Week 1 of the fantasy football season is here!
Check back each week as I’ll break down the relevant Texans’ players with a start or sit recommendation, and rank the top five starts of the week at each position.
If you drafted Brock Osweiler in your fantasy league, I feel safe assuming that 99% of you did so with the idea of making him your backup. For now, Osweiler should stay on your bench in all traditional leagues until we start seeing proof of starting level fantasy production.
On the other hand, if you’re in a place where daily fantasy sports are allowed, Osweiler is a solid value play. Osweiler won’t cost you as much as the more established fantasy stars—so you can spend that money on the stud backs and receivers—but his Week 1 matchup against Chicago is a favorable one.
Chicago gave up the fifth highest fantasy points allowed average to opposing quarterbacks in 2015 and they’ll be down several defensive backs going into their game at Houston. Chicago also ranked 26th in opposing quarterback rating and 23rd in pass defense DVOA last season.
Verdict: Sit in traditional leagues, but a solid value play in daily leagues.
Up until now Lamar Miller has been the ultimate fantasy tease, but I think that’ll change this year.
He’s been a popular sleeper pick each season of his career so far, but never got enough touches to be a reliable fantasy starter. Miller was that fantasy player who had a knack for turning in a 30 yard game when you started him, only to frustrate you with an explosion game like he had against Houston last year whenever you decided to sit him.
Have faith weary fantasy owners because Miller will get the consistent touches this year that will finally translate into fantasy superstardom.
Chicago might be better against the run this year than their 26th rank in rushing yards allowed per attempt in 2015 might suggest, but Miller falls into the category of a weekly must-start. Miller is a top five fantasy start this week at running back and will be a reliable RB1 in all formats this season.
Verdict: Start him this week and every week in traditional leagues.
Start him every week unless he’s hurt.
Will Fuller and Braxton Miller:
In most traditional leagues I wouldn’t consider starting either rookie until they prove something on the field. However, if you’re in a 14-team league or a league that uses three WRs plus a flex position, then Will Fuller is a decent option considering the favorable matchup, but otherwise I’d avoid starting either rookie in their first game.
Verdict: Sit Braxton Miller in all formats, but Will Fuller is a sleeper flex play in large traditional leagues and a sleeper money saver in daily leagues.
C.J. Fiedorowicz/Ryan Griffin/Stephen Anderson:
Avoid these three tight ends like the lone remaining doughnut from the box someone on the morning shift brought in that’s still there when you roll in for the night shift, or the dip that’s been left out all day after a company party.
You know that line from Rounders, “If you can’t identify the sucker at the table within the first 30 minutes, then you are the sucker,” well, you’re the sucker if you drafted any of these tight ends.
Fiedorowicz, Griffin, and Garrett Graham combined for only 41 receptions, 448 yards, and four touchdowns in 2015. In non-PPR leagues, those numbers work out to a measly average of four fantasy points per week over the full season.
Verdict: Wear cloves of garlic around your neck, keep sharp stakes nearby, stock up on silver projectiles, and avoid these tight ends by any means necessary.
The Houston defense finished as the sixth best fantasy defense last season and shouldn’t finish any worse than that this year. That rank included limited play from Jadeveon Clowney, poor safety play early on, and two rookies—Kevin Johnson and Benardrick McKinney—receiving major playing time.
With all of those areas projected to improve and become more consistent this season, the Houston defense should move into the top five or maybe even top three this season. As such, they’re close to being a must-start every week unless facing an elite offense.
Chicago’s offense is not elite, they were in the top 10 for fantasy points allowed to opposing team defenses last season, and are a great matchup for anyone with the Houston defense on their roster.
Verdict: Must-start this week in all formats.
The three things I look for in a fantasy kicker besides the obvious overall talent are job security, power enough to make 50+ yard kicks, and indoor stadiums so that weather and turf conditions are less of a week to week worry. Nick Novak only has one of those things going for him, so you shouldn’t play him unless you’re streaming kickers and he has a great matchup.
The 35-year-old kicker doesn’t have the leg to be reliable on the longer kicks that get extra points in some leagues, and the hook on his job would likely be pretty quick if he struggles at any point, so he’s not worth drafting to start the season.
Verdict: He’s outside the top 10 options this week, sit him until further notice.
Top Five Week 1 Quarterbacks:
- Aaron Rodgers
- Russell Wilson
- Drew Brees
- Derek Carr
- Jameis Winston
*Andrew Luck would slide in at No. 4 if it turns out his shoulder is fine.
Top Five Week 1 Running Backs:
- Todd Gurley
- Adrian Peterson
- Lamar Miller
- Ezekiel Elliot
- David Johnson
Top Five Week 1 Wide Receivers:
- Julio Jones
- Odell Beckham Jr.
- Antonio Brown
- DeAndre Hopkins
- Amari Cooper
Top Five Week 1 Tight Ends:
- Rob Gronkowski
- Jordan Reed
- Travis Kelce
- Coby Fleener
- Gary Barnidge
Top Five Week 1 Defenses:
- Los Angeles