Fantasy Football Blog

Fantasy football: Season is here, and hope is alive (unless you drafted Le’Veon Bell)

With star Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell holding out, the fantasy football value for James Conner, left, gets a boost.
With star Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell holding out, the fantasy football value for James Conner, left, gets a boost. AP Photo

It’s here, finally — time to roll out your fresh fantasy football team(s)..

The big story is the status of Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh). Unlike last year, Bell did not report in time for Week 1, and now things have taken a turn for the tense as Bell’s agent hinted at potentially a longer absence.

That means it’s time to aggressively slot James Conner (Pittsburgh) in the rankings, regardless, for Week 1.

Conner looked strong in preseason, averaging more than 5 yards per carry and catching all seven of his pass targets.

Considering where Le’Veon Bell was drafted (likely top five), it’s time for concern until he returns, and even then it’s possible there could be lingering ill-will.

But winning in fantasy football is both a marathon and a sprint. So let’s start the season off strong. Here are some players to get into your lineup, and some you may want to shy away from this week.

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Play ‘Em

Matthew Stafford (Detroit) has tended to start the season hot, with at least two touchdowns in five straight openers. Stafford has averaged 316 yards passing and 2.8 touchdowns per game in his past five Week 1 games. In a great matchup at home against the Jets, Stafford is a strong play.

Alex Collins (Baltimore) ended 2017 as a clear-cut starting fantasy running back. He was the ninth-best fantasy running back from Week 11 on last season, and that success should continue against a Buffalo defense that allowed the most fantasy points to opposing running backs in 2017.

Royce Freeman (Denver) is set to make his first NFL start and against a Seahawks defense that was markedly weakened in the off-season. He’s a rookie, but start Freeman with a fair-bit of confidence.

Rex Burkhead (New England) has had some nagging knee issues but the Patriots took him off the Week 1 injury report, giving fantasy owners a boost of confidence. Burkhead should get a heavy workload both rushing and receiving.

Jarvis Landry (Cleveland) will make his regular-season debut with the Browns and brings a streak of five or more receptions in 17 consecutive games played.

Cordarrelle Patterson (New England) could be a sneaky sleeper for significant production with Julian Edelman suspended. If you need to swing for the fences, Patterson could surprise.

After missing all of 2017, John Ross (Cincinnati) is set to make his NFL debut. He’s a candidate for a long score on the speedy, indoor RCA Dome field of Indianapolis.

Sit ‘Em

Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City) is an exciting prospect with what might be the NFL’s biggest arm, but at the L.A. Chargers is a rough start to the 2018 season. The Chargers were No. 2 against the pass and allowed a league-low 17.0 points per game last year. Keep Mahomes parked for a week, and perhaps until Week 3 for the Chiefs’ home-opener against San Francisco.

Jimmy Garoppolo (San Francisco) is undefeated as a starter (7-0), though he’s likely in for a rough start to the 2018 season. The 49ers’ top running back, Jerick McKinnon, is suddenly out for the year, and Garoppolo is on the road against a stout Vikings defense.

Adrian Peterson (Washington) should be in-store for solid volume in somewhat of a “revenge” game against his former team, but Arizona allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs last season.

Mike Evans (Tampa Bay) had 68 receiving yards and no touchdowns in two games against New Orleans last year, in part because he had to contend with 2017 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Marcus Lattimore.

Miami allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers last season and Corey Davis (Tennessee) will likely be marked by star cornerback Xavien Howard.

Alan Satterlee is in his sixth year of writing about fantasy football for The Charlotte Observer. Find him on Twitter at @Speedkills_DFW