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It’s hard to believe football is finally here, but we’re just one night away from the start of the season. The weekly chore of deciding who to start and sit down has officially begun. Here are five players who might not meet expectations in Week 1 and can be kept on the bench for a better option.
Remember, week 1 is always weird. Defenses have changed in the offseason and it’s hard to get an idea of the real strengths and weaknesses until a few weeks into the season. Nonetheless, we still have last season’s fantastic production to use as a guideline before the season begins.
Dameon Pierce – RB Houston Texans
Getting this player off the hook is tough given the mountain of hype surrounding the rookie’s upcoming season. As for the eyeball test, Dameon Pierce appears to be RB1 in the Texans offense ahead of Rex Burkhead, Dare Ogunbowale and Royce Freeman. However, new head coach Lovie Smith remained coy about who will be named the starting official running back. Instead, he intends to let the lead role play out this season.
That’s not good news for any running back looking to be the first out of the gate and it’s terrible news for fantasy purposes. Running back by committee has become so commonplace that a real handbell role is becoming a relic.
The Texans are trying to re-establish themselves as a contending team, but the fact remains that they will be playing in several negative game scenarios. Houston will face off-happy Matt Ryan, who is the Indianapolis Colts’ new quarterback. This game is likely to get lopsided against the Texans, which will force QB Davis Mills to throw instead of keeping the ball mostly 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 just 61 red-zone touches, 14 red-zone targets, and 22 goal-scoring opportunities to go in the red zone for opposing offenses. Pierce has what it takes to be the Texans starter as well as on your roster, but Week 1 against the number one ranked run defense is less than ideal for the young player.
Devin Singletary – RB Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams will kick off the 2022 season with fireworks and fanfare Thursday night. Fantasy options abound in this match, but Devin Singletary as the go-to starter isn’t one of them.
The Bills have a serious committee background with Singletary, James Cook and even Zack Moss attracting attention. Let’s not forget QB Josh Allen who finished the 2021 season as the second-best rusher. He could have easily been the team leader if it hadn’t been for four explosive weeks from Singletary, who didn’t top RB10 once until week 15.
The veteran running back had quite a bit of excitement around his name after those few weeks at the end of the season and his workload in the playoffs. However, if the Bills had been content to give Singletary the same workload for another season, they wouldn’t have spent expensive second-round capital on James Cook. It stinks of another committee with Allen firmly in the mix to take away valuable rushing opportunities.
The Rams just won the Super Bowl and realize there’s a massive target on their back. It means doing everything possible to keep the bills on their heels. The Rams defense is stingy with opposing running backs. Singletary has the ability to be a flexible option going forward, but not in this game against Los Angeles.
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DJ Chark – WR Detroit Lions
If you watched hard knocks on HBO, you might have grown to love the Detroit Lions. Keep that sentiment alive, but obliterate deep-threat wide receiver DJ Chark in fantasy football.
Jared Goff struggled last season with poor receiving play until Amon-Ra St. Brown emerged as his go-to slot guy. Goff turned to him when the games fell apart, and it will likely happen again this season. His average target depth was last in the league at 6.4 yards, which is understandable given the lack of offensive weaponry.
That’s not to say Goff is terrible at downfield passing. If anything, he was 12th in the league with the Rams in 2020. However, until we see Goff use his passing shots under head coach Dan Campbell, it’s safest to avoid Chark when of week 1.
The Lions take on the Philadelphia Eagles who ranked third against wide receivers to end the 2021 season. Look for Goff to short pass to St. Brown, TJ Hockenson and D’Andre Swift to move the ball down.
Jarvis Landry – WR New Orleans Saints
The Saints have a revamped squad with a healthy Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas as well as veteran Jarvis Landry and rookie phenom Chris Olave. Alvin Kamara appears to be avoiding suspension this season, leaving Winston with plenty of overtaking options.
The game promises to be juicy against the Atlanta Falcons who were among the worst defenses in the league. The problem is not with the matchup. The problem is who will be the dominant receiver and what that pecking order will look like.
Landry probably isn’t one of your main receivers, so he’s solid 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” it refers to the elite Cheetah himself, Tyreek Hill. New head coach Mike McDaniel has been bulk shopping for running backs to add to his young quarterback’s offensive weapons. Those additions included two pass-catching running backs in Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert.
This is great news for Tua Tagovailoa but bad news for Mike Gesicki.
Unfortunately, Gesicki doesn’t turn out to be the next George Kittle if we compare apples to apples with McDaniel’s former team, the 49ers. Instead, he’s being asked to block more, play less in the slot, and essentially learn a new position. Add in the many options Tagovailoa has at his disposal with the second-best team against Patriots tight ends, and Gesicki is a solid footing in Week 1.