Week 1 is finally upon us and that means football is back. Each week I will be highlighting a handful of players to like heading into game day and a few that you should attempt to avoid. This is a weekly article and will look at projected outcomes of games, defensive matchups, and offensive schemes to provide the guys that will have a good week — and some that won’t.
Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams (at Carolina)
Goff gets a juicy matchup to start the year against the Carolina Panthers. Coming off a red-hot year where he threw for 4,688 yards with 32 touchdowns and 12 picks, Goff looks to keep it going against a weaker Carolina defense. At home last year, the Panthers on average surrendered 240 yards through the air and 2 passing touchdowns. They did not do much to improve their cornerback play this past off-season. Stout against the run allowing only 102 yards per game and .6 scores, it is going to be a tough running day for the Rams. The game plan will be to win through the air and you should lock Goff in for Week 1.
Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks (vs Cincinnati)
The Seahawks open the season at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. It is tough to win in Seattle let alone with a rookie head coach implementing a new scheme. Seattle will control the game flow in this one, feeding Carson early and often. Last year the Bengals gave up a whopping 144.8 yards per game while on the road while surrendering .9 touchdowns. They were the fourth worst run defense in the league which makes for a good matchup with Carson. He might have an early day if this one gets out of hand, but not before he gets his production in. Carson is a high end RB1 in all formats this week.
Mark Ingram, RB, Baltimore Ravens (at Miami)
The Ravens will open the year in Miami playing the Dolphins, who at this point are clearly tanking looking ahead to next year. That is fine, as these are the matchups we look to exploit. Miami last year surrendered 139.9 yards per game on the ground second worst in the league next to Arizona. Couple that with a .8 touchdown per game given up and Ingram will feast with the run-heavy attack of the Ravens. The Ravens offensive line is not the greatest, however with Miami’s sub-par defensive front, Ingram should have running lanes for miles. For those that invested in Ingram and the Ravens run first approach this matchup is a dream come true.
Julian Edelman, WR, New England (vs Pittsburgh)
New England opens the season on Sunday Night Football playing host to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers as a team gave up 227 yards per game last year and an average of 1.4 touchdowns per game on the road in 2018. For the season they gave up 2,649 yards through the air and 16 touchdowns. Edelman is the most reliable pass-catcher the Patriots have coming into the year. Tom Brady should be able to carve up this Steelers secondary and Edelman should lead the Patriots in targets.
Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions (at Arizona)
The Lions travel to Arizona to open the season. While everyone is focused on what Kliff Kingsbury’s Air-Raid offense will look like, the Lions are ready to feast on a Cardinals defense lacking top cornerback Patrick Peterson who is suspended for the first six games as well as Robert Alford who is on Injured Reserve. The Cardinals were better at home last year against the pass only giving up an average of 175 yards and one score good for second best in the league, nevertheless, expect the Cards defense to be scrambling to keep up for most of this game. The Air-Raid system they are trying to implement on offense doesn’t allow for much rest for their defense. It is designed for long pass plays that either hit or miss and doesn’t eat much clock. Golladay will most likely draw a matchup against Tramaine Brock, which is definitely in Golladay’s favor. The Lions will try to establish a running game and use play-action to get downfield. Golladay will be in for a busy day.
Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants (at Dallas)
There are not many tight end options out there to choose from this year, so I’m going to try and give you a good play each week outside of the big three. Engram and the Giants are heading to Dallas to kick off the year in a big-time divisional showdown. I don’t expect the Giants to come out on top here, but Dallas could be vulnerable to the tight end and without many pass-catching options for Eli Manning, Engram looks good in this spot. In 2018 Dallas gave up 875 yards and 7 scores to tight ends on the year while at home.
Other Players to Like
Russell Wilson QB, Seattle Seahawks
Leonard Fournette RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Michael Thomas WR, New Orleans Saints
O.J. Howard TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers