2019 Fantasy Football Week 1 Preview: Imperfections

by Richard Savill
2019 Fantasy Football Week 1 Preview

It is often said that September is an extension of the preseason - except that the games count. There is some truth in this, and most of us do feel the season essentially starts in October. Yet, we take all our statistics as an organic whole and blindly include September. What would our player stats look like without September? But then, we still count the points from the first quarter of a football game before a shaky quarterback settles down or a defense gets its act together. 2019 Fantasy Football Week 1 Preview Why should rough edges and imperfections of early season contests be treated any different?

This is why you should avoid unloading your underperforming upside lower-tier players on impulse, barring injury, during September waivers. In-season adjustments for the NFL teams are in continual flux as coaches seek to hone what is working and revamp what is not. By October, you'll have a better idea of where offenses and defenses stand or where they are moving toward in both positive and negative directions. This will include individual players. In most cases, your fantasy players are right in the mix.

It's tempting sometimes to declare your guy a bust early and dump "the bum" prematurely for a shiny object on the waiver wire. Try to resist this. Scrambling with the herd to get your discarded prospect back is not only awkward but counter-productive to building your team up stronger. Therefore, put off your drop assessments until at least October if you can, unless an obvious situation arises where it can't be helped.2019 Fantasy Football Week 1 Preview

2019 Fantasy Football Week 1 Preview

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Games to Watch2019 Fantasy Football Week 1 Preview

A brief rundown of the big games of the week. You drafted your players, now it's time to watch 'em.

Early Sunday: Titans (0-0) at Browns (0-0)

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The new-look Browns have Odell Beckham Jr. (not at 100% health) in the house. Baker Mayfield will no doubt use him to test the Titans secondary early and often. The Titans must certainly expect a deep shot right out of the first huddle. Adoree Jackson has fallen off and Malcolm Butler is the main defensive back in charge with a heavy load of secondary coverage.

The Titans offense looked uncoordinated and just plain lousy in preseason. Mariota has shown little growth since he entered the league and I'm predicting a slow start for his team. Remember when I talked about patience in September? Corey Davis would fit that picture exactly if Mariota warms up using his security blanket Delanie Walker as in the past.

Fun Fact: The Browns are winless in their last 10 home openers
Sleeper: Rashard Higgins, WR, Browns

Other Early Games in brief...2019 Fantasy Football Week 1 Preview

Chiefs at Jaguars

The outside coverage of the Jags can handle Watkins and Hill, but between the numbers, keeping Travis Kelce contained is their main issue.

Bills at Jets

It is almost a given that these teams are already looking for wild-card possibilities. The snap count of the Bills' backfield is of particular interest.

Ravens at Dolphins

The new-look Ravens offense promised by John Harbaugh is supposedly ready for unveiling. The Dolphins are a team in "win later" mode, so anything goes for Fitzpatrick.

Redskins at Eagles

If Adrian Peterson is a healthy scratch, then Derrius Guice could potentially open up your fantasy account with a bounty. The Eagles offensive targets and touches require our full fantasy attention.

Falcons at Vikings

Julio Jones had some contract cleanup going on Thursday along with other undisclosed problems, but says he'll take the field. Xavier Rhodes will cover him.

Rams at Panthers

We'll get our first indications on how much we were right or wrong on Todd Gurley's usage. The Panthers offense too will show how much or little D.J. Moore is part of their expected scheme.

Late Sunday: Giants (0-0) at Cowboys (0-0)

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As for the Cowboys "easing in" Ezekiel Elliott after holding out through the entire preseason, it brings up a debate for coachspeak posturing. Saquon Barkley won't mind, he has his own reputation construction to accomplish. I still think there's a showdown of wills here and Zeke won't want to look like a beef pie with more pastry than meat compared with Saquon.

That aside, the Cowboys can now focus on Dak Prescott using their rushing threat to open up Cooper and Gallup in the passing game. Meanwhile, the Giants in that department will dutifully start Eli Manning hoping he can use his "no new faces" offense to keep Daniel Jones occupied with the clipboard. The Giants will sell no wine before its time apparently and anyone saying Manning is on the bubble, even though we know he is, just better keep it to themselves.2019 Fantasy Football Week 1 Preview

Fun Fact: The Cowboys have a 4-1 record against the Giants in home openers since 2007
Sleeper: Randall Cobb, WR, Cowboys

Other Late Games in brief...

Colts at Chargers

As painful as it is, the Colts can cobble together a good enough offense with Jacoby Brissett to give the Chargers something to think about. It's not like Brissett is without experience. As for the Chargers, this game does not go into cruise control because the Colts have a dubious offense. Their defense led by Justin Houston up front remain one of the stoutest in the league. The one thing we need to look for in fantasy is the true split of carries between Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson.

Bengals at Seahawks

Whenever I say defensive struggle, it usually means both teams. Not in this one. The Bengals defense rank among the worst to open the season and the Seahawks are climbing once again with the acquisition of Jadeveon Clowney.

49ers at Buccaneers

Fantasy interest in this game centers around the Bucs backfield. The three main contenders for the hot hand are Peyton Barber, Ronald Jones, and Dare Ogunbowale. The 49ers also have some equally interesting target sharing questions in the passing game of which we shall get our first samples.

Lions at Cardinals

A Lions and Cardinals game that matters only because we are several weeks on the right side of Thanksgiving. In terms of matchup, it has the potential for heavy passing with a shootout atmosphere. All eyes will focus on Kyler Murray's first NFL regular season start.

Feature Games

Sunday Night:  Steelers (0-0) at Patriots (0-0)

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The Patriots unfurl their 6th banner on Sunday and the chance for another ceremony next season appears more than plausible. Brady suddenly has dream weaponry all around him. An arsenal of receivers which he did not even have anything close to in Week 1 of 2018. Yet, another banner ceremony is here.

The Patriots retain their method of gameplan mixing of backs and receivers. The only difference is, they are all better in 2019. The defense too. Yeah, I know, yikes.

The Steelers have shed the old skin of Le'Veon Bell and (very happily) Antonio Brown. Juju Smith-Schuster is plenty enough for the Steelers to resume their prolific offense and the rushing attack hasn't let up with James Conner. I am still not convinced that the second receiver in Pittsburgh, always a plush fantasy asset, has seen a final resolution. I'm a James Washington supporter and there is no reason to think Donte Moncrief is etched in concrete for the WR2 role.

The main focus I'm looking at in this game is the target count between three Patriots. Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, and Josh Gordon. I am looking for the Patriots to execute some preservation for Edelman early in the season with Dorsett. Gordon is an odd one. Brady has enough trust now to start delivering him a substantial uptick of looks. Will it happen? That's what we want to see.

Fun Fact: The Patriots have won 9 of their last 10 home openers
Sleeper: Jaylen Samuels, RB, Steelers

Monday Night: Texans (0-0) at Saints (0-0)

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It may turn out that LT Laremy Tunsil is the one player that saves the season for the Texans. Blindside cover for Deshaun Watson became paramount with an offensive line short of solid pass protection.

The Saints, on the other hand, held nine offensive linemen after the roster cuts. They have a hoard of good ones. Terron Armstead, Ryan Ramczyk, Andrus Peat, Larry Warford, and Erik McCoy at center are not household names, but these gentlemen form the strongest offensive line in football.

Fun Fact: The Texans last played a regular season game in the Superdome in Week 3 of 2011 - Saints won 40-33
Sleeper: Tre'Quan Smith, WR, Saints

Broncos at Raiders

Antonio Brown is expected to play in this game. I'm all out of optimism for Brown as an unseen flare up from one thing or another could occur at any moment. Joe Flacco's first regular season game in a Denver uniform is well worth a look.
update: AB released from Raiders; signed with the Patriots - you already knew that by now...

In the Booth on Sunday

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Kevin Burkhardt

CBS Early

Titans at Browns: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo
Chiefs at Jaguars: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Bills at Jets: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
Ravens at Dolphins: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton

Fox Early

Redskins at Eagles: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis
Falcons at Vikings: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman
Rams at Panthers: Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston

CBS Late

Colts at Chargers: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green
Bengals at Seahawks: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta

Fox Late

Giants at Cowboys: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman
49ers at Buccaneers: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber
Lions at Cardinals: Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth

Monday Night Games

Texans at Saints: Joe Tessitore, Booger McFarland (MNF regulars)
Broncos at Raiders: Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Louis Riddick

Check out the rest of our 2018 Fantasy Football content from our great team of writers.

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