2016 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks 2.0

On the day of the 2016 NFL Draft, let’s revisit the current Fantasy quarterback landscape. One of the biggest moves in Free Agency came at the position, but there were other moves that both helped and hurt the value for multiple QBs. See who rises or falls as you prepare WAY TOO EARLY for your draft this summer.

1. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

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Save your Super Bowl 50 hot takes. It’s highly probable you reached your Fantasy Championship last year because you had Cam Newton starting down the stretch. The 13 touchdowns he threw in weeks 12-14 would suggest so. The offseason moves the Panthers made prior to this week would suggest they are committed to continue running with him and Jonathan Stewart. Letting Josh Norman walk freed up $14 million more of cap room to work with. Let’s see what else is added to Newton’s offense, on top of a returning Kelvin Benjamin.

 

2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

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(For now, Brady stays here until we know for sure that his suspension will hold up for the season)

Last year’s biggest steal for many (before his suspension was lifted) just added another scary red zone target in Martellus Bennett. Tom Brady was a magician last year with a depleted receiver group, yet threw the 3rd highest touchdown total of his career (36) and averaged 298 yards per game. He’ll be 39 as the 2016 season starts, but there wasn’t much evidence of him slowing down yet.

 

3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

USP NFL: GREEN BAY PACKERS AT DETROIT LIONS S FBN USA MI

Okay, I’ve come to my senses. Aaron Rodgers is good at football, I know. I still wouldn’t recommend spending a 1st or early 2nd round pick on him, but adding Jared Cook to Rodgers’ arsenal helps in the red zone. The Packers aren’t particularly known for 2-TE looks, but they have that option now from 25 yards and in. If Eddie Lacy meets his “comeback” hype too, the Packers offense could be devastating and that would benefit Rodgers owners the most.

 

4. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers

Carson Palmers numbers were very similar to Tom Brady’s last season. The Cardinals also brought the band back together, re-signing Jermaine Gresham, Chris Johnson, and Jaron Brown. They are 5 deep in quality WRs, and the Top 3 stack up with any group in the league. As long as the 36-year old can be held upright, you should get the consistent 2 touchdowns and 290 yards per game at least.

 

5. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks

Russell Wilson’s 21/2 TD-to-INT ratio from Week 10-15 are exactly why you put him in the Top 5. He put up his highest touchdown total in 2015 (34), which was 14 more than the season prior. What makes you hesitant is his annual slow start. Since being drafted in 2012, Wilson has averaged 1.3 touchdowns and 210.25 yards per game through through first 5 weeks of the season. What’s nice is that he hardly turned the ball over, but you’re hoping Seahawks play-callers stick to the formula they found last season, attacking downfield with Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett.

 

6. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

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In his first two seasons, Blake Bortles was the most sacked quarterback in the league. Improving his touchdown total by 24 (35 in 2015) was pretty encouraging though, as was finding chemistry with two of the game’s most consistent receivers. The Jaguars added some offensive line help picking up former Steelers tackle Kelvin Beachum and improved their defense by signing Malik Jackson and Tashaun Gipson. Having Chis Ivory in the backfield too should also help forcing opposing defenses to fill the box. It’s safe to assume #BortlesKombat will continue to heat up.

 

7. Eli Manning, New York Giants

Eli

Eli Manning, of all people, has challenged Odell Beckham Jr. to improve for next season. I guess a quarterback and captain is responsible for that, but Beckham continued to be the best thing going for the Giants offense having scored 25 touchdowns in 2 seasons. Manning seems to finally be getting a healthy Victor Cruz back and Dwayne Harris made solid strides as the #3 guy. Coming off the highest touchdown total of his career (35), Manning should build on it with another year of OBJ and the same offensive play-calling should make.

 

8. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

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Drew Brees missed his first game since 2009 last season and still finished the season with 32 touchdowns and  4,870 yards (324 yards per game). He’s younger than Brady but might have a bit more wear-and-tear. However, the extension Sean Payton received makes me think he’s going to come out firing with his QB this year. Brees has an elite deep option in Brandin Cooks, two other solid receivers in Brandon Coleman and Willie Snead, a new red zone threat in Coby Fleener and two effective pass catching running backs…Things are looking bright.

 

9. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

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After adding Donald Penn, the Raiders offensive line is now one of the best in all of football. When he wasn’t under pressure, Derek Carr had a passer rating of 96.4 last year. That and the 32 touchdowns he threw should improve as his chemistry with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree do as well.

 

10. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers v St. Louis Rams

Losing Martavis Bryant hurts the Steelers offense a lot. He is a top tier talent and Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t necessarily his best during his 5-game suspension last season, 7 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Roethlisberger’s longtime go-to tight end also retired. However, the Steelers upgraded at the position by signing Ladarius Green and they still have Antonio Brown, plus  Le’Veon Bell returns. I don’t know if you can trust Big Ben to stay in one piece all season, but his knack for 3+ touchdown games and average of 328 yards per last season make him Top 10 worthy.

 

11. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

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Which Andrew Luck will we get this year? The one who went 2-5 and threw just 15 touchdown passes last season, or the one who threw 40 the year before? The Colts didn’t add much to their offensive line to protect him but they do still have speedsters T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief to throw downfield to. It will be interesting to see how Luck bounces back.

 

12. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

Rivers

Philip Rivers could be had for great value. With a healthy Keenan Allen through 8 games, Rivers averaged 344 yards and 2 touchdowns per game. Then Ken Whisenhunt rejoined the Chargers staff, who helped Rivers get his groove back in 2013, and they added the Cleveland Browns’ #1 receiver, Travis Benjamin. If everyone stays healthy, the Chargers could have a very high powered offense.

 

13. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

Dalton

Andy Dalton had a great season before his injury last year. 25 touchdowns and 7 interceptions are much better than the 19 and 17 before then. His #2 and #3 receivers, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, left via free agency but it doesn’t hurt to have weapons like AJ Green, Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard. Brandon LaFell also joins the Bengals offense and possibly a first round quality receiver too from this year’s draft.

14. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

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Matthew Stafford is coming off his 2nd 30+ touchdown season of his career (32), but he’s going to be doing so without Calvin “Megatron” Johnson. The Lions did their best to fill the need at WR by picking up Marvin Jones, the best WR on the market after Alshon Jeffrey was franchised tagged, and Golden Tate has proven he can shine without Megatron. What’s also encouraging are the 17 touchdowns Stafford threw in the final 6 weeks of the season. His two running backs, Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick, are strong in the passing game as well.

 

15. Kirk Cousins, Washington

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I’m not sure how Kirk Cousins is supposed to feel about getting franchise tagged and then seeing Josh Norman get a $75 million contract after. If he wants to get paid more somewhere though, it would be in his best interest to play like the guy who threw 11 touchdown passes and zero interceptions over his last 3 games. He finished the season with a 101.6 passer rating and a healthy Jordan Reed can only help that continue in 2016.

 

16. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears

Cutty 2015

It’s taken a long time but it finally appears the Chicago Bears are putting a proper offense around Jay Cutler. The franchise tagged the best WR in free agency, Alshon Jeffrey. They sured up the right side of their offensive line by adding tackle Bobby Massie and kicking Pro Bowler Kyle Long back to guard. They also get to find out what Kevin White is made of. Continuity in offensive scheme and better coaching should keep the arrow pointing up for Cutler.

 

17. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

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We go from one Adam Gase project to the next. Ryan Tannehill was on a steady track, improving on touchdown totals for his first 3 seasons, but took a step back in 2015 with a coaching staff that really didn’t seem to know what they were doing. He can throw and he can run. His new head coach specializes in utilizing quarterbacks with Tannehill’s talent in play-action, minimizing their mistakes. His Top WR, Jarvis Landry, also looks ready to explode.

18. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

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Matt Ryan should be much higher, but his 2015 season makes it very fair to doubt his abilities. With arguably the best WR in football, Julio Jones, and an emerging star at running back, Devonta Freeman, Ryan only threw 21 touchdowns last year. Only once did he throw 3 or more touchdowns in a game. Only ONCE in his career has thrown 30+ touchdowns in a season. Too often did you see him turn the ball over on scoring drives or get stopped because of his own inaccuracy. The Falcons upgraded his protection this year by adding Alex Mack at center and replaced Roddy White with Mohamed Sanu. It’s now or never, Matty Ice.

 

19. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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While Marcus Mariota started out hot, Jameis Winston may have finished the 2015 season looking like the better rookie quarterback. Despite losing 5 of his last 7 games, Winston’s numbers improved after a 5 touchdown performance against the Eagles. He also gets back the best RB that was available in free agency, Doug Martin, and hopefully Mike Evans finds a cure for “the drops”. It will be interesting to see how the team handles itself without Lovie Smith and with Dirk Koetter in charge.

 

20. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

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It’s really tough to feel confident in Tony Romo as the #1 Fantasy quarterback on your roster. The backfield situation looks better with a committee of Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris and a healthy Lance Dunbar. If those guys get going, you might get the 34-TD Romo. If they don’t, then you have to worry about another season ending injury. Health will be key for both Romo and Dez Bryant in 2016. If by chance they draft Ezekiel Elliott though, you can feel a lot better about the Cowboys in general.

 

21. Brock Osweiler, Houston Texans

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There was one quarterback signing in the offseason that made serious waves and that was Brock Osweiler to Houston. He traded throwing to Demaryius Thomas for DeAndre Hopkins and an offensive scheme that earned Brian Hoyer a 100+ passer rating in 5 of his 11 games started. It’s hard to predict how good Osweiler will be after such a small sample size. He threw 10 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in 7 games with Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders as his options. Do Hopkins, Cecil Shorts III, Jalen Strong and fellow signee Lamar Miller help him improve those numbers?

22. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

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“Is Joe Flacco a elite?” – One of my favorite Twitter jokes in sports.

Flacco’s never thrown more than 27 touchdowns in his career. He followed up his highest season total with a season-ending injury and just 14 TDs in 10 games. The Ravens are committed to Flacco though, extending him for another 3 years in the offseason. He’ll have Steve Smith Sr. playing his final season and wanting to go out with a bang. They also added Mike Wallace and Benjamin Watson to improve the receiving corps and prepare for for the annual Dennis Pita injury.

 

23. Marcus Mariota, Tenesse Titans

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Marcus Mariota had probably the most impressive start to his career you could ask for, throwing 4 touchdowns in the opener against his rookie counterpart, Jameis Winston. He’d match that total again vs. the Saints while adding 371 yards. However, he was shut out in the TD column 5 times and was only healthy for 12 games. Trading for DeMarco Murray shows the Titans are very committed to the run for 2016, which should help take pressure off Mariota in his sophomore season and set up his passing game better.

 

24. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs

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Alex Smith is a very good game manager, at this point in his career and he can at times be a decent waiver pickup when your #1 guy is on a bye. Twice in 2015, Smith threw 2 touchdowns and ran for another and he was finally back to finding wide receivers in the end zone again (that’s progress, considering the year and half long streak of not throwing TDs to WRs). Smith will also be getting Jamaal Charles back, who is monster when catching the ball out of the backfield.

25. Teddy Bridgewater

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In year 3 of the Teddy Bridgewater era, the Vikings bulked up their offensive line by adding Andre Smith and Alex Boone. After being sacked 44 times last season, that’s a welcomed upgrade for Bridgewater. He’s thrown only 14 touchdowns in each of his first 2 seasons and the Vikings have yet to improve their receiver depth, but more attention to Adrian Peterson by defenses should open things up for Bridgewater this time around.

Anyone too high or too low? Was anyone left out? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter

More Position Rankings:

Running Backs (2.0)

Quarterbacks (1.0)

Wide Receivers (1.0)

NFL Week 13 Fantasy Mailbag

Each Week 13 I like to remind Fantasy Football participants to thank their league commissioners for organizing everything…as long as they scheduled the playoffs to start next week and the championship to take place Week 16.

JJ Watt yell

By the end of the season, you’ve come too far to worry about players on teams who have their division clinched and will potentially be rested Week 17 to make a run in the playoffs. Right now, I would worry about the Patriots, Cardinals and even the Panthers (who could be undefeated still) doing exactly that.

Now for immediate concerns, you are…

A) all good and have clinched a playoff spot. Just playing for the best seeding possible.

B) fighting for a playoff spot. It’s already win or go home.

C) hoping to spoil things for anyone that (B) applies to. It’s about pride at this point.

There is a “D” but you don’t want to be that person. You know, the person who drafted a team and didn’t give enough of a shit to do any maintenance on their roster at all, even after paying dues for a cash league. I played against Jordy Nelson last week. That’s all you need to know.

Quick Hits

  • Perhaps the most exciting individual matchup this weekend will be Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Darrelle Revis. In the past, Revis Island had scared away fantasy owners from even considering starting a #1 WR against him, even quarterbacks at times. In recent weeks though, Revis has allowed big games to DeAndre Hopkins (5 catches, 118 yards, 2 TDs) and Allen Robinson (6-121). Meanwhile, Beckham has cracked 100+ yards in 4 straight weeks, and has done so 13 times in his last 20 games.

[Update] Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles was asked about Revis’s status this week and responded with “I don’t think so.”

ODB dive

 

  • Another team that could potentially clinch their division by Week 17 are the Minnesota Vikings. Big reason why, and the player they’d likely be resting, is Adrian Peterson. AP has 634 yards and 5 touchdowns in his last 5 games, is 72 yards off his 2012 pace when he recorded 2,097 yards, and faces a Seattle defense this week that allowed 117 total yards to DeAngelo Williams. He’ll be the Viking’s best chance against the Seahawks in a black and blue matchup.

AP TD

  • The funniest thing in football may in fact be the biggest difference for tonight’s matchup between the Lions and Packers…Jim Bob Cooter. The Lions have won 3 straight and now have a chance to sweep Green Bay. During that win streak, Matthew Stafford has thrown for 861 yards, no interceptions and 7 touchdowns (5 last week against Philly). Amazing how good Cooter, the OC (try not laughing), looks when his quarterback actually throws the ball to Calvin Johnson.

Stafford to Megatron

 

Mail Time!

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I don’t like Antonio Andrews, or any Titans RBs, at all but seeing Charcandrick West practicing with the Chiefs again leads me to believe Spencer Ware is going to lose a lot of touches. If West plays this week, go with the starters in Andrews and Shaun Draughn. I wouldn’t expect touchdowns out of either, unfortunately. If West doesn’t go, plug Ware in for Andrews.

 

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I understand the concern with Tom Brady, but haven’t we seen this story before? Without Gronk, Julian Edelman, and Danny Amendola, Brady threw 3 touchdowns against the best defense in the league. This week he plays the Eagles and could likely have Amendola back. Philly has given up 10 touchdowns in the last 2 week, and Brady has built a reputation for making something out of nothing (no-name receivers).

If you’re having strong enough doubts, this could be a great week for Ryan Fitzpatrick if he’s miraculously available on your waivers. Bryan Hoyer and Ryan Tannehill could be okay plays if you’re desperate.

 

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The James Starks thing has come and gone, as Eddie Lacy has woken up finally. Now it becomes a question of whether or not you believe in CJ Anderson or not…

If Anderson is going to keep coming back into our good graces, it would be against the Chargers. They have allowed double-digit rushing TDs and 1,800+ rush yards. My gut tells me the Broncos will ride the hot back, just like they should ride the hot quarterback. So start CJ.

For matchup reasons, I have to lean toward LaGarrette Blount over Latavius Murray. The Chiefs have only allowed one back to run for more than 71 yards and have given up 1 rushing touchdown since Week 5. Meanwhile, the Eagles look like they’ve quit on their coach.

 

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Similar to my reasoning to start Tom Brady and LeGarrette Blount, that’s why I like Scott Chandler this week. I picked him up in both my leagues (starting him in the one without Gary Barnidge), because Brady loves targeting his tight end. Last time Gronk missed significant time, Brady made Mike Hoomanawanui relevant.

If that doesn’t convince you, Eric Ebron would be a sneaky pickup tonight as the Packers have allowed a touchdown to TEs in 4 straight matchups. The even sneakier move would be Cameron Brate against the Falcons with Austin Seferian-Jenkins still down.

 

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RB: If the Rams offense wasn’t a complete dumpster fire right now, I would say Todd Gurley is a no-brainer. But they are and that means he isn’t. Tony Romo going down means Darren McFadden is going to get all the checkdown passes he could dream of from Matt Cassel. I feel better about McFadden’s floor than Gurley’s ceiling this week.

QB: If Jay Cutler is available, go get him. The 49ers defense is a very different squad on the road than they are at home, allowing 35 points per game away from Levi’s Stadium.

 

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WR: TY Hilton and Eric Decker are easy picks for me. The Steelers are giving up the most catches and  2nd most yards to receivers, and Decker is a touchdown machine scoring in 8 of 10 games. I like what D-Jax has done since returning, but the Cowboys pass defense is brutal.

 

QB: I am going to go with my common theme for this post, trust the Cooter. I am going to use the Lions OC’s name for as long as I can, so deal with it. Stafford’s got a hot hand and Rivers has a bad matchup.

 

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I feel weird saying this, but I like Ryan Fitzpatrick a lot more this week. The Giants secondary is allowing 250+ yards and at least one touchdown to every QB they’ve faced. Meanwhile, I think the Packers are going to get Rodgers killed tonight…but he could always be “RODJAS!” again.

 

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We do have a “Thor” in our league. Otherwise, I recommend GREG, SON OF OLSEN!

Greg son of Olsen

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

NFL Week 1 Fantasy Mailbag

Finally…

The NFL returns and 2014 is set to kickoff right with the defending champion Seattle Seahawks hosting the Green Bay Packers. Fans of both teams, and the NFL in general, still have those final moments from their matchup in 2012 fresh in their minds. There’s no way you forgot about this one…

I can only imagine how much play Russell Wilson’s Hail Mary will get on all of the highlight programs, pre-game shows and during the game itself tonight. But while we remember the wild outcome of that game, the absolute beat down the Seahawks put on the Broncos in the Super Bowl, and whoever won your Fantasy league last year (begrudgingly), today marks a clean slate for everyone. 

With a new season come new traditions. Each week I will take any Fantasy Football questions you may have and answer them the best I can before Thursday Night Football. Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, or emailing me at piff.michael@gmail.com, I’ll help with any roster questions you may have to set your lineup for game time. If you don’t get your question in before the weekly post, have no fear…you can still ask me on social media if you’d like. With Wes Welker getting some extended time off, I’m sure you’re wondering who to pick up in his place…

Now we’re ready to start!

 

Jumbo Joe on Facebook “Witten or Gates and Stacy or McFadden?”

Let’s start with the TEs. Jason Witten and the Cowboys will open the season at home against a depleted 49ers defense. Regardless of whether or not defensive lineman Ray McDonald is suspended this week for his domestic violence charge, the 49ers are without inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman (knee injury), defensive lineman Glen Dorsey (bicep injury), and defensive end Aldon Smith (9 game suspension). Both 49ers cornerbacks, Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver, are making their first opening day start and new safety Antoine Bethea is returning from a preseason concussion. This should be a great opportunity for Tony Romo and his targets. That includes Witten…On the other hand, Antonio Gates is on the road against a Cardinals defense that gave up the most points to tight ends last season. I think you have a good problem on your hands in Week 1, but also keep in mind Phillip Rivers has Ladarius Green as a TE option. Go with Witten knowing that Romo loves to throw his way and that his pass calls will be increased in the Scott Linehan system.

In regards to the RBs, with Sam Bradford going down (again), Zac Stacy becomes the most important player on the Rams offense. The Rams have a solid stable of running backs with Benny Cunningham and Tre Mason in the mix, but Stacy is the Rams’ feature back…Darren McFadden is an interesting case. We know McFadden has the ability to be a top end RB, but his injury history has proven him to be unreliable over the course of a season. The Raiders have him listed 2nd on the depth chart behind newly acquired Maurice Jones-Drew. While I think both RBs will get their fair share of touches, especially with a rookie quarterback at the helm, they are going against a Jets defense that was ranked 3rd against the run a year ago. Start Stacy against a Vikings D that gave up the 9th most fantasy points to running backs. 

 

Alberto Arreola on Facebook “Ellington or Murray? And Gronk or Olsen?”

In his 2nd year, Andre Ellington is being talked up as a possible breakout star by multiple Fantasy experts. In 15 games and 1 start last year, 1,023 total yards from scrimmage and 4 touchdowns (3 rush, 1 rec). He is a pass catching running back that will be depended on as the full-time guy for the Cardinals. But can he handle the increase in workload?…DeMarco Murray starts his contract year against the aforementioned depleted 49ers defense. Murray is a top 10 RB when healthy and should see a boost in his receiving stats with Linehan making pass calls. Linehan loves throwing to his running backs. Start Murray at RB but have Ellington available for your flex spot if your league has one. 

Rob Gronkowski says he’s ready to go for week 1for the Patriots, and if Gronk wants to football…Gronk will football (yes, that was intended in caveman voice). Some wonder how limited Gronkowski’s snaps will be, but if Tom Brady gets to the red zone, you know who his favorite target is…Greg Olsen is looking like one of the few reliable guys in Cam Newton’s passing attack and will be a test for Lovie Smith’s new Buccaneers defense. However, having seen the damage Gronk can do in Fantasy Leagues when healthy, start him. 

Andrew Hirt on Facebook “Andy Dalton or Ben Roethlisberger”

These are a pair of AFC North quarterbacks who proved to be fairly comparable last year in terms of yardage and TD/INT ratio. Andy Dalton faces a tougher pass defense on the road in Baltimore than Ben Roethlisberger does at home against Cleveland. Dalton has AJ Green. Roethlisberger has Antonio Brown. My heart says Dalton but my head says Roethlisberger at home. 

 

Emmet Fairfield on Facebook “For a W/R/T spot: P. Harvin, Chris Johnson, or Fred Jackson…League is .2 PPR, 1 pt per 20 punt return yds, and otherwise standard.”

I’m glad you mentioned you are in a PPR league. I’d like to ask everyone else to distinguish the same when submitting questions this season…I like the combo you have for your flex spot but I think one of them stands out the most in Week 1. I see Chris Johnson really getting a chance to shine with the Jets but to start he’ll be a part of a running back-by-committee system with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell. RBs also didn’t catch many passes in Marty Mornhinweg’s system last year with Geno Smith at quarterback…I think Fred Jackson will be a solid option down the stretch, but Week 1 is going to feature a lot more of a healthy CJ Spiller against the Bears. He may also lose carries to Bryce Brown in that crowded backfield…I think tonight will be a big one for Percy Harvin. You’ll get your return yard points from him, and he’ll be Russell Wilson’s primary target against a defense that ranked 4th giving up fantasy points to wide receivers last year. Start Harvin tonight, but don’t sleep on Johnson in upcoming weeks. 

 

Again if you still have Fantasy Football questions, feel free to Tweet @Mike_PiFF03.