I have sort of a love/hate relationship with the beginning of the school year.
It starts off with syllabus week, which is basically as useful and involved as the last round of your fantasy draft, and gives students a chance to understand exactly how long they’ll be able to procrastinate before it actually affects their grades, or exactly how many times they can miss class without having to send “my distant cousin who my family didn’t know died” emails to their teachers.
But, it’s also the beginning of the school year. Plus, it comes right after summer, the season where most of us spend way too much time sleeping until four in the afternoon, and then going back to bed at eight in the evening. Most importantly, no matter how hard we “pre-prepare” over the summer, we’re tired before the year even starts. We’re deflated before the game kicks off and we don’t even know it until Roger Goodell looks at our phones and gives us an F on our first four assignments.
Fortunately the National Football League recognizes the agony of the kick off of 300 person college lectures, and seamlessly phases in the beginning of football season, like a band-aid on the cut that is the first test of the year. We can drown our work and school woes on Mondays, Thursdays, and Sundays. We can say “Oh I’ll study, but the games are on today so I need to watch those first.” It’s a more than acceptable excuse.
Week one of the National Football League has already happened, as many of us know. Tom Brady deployed his puppy dog face and got his suspension lifted, a few players felt like trying various substances right before the beginning of the season, and Johnny Manziel is still struggling to be relevant. As we can see, not much has changed, and all is as it should be in the NFL.
For those of you who have a fantasy of owning a football team that consists of your favorite players, but you don’t actually have to go outside, fantasy football may be just right for you. And this column may be just right for you. I’ve been playing fantasy football for the past four years, and may or may not have won all four years (I won one of the years, but that doesn’t really matter, right?) Here, every week, I’ll be recapping the wins and losses of weeks past, and will be previewing the weeks to come. Plus, I’ll be ranking my top three picks for each position of who to play, and will throw in some do-not-plays when it’s necessary. But be wary, I’ll try to avoid the obvious choices such as Aaron Rodgers against a plagued Oakland secondary, or not playing Eli Manning against the wall that is the Seattle defense. Maybe Matthew Berry and the ESPN crew just aren’t enough for you, and you need the opinion of an amateur student writer who desperately needs recommendation letters. If that’s the case, you’re right where you belong.
So please, join me over the next 15 weeks, as we watch egos inflate and balls deflate; as we watch everything we love crumble to the ground within a five minute period on a Sunday afternoon; and as we watch our best friends become arch enemies for one week periods. It’s football season, so put down that pencil and sit on the couch, it’s time to start doing what really matters.
QBs to Play in Week 2:
- Nick Foles, St. Louis Rams (@Washington Redskins): Last week, the Rams absolutely stunned the Seahawks. It’s safe to say that no one expected the Seahawks always stellar defense to give up two touchdowns and 297 yards to the newly traded Nick Foles. Not only that, but Foles was able to complete 66.7% of his passes against the Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman dominated Seahawks secondary. The Redskins managed to allow 226 yards on 34 attempts and one touchdown from the Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill. Plus, back in week three of 2015, Foles burned the Redskins for 325 yards and three touchdowns. Foles would be an excellent pick that may be somewhat overlooked, what with the Rodgers and the Mannings and the Bradys hogging the spotlight.
- Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (@Jacksonville Jaguars): Picking anyone against the Jaguars is going to be beneficial about 80% of the time. But Tannehill proved himself last year, and if there’s any team he can do it against again, it’s the Jaguars. In addition, the Dolphins have a few new weapons at their disposal, such as former Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron and former Saints receiver Kenny Stills. With veteran Greg Jennings and rising star Jarvis Landry at his disposal as well, a lax defense from the Jaguars should provide Tannehill with ample big play opportunities.
- Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (@Chicago Bears): Back in 2014, the Bears came in at number two in most passing yards given up per game (a solid 265 average). Palmer also put up some pretty great numbers in week one against the Saints, where he threw for three touchdowns and 307 yards. Last week, the Bears were able to keep Aaron Rodgers to only 189 passing yards, but still allowed him three touchdowns. Palmer would be a smart start for this week.
RBs to Play in Week 2:
- Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers (@Cincinnati Bengals): Woodhead did work last week and put up two touchdowns against the Lions, helping bring the Chargers to a 33-28 win over Detroit. Going up against a Bengals run defense that has allowed the fifth most fantasy point to opposing backs since the beginning of 2014 makes Woodhead an excellent RB2 choice this week.
- Chris Ivory, New York Jets (@Indianapolis Colts): This may be somewhat worrisome. The Jets could possibly be, bear with me here, relevant. In their first game against a rusty Cleveland Browns team, they came out on top with a 31-10 win. Chris Ivory was a huge part of that win. He finished the game with a stunning 21 points off of 91 yards and two touchdowns. Anyone who watched Ivory when he was a star on the Saints knows he runs much like Marshawn Lynch, and doesn’t stop running until his mom tells him to. The Colts allowed a generous 115 rushing yards per game to opposing backs in 2014, and allowed 97 yards and two touchdowns to the Bills last week. I don’t think the Colts can put up the wall that they’ll need to in order to stop Ivory.
- Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans (@Cleveland Browns): Marcus Mariota and the Titans dominated the Bucs in week one. In Mariota’s NFL debut, he threw for four touchdowns in the first half alone. So now that I think about it, Mariota might not be a bad start this week. But where does Sankey play into this? Sankey seems to be as close as you can get to Mariota’s right hand man. The combination of the two opens up plenty of option opportunities. In addition to finishing the game with 20 fantasy points off of 74 yards and a touchdown, he also scored a touchdown off of 12 receiving yards.
WRs to Play in Week 2:
- Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts (vs. New York Jets): While the Colts might not be able to stop Ivory this week, I don’t think the Jets will be able to stop the Luck/Moncrief connection. Moncrief was a bit of a flash in the pan for a brief time last year, but in week one of this year, he’s come out swinging. Moncrief was able to manage one touchdown off of 46 receiving yards against the Bills. Although T.Y. Hilton still heads the table of receivers, Moncrief is up and coming, especially with Luck at the helm of the offense. If you can’t figure out a good WR2 for this week, Moncrief would be an excellent choice.
- James Jones, Green Bay Packers (vs. Seattle Seahawks): This may seem like somewhat of an obvious pick, however according to ESPN.com, Jones is only started in 27% of leagues. With Jordy Nelson out, Jones moves up in the Rodger’s favorite target list. If there’s anyone in this league who can shred apart the Seahawks defense (besides apparently the Rams), it’s the Packers. Jones burned the Bears last week for 51 yards and two touchdowns, I wouldn’t expect anything different from him at home against the Seahawks this week.
- Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins (@Jacksonville Jaguars): Landry and Tannehill are only going to continue to become better and better together over the coming years. As I said before, you can almost never go wrong playing someone who’s up against the Jaguars, and Landry is ready to shine this year. Don’t be fooled, although his first week wasn’t an explosion, it was solid enough to look at as a possible WR2 position. If you’re struggling with deciding, and he’s still in free agency, I fully expect Tannehill to connect with him at least once or twice for touchdowns this week.
TEs to Play in Week 2:
- Darren Fells, Arizona Cardinals (@Chicago Bears): Carson Palmer exploded last week against the Saints (head back up to my section on Palmer himself). Fells went for 82 yards and one touchdown against the Saints last week as well, racking up 14 points, which is more than normal for a tight end. A lot of people have trouble deciding on a tight end, and while putting him at flex may be risky, I see absolutely no problem putting him in your TE slot.
- Jordan Cameron, Miami Dolphins (@Jacksonville Jaguars): I know my list is full of Dolphins, but Jaguars can’t swim as well as Dolphins, so it’s a pretty obvious choice to make. Also the Jaguars just usually aren’t that good. The Dolphins have way too many weapons at their disposal (jump back up to my overview of Ryan Tannehill). Last week against the Redskins, Cameron ended his game with a solid 7 fantasy points, which came from 73 yards on 4 receptions (not bad, not bad at all).
- Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. San Diego Chargers): Eifert had a monster week last week. He came out of nowhere and put up 104 yards on just 9 receptions and two touchdowns. That got him a total of 22 fantasy points, which is up there with the best of the running backs and wide receivers. In addition, the Chargers gave up 53 yards and one touchdown to the Lions’ Eric Ebron last week. I see Eifert providing at least double digit points this week.
Ole Miss student Taylor Lust is a Fantasy Football guru and can be reached at email@example.com.