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It’s hard to believe football is finally here, but we are just one sleep away from the start of the season. The weekly grind of deciding who to start and sit has officially begun. Here are five players who may fall short of expectations in Week 1 and who can be kept on the bench for a better option.
Remember, Week 1 is always weird. Defenses have changed in the offseason and it is difficult to get a feel for true strengths and weaknesses until a few weeks into the season. Nevertheless, we still have last season’s fantasy production to use as a guideline heading into the beginning of the season.
Dameon Pierce – RB Houston Texans
Fading this player is a difficult one considering the mountain of hype surrounding the rookie’s upcoming season. As far as the eyeball test goes, Dameon Pierce looks to be the RB1 in the Texans offense ahead of Rex Burkhead, Dare Ogunbowale, and Royce Freeman. However, new head coach Lovie Smith has remained non-committal about who will be named the official starting running back. Instead, he intends to let the lead role play itself out this season.
This isn’t great news for any running back looking to be the lead back out of the gate and it’s terrible news for fantasy purposes. The running back by committee has become so commonplace that a true bell-cow role is becoming a relic.
The Texans are trying to reestablish themselves as a contending team, but the fact remains that they will be playing in several negative game scripts. Houston will face off against pass-happy Matt Ryan who is the new quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. This game has every opportunity to become lopsided against the Texans, which will force QB Davis Mills to throw instead of keeping the ball primarily on the ground.
Then, there’s the Colts’ defense to contend with. They finished the 2021 season ranked first against the running back position, allowing only 61 red zone touches, 14 red zone targets, and 22 red zone goal-to-go opportunities for opposing offenses. Pierce has what it takes to be the starter for both the Texans as well as on your roster, but Week 1 against the number one ranked defense against the run is less than ideal for the young player.
Devin Singletary – RB Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills and the Los Angeles Rams will kick off the 2022 season with fireworks and fanfare on Thursday night. Fantasy options abound in this matchup, but Devin Singletary as a must-start is not one of them.
The Bills have a serious committee backfield with Singletary, James Cook, and even Zack Moss getting some attention. Let’s not forget about QB Josh Allen who finished the 2021 season as the second-highest rusher. He easily could have been the team’s lead if it weren’t for four explosive weeks from Singletary, who had not topped RB10 once until Week 15.
The veteran running back has had quite a bit of excitement buzzing around his name after those few weeks at the end of the season and his workload in the postseason. However, if the Bills were content with giving that same workload to Singletary for another season, they would not have spent expensive, second-round draft capital on James Cook. This stinks of another committee with Allen firmly in the mix to take away valuable rushing opportunities.
The Rams are coming off of a Super Bowl victory and understand there is a massive target on their backs. This means doing everything possible to keep the Bills on their heels. The Rams’ defense is stingy to opposing running backs. Singletary has the opportunity to be a flex option in the future, but not in this game against Los Angeles.
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DJ Chark – WR Detroit Lions
If you have been watching Hard Knocks on HBO, you may have come to love the Detroit Lions. Keep that feeling alive, but fade deep-threat wide receiver, DJ Chark in fantasy football.
Jared Goff struggled last season with the poor receiving play until Amon-Ra St. Brown emerged as his go-to slot guy. Goff looked to him when plays broke down, and that is likely to happen again this season. His average depth of target was last in the league at 6.4 yards, which is understandable given the lack of offensive weapons.
That is not to say that Goff is terrible at downfield passing. On the contrary, he was 12th-highest in the league with the Rams in 2020. However, until we see Goff utilize his passing chops under head coach Dan Campbell, it is safer to avoid Chark in Week 1.
The Lions face the Philadelphia Eagles who ranked third-best against wide receivers to finish the 2021 season. Look for Goff to make short passes to St. Brown, TJ Hockenson, and D’Andre Swift to move the ball downfield.
Jarvis Landry – WR New Orleans Saints
The Saints have a revamped team with a healthy Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas as well as veteran Jarvis Landry and rookie phenom Chris Olave. Alvin Kamara looks to be avoiding a suspension this season, which leaves plenty of passing options for Winston to target.
The matchup looks juicy against the Atlanta Falcons who were among the worst defenses in the league. The problem isn’t with the matchup. The problem is who will be the dominant receiver and what will that pecking order look like.
Landry is likely not one of your core wide receivers, so he is a firm hold until New Orleans establishes their offense.
Mike Gesicki – TE Miami Dolphins
Speaking of too many mouths to feed, the Dolphins have that and more. By “more”, this refers to the elite cheetah himself, Tyreek Hill. New head coach Mike McDaniel went shopping in bulk for running backs to add to the offensive weapons for his young quarterback. Those additions included two pass-catching running backs in Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert.
This is excellent news for Tua Tagovailoa but bad news for Mike Gesicki.
Unfortunately, Gesicki is not turning out to be the next George Kittle if we compare apples-to-apples with McDaniel’s former team the 49ers. Instead, he is being asked to block more, play less in the slot, and basically learn a new position. Couple the numerous options Tagovailoa has at his disposal with the second-best team against tight ends in the Patriots, and Gesicki is a solid sit in Week 1.