In Week 1, it's best not to get too cute . You should probably start your best players. With many starters playing less in the preseason compared to years ago, we don't know much about a lot of teams. There might be some fantasy owners playing in deeper formats, dealing with injuries or trying to recover from a bad draft. Here are some sneaky starts to consider this week.
Nick Foles, Jacksonville Jaguars
The key for Foles is the Jaguars' defense. If they can't slow down the potent Chiefs' offense, the Jaguars will be forced to pass a lot to keep up. The Chiefs’ defense allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks last season and one of the biggest reasons is that they were on the field constantly and the opponents ran a lot of plays. The game has a total of 52 points.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
There are still many that don't believe in Jackson since he doesn't pass the ball often. When Jackson took over as starter in Week 11 last season, he was a top-10 fantasy quarterback the rest of the way. That's what a running quarterback can do. He averaged 17 rushing attempts per game in that span and while that pace likely won't continue, he's going to run a lot. Jackson can improve as a passer and the new offensive coordinator is Greg Roman, who worked with Colin Kaepernick and Tyrod Taylor, both of whom were better passers under the tutelage of Roman. The matchup in Week 1 is favorable against the Dolphins.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
There won't be many weeks to endorse Stafford. The Lions project to be a run-first, slow-paced offense. This is one of the best matchups an offense can have in that the Lions face the Cardinals. The Cardinals’ defense will struggle, especially without cornerbacks Patrick Peterson (suspension) and Robert Alford (leg injury). Arizona plans to play up-tempo offensively and if it succeeds, the Lions will be able to run more plays. Stafford struggled last season and it was revealed he played with a back injury. This game could be a sneaky shootout with an over/under of 46.5 points.
Matt Breida, San Francisco 49ers
Breida has seen his stock rise the last couple of weeks and in savvy leagues, he wasn't cheap. If you drafted several weeks ago, Breida could be your RB4 and he's in play this week. The 49ers unofficial depth chart lists Breida as the starter, but it's a likely split with Tevin Coleman since Jerick McKinnon is on the injured reserve. The 49ers have a great matchup against a bad Buccaneers defense that allowed 4.61 yards per carry last season and is without Jason Pierre-Paul and Vita Vea. Breida faced the Buccaneers last season and had 14 carries for 106 yards and three catches for 34 yards.
Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers
Austin Ekeler was the preferred Chargers running back in drafts and he's expected to see a lot of the targets in the passing game. With Melvin Gordon out for Week 1 and likely longer, Jackson will get touches and there's a chance it's closer to an even split. When the two played last season, Ekeler got most of the touches, but when Ekeler was out late in the year Jackson played well.
Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks
There was a time when Penny was going before Chris Carson in some drafts. That changed drastically over the last couple of weeks with Carson rising to the third round and Penny going in round eight. The reports have been positive regarding Carson, who is expected to see more targets. The Seahawks want to run the football often and as 9.5-point favorites at home, the game script sets up well for both backs to get volume against the Bengals, who allowed 4.9 yards per carry and 14 rushing touchdowns last season. The Seahawks averaged 32.8 attempts per game last season and Mike Davis is gone. Penny could see 10-12 touches this week.
John Brown, Buffalo Bills
Brown is a really good football player. Injuries have been a problem throughout his career and he was on a great pace last season for the Ravens before Lamar Jackson took over at quarterback and barely threw the ball. Now with the Bills, Brown becomes the top target. The perception is Brown is a boom-or-bust and it caused him to go late in drafts. Josh Allen will take shots deep and Brown could take advantage of a shaky Jets’ secondary in Week 1.
Jamison Crowder, New York Jets
Crowder is another receiver that didn't get a lot of love in most drafts outside of the high-stakes leagues. When healthy, Crowder has played well and the Jets will rely on Crowder more with tight end Chris Herndon suspended to begin the season. In limited snaps during the preseason, Crowder looked good and had the eye of quarterback Sam Darnold. Crowder had three catches for 39 yards with a touchdown. Robby Anderson should see a lot of cornerback Tre'Davious White and that will open up more targets for Crowder.
Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys
Gallup began to come on strong late last season. Many times he was getting open deep and the numbers would have been better, but Dak Prescott just missed him. Gallup has looked excellent in the preseason and reports from camp say he's been getting open easily. Amari Cooper gets the top cornerbacks from the opponents and he's likely getting Janoris Jenkins against the Giants, providing Gallup with the better matchup.
Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco 49ers
The hierarchy among the 49ers’ wide receivers is murky. Dante Pettis appears to be the No. 1 and Goodwin is slated to start. When he has played with Jimmy Garoppolo, the duo has clicked. Goodwin's issue has been injuries, but he's healthy now and gets a great matchup against the Buccaneers, who have one of the worst secondaries in football. Goodwin is capable of breaking a big play at any time due to his speed and could surprise with a touchdown.
Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions
There's not much love for the Lions in fantasy since they plan to be a run-oriented offense, but this should be a week where they put up points against an inexperienced Cardinals’ secondary. The Lions don't have much depth at receiver, and Jones and Kenny Golladay will get most of the targets. Jones gets frequent looks near the goal line and he's a good bet to score in Week 1.
Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts
Many are dismissing the Colts too quickly with Andrew Luck retired. Jacoby Brissett was inconsistent two years ago, but he was traded to the Colts right before the start of the season, played behind a worse offensive line and coaching staff. Brissett was sacked 52 times that year, while Luck was sacked 18 times last season. Expect better results with Frank Reich as head coach. Doyle had 26 catches on 33 targets in 2018 in six games and two years ago with Brissett, he had 108 targets and caught 80 passes for 690 yards and four touchdowns in 15 games.
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
Yeah, I know. He's had a difficult time staying healthy, but this is for the week and at the moment, Eifert is healthy. The Bengals play at Seattle and will likely be playing from behind. The Bengals will be without wide receiver A.J. Green and after running back Joe Mixon and wide receiver Tyler Boyd, there's not much else. When Eifert has been on the field, he's been good. Eifert was injured in the fourth game last season and finished by catching 15 of 19 targets for 179 yards with a touchdown.
Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders
Waller is a converted wide receiver and athletic at 6'6'' and 255 pounds. Jared Cook had 101 targets last season and he left for New Orleans. Outside of Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams, the Raiders don't have a lot of targets for Derek Carr, and the Raiders will likely be trailing often and passing. The game against the Broncos should be competitive and the reviews have been extremely positive for Waller in the preseason. Waller openly spoke about his substance abuse issues in the past that caused him to miss the 2017 season and play in four games last season. He could be a sneaky start in the season opener.