Week 1 of the 2015 NFL season is finally at our doorstep, after an offseason full of Deflategate, suspensions and an alarming amount of season ending injuries.In this weekly column, I'm not gonna tell you to start Andrew Luck and Antonio Brown, because while they might have an off game or two, there is no rationalizing starting anyone over either of them. I also advise sitting players who are suspended or ruled out—said players tend to score zero points during such weeks and will be of little help to your team.
Stud of the Week: Andy Dalton, QB - Cincinnati Bengals at Oakland Raiders
Andy Dalton had an up and down season for the most part in 2014. Many fantasy owners decided to draft him and rely on him to be a weekly starter, something he failed to live up to for more than a few weeks. In the first matchup of the season, Dalton gets an Oakland Raiders secondary that is in a new defensive scheme and just flat out bad.
Dalton also has a healthy A.J. Green and Marvin Jones, to go along with Mohamed Sanu at WR, with Tyler Eifert at TE and Giovani Bernard catching passes out of the backfield. On top of that, Dalton's offensive coordinator is Hue Jackson, former Oakland Raiders head coach My bet is he would be more than happy to score on the Raiders at will. Oakland boasts the 25th worst pass defense in fantasy football allowing 17.1 PPG (standard format) to opposing QBs.
Andre Ellington, RB - Arizona Cardinals vs. New Orleans Saints
Ellington is another guy who disappointed fantasy owners in 2014, spending most of the season fighting injuries. Ellington gets a juicy Week 1 matchup against a Saints defense that allowed an average of 22.6 PPG to opposing RBs last season, which ranked 29th in the NFL. Ellington is a dual threat back and should have a big day at home. Ellington is a low RB2/Flex option.
Doug Martin, RB - Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Tennessee Titans
It is merely coincidental that my Week 1 studs and duds starts with three underachievers from 2014. Doug "don't call me Muscle Hamster" Martin looked like his old self during the preseason. He showed his ability to shed tackles and bust off big plays. In the Titans, he faces the 31st ranked run defense, which allowed 23 PPG to opposing RBs last season. Look for Martin to have a huge game and a bounce back season with a new QB under center. Martin is a mid RB2 play.
Jeremy Maclin, WR - Kansas City Chiefs vs. Houston Texans
Had Maclin stayed with the Philadelphia Eagles, he would be a must start after being the 9th highest scoring fantasy receiver in 2014. Trade whatever QB Chip Kelly is starting for Alex Smith in Andy Reid's offense and the outlook is a bit more dim. Maclin will have a better than expected season with Kansas City and will start it off by catching a WR touchdown for the Chiefs. Houston allowed 26.4 PPG to opposing WRs last season, good for 3rd worst in the NFL. Johnathan Joseph is no longer the player he once was and the Texans now employ the safety who allowed the miracle catch to happen in Denver, Rahim Moore. Maclin is a nice WR2/Flex option.
Julian Edelman, WR - New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Patriots are without Brandon LaFell, who starts the season on the PUP list. In Pittsburgh, two Steeler legends just retired in Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu, both of whom were starters in the secondary last season. Edelman will see a lot of one-on-one coverage with the Steelers attention focused on slowing down Rob Gronkowski. Edelman is a high WR2 play.
Owen Daniels, TE - Denver Broncos vs. Baltimore Ravens
Peyton Manning loves his TEs. Gary Kubiak loves his TEs. I assume Owen Daniels loves himself. The past few season, Julius Thomas has had huge weeks to start the season catching passes from Manning. Look for Daniels to be Manning's favorite target early in the season. Daniels is a mid TE1 play.
Dolphins D/ST - Miami Dolphins at Washington Redskins
A Dolphin defense that already boasted one of the NFLs top pass rushers added Ndamukong Suh this off season. The Washington Redskins are starting QB Kirk Cousins, the same QB that threw 4 INTs in a game... It's gonna be a long night.
Dud of the Week: Melvin Gordon, RB - San Diego Chargers vs. Detroit Lions
Color me skeptical about a high RB draft pick out of Wisconson. At this time last season, I warned fantasy owners to avoid drafting Montee Ball. He was just cut a few days ago and hasn't found a new home yet. Gordon was not impressive in the preseason, so if you have other options, use them.
Matthew Stafford, QB - Detroit Lions at San Diego Chargers
I'm looking for Stafford to have a better season than 2014, but against a underrated Charger secondary and improved defense as a whole, I'd wait on relying on him.
Brandon Marshall, WR - New York Jets vs. Cleveland Browns
Indianapolis Colts TEs, Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills
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