If you’re a novice, or not a very serious Fantasy player, you can simply use the “Opponents Rank” (OPRK) stat to help pick your lineup. That ranking is on every major Fantasy site now. It’s a somewhat useful tool, but it has many flaws.
OPRK doesn’t take into account who teams have played against. It doesn’t factor in past and present injuries. Also, the players who score TDs in a single game, and the time of possession in a single game are very random. These factors are all very important for positional match-up purposes.
You have to dig deeper into each particular game to get a more accurate reading. I have dug deep into every game to give the most accurate take possible.
I’ve also used an A-F player grading system instead of typical rankings. I use this because honestly, many players have equal values, and there’s no science to picking between them. Just go with gut on equally graded players.
“A” players are expected to have big games, “B” players are must starts and “C” players are the most debatable. They are “on the bubble” starters. A “C+” player means I would lean towards playing them, and a “C-” means I would lean towards not starting them. “D” players are not recommended starts, and “F” players (not listed) are irrelevant.
Week 1 Previews and Predictions
Week 1 Games
Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets
Bengals Offense vs Jets Defense
These are two pretty evenly matched units. The Jets have one of best run defenses in the league. I don’t see Jeremy Hill or Giovani Bernard doing much damage on the ground, even with DT Sheldon Richardson suspended. Bernard could be a major factor in the passing game though.
The Bengals will have to try and move the ball through the air. The Jets will likely cover A.J. Green with Darrelle Revis along with safety help over the top. Green will get his, but the Jets aren’t going to let him beat them. WRs Tyler Boyd and Brandon LaFell will have to step up and make some plays with TE Tyler Eifert injured, and WRs Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones gone.
Jets Offense vs Bengals Defense
This is also a pretty even match-up. The Jets may have an advantage with WRs Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall over the smaller CBs of the Bengals. Adam Jones in particular, Jones is playing with a calf injury, and at 5’10”, 180, he’ll be at a huge size disadvantage versus either Decker or Marshall.
The most intriguing match-up to me in this game is between the Bengal’s Defensive Tackles and the interior of the Jets offensive line. Geno Atkins is one of the best DTs in the game, and the Jets Nick Mangold is one of the best Centers. This match-up should determine how much success RB Matt Forte will have running the ball.
I got the Jets winning a close, relatively low scoring game. QBs Andy Dalton and Ryan Fitzpatrick are both very prone to turnovers as well. Whichever QB protects the ball better should be the difference. The Jets are playing at home, and have a slightly more talented roster, so I’ll give them the edge.
Player Fantasy Grades
A.J. Green B
Giovani Bernard C+
Tyler Boyd C-
Jeremy Hill D+
Brandon LaFell D+
Andy Dalton D+
Brandon Marshall B+
Eric Decker B-
Matt Forte B-
Ryan Fitzpatrick D+
Chicago Bears at Houston Texans
Bears Offense vs Texans Defense
This a huge advantage for the Texans. They have a Top 5 defense, and the Bears are a work in progress on offense. J.J. Watt is expected to play, but he could be limited with a pretty serious back injury. This might finally be the year former No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney breaks out.
The Bears will likely have trouble running the ball and protecting the passer. This is not the week to start second year players Jeremy Langford or Kevin White. The only Bear I would trust in Fantasy this game is Alshon Jeffery. TE Zach Miller is questionable with a concussion, if he plays, he could have a decent game.
Texans Offense vs Bears Defense
I have to give some credit to the Texan’s front office. For the last couple seasons, this was a one-man offense revolving around DeAndre Hopkins. They really changed that drastically. I wasn’t crazy about the big contract they gave QB Brock Osweiler at first, but with help from QB whisperer Bill O’Brien, Osweiler has looked great thus far.
The Texans also added a ton of speed at the skill positions, signing free agent RB Lamar Miller, and drafting Will Fuller, Braxton Miller, and Tyler Ervin. Fuller will likely start as the No. 2 WR, Miller will play the slot, and Ervin will play all over, and be a great return man. All these guys can fly, especially on that fast track in Texans Stadium. The Bears defense is decent, but they won’t be able to contain all this speed. You can expect big games from Miller and Hopkins, with Will Fuller probably making a couple long catches.
The Texans should handle the Bears pretty easily, winning by at least two scores. The Bears are overmatched and on the road. This could be a long day for Jay Cutler. There’s also a lot of positive energy coming out of Houston this season. I don’t expect a let down in their home opener.
Player Fantasy Grade
Alshon Jeffery B-
Zach Miller C-
Kevin White C-
Jeremy Langford D+
Jay Cutler D-
Lamar Miller A-
DeAndre Hopkins A-
Will Fuller C
Brock Osweiler C
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
Buccaneers Offense vs Falcons Defense
In two victories against the Falcons last season, the Bucs took a rather conservative approach on offense. RBs Doug Martin and Charles Sims combined for 61 carries, and QB Jameis Winston attempted only 59 passes in the two contests.
The Falcons were able to hold Doug Martin to under 4.0 YPC in each game, but the number of carries, and commitment to the running game kept the Bucs in both games late. The Falcon’s Desmond Trufant is probably the most underrated CB in the league. He held Mike Evans to 99 combined yards in two games last year.
Falcons Offense vs Buccaneers Defense
The Bucs simply have no way of stopping Julio Jones. Jones had 20 receptions for 255 yards in their two match-ups. Other pass catchers Mohamed Sanu, Justin Hardy, and Jacob Tamme will have to step up for the Falcons to pull off a victory. Julio Jones can’t beat the Bucs by himself. He tried twice last year and failed.
The Bucs have a pretty solid run defense. They held RB Devonta Freeman to 132 combined rushing yards in two games. Freeman did have a big impact in the passing game, catching 16 passes in the two contests. The addition of Center Alex Mack should help improve the Falcon’s run game this season.
The Buccaneers beat the Falcons twice on the last possession of the game last season. The Bucs are a young team on the upswing, and the Falcons remain trapped in mediocrity. These teams are incredibly even from a talent standpoint. I’ll go with the Bucs to win a third straight game over Atlanta, in what should be a hard fought division battle.
Player Fantasy Grades
Doug Martin B
Mike Evans B
Vincent Jackson C
Jameis Winston C
Julio Jones A
Devonta Freeman B
Matt Ryan C-
Jacob Tamme D+
Mohamed Sanu/Justin Hardy D
Green Bay Packers at Jacksonville Jaguars
Packers Offense vs Jaguars Defense
While the Jaguars defense looks to be much improved, they still have almost zero chance to stop the Packers offense. With the return of Jordy Nelson, the Packers will look to return to their 2014 form. Nelson did not play in the preseason, but all indications are he’s fully ready to go. He may be on a bit of a snap count. In a very interesting match-up, Nelson will likely be covered by rookie CB Jalen Ramsey. As talented as Ramsey may be, this will be a tough task in his first NFL game.
Randall Cobb should get a lot of looks working the middle of the field. Eddie Lacy should also have a very good game, with the chance to score a TD or two. The only concern with the Packers offense is their pass protection. However, in this game, the Jaguars don’t have the pass rushers to take advantage.
Jaguars Offense vs Packers Defense
The Jaguars have just as much fire power at the skill positions as the Packers do. They do have offensive line concerns. Unlike the Jaguars, the Packers do have an excellent pass rush. The Packers also have a very talented secondary with emerging young stars Damarious Randall and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Pro Bowl WR Allen Robinson looks nearly uncoverable, but this could be a difficult match-up for Allen Hurns and TE Julius Thomas.
If Jacksonville wants to have a chance in this game, they will have to commit to the power running game with Chris Ivory against a soft Green Bay run defense. If they can do this, it will allow them to control the clock, and maybe limit the amount of time Aaron Rodgers and company are on the field.
This game screams shootout. The Packers are the better team, but the Jaguars aren’t going to lay down in their home opener. I feel like this game is going to come down to the wire, with Aaron Rodgers leading a game winning drive in the final minutes of the game.
Player Fantasy Grades
Aaron Rodgers A
Jordy Nelson B+
Randall Cobb B
Eddie Lacy B
Jared Cook C-
Allen Robinson A-
Blake Bortles B
Chris Ivory B-
Allen Hurns B-
Julius Thomas C
T.J. Yeldon C-
Minnesota Vikings at Tennessee Titans
Vikings Offense vs Titans Defense
I don’t really see that much difference between Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford, or even Shaun Hill as the QB for the Vikings. Bridgewater’s injury was unfortunate, and led the Vikings to massively overpay for Sam Bradford. However, this is a team that’s built to run the ball and play great defense. They only averaged 183 passing yards per game last year. It’s hard to see that number going down much.
Adrian Peterson should run right through the Titans behind an improved offensive line. Peterson has had no trouble running against 8 and 9 man fronts his entire career. Tennessee exhausted all of their resources on the offensive side of the ball this offseason and did little to help improve a very suspect defense.
Titans Offense vs Vikings Defense
The Titans running game looked great in the preseason. RBs Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray were both very impressive. Now let’s see how they look in a regular season game against a premier defense.
With great CBs and an excellent pass rush, the Vikings have one of the best pass defenses in the NFL. They will be able to lock down the Titans WRs with single coverage and devote all of their attention to stopping the running game.
In a game that will likely feature the fewest number of combined pass attempts, the Vikings have the upper hand. They should beat the Titans by a touchdown in a very slow paced game. Besides Adrian Peterson, there isn’t much Fantasy appeal in this game.
Player Fantasy Grades
Adrian Peterson A
Stefon Diggs D+
Kyle Rudolph D+
Laquon Treadwell D
Delanie Walker B
DeMarco Murray/ Derrick Henry C-
Marcus Mariota D
Rishard Matthews/ Tajae Sharpe D
Oakland Raiders at New Orleans Saints
Raiders Offense vs Saints Defense
The Saints defense was historically bad last season, and it doesn’t appear to be much better this year. The Raiders should run and throw all over the Saints. Get all of your Raiders in your line-up this week. Even RB Deandre Washington, TE Clive Walford, and WR Seth Roberts are nice cheap options in DFS.
Saints Offense vs Raiders Defense
The strength of the Raiders defense is their pass rush and their rushing defense. They are very susceptible in the secondary. This plays into the strengths of the Saints offense. The Saints love to air it out, and Drew Brees gets the ball out quick.
Every game the Saints play this season is likely to be a shootout. Their defense can’t stop anybody, and very few teams will be able to stop their passing attack. I got Oakland winning in a very high scoring affair.
Fantasy Player Grades
Amari Cooper A
Derek Carr A-
Latavius Murray B
Michael Crabtree B-
Deandre Washington/Clive Walford/Seth Roberts D+
Drew Brees A
Brandin Cooks B
Coby Fleener B-
Mark Ingram B-
Mike Thomas C
Willie Snead C
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
Chargers Offense vs Chiefs Defense
The Chargers scored a combined six points in their two meetings with the Chiefs last season. This is just not a good match-up for San Diego. Their two best receiving options, Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates, will be covered by elite DBs Marcus Peters and Eric Berry.
The Chargers run game should be slightly improved. They caught a break as Guard DJ Fluker, who was thought to have a potentially serious injury is going to be OK. The Chargers have also moved Fluker to Guard in a desperate attempt to help Melvin Gordon and this running game.
Chiefs Offense vs Chargers Defense
The Chargers have a terrible run defense, and a pretty good secondary. This plays right into what the Chiefs like to do. Jamaal Charles is likely out for this game. That means a potential big game for back-up RB Spencer Ware. Charcandrick West could also have a sneaky good game.
Travis Kelce and Jeremy Maclin both had two terrible games versus San Diego last season. Considering the Chiefs won’t have to throw much, I wouldn’t expect a big game from either of them.
The Chiefs beat the Chargers a combined 43-6 in their two contests last year. There’s no reason to expect that trend not to continue. The Chiefs should pound the Chargers in their home opener.
Player Fantasy Grades
Keenan Allen C+
Danny Woodhead C
Antonio Gates C-
Philip Rivers D+
Travis Benjamin D+
Melvin Gordon D+
Spencer Ware B
Travis Kelce B-
Jeremy Maclin C+
Charcandrick West C-
Alex Smith D+
Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens
Bills Offense vs Ravens Defense
For many years the Ravens were perennially one of the best defenses in the NFL. That time is officially over. Their secondary was torched last season. Tyrod Taylor and Sammy Watkins could put on a show in this game. LeSean McCoy looks 100%, and he should be a Top 10 RB in this game and all season. The starting left side of the O-line, Cordy Glenn and Richie Incognito, are good to go after some early injury concerns.
Ravens Offense vs Bills Defense
The Bills defense greatly underachieved last season in their first year under Rex Ryan. They fell from the fifth ranked defense in 2014 all the way down to 19th ranked last year. They have a lot of talent on defense and should be much better this year. DT Marcell Darius will be out this game due to suspension.
The Ravens took a big hit on their offensive line losing Guard Kelechi Osemele to free agency, and the unexpected retirement of LT Eugene Monroe. The Bills have excellent CBs in Ronald Darby and Stephon Gilmore. I expect a lot of short passes to the TEs and RBs from the Ravens in this game.
I’m surprised to see that the Bills are three point underdogs in this game. The game is in Baltimore, but the Bills have a much more talented roster. Tyrod Taylor will be extra motivated playing against his old team. I see the Bills winning this one pretty comfortably.
Player Fantasy Grades
Sammy Watkins B+
LeSean McCoy B+
Tyrod Taylor B
Charles Clay C-
Kamar Aiken C-
Steve Smith C-
Joe Flacco D+
Justin Forsett/Terrance West D+
Crockett Gillmore/Maxx Williams/Dennis Pitta D
Cleveland Browns at Philadelphia Eagles
Browns Offense vs Eagles Defense
The Browns will feature six new starters on offense this season. There are a lot of question marks with this unit. Fortunately, this week they get to play the Eagles. A seemingly rejuvenated Robert Griffin III, along with pass catchers Gary Barnidge, Corey Coleman, and Terrelle Pryor should be enough to torch the Eagle’s pathetic pass defense.
I don’t expect RBs Isaiah Crowell or Duke Johnson to have big games, but Crowell should find the endzone, and Johnson is a good PPR play.
Eagles Offense vs Browns Defense
Well, if you drafted TE Zach Ertz or WR Jordan Matthews, this is one of the few weeks you can play them. QB Carson Wentz is really being thrown into the fire. He played only 30 plays in the preseason, has injured ribs, and he’s coming from a FCS school. He’s never even seen decent college players, let alone NFL starters.
As long as he stays healthy, RB Ryan Mathews is one of my favorite sleepers this season. The one strength the Eagles have is their offensive line. Mathews is also a very talented runner when he’s on the field. I think he’s a Top 10 RB this week against an awful Browns defense.
This will be the worst game of this week, and possibly the season. The Browns and Eagles have already openly punted this season away. I expect an ugly, unwatchable game, filled with turnovers and penalties. Which team will win? Who really cares, but I’ll go with the Browns in overtime.
Player Fantasy Grades
Gary Barnidge A-
Corey Coleman C+
Robert Griffin C
Isaiah Crowell/Duke Johnson C
Terrelle Pryor C-
Ryan Mathews B
Zach Ertz C
Jordan Matthews C
Darren Sproles D+
Carson Wentz D-
Miami Dolphins at Seattle Seahawks
Dolphins Offense vs Seahawks Defense
I’m not very impressed with the decisions new Head coach Adam Gase has made thus far. On a young team with almost no chance to make the playoffs, Gase has opted to start WR Kenny Stills over DeVante Parker, and RB Arian Foster over Jay Ajayi. Parker and Ajayi are both second year players with significant upside. Stills is a journeyman, and Foster is a 30- year-old RB returning from a torn Achilles.
The Dolphins are also starting four former Left Tackles on their offensive line. They may provide decent pass protection, but their run blocking looks very weak. Now they start the season off in Seattle. I would completely avoid all Dolphins this week, except maybe Jarvis Landry in PPR.
Seahawks Offense vs Dolphins Defense
The one strength of the Dolphins defense is their defensive line. They should be able to limit Seattle’s running game, and get some pressure on Russell Wilson. It shouldn’t matter though, as Wilson is the best scrambling QB in football, and the Dolphins secondary has no chance to match-up with Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, and Jimmy Graham.
The Seahawks clearly look to be going with a RBBC approach with Christine Michael, Thomas Rawls, and C.J. Prosise. This makes none of them very appealing in Fantasy.
I think this will be the biggest blowout of the week. The odds makers agree, as Seattle (-10) is the only team favored by more than a TD this week. Russell Wilson is my No. 1 Fantasy QB this week. This game is going to be a nightmare for the Dolphins offense.
Player Fantasy Grades
Jarvis Landry C+
Arian Foster/Jay Ajayi D
Kenny Stills/Devante Parker D
Ryan Tannehill D-
Russell Wilson A
Doug Baldwin B+
Tyler Lockett B
Jimmy Graham B-
Thomas Rawls/Christine Michael/C.J. Prosise D+
Detroit Lions at Indianapolis Colts
Lions Offense vs Colts Defense
The Colts defense was bad last season and they added very little in the offseason. Their best defensive player, CB Vontae Davis, is also out. I like the look of the new Lions offense. The receiving trio of Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Anquan Boldin is nothing to sneeze at. It’s very possible RB Ameer Abdullah will even have a decent game.
Colts Offense vs Lions Defense
The Lions defense is not as bad as some might think. They have two superstars in DE Ziggy Ansah and CB Darius Slay. Slay might be the best player in the game no one talks about. He should be on T.Y. Hilton most of the day. WRs Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett should see more favorable match-ups though.
The Colts offensive line is banged up, and their not very good when healthy anyway. I don’t see Frank Gore doing much on the ground, and Andrew Luck is probably going to take some hits.
Andrew Luck is better than Matthew Stafford. Neither of these teams can run the ball well. The Lions have a better defense. In a game that will likely feature the most combined passing attempts, I have the Lions winning on the last play of the game.
Player Fantasy Grades
Golden Tate B
Marvin Jones B
Matthew Stafford B
Ameer Abdullah/Theo Riddick C
Eric Ebron C-
Anquan Boldin C-
Andrew Luck B+
Donte Moncrief B
T.Y. Hilton B
Frank Gore C
Dwayne Allen C
Phillip Dorsett C-
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
Giants Offense vs Cowboys Defense
If their two meetings last year, Eli Manning threw for less than 200 yards and zero TDs in both games. Odell Beckham also struggled against the Cowboys with only 79 combined yards in two games. The Cowboys have a very good secondary, finishing fifth in the NFL in pass defense.
The Cowboys front seven is terrible though. They have no pass rush and a bad run defense. RBs Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen should have decent games if the Giants give them enough touches.
Cowboys Offense vs Giants Defense
It may be an unpopular statement, but I believe Dallas is better off with Dak Prescott than Tony Romo. Romo has been the most overrated QB in football for years. He’s 36, he’s won one career playoff game, and he’s made of glass. Dallas has no chance to win the Super Bowl this year with that defense. They have a small chance to win their pathetic division, so let the young guy play.
Prescott was a great college QB in the SEC. Mississippi State was the No. 1 ranked team in the country at one point with him under center. In their first game without Prescott, Mississippi State lost to Southern Alabama. He should have been a first round pick.
The Giants added a lot to what was a disaster of a defense last year. New CB Janoris Jenkins should give Dez Bryant some competition. The addition of 350 pound DT Damion Harrison should help their run defense. However, the Cowboys O-line can run the ball on anyone. Ezekiel Elliott should have a nice NFL debut.
These two teams split the season series last year in two very close games. The outcome of this game will likely be decided by the play of Dak Prescott. I think Prescott and Elliott will do just enough to help the Cowboys win a very close game.
Fantasy Player Grades
Odell Beckham A-
Eli Manning C+
Rashad Jennings C+
Shane Vereen C-
Sterling Shepard C-
Ezekiel Elliott A-
Dez Bryant B+
Dak Prescott C-
Jason Witten D+
Terrance Williams D+
New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals
Patriots Offense vs Cardinals Defense
This is a rough match-up for Jimmy Garoppolo in his first NFL start. Rob Gronkowski is out with a hamstring injury and three of the Patriots starting five offensive lineman are also playing hurt. The Cardinals have one of the best defenses in the league. The great combination of CB Patrick Peterson and FS Tyrann Mathieu should shut down the Patriots WRs.
I see Garappolo throwing a lot of dump off passes to RBs James White and D.J. Foster. I believe Foster will eventually surpass White as the go to receiving back. You can’t start him this week, but he could be a good low budget flyer in DFS.
Cardinals Offense vs Patriots Defense
The Patriots defense is notorious for taking away the opposing offense’s best player. That’s difficult to do with Arizona. They have three great WRs, and RB David Johnson is an emerging superstar.
The difficult thing about projecting the Cardinal’s WRs, is you never which receiver or two will have good games, and which one will be left out. Arizona is going to score some points in this game, which players will score them is unpredictable.
Hard to say it, but I think the Patriots are going to get blown out.
Player Fantasy Grades
Julian Edelman C+
Martellus Bennett C
James White C-
Legarrette Blount/D.J. Foster/Chris Hogan D+
Jimmy Garoppolo D
David Johnson B+
Larry Fitzgerald B-
John Brown C+
Michael Floyd C+
Carson Palmer C+
Pittsburgh Steelers at Washington Redskins
Steelers Offense vs Redskins Defense
The Redskins defense is bad. They added highly touted free agent CB Josh Norman, but little else. Norman has been doing a lot of chirping lately, so It’ll be fun to watch Antonio Brown torch him. I hope the Redskins let Norman cover Brown one-on-one, but I don’t think they’re that dumb.
The Steelers should also have no problem running the ball with DeAngelo Williams. With Martavis Bryant suspended, and TE Ladarius Green hurt, it will be interesting to see which receivers step-up for Pittsburgh. WRs Sammie Coates, Eli Rogers, and TE Jesse James are all possible breakout candidates.
Redskins Offense vs Steelers Defense
The Steelers defense is very solid against the run, and very weak against the pass. This works out well for the Redskins. The Redskins can’t run the ball, but they can definitely throw it. Kirk Cousins, Jordan Reed, and DeSean Jackson should all have good games with Pierre Garcon and Jamison Crowder pitching in as well.
This game is my shootout of the week. Both offenses should be able to move the ball up and down the field. I think the Steelers will come out on top due to a couple Kirk Cousin turnovers.
Player Fantasy Grades
Antonio Brown A
Ben Roethlisberger A
DeAngelo Williams B
Jesse James/Eli Rogers/Sammie Coates D
Jordan Reed A
Kirk Cousins B+
DeSean Jackson B-
Matt Jones/Chris Thompson D+
Jamison Crowder/Pierre Garcon D+
Los Angeles Rams at San Fransisco 49ers
Rams Offense vs 49ers Defense
The Rams won’t have to throw much in this game. They should be able to run all night on the 49ers with Todd Gurley. Tavon Austin could make a big play or two.
49ers Offense vs Rams Defense
San Francisco has the worst offense in the NFL. The great defensive line of the Rams should absolutely crush them. The Rams defense has some question marks, but the 49ers don’t have enough to test it.
What a terrible choice for a Monday night game. The only thing worth watching in this game is Todd Gurley. Besides Gurley and the Rams defense, there is no Fantasy appeal in this game. The Rams should win easily.
Player Fantasy Grades
Todd Gurley A+
Tavon Austin C+
Case Kennum D-
Vance McDonald C-
Torrey Smith C-
Carlos Hyde D+
- 2016 Fantasy Football: Week 13 Game Previews and Fantasy Predictions - December 3, 2016
- 2016 Fantasy Football: Week 12 Game Previews and Fantasy Predictions - November 25, 2016
- 2016 Fantasy Football: Week 11 Game Previews and Fantasy Predictions - November 19, 2016