A year can go by so quickly. And a lot can happen in what is essentially a small amount of time. This time last year people were wondering whether they should draft Peyton Manning in the first round or not. This time last year people were thinking Jeremy Hill was a first tier running back. This time last year people were going into the season with Tony Romo as their #1 QB and quite happy about it. But a lot can happen in such a small amount of time.
What hasn’t changed, though, is that fantasy football continues to go on, and decisions still have to be made. If it’s your first time, or if it’s your 21st time, or if it’s sometime in between, if you’re like me you still get the butterflies every single time you have to set your first lineup of the fantasy season. Of course if you’re someone like me you get butterflies every single time you have to set your lineup.
Making lineup moves means thinking beforehand, evaluating each guy on your team and his potential value to you on any given week. It also means adjusting accordingly, double checking later (in case of injury), and setting it in stone before Sunday (or if you have any Thursday players that week). I always make the final decision on Thursday morning whether or not I’m going to move any players that night into my starting lineup. Then on Sunday morning I make the final decision on everyone else.
Don’t get me wrong. While it takes some time, some research, and some faith, your lineup moves are also fun, especially when you hit on the right combination. When you put someone in your lineup who isn’t being universally started and he hits a home run for you (mixing sports metaphors here) it can bring on euphoria. Ride that wave because the next time a similar move might net you zero points. Those are the breaks, the highs and the lows of lineup moves.
Now, every week during the fantasy season I’m going to help you make some of those tough choices. I’m going to give you four players at the primary offensive positions who should perform well, based on Fantasy Ace predictions. These are my Lineup Moves…
1. Derek Carr (OAK) – I don’t care what anyone says. I like Derek Carr this year. His metrics are good, he has a great receiving corps, and Latavius Murray will have a bounceback season, taking pressure off him. This first game should be a shootout, against a poor New Orleans defense. I will take Carr all day, and twice on Sunday.
2. Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) – It’s funny how this happens, that I need to talk anyone into going with Big Ben out of the gate in this season. It’s probably because he’ll have “Antonio Brown & the Also Rans” instead of the full complement of players behind him, but I say he makes everyone else better, they step their game up, and hey, it’s Washington.
3. Carson Palmer (ARI) – Sure, he’s facing New England, but they haven’t been lights out lately on defense, and Palmer has a LOT of weapons. David Johnson can thrive in the passing game as well, and John Brown is a speedy target that can get past the defense. Palmer has a big game.
4. Blake Bortles (JAC) – Speaking of shootouts, this one against Green Bay should also be a chance for a lot of fantasy points. I like everyone in this game, but particularly the signal callers. Of course you’re playing Aaron Rodgers, but Bortles is an excellent play as well (and a lot cheaper in your draft, I surmise).
AVOID: Matt Ryan (ATL) – I know. I know. Ryan generally plays lights out against the Buccaneeers, but this isn’t your grandpa’s Buccaneers. They’re still not great on defense, but they’re much improved. And Ryan has looked absolutely miserable for over half a season now. I don’t see that letting up here, regardless of opponent. You’ve been warned.
1. Spencer Ware (KC) – I’m not sold on the San Diego defense stopping pretty much anybody. With Jamaal Charles unlikely to play (hampered), and Charcandrick West dealing with some of his own issues, this running game is Ware’s, and he’ll handle it well.
2. DeAngelo Williams (PIT) – No Bell? No problem. Williams has played well in his starts with the Steelers, and he will come through once again. Big Ben will look to him to help in the passing game also, which will help in PPR leagues. Pencil in Williams for the first three games of the season.
3. Devonta Freeman (ATL) – I agree. Freeman had an otherworldly start to last season, but he ended poorly, and therefore slid down a few draft boards. But this matchup against Tampa Bay is a spicy one, one where Freeman can dominate the mismatches at the line of scrimmage. Ride him in this one.
4. Ryan Mathews (PHI) – Mathews finally gets another chance to shine, and he starts the year injury-free and number one on the Eagles depth chart. They’re playing the hapless Browns, who are indeed still hapless on defense, so count on Mathews as an RB2 in this one, with the possibility of producing even more points.
AVOID: Matt Forte (NYJ) – This Cincinnati defense is no joke, but if you’re going to beat them you’re going to have to pound the ball and keep at it. The problem is the Jets will get down early and will have to throw to catch up. That doesn’t bode well for their new acquisition. Forte will have a letdown in his new digs.
1. Michael Crabtree (OAK) – Remember what I said about Derek Carr? The same is true for his receivers. I look for them to have an excellent game against a pitiful New Orleans defense. While most are looking at Cooper, Crabtree actually had more catches and did more with the ball last season. He will have a better game here as well.
2. Doug Baldwin (SEA) – I’m not sure why people are sleeping on Baldwin this year. Sure, what he did for a stretch of games to end the season last year was out of this world, and he probably won’t repeat that. But he’s still a quality wide receiver under regular circumstances, and this matchup against the Miami secondary is tasty.
3. Michael Floyd (ARI) – I’ll say it up front. That New England defense is going to end up being better on paper than in real life. Carson Palmer will absolutely carve them up in this one, and Floyd will be his number one target. He can stretch the field, and he is a huge target. With John Brown hampered, look for him, not Fitzgerald, to step up big.
4. Donte Moncrief (IND) – I’m not sold on Andrew Luck being all the way back in this one, but I do know that the defense for Detroit will be blanketing T.Y. Hilton so he doesn’t break the big one against them. Moncrief will gain from this, and has the potential to score multiple touchdowns as a result. I’m all in on Moncrief in week one.
AVOID: Jeremy Maclin (KC) – I honestly don’t think the Chiefs will even need Maclin in this one. They will be able to run all day on the Chargers, which gives Ware more value, and when they’re in close it’s more than likely that Travis Kelce with his physical presence will get more looks. Maclin could be a huge disappointment if you rely on him this week.
1. Coby Fleener (NO) – I believe I said something about a shootout in the Big Easy, and while I like Brandin Cooks in this one, I really like Fleener to make a splash in his NO debut. They picked him up so he could be a lesser Jimmy Graham, and I think he will live up to that here with two scores in a high scoring affair.
2. Zach Ertz (PHI) – Ertz is a trendy pick to have a breakthrough season, but he was last year too and that didn’t really materialize. Is it his time now? I think so. He’s finally got a QB ready and willing to trust him with the ball in Carson Wentz who will need a security blanket. He will have his way with the Browns.
3. Martellus Bennett (NE) – Welcome to New England, Mr. Bennett. While many see him as security for if Gronk gets hurt, I don’t. Similar to how Aaron Hernandez trolled the other side of the field and kept defenses honest, Bennett will do the same. And he’s almost as big a target in the red zone as Gronk. He will score in this one.
4. Jason Witten (DAL) – The checkdown machine Witten will again be the safety valve for a QB, except this time it will be the inexperienced Prescott, who should be running for his life all game against an opportunistic Giants defense.
AVOID: Gary Barnidge (CLE) – I know this seems like a slam dunk against the Eagles, but they were sneaky good against tight ends last year. Barnidge might have come out of nowhere last season, but teams are able to scheme for him now. That doesn’t bode well out of the gates for Cleveland’s big man.
1. Vincent Jackson (TB)
2. Allen Hurns (JAC)
3. T.J. Yeldon (JAC)
4. Rashad Jennings (NYG)
AVOID: Arian Foster (MIA)