I hope you’re as excited as we are here at Fakepigskin, as we’ve made it through another long grueling off-season and Week 1 has Finally Arrived! With that, its time to make some tough start or sit decisions and set those lineups. I won’t bore you with more blabber, so without further ado, here are the guys who should be on the flex radar, and who we should be tempering expectations or completely benching
RBs who will shine
C.J. Anderson (Det@Ari, 4:25pm est)
The bulldozing Anderson was all but forgotten until he nearly helped the Rams win last season’s Super Bowl. The change in scenery seemingly renewed the tread on his tires which appropriately so, led him to sign in the Motor City with the Detroit Lions. He will still be the second option behind Kerryon Johnson. However, he will not be forgotten about this year. Matt Patricia is a disciple of Bill Belichick who historically rotates backs and utilizes guys like C.J. near the end zone.
His week 1 opponent, the Arizona Cardinals, will be without stud cornerback Patrick Peterson and are very beatable on the ground. The Lions will attack Arizona with their ground attack, using a combination of Kerryon and C.J., both seeing enough work to pay dividends while in the desert. He may not be receiving much hype but C.J. will plow his way to relevance and into the flex conversation after week 1.
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Prediction: 12 car 63 yards 1 td, 1 rec 6 yards: 13.4 pts
Nyheim Hines (Ind@LAC, 4:05pm est)
Holy Sh!t! This was my and probably a lot of your reactions to the news of Andrew Luck retiring. Now led by Jacoby Brissett, the Colts are still a team with plenty of fantasy points to go around. One of the lesser talked about guys is second year back Nyheim Hines. He quickly became a force in Frank Reich’s short passing attack, which even with Jacoby Brissett will flourish.
Their week 1 foe, the LA Chargers, boast one of the best pass rushes but can be stymied by the quick passes Indy utilizes. Although Marlon Mack is the lead runner, Hines is clearly the better receiver and will continue to be deployed as so. Facing an opponent who is a 7-point favorite, the Colts will likely need to play catch up, thrusting Hines into action.
Prediction: 5 car 23 yards, 6 rec 43 yards 1 td: 15.6 pts
James White (Pit@NE SNF 8:20pm est)
James White was written off at the beginning of last season after the Patriots drafted Sony Michel and returned Rex Burkhead. All the former Super Bowl MVP did in response was post his best statistical season ever. He more than doubled his career high in carries with 94, adding 5 rushing TDs, and leading the Patriots in receptions hauling in 87 passes for 751 yards and 7 end zone trips.
Week 1 brings a familiar opponent to Foxboro when the Pittsburgh Steelers come to town. In last season’s week 15 matchup, the teams combined for almost 750 yards of offense but only 27 points. New England could only muster 96 rushing yards while Brady threw 36 passes. Pittsburgh will use Joe Haden to lock down Josh Gordon and an aggressive linebacker crew to limit New England’s ground game. White will once again be the utility knife needed in what will be yet another great Steelers and Patriots game.
Prediction: 8 car 30 yards 1 td, 7 rec 53 yards: 17.8 pts
Derrick Henry (Ten@Cle, 1pm est)
Derrick F’ING Henry was my most picked on runner last year and my biggest nemesis. He exploded for 238 yards and 4 tds in week 13 followed by 170 for 2 tds in week 14 annihilating my predictions. Hidden by these two tremendous games however was his horrendous first 12 which saw the monstrous Henry average a miniscule 39.5 yards rushing per game. He also only added 15 receptions during the entire 2018 season which has been ignored by many during 2019 fantasy drafts. Oh, and 38% of his fantasy output came in those two weeks with over 55% coming during weeks 13-16. This exemplifies deviance from the norm and are not representative of what to expect in 2019.
Tennessee will be without all-pro tackle Taylor Lewan and be facing an even more powerful Browns offense. Game-flow and the absence of their best blocker will force the Titans to incorporate the shiftier Dion Lewis earlier than wanted. The clock has struck midnight on last year’s fantasy playoffs Cinderella.
Prediction: 15 car 68 yards, 1 rec 8 yards: 8.1 pts
Derrius Guice (Wash@Phi, 1pm est)
I’m not rolling the dice with Derrius Guice against Philly. He missed his entire rookie season with an ACL tear which required multiple additional procedures to treat infection. Now fully recovered, Guice has been named the starter over incumbent Adrian Peterson and been touted as someone who will carry the rock a ton by head coach Jay Gruden. This is exciting news for fantasy owners, but his week 1 matchup is one to shy away from.
The Eagles are best attacked through the air as they ranked 30th in pass D last season while finishing 7th in rush defense. Philadelphia will undoubtedly force Washington to throw the ball with new QB Case Keenum and his no name receiving core. This will also unleash receiving specialist Chris Thompson into the fold limiting touches by both Guice and Peterson. Stay far away from Washington from a fantasy perspective in week 1.
Prediction: 14 car 55 yards, 2 rec 14 yards: 7.9 pts
Kalen Ballage ([email protected]Mia, 1pm est)
A favorite of mine to breakout this season, Kalen Ballage gets a tough test in week 1 when the Baltimore Ravens fly south. Ballage will also have to split time with the much more athletic Kenyan Drake who head coach Brian Flores said would handle a lot of touches in week 1. The combination of facing a leading rush defense and losing touches to Drake make Ballage a wait and see player. There will not be a barrage of Ballage in week 1!
Prediction: 10 car 36 yards, 2 rec 10 yards: 5.9 pts
Wide Receivers in the spotlight Week 1
Curtis Samuel ([email protected]Car, 1pm est)
I hate highlighting guys from Ohio as players to start but Samuel showed off his amazing speed and athletisism last season and is ready to shine in 2019. He now has a clear role as a starter alongside D.J. Moore with little competition other than CMC for targets.
The Rams will be focused on stopping Cam running while protecting against McCaffery out of the backfield. As a result, Samuel will see plenty of space to operate over the middle and allow him to break a couple big gains.
Prediction: 2 rush 16 yards, 6 rec 74 yards 1 td: 18 pts
John Brown (Buf@NYJ, 1pm est)
2018 started fast for John Brown who over the first 7 games had recorded 28 receptions for 558 yards and 4 touchdowns. He looked revitalized and just like the player who flourished in Arizona. Then the Lamar Jackson era began. From week 10 until week 17, Brown only caught 8 balls for 114 yards and 1 td. The Ravens had transitioned into the most run heavy team in decades thus fading Brown out of the game-plan.
Now in Buffalo where Josh Allen stakes claim to one of the strongest arms in football, the speedy Brown fits perfect into what the Bills want to do. Buffalo will try and force defenders into the box with runs and designed QB scrambles then take those deep shots. It is here where JB is a force to be reckoned with and will become fantasy relevant again. The Bills have stacked their offense with weapons, with Brown being their home run hitter. Cole Beasley and Zay Jones will be used for the shorter completions leaving Brown to operate deep downfield for some huge gains. I expect to see John Brown dancing again during his week 1 game against the Jets.
Prediction: 5 rec 83 yards 1 td: 16.8 pts
Marquise Goodwin (SF@TB, 4:25pm est)
Still one of, if not the fastest player in the NFL, Marquise Goodwin gets to open against a bottom feeding defense in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers allowed the third worst net yards gained per pass attempt last season while giving up 34 passing TDs. The 49’ers were just ahead of the Bucs in passing TDs allowed.
This game has shootout written all over it and Jimmy G. is back under center for San Francisco. Garoppolo and Goodwin connected for 28 completions for 397 yards in the first four games Jimmy started way back in 2017. This connection will be back on track during their week 1 game in Tampa.
Prediction: 7 rec 106 yards: 14.1 pts
Calvin Ridley (Atl@Min, 1pm est)
What a rookie campaign for the former Crimson Tide wide-out. He finished the season with 64 receptions for 821 yards and 10 touchdowns. Six of his touchdowns came in the first four weeks while being utilized as the deep threat for Matt Ryan. Regression is coming in the scoring department and in Week 1 he faces the Minnesota Vikings who allowed an NFL low 15 passing touchdowns in 2018. Ridley will have a nice season in 2019 but in week 1 he should be hidden behind the curtains.
Prediction: 5 rec 56 yards: 8.1 pts
Tyler Boyd (Cin@Sea 4:05pm est)
Boyd filled the void left by A.J. Green last season and will have to do so once again to begin 2019. During Green’s absence beginning in week 10, Boyd went on to average almost 70 yards receiving before succumbing to his own injury following week 15. His team the Bengals travel west to open in Seattle in what could be the toughest road environment throughout the NFL. The Seahawks added Ziggy Ansah and Jadeveon Clowney to what was an underrated defense in 2018 and could be tops in sacks this year.
If the Seahawks defense is tough enough to combat for Boyd and Cincinnati, Seattle will pound the rock and control the clock not allowing the Bengals many possessions. This tough road matchup and without someone to take attention away from him, make Boyd a fade during week 1.
Prediction: 6 rec 52 yards: 8.2 pts
Sterling Shepard (NYG@Dal, 4:25pm est)
The only thing Sterling will do this week is “Shepard” you to disappointment. During his 3 years with the G-Men, Sterling has been bottled up by the Cowboys. His only TD against them came during his debut in 2016, and he has only surpassed 44 yards once. The
Cowboys signed Robert Quinn to rush opposite DeMarcus Lawrence to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks which will happen often against the Giants. Shepard may be the number 1 in New York, but with little around him and drawing elite cover corner Byron Jones, Sterling is best left to catch splinters.
Prediction: 5 rec 52 yards: 7.7 pts