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It’s hard to believe football is finally here, but we’re just a sleep away from the start of the season. The weekly grind of deciding who will start and sit has officially begun. Here are five players who may not live up to expectations in Week 1 and who can be benched for a better option.
Remember, week 1 is always weird. Defenses have changed over the course of the offseason, and it’s hard to get a sense of true strengths and weaknesses until a few weeks into the season. However, we still have last season’s fantasy production to use as a guideline heading into the season.
Dameon Pierce – RB Houston Texans
Fading this player is difficult considering the mountain of hype surrounding his upcoming rookie season. In terms of the eyeball test, Dameon Pierce appears to be the RB1 in the Texans offense ahead of Rex Burkhead, Dare Ogunbowale and Royce Freeman. However, new head coach Lovie Smith remained noncommittal on who will emerge as the official starting tackle. Instead, he plans to let the lead role play itself out this season.
That’s not great news for any running back looking to be the first back out of the gate, and it’s terrible news for fantasy purposes. Running away from committee has become so commonplace that a true bellhop role is becoming a relic.
The Texans are trying to re-establish themselves as a competitive team, but the fact remains that they will be playing in a lot of negative game scenarios. Houston will face pass rusher Matt Ryan, who is the new quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts. This game has every chance to be one-sided 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 red-zone scoring opportunities to opposing offenses. Pierce has what it takes to be the starter for both the Texans and 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 on Thursday night. Fantasy options abound in this matchup, but Devin Singletary as a must-start isn’t one of them.
The Bills have a serious committee backfield with Singletary, James Cook and even Zack Moss getting attention. Let’s not forget QB Josh Allen who finished the 2021 season as the second leading rusher. It could have easily been the team lead if it weren’t for four explosive weeks from Singletary, who hadn’t topped the RB10 once until Week 15.
The veteran running back has had plenty of excitement surrounding his name after these few weeks at the end of the season and his postseason workload. However, if the Bills were content to give Singletary the same workload for another season, they wouldn’t have spent expensive second-round capital on James Cook. This smacks of another committee with Allen firmly in the mix to take away valuable rushing opportunities.
The Rams are coming off a Super Bowl win and understand there is a huge target on their backs. That means doing everything possible to keep the bills on their toes. The Rams defense is stingy with opposing backs. Singletary has a chance 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 watched Strong hits on HBO, you may have loved the Detroit Lions. Keep that feeling alive but fade wide receiver DJ Chark in fantasy football.
Jared Goff struggled last season against bad players until Amon-Ra St. Brown emerged as his slot man. Goff looked to him when games 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 his lack of offensive weapons.
That’s not to say Goff is terrible at passing downfield. Instead, he was 12th-highest in the league with the Rams in 2020. However, until we see Goff use his pass rush under coach Dan Campbell, it’s safer to avoid Chark in Week 1.
The Lions face the third-ranked Philadelphia Eagles against wide receivers to wrap up the 2021 season. Look for Goff to throw short passes to St. Brown, TJ Hockenson and D’Andre Swift to move the ball to below.
Jarvis Landry – WR New Orleans Saints
The Saints have a rejuvenated team with a healthy Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas, as well as veteran Jarvis Landry and rookie Kris Olav. Alvin Kamara appears to be avoiding a suspension this season, which leaves plenty of passing options for Winston.
The matchup looks juicy against the Atlanta Falcons who were one of the worst defenses in the league. The problem is not the match. The problem is who the dominant receiver will be and what that pecking order will look like.
Landry probably isn’t one of your go-to receivers, so he’s solid until New Orleans’ offense figures itself out.
Mike Gesicki – TE Miami Dolphins
Speaking of too many mouths to feed, Dolphins have that and more. By “more,” that refers to the elite cheetah himself, Tyreek Hill. New head coach Mike McDaniel went shopping for running backs to add to his young quarterback’s offensive arsenal. 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 isn’t proving to be the next George Kittle when comparing apples to apples with McDaniel’s former team, the 49ers. Instead, he’s being asked to block more, play less in the slot and basically learn a new position. Combine the numerous options available to Tagovailoa with the second-best tight end team in the Patriots, and Gesicki is solid in Week 1.