2018 Fantasy Football: Week 1 Players to Watch

For the Week 1 players to watch, I’m focusing on the most uncertain situations.

Players you may have drafted in Round 8 and are wondering if they’re worth starting. Running backs who are currently in a committee. The backup quarterback you drafted who may have to start if Carson Wentz sits in Week 1.

Those kind of players.

You see, Week 1 could set the tone for how these players perform for the rest of the 2018 Fantasy Football season.

Here’s a look at the players to watch in each game…

Atlanta at Philadelphia

Week 1 Players to Watch for Atlanta: Matt Ryan (QB), Tevin Coleman (RB), and Austin Hooper (TE)

Ryan is on a few of my Best Ball Championship teams, and he’s sitting on waivers right now in one of my season long leagues.

I’m interested in seeing how well Calvin Ridley is utilized because he now adds a speed element to the offense. I also want to see if Hooper gets more involved and can take another step forward this season.

Coleman is supposed to get more work this year, so let’s see if that happens.

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In 2017, he scored eight touchdowns and recorded 927 total yards. If he can bump his total yards, he could be a top-12 back in 2018.

Week 1 Players to Watch for Philadelphia: Jay Ajayi (RB), Corey Clement (RB), Mike Wallace (WR), and Dallas Goedert (TE)

For the Eagles, watch for how the carries are split between Ajayi and Clement.

With Alshon Jeffery potentially missing a few weeks and Nelson Agholor dealing with a lower body injury, the offense needs a healthy pass catcher out there. Look for Wallace and tight end Goedert to get more involved, at least for Week 1.

Pittsburgh at Cleveland

Week 1 Players to Watch for Pittsburgh: JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR) and Vance McDonald (TE)

With Ben Roethlisberger pushing for more no-huddle plays, let’s how that affects Smith-Schuster.

I drafted McDonald as my first tight end in a few drafts, but there’s been no updates about a foot injury he’s dealing with.

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That’s not a good sign.

Week 1 Players to Watch for Cleveland: Carlos Hyde (RB), Nick Chubb (RB), Josh Gordon (WR), and Antonio Callaway (WR)

For Cleveland, are they going to ride the hot hand or equally split work between Hyde and Chubb?

Gordon is dealing with a hamstring injury, so his snaps may be limited. That could give Callaway a chance for more playing time.

Cincinnati at Indianapolis

Week 1 Players to Watch for Cincinnati: Joe Mixon (RB), Giovani Bernard (RB), John Ross (WR), and Tyler Eifert (TE)

Mixon is supposed to be the “bellcow” this year, but let’s see what happens with Bernard still in the lineup.

Ross was impressive in the preseason, and he could be a solid second option behind A.J. Green. The Bengals have kept Eifert in bubble wrap during the preseason to hopefully get him through a 16-game season.

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While he’s never totaled more than 615 receiving yards in a season, he hauled in 13 touchdowns in 2015.

Andy Dalton will be happy to have him back.

Week 1 Players to Watch for Indianapolis:  Marlon Mack (RB), Jordan Wilkins (RB), and Christine Michael (RB)

Let’s see who makes the biggest impact in Week 1 at the running back position.

Mack isn’t ruled out, but even if he does play, his workload will be limited.

Tennessee at Miami 

Week 1 Players to Watch for Tennessee: Derrick Henry (RB) and Dion Lewis (RB)

Henry showed he could be a Fantasy asset in 2017.

Week Total Yards Fantasy Points
2 92 15.2
6 145 21.5
13 109 16.9
17 117 18.7

 

But he isn’t known for being a pass-catching back. The Fantasy production for Henry and Lewis this season could be sporadic.

Week 1 Players to Watch for Miami:  Kenny Stills (WR), Danny Amendola (WR), Albert Wilson (WR), and Mike Gesicki (TE)

How will the ball be spread around in Miami?

I have a feeling Stills is going to receive more targets this year, and it won’t just be deep passes.

Of course, I could be wrong, and maybe Amendola or Wilson become the new Jarvis Landry.

I’ve bought the hype Miami would utilize tight ends more in the red zone for several years, but I’ve always been disappointed.

At this point, it doesn’t look like Gesicki will buck that trend.

San Francisco at Minnesota

Week 1 Players to Watch for San Francisco: Jerick McKinnon (RB), Marquise Goodwin (WR), and Pierre Garcon (WR)

McKinnon was drafted in Round 2 early in the summer. We’ll get an early look if he was worth the cost.

I originally added Garcon in a lot of my early drafts. He was on track to record a 1,000-yard season last year, and that was even before Jimmy Garoppolo was added to the roster.

But the talk of camp was the connection between Jimmy G. and Goodwin.

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Week 1 Players to Watch for Minnesota:  Kirk Cousins (QB), Dalvin Cook (RB), and Latavius Murray (RB)

Cousins has the weapons to finish in the top five this year.

Cook is being drafted like a starting running back, but I’m watching how many carries he may split in Week 1 with Murray.

From Weeks 13-17, Murray was a top-20 back in PPR leagues.

Houston at New England

Week 1 Players to Watch for Houston: Will Fuller (WR)

Fuller scored two touchdowns in Week 4, two touchdowns in Week 5, one touchdown in Week 6, and two touchdowns in Week 8.

That’s seven touchdowns in four games, which is a tough pace to keep up.

But what could he do if DeShaun Watson can play a 16-game season?

His first test is against the Patriots.

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Week 1 Players to Watch for New England: Chris Hogan (WR), Rex Burkhead (RB), and James White (RB)

It’s never safe to assume anything with New England, but Hogan and Rob Gronkowski should be peppered with targets.

With Sony Michael potentially missing Week 1, Burkhead and White should get plenty of playing time.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints

Week 1 Players to Watch for Tampa Bay: Chris Godwin (WR), Peyton Barber (RB), and Cameron Brate (TE)

Godwin totaled 209 yards between Weeks 16-17 last year, so there was a lot of hype surrounding him this offseason.

But with Ryan Fitzpatrick leading the offense to start the year, Godwin’s upside is limited.

I’d expect the veteran quarterback to lean more on Brate.

The Saints ranked in the middle of the pack in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns allowed last year, so this won’t be a cakewalk for Barber.

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Week 1 Players to Watch for New Orleans: Ben Watson (TE)

Watson will be 38 in December, but he’s reportedly looked like he’s in the “prime” of his career in practice.

When he played for New Orleans in 2015, he posted a 74-825-6 stat line.

Jacksonville at New York Giants

Week 1 Players to Watch for Jacksonville: Keelan Cole (WR), Donte Moncrief (WR), Dede Westbrook (WR), D.J. Chark (WR), and T.J. Yeldon (RB)

Marqise Lee is out for the year, so who will become Blake Bortles’ favorite target in 2018?

If you’re just looking at rapport, I’d lean towards Cole or Westbrook.

But Jacksonville finished with the most rushing yards in 2018, so that’s why I don’t really care. I’m focusing more on Yeldon.

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He could see an expanded role as a receiver, and he could be a candidate for a 1,000-yard season.

Week 1 Players to Watch for New York: Eli Manning (QB)

Outside of the studs, the player I’m watching on the Giants is Manning. There’s a common sense argument out there that if Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram are poised for solid campaigns, Manning will also have a successful 2018 season.

Still, I didn’t add him in any drafts this year.

Buffalo at Baltimore

Week 1 Players to Watch for Buffalo: Kelvin Benjamin (WR)

I’m only interested in seeing what type of connection Benjamin has with whoever is starting. LeSean McCoy is still the focal point of the offense.

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Week 1 Players to Watch for Baltimore: John Brown (WR)

The Ravens won’t need to do a lot to win this game. The defense will create a lot of turnovers.

But I still expect Joe Flacco to target Brown on a few deep passes.

Kansas City at Los Angeles Chargers  

Week 1 Players to Watch for Kansas City: Patrick Mahomes (QB), Sammy Watkins (WR), and Travis Kelce (TE)

I put a lot of faith in Mahomes this summer.

He has the arm strength to connect with Tyreek Hill for a few bombs each game.

But how much will he spread the ball around?

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Will he rely on Kelce as much as Alex Smith did during his tenure with the Chiefs?

Are there enough targets to go around for Watkins to be Fantasy relevant this year?

Week 1 Players to Watch for Los Angeles: Mike Williams (WR)

Antonio Gates isn’t on the roster, so the Chargers should run more three-receiver and four-receiver sets.

That means if you drafted Williams in Round 14 earlier in the summer, you could have pulled off quite the steal.

Seattle at Denver

Week 1 Players to Watch for Seattle: Doug Baldwin (WR) and Chris Carson (RB)

Baldwin was being snatched up in Round 2 earlier in the summer, but a knee injury sent his stock falling.

He’s ready to go for Week 1, and with Jimmy Graham in Green Bay, Fantasy players are expecting the 29-year old receiver to be given all the work he can handle.

Baldwin had a down year in 2017, but he still posted a 75-991-8 stat line.

In 2016, he posted a 94-1,128-7 stat line.

Rookie Rashaad Penny could play against Denver, but a finger injury and conditioning concerns could limit his touches.
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Carson should handle the majority of the work.

Week 1 Players to Watch for Denver: Royce Freeman (RB) and Devonte Booker (RB)

Freeman is also another rookie in a committee.

But it’s more of an open competition in Denver than Seattle, so he could cement a featured role if he has a strong outing against the Seahawks.

Washington at Arizona 

Week 1 Players to Watch for Washington: Jordan Reed (TE)

Outside of the rushing attack, I’m watching Reed’s connection with Smith.

The veteran quarterback is a fan of big tight ends.

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Week 1 Players to Watch for Arizona: Christian Kirk (WR)

For Arizona, I want to see how involved Kirk is with the offense. Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson can’t be the only ones to catch passes.

Dallas at Carolina

Week 1 Players to Watch for Dallas: Michael Gallup (WR) and Cole Beasley (WR)

With Dez Bryant and Jason Witten gone, there’s plenty of targets up for grabs. I’ve drafted both of the receivers listed above in best ball leagues.

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I don’t expect them to be consistent, but they could still have a few big games.

Week 1 Players to Watch for Carolina: Devin Funchess (WR) and D.J. Moore (WR)  

Benajmin is gone, so Cam Newton will have auditions for his new favorite receiver.

Funchess has the edge over Moore right now because of his NFL experience and extra looks he received last year because of injuries to other players on the Panthers.

But Moore wasn’t drafted in Round 1 to just sit on the sidelines.

Chicago at Green Bay

Week 1 Players to Watch for Chicago: Anthony Miller (WR) and Trey Burton (TE)

The hype around Miller seemed to die down around the middle of August. There’s a lot of uncertainty around how this offense will operate.

We just have to wait to see how Miller and Burton will perform.

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Week 1 Players to Watch for Green Bay: Jamaal Williams (RB) and T.Y. Montgomery (RB)

The rushing attack is a bit of miss in Green Bay, but Williams will at least be in the driver seat to start the year. Montgomery could earn a few touches each game, but Williams is the back you want to own heading into Week 1.

New York Jets at Detroit

Week 1 Players to Watch for New York Jets: Quincy Enunwa (WR)

The Jets aren’t an exciting team for Fantasy purposes.

But someone has to catch passes from Sam Darnold.

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Before missing the 2017 season, Enunwa did post a 58-857-4 stat line. If he’s sitting on your waivers now, keep note of it.

Week 1 Players to Watch for Detroit: Kenny Golladay (WR)

I’m watching the rushing attack for the Lions, but I’m mainly focused on the passing attack in Week 1. Golden Tate will be a free agent next year, so will the coaching staff push for Golladay to receive more looks to see if they can let Tate walk?

Los Angeles Rams at Oakland

Week 1 Players to Watch for Los Angeles Rams: (Brandin Cooks)

I’m not sure Cooks will receive enough targets to keep him happy.

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Week 1 Players to Watch for Oakland: Jordy Nelson (WR)

Was Nelson added to teach and motivate Amari Cooper, or does he still have something left in the tank?

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