Players to Avoid in Week One

Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs – Spending up at the skill positions means owners will have to look for a value at the quarterback (QB) position. The Houston Texans allowed 3890 passing yards last season which ranked 21st in the NFL which would seem to make for a solid matchup. However, they allowed the fourth lowest completion percentage of any team partially due to pass deflecting monster J.J. Watt. In my opinion, Watt is the best player in the NFL regardless of the fact he’s on defense. The addition of Rahim Moore at safety will only help the stoutness of the defense combined with the addition of Vince Wilfork in the middle. If the Texans allowed a large volume of yardage but a low completion percentage then that assumes the pace of game was rather quick last season. Statistics confirm the Texans ran the ninth most plays per game of any team and I think the team looks to slow that down a little especially early on with no Arian Foster. Vegas believes the pace of this game will be slow as well because the total implied points for the Chiefs sits at 19.5…sixth lowest of any offense. Smith relies on his accuracy on short passes which could seem to be Houston’s kryptonite but Watt should help negate that threat. Thinking the team will become more pass oriented this season is probably a reality with the addition of Jeremy Maclin but I don’t believe that starts in week number one. This one has the feel of a battle of the defenses and the coordinators trying to just not make the big mistake. I don’t think Smith possesses the upside nor floor to warrant consideration in any format especially with other cheap options available such as Sam Bradford and Kirk Cousins.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills – Tyrod Taylor being named the starting QB for the Bills makes their offense a whole lot more intriguing from a fantasy perspective. Not only should his elite athleticism lead to serious rushing yardage but it should open up the passing game as well. With defenses worrying about his running ability, they could overcompensate and end up in some weak coverages. I believe in Taylor week number one but I would not put the same faith in his top target Sammy Watkins. Regardless of whether or not LeSean McCoy suits up, Watkins draws a matchup with maybe the NFL’s best cover corner in Vontae Davis. According to ProFootballFocus, Davis did not allow a TD the entire 2014 season (including the playoffs), deflected 13 passes and intercepted four passes. It’s tough to rely on the upside of a player squaring off against a corner of that ilk considering he was facing the opposing team’s best player week in and week out last season as well. Watkins’ outlook for the season remains optimistic but I think it would be wise to avoid in week one. Instead it may end up Percy Harvin and/or Charles Clay see an uptick in targets with Watkins locked down. The two of them make for much better values than the second year stud Watkins whose name value alone may propel him into many people’s lineups. Don’t be that guy.

Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns – In his sophomore season, Sheldon Richardson proved just how dominant of a force he can be on the defensive line. Combine him and Muhammad Wilkerson whose defensive run stop percentage (11.80 percent) led the NFL last season and you have one of the best defensive fronts in football. Good luck running against them as they’re only getting better and allowed just 1,489 yards rushing last season which ranked fifth in the NFL. It’s possible they finish even higher even though Rex Ryan left for Buffalo and he’s generally accepted as an excellent defensive head coach (Current Head Coach Todd Bowles played eight seasons as a safety in the NFL as well so he shouldn’t be a slouch either). All this being said, I wouldn’t want to be the back with the task of trying to gain yardage against these beasts…especially with Josh McCown at QB. The Jets will not be worry about the threat of McCown beating them (especially with Darrelle Revis on Dwyane Bowe) so they will likely load up the box to stop Isaiah Crowell. Although he is the guy with Duke Johnson concussed and likely out for week one, I still don’t think he’s in a great position to succeed. The Browns own the lowest implied total of the weekend according to Vegas so do not expect them to score many points overall but especially via the running game.

Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins – The average career of a running back (RB) at the professional level is slightly over three years. Alfred Morris will be entering his fourth season and has carried the ball at least 265 times in each of his three seasons. Even more importantly, the old regime drafted and showed loyalty in Morris, not Jay Gruden. Drafting Matt Jones in the third round of this year’s draft is the most telling of all signs as to how they feel about Morris…and Jones is proving them right. He was among the most impressive players this whole preseason: in just 20 preseason carries, Jones rushed for 139 yards (7.0 YPC) which ranked eighth most of any player. Ronnie Hillman was the only played ranked ahead of him in yardage to receive less than 25 carries. Jones is more of a concern to Morris’ workload in the long-term but worth noting. The main concern for Morris in week number one will be none other than the Miami Dolphins’ shiny new toy: Ndamukong Suh. Morris is a no nonsense type back and many of his carries are hand-offs to the “A gap” on the inside…meaning the team likely won’t throw him any tosses or rely much on his speed to the outside. This means he’ll be playing right into the strength of the defense and that vastly limits his potential for a substantial output. Morris is an easy fade for me.

49ers Defense – Breaking news: the 49ers’ waterboy just retired. Okay so I’m being sarcastic because three defensive players retired this offseason along with an offensive lineman. Patrick Willis (the former defensive captain) retired at 30 years old, Chris Borland at 24 years old and Justin Smith at 35. Without those three players, this will be a vastly different (aka depleted) defense. Teddy Bridgewater made serious strides in just his rookie season; he threw just two TDs in his first five games but went on to throw 12 in the final eight games. It appears he and Charles Johnson have some serious chemistry they’ll look to continue to grow heading into this season. Now add Adrian Peterson back into the mix and you have yourself a defense in a lot of trouble with a whole bunch of talent missing.

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 DailyRoto.com, 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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