Todd Gurley and the Rams make their return to Los Angeles and will start with an attractive matchup. The 49ers allowed 20 rushing touchdowns last year (worst in the NFL) and the most fantasy points to running backs.
Two rookie quarterbacks will make the Week 1 start – Dak Prescott (Dallas) and Carson Wentz (Philadelphia). Wentz has a good matchup but barely played during the preseason while recovering from a rib injury. Prescott, however, is a worthwhile gamble, especially in two-quarterback leagues. He was on fire during the preseason and will certainly be one of the main Week 1 storylines.
Also for Dallas, the marquee rookie this year, Ezekiel Elliott, will make his NFL debut and is an elite fantasy player right out of the gate. He should be very busy and will run behind perhaps the best offensive line in football.
▪ Baltimore released Justin Forsett last week and then re-signed him a day later. He should still start, although the Ravens’ backfield is one to avoid this week as Forsett, Buck Allen and Terrance West are expected to share the workload.
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▪ The Raiders-Saints and Colts-Lions games are tied with the highest Week 1 over/under, so when in doubt, start players from all four of these teams in potential shootouts. Derek Carr and the Raiders draw the Saints, who allowed 57 touchdowns last year – 11 more than any other team.
▪ Tyrod Taylor (Buffalo) should be motivated as he returns to Baltimore, where he played his first four NFL seasons as Joe Flacco’s understudy. The Bills get a break with star outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil out.
▪ Philip Rivers and the Chargers are down in the rankings this week as they travel to Kansas City. Rivers has just 15 career passing touchdowns in 10 games at Arrowhead Stadium.
▪ Returning from a broken ankle and not playing a snap in preseason, Thomas Rawls (Seattle) is too risky to start this week. Christine Michael likely will handle the bulk of the workload for the Seahawks.
▪ Look for DeSean Jackson (Washington) to come out of the gate strong on Monday Night Football. Jackson is in a contract season and has been particularly sharp in practice going against Josh Norman. The Steelers allowed the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers last year.
Week 1 sleepers
▪ Robert Griffin III (Cleveland) brings some upside playing at Philadelphia, a team he knows well from his NFC East days. Griffin connected on big plays throughout preseason, and Philadelphia ranked 29th against the pass last year.
▪ Jamaal Charles could be a Week 1 inactive as he returns from an ACL tear, leaving Spencer Ware (Kansas City) as a prime Week 1 option. Ware is a good bet to score – he had six touchdowns on 72 rushing attempts last year, and San Diego was tied for third-worst last year for rushing touchdowns allowed.
▪ Pass-catching running back Charles Sims (Tampa Bay) is an attractive No. 2 fantasy running back this week – no team allowed more passes to opposing running backs last year than Atlanta.
▪ With Josh Gordon suspended for the first four weeks, Terrelle Pryor (Cleveland) will draw the start. Pryor is a deep Week 1 sleeper.
▪ If the preseason is any indication, Eli Rogers (Pittsburgh) is safe to play as a flex option. Rogers will be a starter out of the slot in the Steelers’ heavily used three-receiver sets.
▪ The Tennessee Titans defense is an attractive cheap target this week as it gets the Vikings at home – the Vikings will have to turn to either Sam Bradford on short notice or Shaun Hill after the season-ending injury to Teddy Bridgewater.
▪ If you don’t like your post-draft kicker option, Will Lutz (New Orleans) should be on the radar. His strong leg and an impressive tryout gave him the job over veteran Kai Forbath. Lutz draws Oakland, which allowed the most points to kickers last year.
Alan Satterlee is a co-owner and senior writer for DynastyFootballWarehouse.com, a comprehensive fantasy football strategy site.