Every fantasy football owners strives to bolt off the blocks. Last season, Kareem Hunt shattered the earth in his NFL regular season debut, carried momentum to a rushing title and became a starting lineup fixture. Others, meanwhile, quickly led owners to destitution. What high-profiled players will start off at a snail’s pace? The Yahoo Fantasy crew reveals their picks …
Chiefs RB to go from Hunt to Hunted
Brad – KAREEM HUNT. In his 2017 opener against New England, Hunt went vintage Steven Seagal. He kicked down the door, whooped the competition and earned many new admirers. He finished the season with a rushing title, top-five fantasy output and the highest elusive rating in the game. This time around, however, will be a wee bit different. Kansas City features a brutal opening slate, squaring off at LAC, at Pit, vs. SF, at Den and vs. Jax. It’s the sixth-toughest stretch for fantasy RBs. Throw in KC’s overly forgiving defense, presumed negative game scripts and Andy Reid’s occasional mental blackouts, and it increases the likelihood of Hunt laying multiple eggs.
Tom Brady dealing with a new bunch
Scott – TOM BRADY. One key Bill Belichick strength is his ability to coach up his roster in-season and adjust to where the ship is pushed. If you want to ambush the Patriots, a good time to get them is early. Consider what Kansas City did to them in Week 1 last year.
The Patriots benefit from playing in a watered-down AFC East, but that won’t be a factor until Week 4. New England opens with a rebooted Houston team — welcome back, J.J. Watt — and then a nasty field trip to Jacksonville. Even Week 3’s visit to Detroit won’t be a walk in the park; the Lions have a star CB in Darius Slay, and were better than average against the pass last year.
And keep in mind Tom Brady can’t utilize Julian Edelman until Week 5; New England’s receiving depth chart is dicey after Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan. It could take a while to get the Patriots offense up to full speed.
Tampa’s Evans to walk off the plank
Andy – MIKE EVANS. Evans has to deal with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB in the early weeks, which is less than ideal. He’s also facing Marshon Lattimore and the Saints in the opener, a matchup that did not go well for him in 2017. In two games against New Orleans last season, Evans caught just six passes for 68 yards on 19 targets.
Swoon in store for Kittle
Liz – GEORGE KITTLE. A popular sleeper pick throughout the summer, Kittle projects to be the red zone threat that San Francisco unequivocally needs. A shoulder injury suffered in the preseason opener, however, has kept the Iowa product sidelined for much of the month. Fantasy managers who took advantage of his depressed ADP are likely pleased to hear that the 24-year-old is coming back to practice and expected to start Week 1. That’s great… but being on the road facing a stacked Vikings defense that allowed the fewest FF points to opposing tight ends in 2017 doesn’t portend an advantageous start for Andy Behrens’s favorite player.
Ingram may not be worth the wait
Scott – MARK INGRAM. Wait a minute, that’s cheating! He’s not even playing in September. True, true, true. But I want you to consider how rocky things could be even when Ingram returns.
Do you have the guts to start Ingram in Week 5, after a month off? An immediate, significant workload can’t be guaranteed. Then he gets a bye, and then this gauntlet of a schedule: at Baltimore, at Minnesota, LA Rams, at Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Atlanta. Not many easy matchups there.
I want to get off to a fast start, and Ingram blocks much of what I want to do. In September, you can’t play him, you can’t cut him, and you probably can’t even trade him in most leagues. He just gets in your way. Fantasy football should be played with a microscope, not a telescope; don’t look too far ahead. The league is a snow globe, constantly shaken and reshaken (to be fair, that gauntlet schedule might look easier midseason than it does now). Don’t fall into the Ingram trap. Play for Today, push off to a good start, go get that leverage.