There’s always a moment that sparks the excitement for the new fantasy season. For me, it’s my dynasty league draft. Every year, in this league, we have a destination draft. The winner of the previous year gets to decide where we have our next draft. The winner can choose where ever they’d like. As a close-knit group of friends, turned football family, the winner doesn’t go overboard with a choice the group can’t afford. This year, 5 days, 4-night cruise to the Bahamas. Boom! Yeah, our league is pretty awesome. Only a couple of the guys couldn’t make the draft due to work obligations, but with unlimited drink and wifi package, and amazing service provided by Royal Caribbean, our draft was awesome. This draft, in this particular league, always rings in the fantasy season feels for me. Like the first amber leaves of autumn or first frost of winter, this draft is what makes the magic of the coming season, real.
The preseason is over, and week 1 is here, now we analyze. Do we get cute here? Start the rookie we’re sure will carry your team to victory? Or start the veteran, with a chip on his shoulder and an offensive minded coach who just loves to run the ball? Really, the best advice is, to stick to the rankings. Stick with what you know, and trust the process.
This is my third year analyzing the weekly flex plays for TFA, and I couldn’t be more excited. If you’ve read my previous articles you know I typically highlight 4-6 players I love each week. As it’s week 1 and all we have is a brief preseason, last year’s stats and basic speculation mixed with high hopes. I’m going to do something a little different. I will to go through the matchups and quickly highlight players I think have the best potential for flex value as well as matchups I’m avoiding. Perhaps it’s my eagerness and delight to finally dive into this season, but I don’t want to leave any stone unturned. There’s plenty of value out there to fit leagues big and small, PPR and standard. With that let’s jump in.
Falcons @ Eagles
The Eagles are a bit banged up here and though I think they will work out to be playoff contenders by season end, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Falcons upset the defending Super Bowl champs. Atlanta has one of the top offensive lines in the league right now, and I think this slots Tevin Coleman as a solid flex this week in standard. For PPR, I’d look to Mohammed Sanu. Sanu solidified his role as WR 2 last year by maximizing his 97 targets with 67 receptions and beating Julio Jones in touchdowns with 5 over Jones’ 3. Calvin Ridley has potential to work his way up the depth chart as the season progresses, but this week, I’ll take Sanu at flex.
Steelers @ Browns
As a die-hard Steelers fan, the Le’Veon Bell drama has been a tough pill to swallow. I’ll sidestep my feelings on the situation for the silver lining. James Conner has shown flashes of success in the Pre-Season and with a tough road matchup, I believe the Steelers will rely on the running game and be looking to get creative. Conner is an interesting flex play here, and if you’re a Bell owner, hopefully, you secured this handcuff.
On the other side of the ball, the Browns offense has finally begun to take shape with their offseason moves. However, deciphering the legitimate fantasy value is a struggle, as the targets week to week will likely shift as players grow into their roles. I’m going to lean on the side of 2017 stats here. Duke Johnson Jr. will lose some red zone targets with the likes of Landry and Njoku, however, I think he will maintain solid flex value.
Duke goes underrated and passed over consistently, but he finished as the number 11 running back in PPR last season. Hate to admit flaws in my Steelers defense, though they gave up the 6th most receiving yards to running backs in 2017.
Bengals @ Colts
The Colts present a lackluster defense, which provides healthy matchup for the Bengals offense. Though outside the obvious starters of Mixon & Green, I’ll wait a few weeks before I roll the dice on the likes of Giovani Bernard or John Ross as flex options.
Titans @ Dolphins
Another bleak flex value matchup here. The only player I’d feel comfortable with here would be Dion Lewis. I think his potential in the passing game helps his upside here. Week 14 last year he had 5 receptions for 50 yards and 5 attempts for 17 rushing yards at Miami with New England. Though that’s targets and touches split across the deep Pats offense. With Tennessee, I think Lewis has more potential to separate himself from the pack.
Niners @ Vikings
All aboard the Jimmy G Hype train!! Last years 5 consecutive wins behind their new quarterback sure have Niners fans excited. Rolling into the Preseason we saw potential all around the offense. One connection we saw from 2017 that should continue to blossom is that of Jimmy and Marquise Goodwin. Last year Goodwin averaged 8.3 Targets per game, had 56 receptions, and saw 105 total targets. He finished 2017 as wide receiver 31 and even ranked 17th in end zone targets at the position. Bear in mind, the Niners are visiting one of the top-rated defenses in the NFL, so reign in the high expectations. However, Jimmy did manage a QB 4 ranking last year against the Jags, another top defense. Still, like the big play upside of Goodwin as PPR flex.
Texans @ Patriots
Not super excited about this matchup. Simply because I think week 1 Pats are incredibly hard to predict. This tends to be Brady’s warm-up game, and guessing what Belichick will do week to week is about as pointless as trying to find love on Tinder. However, I think James White could have fringe PPR flex potential in this matchup and I’m sure I’ll be calling him out as a flex play in weeks to come.
Buccaneers @ Saints
Not super excited about this matchup, though playing in a dome always helps receivers. Chris Godwin would have to be my PPR Flex pick here. Despite the Winston suspension and splitting targets with Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson, Coach Dirk Koetter spoke highly of Godwin. Koetter alleged he’d have starter potential, could be all talk but Godwin did post double-digit fantasy points (PPR) in 3 of last 4 games in the 2017 season. I have the feeling I’ll be picking Godwin for flex favorite again as the season progresses.
Jaguars @ Giants
Last years’ leading defense isn’t likely to yield even the most remote flax value from the Giants. From the Jags, I’m hesitant to hang my hat on a receiver I like for a PPR flex. Don’t get me wrong, I excited about the potential for both Keelan Cole & Dede Westbrook for 2018. However, aside from the clear starters, I’m passing on starting a flex play from this game.
Chiefs @ Chargers
Really hopeful for a healthy Mike Williams this season with the Chargers. He sure seemed snake bitten with the oddest string of injuries. Not ready to start him at flex this week though even with a poor KC secondary. I think Keenan Allen will do just fine. I want to wait and see on Williams. As for KC, I will also be waiting on Sammy Watkins before I roll him out as a PPR flex, the Chargers are solid in their pass rush.
Jets @ Lions
Monday Night Football magic begins with the Lions as they face a Jets defense that was in the bottom 10 last year against receivers. Let’s play Kenny Golladay here in PPR flex. Golladay averaged 9.9 yards per target per target in 2017, making for a decent rookie debut despite missing 6 games due to injury. Now fully healthy, he’s a big red zone target at 6’4” with 4.50 speed to boot, has breakout potential and a high ceiling.
Rams @ Raiders
The Los Angeles Rams and Sean McVay proved to be playoff contenders last season. The Rams look to continue the Superbowl hunt by shoring up their defense, with the additions of N. Suh & Aqib Talib. Parting ways with Sammy Watkins and bringing on Brandin Cooks solidifies their offensive depth and red zone target potential. Even with so many mouths to feed offensively, I believe there’s great fantasy value here.
The matchup with Oakland should be a friendly one for Woods here. Oakland’s defense last year ranked 30th against wide receiver 1’s, 24th against WR 2’s, & 29th against other receivers, according to Football Outsiders. This should give him the edge to reach last season’s average of 6.9 targets per game which brought him to 10th amongst wideouts for 2017.
Be sure to check the rankings page and this weeks start and sit to answer your last minute line up questions. Don’t forget to tweet and hashtag #askTFA before lineups lock on Sunday. This talented team of analysts is quick to respond and give excellent advice if you’re torn between players. Good luck this year and my the fantasy odds ever be in your favor.