Who’s Hot, Who’s Not: Week 1

By Jen Ryan
Jen Ryan I don’t know about you but I have been waiting months for Week 1 to finally get here. I always say redraft is like my high school boyfriend, in that no matter how old I get or how many new things come along I will always love redraft. Over the years some of my favorite articles to read have been start/sit articles. The most fun, well really the most maddening, part of redraft and making sure you play the right players. There are general rules of thumb with redraft and that begins with never sit your studs. You will want to pay attention to the matchups as well. My top resource for playing the matchups is our Ease of Schedule tool. Finally, you should always go with your gut.
I would be doing you a disservice if I told you to start Julio Jones or Antonio Brown this week. It would be lazy of me to recommend you play Drew Brees. Captain Obvious can tell you that Adrian Peterson should be in your lineup. That is not what I am here for. I am here to give you a few players you may have a hard time deciding between and my reasoning behind it. I will keep myself accountable each week with a recap of the prior week where I knew it, and where I blew it. For Week 1, here is who I think is hot and who is not.

Who’s Hot

Fire Starter

Derek Carr – QB, Oakland Raiders @ New Orleans Saints Carr may not be a weekly automatic starter but he is my top play this week. Vegas has this game at a 51 point total with the New Orleans Saints slightly favored by a point. What this means to me is that there will be passing and lots of it. Of all the games in Week 1 I expect this one to be the truest form of a shootout and if I were a betting woman (which I am) I would put my life savings on the over in this game. The Saints’ passing defense has the distinction of being the worst in the league. Carr should be able to throw on this team with ease. The biggest threat to his production would be an early blowout leading to the Raiders pounding the rock, but I will side with Vegas on this one with the expected shootout.

Ryan Mathews – RB, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Cleveland Browns There may sexier options at running back this week but Mathews is a sneaky bet to finish well within the top ten. The Eagles are an absolute mess and that is really the nicest way I can put it. They will be throwing Carson Wentz to the wolves this week, who they say is 100% healthy but all a rib injury takes to be re-aggravated is that one shot to the torso. I am expecting a heavy dose of running this week and Mathews will get the majority of those touches. Although the Browns gave up just nine touchdowns to running backs last season they did allow backs to score an average over 18 points per game.

Alshon Jeffery – WR, Chicago Bears @ Houston Texans The Bears are 6.5 road dogs against the Houston Texans and their touted defense this week. They will be playing from behind, one can assume, for the majority of the game. This equates to a lot of throwing and Jay Cutler notoriously locks in on his top receiver. After an up and down season battling injuries Jeffery is 100% healthy. A healthy Jeffery is a matchup nightmare for even the best corners in the business. There are few as physical at the point of the ball as he is. If there was a hesitation in starting Jeffery this week there really should not be. He notched double-digit targets in six of the nine games he appeared in last season and went for over 100 yards in four of them. Fire up Jeffery with confidence.

Clive Walford, TE – Oakland Raiders @ New Orleans Saints If it seems like I am picking on the Saints defense I am a little bit but it is not without merit. They do not just rank dead last against the pass, they also rank dead last against tight ends specifically. Of all the sophomore tight ends in the league I feel Walford has the most upside to have a breakout year and that could be established this weekend in the Super Dome. At 6’4” he is a big-bodied red zone threat who should see a lot of work when the Raiders are in the end zone. We already discussed the opinion of Vegas in this game and we can assume there will be plenty of chances for Walford to hit pay dirt.

Who’s Not

Ice Cold:

Julian Edelman, WR – New England Patriots @ Arizona Cardinals In case you haven’t already heard, the NFL is forcing a four-game suspension on Tom Brady from an alleged infraction from well over a year ago. Many people will have no hesitation rolling out their Patriot offensive skill players this week but I will. Edelman has played in 70 games since 2009, all of them with Brady at the helm. I am not interested in finding out what Edelman looks like on the field without Brady for the first time. That, on top of the fact that Edelman has spent the summer working his way back from a surgically-repaired foot injury, has me off him. The final nail to Edelman’s Week 1 coffin? Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu.

Dak Prescott, QB – Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants I am opening up the door for criticism with this call. Let me rephrase that, I am kicking it off of the hinges. It seems as though the entire world is all in on Prescott this week and I may be the lone lady wolf in recommending him as a sit. Despite my crazy Cowboys fandom there are just facts I cannot ignore. Prescott is a rookie and there were five quarterbacks selected ahead of him. I am aware of how well he looked in the preseason but there are people in the business who are paid a lot of money to scout rookies and there is a reason Prescott was the sixth quarterback drafted. Another fact I refuse to ignore is the fact that Prescott has not played in an actual professional football game yet. No rookie has. The preseason is nice to see flashes of talent but it is by no means an endorsement. I am taking the wait and see approach with Prescott in fantasy football (and in real football, too).

Matt Jones, RB – Washington Redskins vs. Seattle Seahawks Full disclosure: I have never been high on Matt Jones or his seventh round ADP. Whatever people see in him I simply do not, and I believe Chris Thompson is the back to own in Washington. With that said, I am not rolling out Jones against a Steelers’ defense that quietly ranked third against the position last season. Over the course of 16 games the Steelers allowed just four rushing touchdowns. If you drafted Jones in your season-long leagues thinking you got a steal I would at least give it a week. He is likely to burn anyone who plugs him in.

Antonio Gates, TE – San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs If you are like me then you likely carry one tight end in your redraft league. If you are like me then you likely have Gates on a roster or two. If you are like me you are terrified to play Gates this week against 2015’s top defense against tight ends. In two games against the Chiefs last season, Gates had a combined seven receptions for 82 yards and was held scoreless. I understand Philip Rivers has spent his summer talking about getting Gates the touchdown record this year but I have a hard time believing that the record begins this week. I am only playing him in leagues where I have no other choice.

Start/Sit decisions come down to a few things. Research, matchup analysis, game theory, and a plethora of other fantasy-relevant variables need to be taken into consideration. The fun in redraft is that the final roster comes down to one thing and that is your intuition. There are players who I think are hot and who are not this week but ultimately you need to go with your gut. You know what you are doing so trust in yourself. Good Luck!