BY MARK GREGORY
As the NFL opens uop another year, that means only one thing to all the sports nerds like me out – fantasy football!
I have been playing fantasy for the nearly 25 years and put a lot of time and effort into the strategy that makes up the game. With this time comes wins – of the three leagues I am in, I am currently a back-to-back champion in two of them. The one I have only been a part of for two years (yeah, they want to kick me out already) and the other am part of a two-man team that has won four titles in six years.
This year I am going to share some my fantasy football knowledge with Voyager Media readersn at www.buglenewspapers.com.
Each Wednesday, I will post a new weekly list of players I would start and ones I would stay away from. This column will be an online staple, but may pop up in print from time to time. Here are my picks for week 1.
Start – Kirk Cousins- Redskins
Cousins was a surprise to many last season when he passed for nearly 5,000 yards and 25 touchdowns.
He lost a big weapon in DeSean Jackson, but has a healthy Jordan Reed (so far) and Terrelle Pryor, who put up solid numbers a year ago in Cleveland.
Cousins is playing on a franchise tag this season, so he is on a prove-it-and-get-paid, one year deal – All the motivation for him to come out on fire against the Eagles.
Sit – Marcus Mariota – Titans
I am a fan and I had him high on my board of mid-round QBs when I was drafting, but after preseason game No. against the Bears, I lowered him a few spots.
I still think Mariota will be better than OK this year with Delanie Walker and Rishard Matthews back and the additions of Eric Decker and rookie Corey Davis – but he did struggle against a Bears pass rush front that is nothing like what he will see from Kahlil Mack and the Raiders.
If you have other options in week 1, use them – but if it is Mariota or hitting the waiver wire for Tom Savage, Mike Glennon or Brian Hoyer – then stick with Mariota and hope he makes it out alive.
Start – Jacquizz Rodgers – Buccaneers
If you drafted him – play him.
My hope is that you took him after round 10 and that he is a Flex option for you and not a pure RB1, but if you have Ezekiel Elliott or a rookie runner that you just want to see one regular season game with before riding him, then Rodgers is your guy.
Doug Martin is suspended for the first three games of the season and even if he gets his job back fully when he returns, you have three solid weeks of a talented runner who can catch the ball out of the backfield.
There are conflicting reports all over the place if Martin will even get his job back when he returns from the suspension – even more of a reason to motivate Rodgers into playing his best in week one.
Sit – Adrian Peterson – Saints
Yeah, I know – its Monday Night Football and the once revered runner returns to face his old team.
In a Hollywood story he may rip off 200 yards and 3 scores, but this ain’t Hollywood. Not only is AP facing one of the top defenses in the NFL, he is still in a pass-happy offense and will share carries with Mark Ingram, the starter last season in New Orleans
Start – Martavius Bryant- Steelers
Bryant returns to the Steelers and the NFL after being suspended for a season and right away gets a Cleveland Browns team that just cut a Pro Bowl corner back in Joe Haden.
Not to be lost here is that Haden signed in Pittsburgh and I am sure is sharing coverage secrets with his new squad. In only 21 career games, Bryant has 14 TDs. He is a big WR at 6-foot-4 and should get single coverage all the time as long as Antonio Brown stays healthy. Big Ben is still a solid NFL QB and adding another arrow to his quiver is only going to help that offense.
Sit – Chris Hogan – Patriots
I know – Tom Brady is throwing the ball and the Kansas City defense isn’t exactly the ’85 Bears, but slow the roll just a bit.
Yes, Julian Edelman is hurt and someone has to take his place.
Hogan seems like the guy – but is he? Will it be Danny Amendola? Will the Pats go downfield this year and use the speed of Brandin Cooks? Or will they just feature the plethora of pass-catching running backs for the short-yardage throws? Oh, and let’s not forget Gronk is back in the mix.
With so many questions to be answered, I would wait on New England pass catchers if you can and see how it plays out.
Start – Martellus Bennett – Packers
The former Bear and most recently Patriot TE has landed in a good spot in Green Bay.
The Packers has a running game that consists of a converted wide receiver starting in the backfield.
What does that ultimately mean? The Packers will again be a pass heavy team.
Jordy Nelson will get his catches and rack up his numbers as he always does – but Aaron Rodgers needs to be able to spread the ball around and his new TE is just the guy to help and could be a guy that nears averaging a TD a week.
Sit – Jack Doyle – Colts
I am fan of Doyle and think he will have a productive season when all is said and done – but let’s not forget it looks like he has Scott Tolzien throwing him the ball right now.
Doyle had only five grabs for 25 yards and no TDs in the preseason, so it’s not like he and Tolzien have found some magic that makes him a must play. Even if by some miracle Luck is back for the opener, you are going to have a quarterback that has yet to practice, let alone play in a game.
Wait until Luck is back and healthy or until Tolzien proves Doyle is a prime target for him.
• Since you probably only should have drafted one kicker and one defense – just play who you have.
Questions? Comments? Email Mark Gregory at firstname.lastname@example.org