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Mitchell Trubisky (vs Green Bay - Thursday)
Trubisky probably wasn’t drafted as your starter, but he should be a consideration in Week 1 against a Green Bay defense with inexperienced corners and a hole at inside linebacker. The Bears offense should be even better than last year and Matt Nagy can use parts of the playbook that Trubisky was too green to activate last year. Trubisky adds upside as a runner and was a top 6-8 fantasy quarterback before he got hurt last year, and he threw for 235 and two scores against them after he got hurt in the midst of a slump.
Jimmy Garoppolo (at Tampa Bay)
Garoppolo’s struggles in the preseason will stick with us more than the solid third preseason game that looked more like what we expect from him. More importantly he’ll be facing a Bucs defense this week that has little to offer in the secondary and even less of a pass rush. The offensive line is a strength and should give Garoppolo plenty of time to throw against the Jason Pierre-Paul-less Tampa defensive line.
Matthew Stafford (at Arizona)
Stafford wasn’t highly regarded in drafts this year, but he leads off with possibly the worst defense in the league. The risks here are that the Lions shorten the game with a ton of running, which will be successful against the Cardinals, and Stafford won’t have to throw much or with aggressiveness in the downfield passing game. If he does, the Lions should be efficient and explosive against a defense missing their top corners after cutting two expected contributors on the defensive line during training camp.
Josh Allen (at New York Jets)
Allen is a weekly boom/bust play, but the boom could be more likely this week against a Jets defense that has a #1 corner who is recovering from a hamstring injury, no edge rush to speak of, and a backup in at inside linebacker. Allen should find plenty of escape hatches to pile up rushing yards if Leonard and Quinnen Williams can create interior pressure, and he has better receivers than he had at any time last year.
Nick Foles (vs Kansas City)
Foles is one of the least exciting options on the board at quarterback, but we know he is a bold passer and he will have to test the Chiefs defense downfield to keep up with Patrick Mahomes II. Foles gets pushed into superflex and DFS consideration on game script alone.
Matt Breida (at Tampa Bay)
Breida should be considered a starter after the last unofficial depth chart listed him first. He has been better than Tevin Coleman, and he’s facing one of the easier run defenses to crack in the league, although they did get Vita Vea back in time for this game. Breida was always productive when healthy last year, including 159 and 117 total yards in two of the three games with Jimmy Garoppolo despite ceding 14 carries to Alfred Morris in those games. If you aren’t starting Breida when he’s healthy and facing the Bucs, when are you starting him?
It’s hard to know who will get the goal line and garbage time carries against Washington, but it seems likely that there will be plenty of both to go around. Recent comments by Doug Pederson indicate that Sanders will get a chance to learn on the job, and what better occasion to build his ball security confidence that what should be a comfortable win over the Case Keenum led Washington team. If you don’t think Sanders will be the man to finish drives and the game, Howard could be a sneaky start.
Royce Freeman (at Oakland)
The Raiders are dealing with Antonio Brown distractions and they are facing a Vic Fangio defense without their starting guards. This is looking like a game where the Broncos defense can control the game script and the Denver running game can grind it out against a questionable Raiders run defense. Freeman should look better than he did last year because the new running scheme is better-suited to his skills.
Justice Hill (at Miami)
Will it be Hill or Gus Edwards on the field in garbage time? The Dolphins stand little chance of hanging with the Ravens, so you know the running game will rule the second half, if not the whole game in this one. Hill has the speed to break any touch for a long score and make your week, while shaking up the Ravens depth chart at running back in the process.
C.J. Anderson (at Arizona)
The Cardinals defense might have a lot of trouble getting off of the field in this one, which would lead to an increased opportunity for Anderson as the Lions put together long demoralizing drives. Kerryon Johnson will get his either way, but if this one turns into a blowout, Anderson will likely be the back putting the finishing touches on the win.
John Brown (at New York Jets)
Brown got on the same page as his new quarterback quickly last year and was on pace for a 1000-yard season with Joe Flacco. Robert Foster got on the same page as Josh Allen in the deep passing game after going undrafted and getting banged up early in the season last year, and his second half of the season was also a 1000-yard pace. Add in Jets #1 corner Trumaine Johnson bringing a hamstring injury into this game and you have a recipe for a long touchdown and more.
Geronimo Allison (at Chicago)
The Bears defense lost Vic Fangio to the Broncos, but that’s not all - Fangio took Bryce Callahan with him, leaving the Bears with no slot corner. They got Buster Skrine from free agency, who immediately becomes the achilles heel of an otherwise strong defense. Allison will line up in the slot and get to attack Skrine in the season opener.
The Chiefs secondary can be very generous, so the Jaguars wide receiver group offers a sleeper for everyone. Westbrook should be a high volume for PPR league, Chark a deep play threat for big play leagues, and Conley an option for super deep leagues on the back of his relationship with Nick Foles and strong summer and offseason.
Rashard Higgins (vs Tennessee)
Higgins has the best chemistry with Baker Mayfield of any Browns receiver, and he will be on the field a ton since Antonio Callaway is suspended for the first four games. Odell Beckham Jr is nursing a hip injury and might be better suited as a decoy in this one. Higgins should get a good matchup against an up and down Titans cornerback group and he could easily be the leading receiver in what should be a much more aggressive passing game than what we saw last year from Mayfield before the team added Beckham and offensive coordinator Todd Monken
Jamison Crowder (vs Buffalo)
Robby Anderson is hurt and should play but might have trouble shaking loose from Tre’Davious White. Crowder has displayed great instant chemistry with Sam Darnold and he gets to go against second-year slot corner Taron Johnson. The Jets have reportedly designed red zone plays for Crowder to get open in the end zone and he should get off to a hot start.
Michael Gallup (vs New York Giants)
Amari Cooper is coming into the game with a heel/foot ailment that cost him all of the summer, and he’ll likely square off with Janoris Jenkins most of the time in this one. Gallup, on the other hand, has had a stellar summer by almost every account, and he’ll face a rookie or Grant Haley most of the time. Giddyup!
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (vs Washington)
Watch Alshon Jeffery’s biceps injury status, as Arcega-Whiteside has done nothing but impress this summer, and he could even start if Jeffery’s arm issue threatens his playing status. Desean Jackson is also coming in nursing a broken finger to give the rookie another path to snaps and targets. Doug Pederson said Arcega-Whiteside and Miles Sanders have earned the right to learn on the job in possible foreshadowing of a big debut.
Darren Waller (vs Denver)
Even without the possibility of Antonio Brown sitting this one out, Waller looked like an attractive play against a Broncos defense that always struggles to defend the tight end. He has had a great summer with an arrow pointing up, supplying speed that the Broncos should have trouble matching up with on Monday night.
Mark Andrews (at Miami)
Andrews will share snaps and targets with Nick Boyle and Hayden Hurst, but it might only take a few to post a big game against the Dolphins defense. Lamar Jackson was far more effective passing to Andrews than any other target last year, and most reports had both Andrews and Jackson taking big steps forward this offseason and preseason. It will be fun to watch their 2019 debut with Andrews in your lineup.
T.J. Hockenson (at Arizona)
Hockenson might be the #2 to start the season behind Jesse James, but he should be much more prominent in the passing game than James, and maybe even the team’s #1 target eventually. For this week, he’ll face an Arizona defense that should be worn around and weary trying to slow down the Lions running game, which sets up the chance for Hockenson to create some chunk plays against the Cardinals.
Dallas Goedert (vs Washington)
Goedert should on the field as much as the Eagles #2 and #3 receivers and get much more favorable matchups against a Washington defense that lost one starting inside linebacker and cut another since last we saw them on the field. Goedert has had a great offseason by most accounts and will be a big play waiting to happen in an offense that is going to keep Washington off balance.
Tyler Eifert (at Seattle)
Eifert has always been productive when healthy, and he could easily be Andy Dalton’s #1 target in this game with AJ Green out and a second tight end, Drew Sample, who can be kept in to block. Eifert can do some of the same things in the middle of the field as Cooper Kupp, who excelled in the Rams offense that new head coach Zac Taylor is trying to emulate in Cincinnati.