Wednesday - Feb 20, 2019

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THE FIRE SALE: Week 1

We made it. We have nothing left to do now but watch football for the next five months.

No more average draft position talk. No more upside. It’s time to put up or shut up.

One of the things I love about Week 1 is the uncertainty. We all know Julio Jones will ball and Rob Gronkowski is going to dominate as long as they stay healthy. I love trying to find the teams and players who are going to come out of nowhere and surprise people.

I’m going to throw out two teams I believe will be better than what’s being projected: Tennessee and Tampa Bay. Both are predicted to finish last in their division. I expect them each to be highly competitive and be in the running for winning records at the end of the season. In Tampa Bay’s case, I like its chance to make the playoffs.

You may want to take these predictions with a grain of salt though. I liked Minnesota to win the Super Bowl this year and we all saw how that turned out. It went from slim chance to no chance after Minnesota traded for Sam Bradford.

Enjoy the season everyone. I know with all the Twitter chatter and fantasy analysts trying to shove their theories down your throats, we sometimes forget to have fun playing fantasy football. We all want to win. Enjoy playing, too.

If you have any questions or comments, hit me up on Twitter @ThePigskinGuy. I need more followers so I can brag about it and bore everyone.

Now on with The Fire Sale

Going Up

D.J. Foster, RB, New England

RB_D.J._Foster_NEP_1

Foster was one of my favorite players to watch in college when he was at Arizona State. I thought he faced an uphill climb to make the New England roster if Dion Lewis was healthy. Now with Lewis out at least six games and Foster on the roster, I like his chances to make a fantasy impact by season’s end.

James White is the unquestioned passing-down back in New England to start the year. White is an average talent but he’s clearly ahead of Foster at this point. I don’t deny that.

The reason I like Foster so much is because I’m not so certain we even see Lewis this year. Last season I advised everyone to stay away from Victor Cruz. I doubted he would play a snap in 2015. Lewis now had a second knee procedure. He’s going to miss at least six games. We don’t know how long he’ll be out for certain.

I mentioned in my sleepers column that I love Chris Hogan because he fits the New England offense like a glove. Foster is another one of those players. He caught 184 balls in his last three seasons at Arizona State. Foster is an excellent receiver and I believe he adds more as a runner than White.

Throughout the season injuries occur and players come out of nowhere to help owners win fantasy titles. Don’t be surprised if Foster is one of those players. He’ll have a major fantasy impact if White gets hurt.

Troymaine Pope, RB, New York Jets – Pope showed some juice this preseason with Seattle, rushing for almost 7.0 yards per carry. It may have just been preseason juice but some backs have no juice at all.

Seattle drafted three running backs and decided to keep them over Pope. It’s understandable but I thought Pope outplayed them and earned a roster spot. The Jets gobbled up Pope off of waivers then parted ways with Khiry Robinson after he re-injured his broken leg.

Pope currently sits as the No. 3 running back. Now things could change. The Jets could sign another back tomorrow and cut Pope. I like him though. I like him a lot. I saw Pope play at Jacksonville State and he jumped out at me. Then he jumped out at me again this preseason. He runs tough for a 205-pound back.

If Pope stays on the roster and Matt Forte goes down, he’ll be an interesting waiver wire pickup. Keep his name on your radar. It’s a long season.

Spencer Ware, RB, Kansas City – Ware was on my sleepers list two weeks ago. Here’s what I wrote about him:

Ware is falling victim to the name game. People hear the name “Jamaal Charles” and they lose their minds.

I believe Charles is healthy. He’ll obviously be the unquestioned starter in Kansas City. I also believe Ware’s role is going to be larger than most owners anticipate. I see Ware gobbling up touches at the goal line whether Charles is healthy or not. He’s a lock for eight scores.

Now if Charles gets hurt again, we’re looking at a weekly RB1. Think I’m joking? Right now Carlos Hyde, Thomas Rawls and C.J. Anderson are being drafted as low-end RB1s. If Ware is the lead back in Kansas City, he’s in that class. If you’re worried about Charcandrick West, don’t be. He’s an average talent. West may pull a couple of passes out his ass (White Men Can’t Jump), but Ware will dominate touches if Charles goes down.

Ware is one of the top handcuffs this year. He also has some standalone fantasy value in touchdown-heavy scoring leagues.

It appears I was off on Charles being healthy. Unless it’s a smokescreen being put out by Kansas City, Ware is set to start Week 1. Charles may not even be active at this point. If he is, it sounds like Charles will be more of a third-down back early in the year.

I stand by what I said when Ware had an average draft position in Round 15. He’s an RB1 if Charles is out. Don’t be afraid to start Ware with confidence against San Diego.

Will Fuller, WR, Houston – Fuller lit it up in the preseason. I’ve been getting a lot of questions about him via Twitter and email. I want to address him here as well.

I was a big Fuller fan when he played at Notre Dame. I like to be honest, so I’ll tell you I pegged him more as a 2017 fantasy star. That’s mainly because of his strengths/weaknesses and the Houston offense. I still feel I’m about 50-percent right.

Fuller is going to be a factor right away in the offense. There’s no question about it. Houston is loaded at the skill positions and if Brock Osweiler can just play somewhat well, the Houston offense will pay off big for fantasy owners.

In regards to Fuller, though, he’s going to be your ultimate boom-or-bust receiver. We should get excited about the big-play potential he flashed in the preseason. On the other hand, I see six or seven games where Fuller lays an egg. A lot of his production will be tied to big plays.

I’m all for grabbing players with upside right now. Fuller is currently available in 55-percent of leagues. If you have the roster space to add him, do it. I’m just warning against inconsistency. One reason I’ve been successful over the years is because I pursue players who are consistent on a weekly basis and avoid the inconsistent ones. My guess is Fuller will be an exciting, wildly inconsistent receiver in 2016.

Tavarres King, WR, New York Giants – King is a player I liked coming out of Georgia. He’s bounced around in his brief NFL career but keep your eye on him in New York.

King has had a cup of coffee with Denver, Carolina, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay. So why am I excited about a receiver who is on his fifth team in four years? Talent and opportunity.

King caught 135 passes and scored 20 touchdowns at Georgia. He runs a 4.45 40-yard-dash. Now, none of that means he’ll be successful in the NFL. What it does mean is King has impressive physical skills and he was productive in the toughest conference in college football.

Sometimes it takes players a while to put it all together in the NFL. King has had a strong preseason and SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano said he was the best receiver in camp. He’ll start the year as the Giants’ No. 4 receiver but with Victor Cruz‘s recent history, King is one injury away from seeing significant snaps in a pass-first offense. Remember, the Giants run a lot of three-receiver sets and don’t have much at the tight end position.

I like to give a deep sleeper or two every summer. King is only on 1-percent of rosters now but should something happen to Cruz, I see that percentage jumping significantly. I think he can play.

Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay – Some people were upset that I didn’t include a tight end in my sleepers column this year. Here you go. I had a vision. It’s Cameron Brate. He’ll catch 60 balls and seven touchdowns this season. Go get him.

About Thomas Casale

Thomas began playing fantasy football back when owners had to mail in their starting lineups and work out trades over the phone. He started writing The Fire Sale in 1998. Since then his articles have appeared on numerous web sites sites including Fantasy Sharks, USA Today and SI.com.