NFL football is back! I hope everyone enjoyed last night’s game, and that it was enough to hold you over for another few days until Sunday. Welcome back to another year of “Good Call/Bad Call.” If you’re new to the column here’s how things work: I comment on a few players from each major fantasy position: quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end. I pick out those who I think would be a ‘good call’ for you to start this week, and those that I think are a ‘bad call’ for you to put in your starting lineup.
I try and stay away from the top-tier guys unless I think they’re really going to under-perform, because telling you to start Aaron Rodgers or Adrian Peterson would be like telling you to ruthlessly mock the guy who drafts Jordy Nelson in the fourth round thinking he got a good deal. You’re going to do it and not think twice about it. I also, do a bit of fantasy football advice or commentary at the beginning of the article occasionally as well. I hope you enjoy it this season.
Since this is Week 1, your starting lineup shouldn’t involve too much thought unless you did some risky drafting. When in doubt for Week 1, start your veterans. Start the guys who you have seen perform. If you drafted a rookie wide receiver, you’re better off leaving him on your bench for a game or two to see if they can handle the speed of the NFL. Most of these guys take some time to get up to NFL pace, and it usually takes more than their rookie season. You don’t want one of those guys putting up goose eggs in your starting lineup for Week 1. See how he does for a week or two, before you put him into your starting lineup.
Now on to the calls for the week.
If you waited on drafting your quarterback and snagged Ryan Tannehill, you’re going to be happy with how he starts out his season. His matchup with Washington is exactly the way you want to ease into the football season. Only three teams allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks last year than Washington. The Miami passing offense made some improvements this offseason and Tannehill looks to be continuing his upward trajectory as an NFL quarterback. I would have no problem starting Tannehill this week. He’s a good call to be in your starting lineup.
Carson Palmer is another guy who gets to start the year out with a soft matchup. Palmer was moving right along last year before his injury sidelined him with nine total touchdowns and at least 250 passing yards per game. The New Orleans defense ranked in the bottom third of the league against quarterbacks last year, and didn’t do much to improve this offseason. Expect Arizona to be in a shootout with New Orleans this weekend. Palmer should have no problem tossing a couple of touchdowns and approaching 300 passing yards to start your fantasy season off right.
Cam Newton is a guy I’d stay away from this week, and probably this season. Newton’s value is in his legs and every team knows that. With Kelvin Benjamin lost for the season, Newton’s draft stock has taken a big hit, and it should. Newton has been more likely to have zero passing touchdowns in a game than to have more than two passing touchdowns. He’s also been more likely to have less than 200 passing yards than to have more than 300 passing yards. My guess is that most teams are going to play close to the line with Newton and dare him to beat them with his arm, and that’s exactly what Jacksonville is going to do this weekend. Starting Newton would be a bad call.
You’re all set at running back but if you own one of the handful of backs who won’t be playing in Week 1 (Le’Veon Bell, C.J. Spiller, Arian Foster, Todd Gurley among others). If that’s the case, give Benny Cunningham a shot at your starting lineup. With Gurley and Tre Mason out, Cunningham is the de-facto No. 1 guy, and with no one behind him he’ll get plenty of chances to touch the ball. He also catches the ball given that 59-percent of his yards last year came through the air. St. Louis does play the tough Seattle defense, but if you’re looking for a fill-in player you could do worse than Cunningham.
I expect Lamar Miller to get a ton of work this week. Miller is a guy who ended last season on a bit of a hot streak. In his last two games last year, Miller had a touchdown and more than 150 total yards in each game. With no competition from Jay Ajayi, who was placed on short-term Injured Reserve, Miller should be receive the bulk of the carries. The Washington defense was stout against running backs last year, but Miami should be up early and running the ball most of the second half. Expect Miller to get close to 20 carries and half a dozen targets as well. That should lead to a nice week.
As I said in the quarterbacks section, the Arizona-New Orleans game is going to be a shootout. That means that Mark Ingram won’t get the workload he would if New Orleans was in a soft matchup. Ingram’s four 100-plus yard rushing games last year all came when he got 25-or-more carries. Ingram getting that kind of workload in this game is very doubtful. My thought is that Khiry Robinson will be getting more work in the passing game and that will leave less touches and opportunities for Ingram to shine. Starting Ingram this week would be a bad call.