The Week One Mindset

Ah, it’s football time once again. That refreshing feeling you’re experiencing right now is being able to search social media, television and the internet for actual analysis of a regular season football game. No more time filling on TV with team previews, preseason and dumb debates about who is “elite” or not; it’s time for the real deal.

With being said, lots of opinions are going to be flying around this week (including my own). You’ll hear a lot of noise about which players are bound to have a monster week from all over. In fact, there probably will be a few players included as “general consensus” stud plays this week but I’m here to let you in on a little secret: no one knows anything yet. Okay sure we’ve seen a few preseason games and players have had a chance to flash their talent but we know better than to rely on that data. Coaches are not showing their true scheme yet nor using players in the exact way they’re going to in the regular season. The fact is we have no data on this new season so everything is just conjecture.

What does this tell you? Week one is the time to rely on your own intuition. It is the ultimate time to be contrarian since everything we think we know is going to change in just one week. Look back to last season. Some guys who broke out in week one: Allen Hurns (three REC, 102 yards and two TD), Antone Smith (two ATT for seven yards, one REC for 54 yards and a TD) and Delanie Walker (three REC for 37 yards and a TD)…none of which had ADPs inside the top 163 last season according to FantasyFootballCalculator yet ended up season-long contributors. This happens every single season and will inevitably once again.

We think we have an idea looking back to last year but the truth is so much changes from year to year in the NFL. It truly is the league of parity. Even if a group of players stays together, they can mesh one season and then totally fall apart the next. This is where your own player evaluation can be an advantage over literally everyone else. We don’t know yet if Melvin Gordon is actually good. We’ve heard “he’s not a three down back” but yet he was selected with a first round pick. Maybe he is a three down back and a damn good one…or maybe he isn’t? We’ve heard Tyrod Taylor won the starting QB job for the Bills but that job isn’t much to write home about…or is it? Maybe Taylor is the guy necessary to take that team to the next level with his Michael Vick-esque running ability opening up the passing game. Maybe you’ll be right…or maybe you’ll be wrong. You’ll have the same chance as the rest of us, and if you guess correctly on a player outside the grain, you’ll win big.

Another strategy I’d suggest implying is using players in what are perceived to be average-to-below-average matchups. Now I wouldn’t use say Sammy Watkins against Vontae Davis, a cornerback (CB) who allowed zero TDs last season, but I would go contrarian in some way, shape or form. We know who the top CBs and defensive tackles (DTs) are to avoid in terms of wide receivers (WRs) and running backs (RBs) but there’s still room to use someone like Isaiah Crowell against last year’s fifth ranked Jets rushing defense or the aforementioned Melvin Gordon against the Ndomukung Suh-less Detroit Lions. Shoot even higher and start DeAndre Hopkins against last year’s second ranked Chiefs passing defense. We don’t know if they are still as good as they were. Use studs in sub-par matchups (not that Crowell or Gordon are necessarily studs) because it could prove to be a contrarian strategy that allows you to rely on top talents. If there’s one thing that transfers from year to year, it’s that players like Calvin Johnson will continue to produce when on the field. Those are the types you want to be putting your faith in.

So with all of that in mind, go set your week one lineups on FantasyDraft and don’t let anyone tell you what to do. You are your own daily team’s general manager and you can judge talent without being told who is a “must-play.” Have fun with the first week’s freedom because it could lead to a gigantic payday…and that’s the mindset you want to head into week one with.

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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