Ladies and gentlemen, after a long wait football is back! Beginning Thursday, all of the hard work and exhaustive analysis you put into your fantasy drafts will come to fruition (or you’ll fall flat on your face). Each week at No Huddle we will be examining match ups to help put yourself in the best possible position to win. There will be players that are trending up that we believe are must starts, and there will be players that are trending down that we think you might want to consider benching. Considering we’re in the first week, I’ll be looking at players solely based on their match up and opportunity. Moving forward we’ll also be taking a look at the previous weeks’ performance. I will not typically include every week starters and focus in on players you may be contemplating deploying from week to week. So, without further ado, here is our first Hot or Cold take.
Spencer Ware – Kansas City
Ware was an invaluable waiver wire add when Jamaal Charles went down last season with an ACL injury, which surprised many considering Knile Davis was his supposed handcuff at the start of the season. News broke over the last few days that head coach, Andy Reid, is not overly optimistic that Charles will be heavily involved in week 1. This should automatically vault Ware into your lineups this week if Charles is limited or doesn’t play. The Chiefs will open up the season against the San Diego Chargers. While competent on offense, the Chargers were not very good defensively last season. They did add Joey Bosa in the draft, but he’s yet to practice in pads due to a hold out and nagging injuries. The Chiefs still have the ultimate game manager at QB in Alex Smith, so expect them to run the ball early and often. Start Ware with confidence this week if Charles can’t play or is limited.
Ryan Matthews – Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles offense was hard to predict in 2015. Many felt they underutilized Demarco Murray after paying him big money to bring him from Dallas, and Chip Kelley often seemed clueless in his decision making. However, 2016 is a new year, and Philly has a new coach in Doug Pederson. Pederson spent some time with Andy Reid before inking his first head coaching contract, and one thing we know about Andy Reid is that he likes to run the football whenever possible. With Demarco Murray being shipped off to Tennessee in the offseason, Ryan Mathews will assume the lead back duties for the Eagles this year. He’s often been pinned as a breakout candidate going back to his first season in San Diego, but injuries have plagued him most of his career. Mathews is seemingly healthy to begin the season and faces off against a pretty soft Cleveland defense that did little to address that side of the ball in the preseason. With the recent trade of Sam Bradford, the Eagles plan to roll with rookie Carson Wentz in week one. This almost assuredly guarantees Ryan Mathews to get a lot of work to begin the season against a seemingly shaky defensive. Full speed ahead with Mathews
Rashad Jennings – New York Giants
Jennings has been vastly overlooked in drafts this year due to him being an older running back in a young man’s league. He was also stuck in a huge time share last season. However, Andre Williams is no longer with the team, and pass catching specialist Shane Vereen is his top backup. First year coach, Ben McAdoo, has stated the Giants may have overthought their running back situation last year, and Jennings looks to be the main beneficiary to start the season if that holds true. Rookie Paul Perkins could very well develop into a player that challenges Jennings for touches, but that shouldn’t be the case in week 1 against a mediocre Cowboys defense. Opposing teams will be forced to cover the likes of Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie Sterling Shepherd, which should allow Jennings to have a lot of opportunity to put up some points.
Golden Tate – Detroit Lions
The surprise retirement of Calvin Johnson after last season leaves a huge number of targets up for grabs in the Lions offense this year. Many are speculating that Golden Tate could be in main beneficiary. Tate has historically been utilized as a high volume, short to medium yardage player, which gives him additional value in PPR leagues. The Lions head to Indianapolis week 1 to face off against the Colts, who have Andrew Luck back and healthy to start the season. Neither defense is a stalwart by any means, so I look for this to be a high scoring game. Tate should put up moderately high numbers this week.
Michael Floyd – Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals boast one of the best receiving cores in the NFL and have an elite passer in Carson Palmer. It was frustrating at times to predict which receiver in that offense would outperform the other from week to week, and that will likely carry over this season. Arizona takes on a Brady-less Patriots team that may struggle to perform with Jimmy Garappolo under center. The Cardinals receiver I’m taking in week 1 is Michael Floyd. Larry Fitzgerald is another year older and has been battling a nagging MCL sprain all preseason. John Brown has also been largely inactive over the last few weeks as he makes his way back from a concussion. Neither player is guaranteed to start week 1, which could give a huge boost to Floyd should either or both of them sit out. The emergence of David Johnson should help keep defenses honest and give the Cardinals passing attack room to operate.
Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49ers
Hyde was a popular breakout candidate last season and many see him as such in 2016. His first test will be against a stingy St. Louis Rams defense that has talent on the defensive line. Head coach, Jeff Fisher, is old school and will want to stop the run and force the 49ers to pass the football. As of Saturday, Hyde is still stuck in concussion protocol, but he should be ready for week 1. He should have plenty of opportunities to score a lot of fantasy points this season, but I don’t believe he’ll get off to a strong start in week 1.
Jarvis Landry – Miami Dolphins
Landry has been quite productive from a fantasy perspective over his first couple of seasons, particularly in PPR leagues. Inconsistent play from his quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, keeps Landry from reaching the upper tier of wide receivers. Still, the former LSU standout has been taken as a top 20 wide receiver in drafts this year and should be serviceable again this season. However, the Dolphins take on the Seattle Seahawks to kick off 2016. The Legion of Boom is still intact, so I don’t have much faith in Landry putting up big numbers in week 1.
DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans
The Titans were abysmal from a fantasy standpoint in 2015, a lot of which had to do with the fact that they lacked any sort of talent at the running back position. They addressed that issue in a big way in the offseason by drafted Heisman winner Derrick Henry and bringing over DeMarco Murray from the Eagles. Murray is listed as the starter and has looked like his former self in the preseason. However, Tennessee plays Minnesota in the first week of the season. The Vikings are solid on defense and allowed the 5th fewest points last year. They had few roster changes in the offseason, so 2016 should look a lot like 2015. The Titans will want to run the ball, but I don’t expect much from Murray this week. Derrick Henry should put a dent in his touches and handle the goal line work as well.
Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers
A rematch of last year’s Super Bowl between the Panthers and Broncos kicks off the 2016 season on Thursday night. Jonathan Stewart was solid in his first year as the lead back for Carolina and should put up similar numbers this season if he can remain healthy. Unfortunately, he faces the same tenacious Denver defense that essentially won the Broncos the Super Bowl. Stewart will still get his carries, but I don’t see him making a splash to begin the season.
Julian Edelman – New England Patriots
Edelman was having a spectacular season last year before getting injured and missing the final 7 games of the season. He seems to be healthy to begin the season, but the Patriots will be without Tom Brady for the first 4 games of the season. Edelman should be a nice safety valve for Jimmy Garoppolo and put up decent numbers in Brady’s absence. However, he will face the superb Arizona Cardinals secondary in week 1. He’ll get his looks, but I don’t foresee him having his best day with an unproven quarterback playing his first game against such a good defense.
I hope this helps some of you make those tough start or sit decisions this week. Check back next week to see who we’re hot and cold on. You can also tweet @No_HuddleFFB if you have questions about any players not listed here. Good luck to you all!