Week 1 Fantasy Flames: Marshall to lay down law in Big D
Each week the Noise highlights under-started names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week (Scoring thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 12 fpts, WR: 11 fpts: TE: 10 fpts; .5 PPR). If you’re a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 1 Flames in the comments section below.
Sam Bradford, Min, QB (3 percent started, $31 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. NO (Game over/under: 48)
Dinner at the neighborhood Applebee’s Bar and Grill. That’s the excitement level most people house toward Bradford, though to be fair cheeseburger egg rolls could be money on the late-night, half-price tip. Mundane feelings are understandable. Despite setting the NFL’s single-season completion percentage record in ’16, he failed to register a favorable YPA (7.0) and finished outside the position’s top-20 in fantasy points per game. At second pass, however, Bradford was better than his superficial numbers may indicate. According to the NFL’s NextGenStats he ranked No. 9 with a 105.4 passer rating on balls thrown beyond 20 yards. This is why the Vikings coaching staff made the shrewd move to shift Stefon Diggs outside. The receiver’s playmaking ability combined with Bradford’s downfield efficiency could be a match made in fantasy heaven, especially with the Saints in town. New Orleans’ secondary has struggled since the city’s French occupation. It’s highly doubtful in this Marshon Lattimore (rookie) and Ken Crawley (107.0 passer RTG allowed in ’16) era much changes. With Dalvin Cook now in tow and other suitable weapons at his disposal, Bradford, arguably the most overpaid QB in league history, for once justifies his exorbitant salary. Don’t be shocked if he lands inside the position’s top-10 Week 1.
Fearless Forecast: 291 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 19.6 fantasy points
Bilal Powell, NYJ, RB (40 percent started, $16 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at Buf (Over/Under: 41)
Whenever someone utters “Bilal Powell” it sounds like he/she has a mouth stuffed with marshmallows. It doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. But announcers for the ‘mammoth’ tilt between the Bills and Jets better be prepared. The rusher’s name will be called early and often. Despite recent trade/cut rumors, Matt Forte enters Week 1 a Jet. The ancient veteran is poised to shoulder at least 40-50 percent of the opportunity share, but Powell is the more desirable rusher. His versatility and explosiveness are superior to Forte’s. Last year, he ranked inside the RB top-15 in juke rate, total evaded tackles, breakaway run percentage and yards after contact per touch. His top-three output from Weeks 14-17 should carry over into the Jets’ “Suck for Sam” (or “Rebuild for Rosen”) campaign. Powell will be the featured back when New York faces deficits, an occurrence bound to happen routinely this year. The Buffalo game is only the first of many long Sundays for Fireman Ed. Zeroing in on the matchup, because Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams are rather immovable up front bank on OC John Morton drawing up plays to exploit Buffalo’s weak edges. In other words, “Boom Boom” detonates off-tackle and on designed “space” receptions. Trust him as an RB2 in 12-team formats.
Fearless Forecast: 13 carries, 57 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 33 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 17.5 fantasy points
Thomas Rawls, Sea, RB (5 percent started, $19 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at GB (Over/Under: 49.5)
From the window to the Rawls, Seattle’s backfield is an absolute mess. Eddie Lacy, who resembled a rusted out three-wheeled golf cart in the Preseason, and Rawls were recently tabbed as “co-starters” by Pete Carroll. Impressive rookie Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise also figure into the mix. Complicating matters, the offensive line couldn’t create space for a rodent. It ranked No. 26 in run-blocking last year per Football Outsiders. After a shaky August, it may again wallow in the dungeon. Though the leaky front is a major concern, Rawls is the Seahawks rusher to own. Remember how dynamite he was in 2015? That year he ranked No. 12 in juke rate, averaged 5.6 yards per carry and posted a 3.1 YAC. In the ‘Hawks’ proposed RBBC he should tally at least 12-14 touches per game starting in Green Bay. Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark and Nick Perry are quality gap pluggers, but most publications label the Packers’ run defense “average.” Fully recovered from a minor ankle injury, Rawls and the ground game will be emphasized in an attempt to keep Aaron Rodgers at bay. Likely to be under-owned in DFS, he’s a tremendous contrarian play.
Fearless Forecast: 14 carries, 62 yards, 1 reception, 6 yards, 1 touchdown, 12.8 fantasy points
Brandon Marshall, NYG, WR (31 percent started, $17 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at Dal (Over/Under: 47.5)
After missing time in August with a tender shoulder, the Wyatt Earp of wide receivers is locked and loaded to begin the regular season. Due to the presence of Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram and others, it’s unlikely he duplicates the 25-percent target share notched last fall with the Jets. Still, Marshall, one of the preeminent red-zone threats in the league, is a viable weekly WR3 candidate. His size (6-foot-4, 230 pounds), physicality and long productive history will lead Eli Manning to lean on him during critical high-pressure situations, particularly near the goal line. Whether OBJ suits up or not Sunday night, Marshall is set to pop off. If No. 13 is on the field, he’ll exchange pleasantries with former Eagle Nolan Carroll, who yielded an extremely friendly 61.1 catch percentage, 93.8 passer rating and 9.7 fantasy points per game last season. Without Beckham, the one-on-one matchup with Orlando Scandrick would be tougher (7.1 fantasy pts/g allowed in ’16), but in that scenario Marshall potentially induces 10-12 targets. Regardless, he’s a bargain DFS buy and doubtless top-30 performer. Flash the badge.
Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 69 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.9 fantasy points
Zay Jones, Buf, WR (3 percent started, $12 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. NYJ (Over/Under: 41)
“Never waffle” is a slogan to live by, unless hungover somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line. In those instances iron-pressed dough drenched in butter and syrup from a certain grease-stained establishment provides the perfect remedy. For weeks I shouted from the highest mountaintop Jones will start off his NFL career fast. Sammy Watkins, and his 23.1 percent targets share from ’16, is no longer in the picture. Jordan Matthews, who came over in the three-way deal with L.A. and Philly, missed valuable practice time post-trade due to a sternum injury. Meanwhile, Andre Holmes and Charles Clay don’t exactly stir the blood. The rookie, who possesses the size (6-foot-2, 201 pounds), vacuum hands, catch radius, route-running precision and YAC skills to storm out of the gates, is Tyrod Taylor’s or Nate Peterman’s most trusted option. In the opener, it’s entirely plausible he lures 7-9 targets from the QB. His likely adversary, Juston Burris, allowed 0.20 fantasy points per snap in 2016. Most typically shy away from the inexperienced when the real bullets fly, but Jones sprints out of the foxhole.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 70 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.5 fantasy points
WEEK 1 SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10-percent started)
Kendall Wright, Chi, WR (1 percent started, $13 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. Atl (Over/Under: 51)
247. No, it’s not the number of interceptions Blake Bortles throws this season, it’s actually, and almost incredibly, Chicago’s number of available targets from last year. Whether it’s possible late-bloomer Kevin White, barely discussed Deonte Thompson or Wright, someone in the Windy City is going to blow up in a positive way. An un-retired Marcus Robinson or Willie Gault simply isn’t jogging onto the field. Among the Bears’ perfunctory options, Wright has the best odds of contributing meaningful production. Recall in 2013, in the lone season Dowell Loggains and Wright were together in Nashville, the OC featured his slot man often. That year, Wright enticed 8.7 targets per game and totaled 94 receptions, 1,052 yards and two touchdowns, the 31st-most valuable line at WR in standard formats. Last autumn with the Titans, the receiver was quietly impactful. He compiled 9.7 yards per target (WR7), dropped only one pass on 43 looks and averaged 2.10 fantasy points per target (WR7). With Victor Cruz now salsa dancing on the street and Markus Wheaton shelved, Wright and White are the only noteworthy weapons Mike Glennon currently has. Likely to lock horns with slot corner Brian Poole, who surrendered a 64.5 catch percentage in ’16, the unheralded Bear is sure to forage and find points.
Fearless Forecast: 7 receptions, 67 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.2 fantasy points
BONUS WEEK 1 FLAMES
#TEAMHUEVOS PICKS OF THE WEEK
Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their “Flames” (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?
RBs Mike Gillislee & J Stewart
WRs Taylor Gabriel & Adam Theilen
TE Jack Doyle
— WaiverWired (@WaiverWired_) September 5, 2017
Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also check out his TV show, “The Fantasy Football Hour,” now available in 75 million households on Fox Sports Regional Networks, and his new podcast, “The Fantasy Spin.”