Carson Wentz, Kyler Murray, Odell Beckham Jr. and Leonard Fournette are among the less-talked-about players you should look to start in fantasy football in Week 1.
Sometimes a fantasy expert must stick his neck out there and throw caution to the wind by giving you some outside-the-box predictions. Every week, I will provide you with a few players at each position who I think can help you win your season-long matchup or help you make some serious cash on DraftKings or FanDuel. Everyone on this list is a player who you should have no fear of starting in Week 1.
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
Something tells me that people are undervaluing Wentz. Prior to his injury, he was one of the top quarterbacks in the league and I fully expect him to return to that level this season. The Redskins have an anemic offense which means that their defense will be on the field way too much, making them susceptible to bigger plays in the second half. Put Wentz down for 300-plus passing yards and at least 2 TDs.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This is Winston’s last stand. If he can’t get it right under Bruce Arians this season, he will be shuttled out of town. Look for him to start out the season strong against a 49ers team that is already dealing with a few injuries to some key defensive players, including 2019 first-round pick Nick Bosa.
Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
The Air Raid offense takes the field for the first time and I see Murray having a surprisingly good week. The best part is that so many fantasy owners are down on him after his poor preseason that you might get him at a reduced ownership in DFS contests. Look for 250-plus passing yards as well as 50-plus rushing yards and at least 1 TD.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Everyone knows how much I love a good narrative play. This week Jackson goes back to South Florida where he’s originally from. He may even have more friends and family in the stadium than actual Dolphins’ fans. Look for Jackson to use his feet to make at least three big plays this week.
Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars
There are a few people out there who think that Jacksonville can pull off a big upset against the Chiefs. I am not sure that will happen, but I think the Jaguars can keep the game close. If that happens, they will be relying plenty on Fournette. Fournette is a three-down back who also excels at the goal line. He’s been undervalued greatly in drafts thus far, but I can see him having a comeback type of year this season. Look for him to score a TD in a high-scoring game.
Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
Tennessee has a stingy run defense, but Chubb is going to get 20-25 touches which should give him plenty of opportunities to score. Additionally, he is the main man by the goal line, so I can easily see him getting a short yardage plunge after Baker Mayfield throws the ball deep to one of his receivers.
Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota is committed to running the ball this year and Atlanta’s defense was one of the worst in the NFL at stopping the run in 2018. Put these two things together and we should be witness to an absolute cookout on Sunday. Look for Cook to break off at least two big plays and score more than 20 fantasy points.
Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks
Everything sets up well for Carson in this matchup against Cincinnati. The Seahawks want to run the football, they are playing at home, and Carson will see about 20-plus touches. I think he is a lock to score a touchdown.
Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions
With Theo Riddick gone, Johnson should be a three-down back for Detroit. While C.J. Anderson might steal a touch or two, the Lions will rely heavily on Johnson as the guy to move the chains. Look for him to produce over 100 yards from scrimmage in Week 1.
Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns
Beckham has been dealing with a sore hip, but something tells me that he just wanted to take it easy in training camp to prepare himself for the season. This is his first home game as a member of the Cleveland Browns, and I am sure he wants to score a TD to make the Dawg Pound happy.
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks
The Bengals’ secondary is a mess and Lockett is Russell Wilson’s top target now with Doug Baldwin retired. Lockett specializes in getting deep and scoring on broken plays. I would be shocked if he didn’t have a long-distance TD in this game.
Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
The Cardinals’ secondary is hurting with Patrick Peterson out with a suspension and Robert Alford out with an injury. This leaves Golladay covered by journeyman Tramaine Brock or rookie CB Byron Murphy. Golladay should be a lock to find the end zone and is one of my highest-rated players of the week.
Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings
Not only do I love the matchup for Thielen, but fellow WR Stefon Diggs has been dealing with a sore hamstring all week, which should make Thielen the go-to target for Kirk Cousins against the Falcons.
Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers-49ers game has the highest suggested point total of the week (52.5), according to Las Vegas sportsbooks. Bruce Arians said this offseason that Godwin will be on the field for every down in 2019. I am banking on that and locking him into my lineups in Visionary Style!
Bonus Narrative Play: Chris Conley, Jacksonville Jaguars
Conley played for the Chiefs for years and now he has a chance to play against them in his first game as a member of the Jaguars. It’s the sneakiest narrative play of the week and Nick Foles has shown an uncanny rapport with Conley in training camp. He’s my favorite DFS option who will be owned in less than 2% of lineups.
George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have had issues all training camp with their receivers, as coach Kyle Shanahan has shuttled guys in and out looking for the right combination. What is secure is the fact that Kittle is the 49ers’ top offensive weapon and Tampa is historically bad at covering opposing tight ends. Put those two things together and Kittle should end up with at least five catches for 70 yards.
Evan Engram, New York Giants
Engram always seems to have his best games against the Cowboys, and I fully expect to see him be targeted early and often this week with Golden Tate out due to a suspension. I like Engram more in PPR formats than I do in standard leagues, as I think the Giants will struggle to score against a stingy Dallas defense.
Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers
Henry missed most of last season, but fantasy owners will be very happy to see him return to form in 2019. Quarterback Philip Rivers loves throwing to him and Henry is such a viable target that he has as much success inside the red zone as he does outside. Look for him to have about four catches for 60-plus yards this Sunday.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota struggled last season with elbow issues, but he was also without his security blanket, Walker, who was out with an injury from Week 1 onward. Walker is now back, and he seems intent on reclaiming his Pro Bowl status. Cleveland CB Denzel Ward will be covering WR Corey Davis for much of the game, leaving Walker alone in the middle of the field to make an impact.