A tear of joy runs down my cheek as I type this. The regular season starts tonight! Let me repeat that. The regular season starts TONIGHT! This off-season I’ve been breaking down rookie WRs & TEs, ranking the top WRs & TEs for the season, and giving you some sleepers and busts at each position. We’re done with all of that mumbo jumbo (very meticulously thought out & analyzed mumbo jumbo mind you). Welcome, now, to my QB/TEs streams of the week for season long & DFS formats.
The difficulty with approaching Week 1 is that you’re essentially starting from scratch. That’s the beauty of it too, I suppose. Pre-season is not the most accurate indicator for how teams will fare in the season, and trends are fleeting in the NFL. Consider the LA Rams. They went from one of the worst offenses in the League to a powerhouse in the span of one off-season. The landscape of the NFL, and by extension fantasy football, shifts weekly. For the purpose of this article, I’ll highlight mostly low-owned (season long) & bargain (DFS) quarterbacks and tight-ends who could make a significant difference on your rosters for the first week of the season. Rostering these players in DFS will give you the flexibility to spend big on those high impact, elite players. You know the drill.
Alex Smith @ Arizona Cardinals – FD: $6,900 | DK: $5,600
Season Long – 73.0% Owned
The only real negative I have against Alex Smith this week is that he’ll be traveling across the country to face off against the Cardinals. The Cardinals, though, are not a defense I’m worrying about for Week 1. The Redskins’ offensive line was decimated last season due to injuries. Now that the line is healthy, they’ll figure to be one of the better lines in the NFL. This obviously benefits Smith. Smith had an MVP caliber season last year, and will be striving early to show that it wasn’t a fluke. Smith has the weapons to put points on the board, and the Cardinals defense is a shell of its former self with the departure of Mathieu to the Texans & Tramon Williams to the Packers. Smith will likely already be owned in season long formats, but he comes at a bit of a bargain in your DFS leagues. I’d put my money on Smith having a standout Week 1 performance to remind us what he’s capable of.
Andy Dalton @ Indianapolis Colts – FD: $6,800 | DK: $5,800
Season Long – 17.8% Owned
The Bengals and the Colts both sucked last year. No bones about it. The Bengals’ offensive line was woefully bad, and the Colts just couldn’t get anything going with Brissett under center. I think this game is going to end up as Week 1’s unexpected shootout. Both defenses are on the wrong side of the #16 benchmark, and the Colts DST is the consensus worst defense overall heading into the season. This bodes well for The Red Rifle. Dalton will also have all of his weapons healthy (at least as things currently stand). Even Tyler Eifert is healthy. Having this dynamic red zone weapon, and John Ross’ field stretching abilities surely boosts Dalton’s outlook for Week 1.
Blake Bortles @ New York Giants – FD: $6,600 | DK: $5,600
Season Long – 11.6% Owned
Bortles isn’t the easiest quarterback to get behind. The Jags’ offense runs through Fournette, his WR1 just had a season ending knee injury, and their defense is what brought them to the AFC Championship. That said, they’ll be playing the Giants defense, which was pretty dismal last season, especially against the tight end position (stay tuned for a groundbreaking QB/TE stack suggestion). Last season the Giants DST allowed an average of 16.5 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. The Giants’ defense hasn’t made that many improvements this offseason to suggest that we won’t see more of the same. I think the Jags, and Bortles should be in a good position to put up some points in the Big Apple.
Tyrod Taylor vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – FD: $6,600 | DK: $5,400
Season Long – 28.7% Owned
I want to be as clear as possible. This isn’t post-Hard Knocks hype. Yes, Tyrod Taylor is at home in week 1 against what is typically a tough Steelers’ defense. He is, however, the starting quarterback on a Todd Haley-led offense, with a solid offensive line, and actual pass catching weapons. Having players such as Jarvis Landry, Duke Johnson Jr., David Njoku, and Carlos Hyde is surely a change of pace from his Buffalo Bills days. The Steelers will do what they always do, and keep their opposition in passing situations. This is exactly what we need from our streaming/DFS quarterbacks, and it’s why I think Tyrod is a good streaming option.
Case Keenum vs. Seattle Seahawks – FD: $6,300 | DK: $5,100
Season Long – 13.0% Owned
The Broncos hope to have a capable starter in Keenum, and I think he will impress in Week 1 against the Seahawks. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d type! Whether you like it or not, the Seattle Seahawks’ defense is a shade of its former self. The loss of Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, & Michael Bennett has left a lingering scar on what was once one of the most dominant defenses in the League, and Earl Thomas’ holdout further opens that wound. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Keenum take advantage of this match-up at Mile High stadium in the season opener. The Broncos are currently the favorite in this Sunday’s contest, and have an 85% win percentage at home. All positives for the new Broncos quarterback to make a Week 1 statement.
Hail Mary Quarterback Play of the Week:
Joe Flacco vs. Buffalo Bills – FD: $6,100 | DK: $4,900
Season Long – 4.2% Owned
Joe Flacco was not elite last season. After a disappointing season he finished as the QB #24. Having him listed here has less to do with my faith in his ability, and more to do with my confidence in the Bills being a dumpster fire this year. The Bills’ offensive line is more porous than Swiss cheese at a gun range, and their defense won’t be able to hold up in the second half as their starting QB will have a hard time against the Ravens’ DST. If I were writing about streaming DST’s for Week 1, the Ravens would be the first team on that list. Last season, when Peterman made his NFL debut against the Chargers, he became a household name when he threw five (5) interceptions in the first half. While I don’t anticipate such a resounding rout for the Bills, I think Flacco will find himself with favorable field position throughout the game. That should translate to positive fantasy production.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins @ New York Giants – FD: $4,600 | DK: $3,200
Season Long – 25.4% Owned
Now ASJ isn’t someone I actively want on my rosters beyond this week. The fact of the matter is that he’ll be up against a Giants’ defense that ranked 31st against the tight end position last season. They were truly bad. If you were streaming the position last year, you were streaming the tight ends who were up against the Giants. The Giants don’t look to have improved in that department, giving up 2 touchdowns to David Njoku in their first preseason game. Let’s also not forget that Marcedes Lewis was the Jaguars’ primary red zone target last season, receiving 16.7% of targets within the 20-yard line. I’m high on ASJ for Week 1.
Ben Watson vs. Tampa Bay – FD: $4,900 | DK: $3,100
Season Long – 27.3% Owned
Drew Brees knows & loves Ben Watson. The two have been reunited in New Orleans after Watson’s two year hiatus from The Big Easy. In 2015, his final season on the Saints, Watson was targeted 110 times for 74 receptions, 825 yards and six touchdowns. Tampa Bay is coming into New Orleans to kick of the season with an in-division game. These games are historically high scoring, and Vegas agrees projecting that this game will have the highest point total in Week 1. With all the scoring that will be going around there’s a very good chance that Ben Watson finds himself with a touchdown on Sunday.
Jared Cook vs. Los Angeles Rams – FD: $5,000 | DK: $3,700
Season Long – 26.2% Owned
The Rams are a very good defense. They’re loaded up front & in the secondary. What they struggled against last season was opposing tight ends, finishing as the #15 worst/best defense against the position. Derek Carr will likely have a hard time finding Cooper & Nelson being covered by Aquib Talib & Marcus Peters. This leaves Cook as the main safety valve for Carr, and I bet he will be looking at him often. Let’s not forget that Cook led the Raiders last season in receiving yards. He’ll be a steady fixture in this offense, and will prove once more as a fantasy asset this week.
Charles Clay @ Baltimore Ravens – FD $5,200 | DK $3,500
Season Long – 56.7% Owned
I’m not a fan of the Bills’ offense this season at all. I don’t like their match-up this week against the Ravens’ DST either. One thing you can’t overlook, though, is targets. Charles Clay may very well be the best, most reliable pass catcher on the Bills’ offense, and he will be leaned on in their passing game. The Ravens were pretty bad against opposing tight ends, too, giving up around 13.2 points per game to the position last season. I’d only recommend this as a last resort kind of play for Week 1, as I don’t project good things for the Bills this season.
Tyler Eifert @ Indianapolis Colts – FD: $5,600 | DK: $3,400
Season Long – 62.7% Owned
Listen, Tyler Eifert is a scary player to start. He seems more fragile than Jordan Reed, and hasn’t played a snap since Sept. 14th of last year. If he’s 100%, which it would appear he is, and if he’s playing, which all reports are saying he will, then he’s a threat. His touchdown rate is fantastic, and at a certain point of streaming, you’re just looking for that one touchdown. Now right now Eifert is currently a little over valued on Fanduel than on DraftKings, so he’s a platform dependent play. I’d also be very surprised to see if people who own him in season long plan on playing him this week, and didn’t just draft him for the upside he presents. The matchup against the Colts does nothing to scare me. If Eifert lines up in the red zone, you can bet he get his share of looks.
Hail Mary Tight-End Play of the Week:
Ricky Seals-Jones vs. Washington Redskins – FD: $5,100 | DK: $3,000
Season Long – 6.8% Owned
Ricky Seals-Jones had short stretch of games toward the end of last season that made him a sneaky play in fantasy. Seals-Jones’ value comes from the lack of receivers on the Cardinals’ offense outside of perennial force, Larry Fitzgerald, and workhorse David Johnson. Sam Bradford’s extensive history of shorter passes favors Seals-Jones, as does the fact that he’ll be up against the defense that allowed 14.2 pts. per game against tight ends last season. The second year tight end simply checks all of the boxes as a player who stands to benefit from his current position. Sunday evening could give him the opportunity to set a benchmark to build off of for the remainder of the season.
QB/TE combo play of the week:
Blake Bortles & ASJ. I think Bortles will find his tight end in the endzone at least once this week against 2017’s 2nd worst defense against tight ends. A primary narrative this offseason for the Jaguars was Bortles’ developing a great rapport with ASJ. This week will test just how established that rapport really has become. Bortles is a cheap option on DFS as well. FD: $6,600, DK: $5,600.