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    Start the Rams’ Jared Goff Against the Raiders’ Defense

    Start the Rams’ Jared Goff Against the Raiders’ Defense premium
    George Kurtz September 6, 2018 1:00PM EDT
    Ranking the Fantasy Football defensive matchups for Week 1

    In this column, I will go over the how Fantasy owners can attack NFL defenses each week. The list below ranks the defenses from worst to best for this coming week. Now, we’re not going to point out that you should start your stud players like Aaron Rodgers and Todd Gurley; you already know that. We will point out lesser types that could have a bigger Fantasy day than expected, or maybe even a stud or two that might disappoint. Good luck in Week 1.

      1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (against the New Orleans Saints): Many owners might be searching for who will replace the suspended Mark Ingram in the Saints’ offense for Week 1. Some thought it would be Jonathan Williams, but he is on the practice squad. Mike Gillislee could have some value in Week 2 or 3, but he just signed with the club this week and it’s hard to see him doing much Fantasy damage so quickly, leaving the spot behind Alvin Kamara unclear. Fantasy owners are also wondering who will break out as a WR2 for the Saints. Will it be Cameron Meredith? I certainly believed so at the beginning of camp, but he may not have had enough time to work with Drew Brees. Perhaps it’s rookie Tre’Quan Smith, but will he have the trust of Brees yet? While they are both interesting options, they’re more suited to bye week fill-ins than Week 1 starters, when you should have better options.
      2. Oakland Raiders (against the Los Angeles Rams): The Raiders were a bad defense even before they traded Khalil Mack. It’s hard to imagine you having a Ram on your team that you’re not starting here. Jared Goff may not be a QB1 for me this year, but he is this week.
      3. Kansas City Chiefs (against the Los Angeles Chargers): This is not the same Chiefs’ defense that we have seen in prior seasons; they can be beat via the pass or the run. That being said, I’m not starting Antonio Gates. He will have value as the season rolls along, but it’s hard to imagine Gates having a solid Fantasy day here. The next question is Mike or Tyrell Williams. The addition of Gates will hurt M. Williams’ value, as the Chargers were grooming Williams to be a red zone threat, but that is something that Gates has been very proficient at in the past with his BFF, Phillip Rivers.
      4. Green Bay Packers (against the Chicago Bears): I’m a big believer in Tarik Cohen this season and if you drafted him, then you should be also. Cohen is an every-week starter for me, as I trust the Bears to find a way to make him the offensive threat they promised.
      5. Chicago Bears (against the Green Bay Packers): The Bears have a stouter defense, making the decision between Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery that much harder; someone has to carry the load here. Still, I would hope that you might have better options as you’re likely to need a score from either player to have a productive Fantasy day. I’ll pass on Geronimo Allison as well.
      6. San Francisco 49ers (against the Minnesota Vikings): Kirk Cousins had a so-so preseason, but you’re still starting him here, along with his receivers. As for Dalvin Cook, he may split the load with Latavius Murray for the first few games, but you’re still starting him, too.
      7. New York Jets (against the Detroit Lions): The run game for the Lions may be a problem all season long. Kerryon Johnson is their most talented back, but his touchdowns may be few and far between with LeGarrette Blount on board, and we know Theo Riddick will catch more than his fair share of balls. None of these backs is anything more than a flex play at best. I want to believe that Kenny Golladay can make an impact this season, but he’s best left on your bench until he proves that he’s an integral part of the offense.
      8. Buffalo Bills (against the Baltimore Ravens): This is one of those games where I like to say, if you have a Raven on your roster and you don’t start him (outside of Joe Flacco as a backup QB), he shouldn’t be on your roster. Okay, maybe not everyone; I would still have to have a pretty weak WR corps to start John Brown or Willie Snead.
      9. Miami Dolphins (against the Tennessee Titans): The Dolphins’ defense is another dumpster fire this season. Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis are every week starters. I’m not worried about their workloads. If Delanie Walker and Rishard Matthews start for the Titans, then they will likely start for me.
      10. New England Patriots (against the Houston Texans): The only real question of whether or not to start someone here is Will Fuller. Listen, someone has to catch passes from Deshaun Watson other than DeAndre Hopkins.
      11. Indianapolis Colts (against the Cincinnati Bengals): Yeah, the Colts have a porous defense, but I still can’t start Andy Dalton in anything other than a SuperFlex or 2QB league. If you’re weak at WR, you may want to give John Ross a shot, but I assume you can do better than start a reserve in Week 1.
      12. Cincinnati Bengals (against the Indianapolis Colts): Andrew Luck didn’t throw into the secondary at all during the preseason. Perhaps the Colts were just holding him back, protecting him, but it will be hard to trust anyone on this offense here other than T.Y. Hilton, Jack Doyle and Luck.
      13. Carolina Panthers (against the Dallas Cowboys): Starting anyone on the Cowboys outside of Ezekiel Elliott will be risky this season. You’re best off waiting until after a game or two to see how Dak Prescott will use Allen Hurns and Cole Beasley. The best guess is that Beasley will lead the team in receptions while Hurns will do the same with touchdown receptions. Rookie Michael Gallup will be the upside play, but one that almost certainly won’t pay off until later this season.
      14. Cleveland Browns (against the Pittsburgh Steelers): Le’Veon Bell still hasn’t reported to Pittsburgh, knowing that he’ll make a killing in the offseason and deciding to preserve his health in the pursuit of a large contract. In order to accrue an official season and become a free agent after the season, he needs to be back by Week 9. As for this game, I’m not starting James Conner; this matchup wasn’t great for the run game even with Bell.
      15. Pittsburgh Steelers (against the Cleveland Browns): So much talk has been made about the Browns’ run game this draft season. All three of their backs will have a role, but I expect Carlos Hyde to be the starter heading into this game. If you drafted Josh Gordon, I’m worried about a slow start to the season, but I’m likely still starting him, as he is a game breaker.
      16. Arizona Cardinals (against the Washington Redskins): If you claimed Adrian Peterson after losing Derrius Guice, you’re probably starting him, but I wouldn’t expect huge numbers. Josh Doctson is a sit here for me, as he is likely to see a whole bunch of CB Patrick Peterson.
      17. New York Giants (against the Jacksonville Jaguars): We are all waiting to see which Jags’ WR steps up with the loss of Marquise Lee. My thinking is that Dede Westbrook will make bigger plays, but Keelan Cole may be the more reliable receiver week in and week out. In past seasons, the Giants have had trouble with opposing tight ends. With the assumption that that holds up this season, Austin Seferian-Jenkins could be a play here.
      18. Seattle Seahawks (against the Denver Broncos): Royce Freeman will start for Denver and he should be starting for your Fantasy team. Emmanuel Sanders will be the slot receiver for Denver this season and could be the WR who has the most consistency in a Case Keenum-led offense. I like Courtland Sutton, but let’s see what he does before we put him in our lineups.
      19. Dallas Cowboys (against the Carolina Panthers): I’m a C.J. Anderson believer, but only as a flex play and unfortunately, he will still need a TD to truly have a good Fantasy day. The Cowboys’ defensive weakness is in their secondary. The Panthers are likely to take several deep shots to D.J. Moore.
      20. Atlanta Falcons (against the Philadelphia Eagles): Yes, Nick Foles had a lousy preseason, but let’s not forget that he didn’t have a complete set of weapons around him either. That being said, I have downgraded the Eagles’ passing game here. Jay Ajayi is the only Eagles’ RB I’m willing to start, and I’m not big on him either.
      21. Philadelphia Eagles (against the Atlanta Falcons): The Eagles have one of the better defenses in the league, but the only Falcons you won’t start may be Austin Hooper, Mohamed Sanu, and Calvin Ridley.
      22. Los Angeles Chargers (against the Kansas City Chiefs): This game may be a shootout. Still, the Chargers are a top defense. I’m not starting Patrick Mahomes; he just misses being a QB1. Sammy Watkins has had a lousy preseason and he doesn’t look to have much chemistry with Mahomes. He sits for me here in this one unless you just don’t have better options.
      23. Houston Texans (against the New England Patriots): I don’t like playing the Bill Belichick guessing game. Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead are both banged up with knee injuries. Jeremy Hill may get his fair share of touches Sunday, but the only RB I feel safe in starting is James White; at least we know what role he will have. As for the passing game, I’m not sure you want to start Phillip Dorsett, even though there isn’t much left for Tom Brady to throw to.
      24. Washington Redskins (against the Arizona Cardinals): Who else can you start for Arizona other than Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson? No one.
      25. New Orleans Saints (against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers): There will be no Jameis Winston in this game, as he is suspended. That will force the Bucs’ receivers to be dropped a few slots. I do like Chris Godwin, but I’m not starting him over DeSean Jackson, not yet anyway. Peyton Barber does start for me, however, just like any other starting RB would.
      26. Denver Broncos (against the Seattle Seahawks): Who would you like to start here outside of Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin and Chris Carson? They are all likely starters for you, but this isn’t the greatest matchup for any of them.
      27. Detroit Lions (against the New York Jets): I believe the Jets made the right choice in starting Sam Darnold, but make no mistake, they will struggle on offense at times this season. Starting his first game in Detroit won’t be fun, and I’m staying away from the Jets passing game until we can view Darnold in real game situation. As for the running game, Isaiah Crowell is a flex play, but still not one I’m dying to start.
      28. Tennessee Titans (against the Miami Dolphins): There has been so much talk about the Dolphins’ run game this preseason. Kenyan Drake should be the ball carrier you want, but he will lose some carries to future Hall of Famer Frank Gore, and Kalen Ballage could be the goal line back. What I’m trying to say is that you may want to keep your expectations in check regarding Drake. Oh, I want very little to do with this passing game.
      29. Minnesota Vikings (against the San Francisco 49ers): I do believe in Jimmy Garoppolo, but this will not be his breakout game this season, as the Vikings may be the best defense in the league. Matt Breida is listed atop the depth chart at RB for San Francisco, but that may only last for this game. This isn’t a great matchup for Breida or Alfred Morris. Breida is at best a flex play, same with Pierre Garcon and Maquise Goodwin.
      30. Jacksonville Jaguars (against the New York Giants): This is not the best matchup for the Giants to find out how healthy Odell Beckham’s ankle is or if Saquon Barkley is the next great NFL RB. You’re still starting them, of course, but I would keep your expectations in check. As for Evan Engram, he cleared concussion protocol, and is likely to start for the Giants, but if you have better options, you may want to use them.
      31. Baltimore Ravens (against the Buffalo Bills): The Bills are going to be picked on by Fantasy D/STs all season long, and this week is no different. It’s just LeSean McCoy for me. I’m not high on Kelvin Benjamin anyway, but even less so with Nathan Peterman at the helm
      32. Los Angeles Rams (against the Minnesota Vikings): If the Vikings don’t have the best defense in the NFL, then the Rams do. The Raiders are a mess of a team right now. Maybe you still have to start Amari Cooper, as the Raiders should still have to throw early and often, and Marshawn Lynch is always valuable as a starting RB. But how much running can they do when they are down two or three scores in the second half?

      As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you, @georgekurtz.


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