Based on this week’s matchups and a player’s historical performance against their opponents, The SFFS’ crew projects which players to start on your roster or sit on your bench in Week 1.
Alshon Jeffery, WR Philadelphia Eagles:
Despite a strong showing in the preseason, your expectations for Jeffery should be tempered in his Eagles debut. Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson has said they fully expect Redskins’ CB Josh Norman to shadow Jeffery all game. That’s bad news for Alshon owners as Norman has allowed the fewest yards per cover snap in the NFL since 2012 as well as having the highest percentage of pass break-ups last season.
Keenan Allen, WR San Diego Chargers:
Keenan enters this weeks game with a career catch rate of just 58% vs. Denver and has never eclipsed the century mark in four regular season matchups. Though he looks to be fully recovered from last year’s ACL tear, he will face the number one overall ranked pass defense from 2016 and a trio of Broncos’ cornerbacks who allowed the least coverage yards per snap last season.
Marshawn Lynch, RB Oakland Raiders:
In 2016 the Tennessee Titans’ defense was ranked #2 against the rush while allowing just 88.3 yards per game and surrendering a meager 6 rushing touchdowns all season. Though Lynch should be in line for 13-17 carries, it will be tough sledding against Titans’ defensive tackle Jurrell Casey and Co. who allowed just 4.0 yards per carry in ’16, especially when you include the 2017 acquisition of run-stuffing safety Johnathan Cyprien.
Ameer Abdullah, RB Detroit Lions:
Abdullah will face a Cardinals defense which allowed only 69.2 rushing yards per game in 2016 while holding opposing backs to just 3.6 yards per carry. Though there were a few personnel losses for the Cardinals’ D this offseason, with Carson Palmer leading the Cardinals’ offense against a bad Detroit defense, expect a shootout and the Lions having to throw a lot. This will result in a lack of opportunities for Ameer and an increase in touches for pass-catching back Theo Riddick.
Russell Wilson, QB Seattle Seahawks:
Wilson showed what he is capable of when he’s healthy, going 29-41 for 447 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions this past preseason. Now he faces a Green Bay defense that allowed the second-most passing yards in the NFL and the most td-passes to wide receivers in 2016. Wilson’s improved health will also bring him points in the run game as the ‘Hawks can now bring the read-option back to their offense and fully utilize their mobile QB.
Le’Veon Bell, RB Pittsburgh Steelers:
In his career, Bell has averaged over 139 total offensive yards per game against the Cleveland Browns with 6 total td’s and will now face a defense without their top-pick in Myles Garrett, who will sit with a sprained ankle. The Browns defense gave up 4.6 yards per carry in 2016 and should have to spend plenty of time on the field with rookie quarterback Deshone Kizer making his first career start. The only question is how long will Bell stay on the field in an expected blow-out.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR Carolina Panthers:
A slimmed-down Kelvin Benjamin. A Panthers’ quarterback looking to have a major bounce-back year. A comment by the aforementioned QB Cam Newton predicting Kelvin will have a career-year in 2017. Combine all that with a 49ers’ defense that allowed 30 touchdown passes in 2016 and the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers and you get a recipe for a big game from Benjamin.
A.J. Green, WR Cincinnati Bengals:
Finally healthy after an injury-shortened 2016, Green faces a Baltimore defense against whom he put up 261 yards on 14 catches with three td’s in 2015 (did not play against Baltimore in 2016 due to injuries). Last season the Baltimore defense gave up the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing wide-receivers and now a rusty Joe Flacco returns at QB for the Ravens after missing most of the preseason. Baltimore’s offense should struggle moving the ball, giving the Bengals O plenty of possessions, and Green plenty of pass-catching opportunities, this week.