HOT/COLD List – Week 1
Sorry for the mix up FSLR community, but instead of having my sleepers/busts in the “Elder’s Eight” column, they will be portrayed here. Just a little house-keeping is all. The HOT/COLD list will work the same way as last year; I list players in the form of a traditional fantasy lineup (QB, 2RBs, 2WRs, TE). Hopefully figure out that I like the HOT players and dislike the COLD players for the particular week. Yet just because Alex Smith is HOT and Cam Newton is COLD, I don’t recommend starting Smith over Newton. Rather, I just think Smith will outperform expectations (this week) while Newton will underwhelm.
Alex Smith (TEN) – 18 fantasy points
Normally I don’t suggest starting Alex Smith ever, let alone in week one, yet for those of you who thought it was a good idea to draft Johnny Manziel, this one’s for you. The Titans offense will be much improved this season with the addition of the offensive minded Ken Whisenhunt, but the defense definitely leaves much to be desired. They let underrated corner Alteraun Verner walk in free agency and did next to nothing to replace him. Despite not having Dwayne Bowe for this game (not actually a huge deal) I still expect Smith to be efficient and productive at home against a poor Titans secondary.
Arian Foster (WSH) – 23 fantasy points
While maybe not a huge sleeper (or a sleeper at all for that matter) Foster will have a huge game in week 1. That is wildly reassuring news for fantasy owners walking on eggshells with this guy (reassuring if you believe me, of course). Before a back injury in 2013, Foster was actually having a satisfactory season. His 4.5 YPC was the second best of his career, and his 542 yards by the midway point put him on pace for over 1,000. In the first game of the Ryan Fitzpatrick era in Houston, expect the gameplan to feature as little of the aforementioned QB as possible. Instead, it might be a good idea to run the ball down the throat of the 23rd ranked defense from 2013.
Frank Gore (@DAL) – 16 fantasy points
I’m very down on Gore for the season overall; having a historic season at age 31 is unprecedented and I don’t expect an above average running back to finally buck the trend. Yet in week one, fresh off an offseason to recover and in a matchup against the worst defense in football, Gore is a must-start. I won’t have him ranked higher than this all season, but take advantage of the production while you can get it.
Jeremy Maclin (JAC) – 14 fantasy points
Remember how much DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper benefited from Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense in 2013? Well Maclin was rehabbing a torn ACL all season long. Now that he’s healthy, the new Eagles’ number 1 receiver will get to reap the same benefits that his teammates did a season ago. And besides, is Alan Ball really going to be able to lock him down?
Emmanuel Sanders (IND) – 11 fantasy points
By now hopefully you’ve heard that Wes Welker will be suspended for the first 4 games of the season. Not only that, but with the departure of Eric Decker (an annual 80 catch, 1,000 yard season guy), Peyton Manning’s weapons suddenly look slightly less frightening. Enter Emmanuel Sanders into the equation. He’s the one that the Broncos are expecting to pick up the slack this season. Sanders never really reached his peak in Pittsburgh, but after week 1 in 2014, we’ll find out just how productive he can be.
Zach Ertz (JAC) – 13 fantasy points
Start your engin… er I mean… Eagles! While I don’t believe the Jaguars will be quite as bad as they were a season ago, let’s face it… they’re still pretty bad. Most of the upgrades (Blake Bortles, Toby Gerhart, Marqise Lee) came to the offense during the offseason. This Jacksonville defense certainly lacks an abundance of playmakers, and to make matters worse, they finished as the third worst team against opposing TEs in 2013.
Cam Newton (@TB) – 10 fantasy points
The Carolina offseason has been criticized long enough, Sunday is just when they get to prove everyone right. Not only is Cam questionable for the game, but without practice all week it’s going to be hard to create confidence and consistency with an all new cast of WRs heading into the first game. In addition, the Tampa Bay defense has the potential to be sneaky good this year. With Lovie Smith, Alterraun Verner, and Michael Johnson now in the fold, look for the Bucs to make some big plays on D.
Doug Martin (CAR) – 6 fantasy points
I was fairly low on Martin heading into the season, and after week one, I’m anticipating looking like a genius (if I do say so myself). In his 6 games before a season-ending shoulder injury last season, the Muscle Hamster averaged a paltry 3.6 YPC and found the endzone just once; hardly numbers of an elite fantasy RB. This week he’ll be going against the formidable Panthers front 7 that includes monsters Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, and Charles Johnson… not exactly conducive to rushing success.
Bishop Sankey (@KC) – 4 fantasy points
Don’t freak out yet, Sankey will still be a diamond in the rough this year, it just might come a little later than expected. Due to inexperience and some fumbling issues during the preseason, Shonn Greene remains ahead of Sankey on the Tennessee depth chart. While it’s only a matter of time before that changes, I just don’t think new Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt will give the rookie RB enough touches to be successful in week 1, especially in lieu of his current ball security issues.
Jordy Nelson (@SEA) – 4 fantasy points
Let’s get this straight before we start: you’re starting Nelson this week, even if it’s just a matter of principle. The dude had 7 touchdowns in the 8 games when he and Aaron Rodgers were both healthy in 2013. But despite his title as the best white wide receiver in football, a title near and dear to my heart, Nelson will undoubtedly struggle on kickoff weekend. The Seahawks undoubtedly have the best defense in football, and in the passing game, it’s not even close. Last season the ‘Hawks were easily number one in fantasy against opposing wide receivers, only allowing 100 yards to a wideout twice in 16 games.
DeSean Jackson (@HOU) – 5 fantasy points
It remains to be seen how the newly acquired Jackson will fit into the Washington offense (I think he’ll flourish), but week 1 will almost surely provide growing pains. Not only does RGIII have to prove he’s a competent fantasy QB once again, but he’ll be under constant siege from JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney all afternoon. Jackson won’t see enough targets to have a successful fantasy day. The only chance he has for being starter worthy is finding the endzone on a long pass play.
Greg Olsen (@TB) – 4 fantasy poin
While I love him for the season overall, he could be in for a troublesome week 1, especially if Cam Newton doesn’t play. Since the Panthers don’t have any (stress: any) reliable receivers, I expect the Tampa Bay defense to key onto Olsen with hopes of taking him out of the play entirely. Lavonte David, one of the best coverage linebackers in football, is the perfect man to do just that.