough to come to terms with, but we need to sit Dobbins on the bench this week. While Dobbins in my eyes (and many others) is the clear star RB for the Ravens for the foreseeable future, the fact of the matter is he is just not ready. It was made obvious during training camp that the Ravens are going to be very cautious with Dobbins and ease him back. While the matchup and game script is nice, I do not see Dobbins getting more than 13 touches this week. It will be a healthy mix of Dobbins, Mike Davis and Kenyan Drake.
I am not bothered that Michael Carter is initially listed as the RB1 for the Jets. At some point this season, this will become Hall’s backfield. And he eventually will become a nice fantasy asset. This week, I am not starting him if I have him. The matchup and the game script are horrific. With the Jets likely playing from behind, I think we will see more of Carter than we do Hall, especially on 3rd downs. The floor this week for Hall is low and the upside is minimal.
Sleepin’ around the league
While many are skeptical on Lance and are taking the wait & see approach, I think he is a nice sleeper pick this week. The 49ers are going to do everything they can to make their 2021 1st round draft pick look good. Lance has shown nice chemistry with Brandon Aiyuk through training camp and has last year’s fantasy sensation, Deebo Samuel as his WR1. Lance has all the raw skills to be a star in this league. His arm is very strong and rushing ability is elite. I expect Lance to scramble often in his first game as the 49ers true starting QB (now that Jimmy G is officially the backup). The kid has a lot to learn and not much experience. When all else fails, Lance is going to run which gives us a nice floor with elite upside if he is able to hit a couple deep balls.
Russell Wilson and the Broncos take on the Seahawks, and I expect Gordon to become more involved later in the game as the Broncos chew the clock. It is yet to be seen what the backfield split will look like this season, but it is clear that the Broncos want Javonte Williams to be that dude for them. As the Broncos take a double-digit lead, Gordon will see increased snaps while Javonte is preserved for next week. Gordon also has goal line rushing upside.
In what should be a high-scoring affair against the Cardinals, MVS has the opportunity to establish himself as the #1 WR in a Patrick Mahomes led offense. With JuJu Smith-Schuster still dealing with a nagging knee injury (but he will play), all MVS needs to do is stay healthy and get open. He has the speed to get beat defenders downfield and the QB with the strongest arm in the league throwing to him. At least 1 of the Chiefs receivers will pop off this week and I believe it will be MVS.
In this very different looking Browns offense, Njoku has seemed to secure the role as the #2 target on the Browns. With Amari Cooper being the only other real talented pass catching option in Cleveland, this may be the season Njoku actually becomes mildly relevant in fantasy. In this heated game against new Panthers QB Baker Mayfield, who boldly claimed he will “Beat the F out of them” referring to his old team (or maybe he didn’t…but it’s more fun if he did), the Browns, I believe this one will come down to the wire. If the Browns are going to have success this week throwing against the Panthers, I think Njoku needs to be involved in some capacity.
Fire & Ice