Week 1: Upgrades and Downgrades

Week 1 Upgrades & Downgrades

Last year we titled this as a start/sit column but every year I learn more about the game of football, the NFL, and fantasy in general.  As I mature as a fantasy football player I hope to extend that to my readers.  With that in mind, there are many types of leagues with many types of rules and scoring systems. I have decided that instead of start/sit we will have upgrades and downgrades.  With the new setup, keep in mind that for players I have listed as “downgrades”, I simply mean you should expect less than their statistical average given the current matchup.  They may still start for you and of course, they may have a good week, but you shouldn’t expect as much from them.  For “upgrades”, you can expect them to score more than they typically do, but they may not be a starter in your league or for your team.  Final note, for those of you who play DFS I recommend targeting players I have listed as “upgrades” as they will likely give you more production than their value indicates which is the primary goal in DFS.  Let’s get started!

 

Position: Quarterback

Upgrades –

  • Russell Wilson, Green Bay was suspect in the secondary last year and I don’t suspect much of a change this season.
  • Marcus Mariota, Oakland’s secondary is bad and he got a revamped receiving core to work with over the offseason, good way to start the season.
  • Kirk Cousins, Captain Kirk has not gelled well with his starting unit so far in camp and during his preseason work but it’s only a matter of time until he gets comfortable.
  • Sam Bradford, Breaux isn’t playing and the rest of the New Orleans secondary is still not good.
  • Carson Wentz, Washington still can’t rush the QB and I like the O-line in Philidelphia.

Downgrades –

  • Ben Roethlisberger, I like him this season and obviously the Browns are one of the worst teams in the league but it’s on the road and we all know what his splits look like.
  • Dak Prescott, Giants D looks really good this season and Dez was held to almost nothing last year in the 2 matchups against them
  • Philip Rivers, Denver defense…need I say more?
  • Tyrod Taylor, Jets still have a pretty good defense and I need to see what he can do with what he has before I am throwing him out on a weekly basis.
  • Trevor Siemian, Chargers have 2 of the best cornerbacks in the league, my money is on a healthy dose of CJ Anderson this week.

 

Position: Running Back

Upgrades –

  • Lamar Miller, Jacksonville won’t score, can’t stop the run, and he has no backups. He’s getting the rock this week.
  • CJ Anderson, Chargers have a pretty strong secondary but suspect front 7 and the Broncos are starting their 2nd option at QB. The game plan will be to run the ball.
  • Bilal Powell, My sleeper of the year at RB starts off against the Bills who weren’t good against the run last year and I have no idea who else is going to get the ball in this offense.
  • Danny Woodhead, The Ravens are going to use him while they have him.
  • Terrance West, Flacco has been hurt, they aren’t going to risk him getting hit a lot this game.
  • Tevin Coleman, Bears are not good against the run and if the Falcons go up quick you’ll see a lot of Coleman.
  • Duke Johnson Jr., Steelers are stout against the run and the Browns will be down early.
  • Jonathan Stewart, 49ers are bad against the run and the Panthers should run it once they are up.

Downgrades –

  • LeSean McCoy, if you have him you’re starting him but the Jets can stop the run pretty well.
  • Melvin Gordon, Broncos are tough against the run but he’s still going to get the rock.
  • Jordan Howard, Bears figure to be down early which means more time passing and less time running the ball.
  • Marshawn Lynch, Titans are pretty good against the run and this game screams shoot-out to me.
  • Leonard Fournette, he’s been dealing with a foot injury for the past month and is up against one of the best defenses in the league in Houston.
  • Isaiah Crowell, Steelers are stout against the run and the Browns will be down early.
  • Rob Kelley, Eagles are decent at run defense and with this offense going through a small personnel change I see the Eagles going up early and Kelley doesn’t really catch passes.
  • Frank Gore, just don’t bother with him until Luck gets back…

 

Position: Wide Receiver

Upgrades –

  • Larry Fitzgerald, Detroit’s defense is still not great and Larry tends to open up the season strong and then settle down as it goes on, play him while he should be hot.
  • Kelvin Benjamin, San Fran’s defense was overhauled this offseason but the secondary still looks to be suspect at best, start him with confidence.
  • Davante Adams, Love the matchup as it looks to be the usual shootout that this matchup has been in previous years and Nelson is likely to draw attention from Richard Sherman.
  • Michael Crabtree, Titans’ CB Logan Ryan will be shadowing Cooper for the day which means Crabtree will be the next biggest benefactor in this potential shoot out.
  • Brandon Marshall, OBJ has been banged up so someone will need to catch the ball if the Giants find themselves in a hole early.
  • Martavis Bryant, Cleveland’s secondary is a sieve and the Steelers like to punch you in the mouth early with deep throws and going for 2. He could score all of his points in the 1st half though.
  • Jamison Crowder, I have the feeling Philly is going to go up early and try to milk the clock with their running game, Pryor needs time to acclimate with Cousins so using Cousins’ 1 or 2 reliable targets from 2016 seems pretty smart to me.
  • Sammy Watkins, I am definitely not in love with him this year, but anyone going against the Colts defense warrants an option for me.

Downgrades –

  • Odell Beckham Jr., As I said above, he’s been hurt quite a bit but also the Cowboy’s secondary wasn’t too shabby last year. You’re obviously starting him if you own him.
  • Michael Thomas, Rhodes will be covering him like a blanket all game and Brees has plenty of other options to work with.
  • Dez Bryant, He was shut down pretty well twice last year by Janoris Jenkins, with Zeke back, it may just happen again.
  • Golden Tate, I don’t really like anyone going up against Arizona in general but especially not the guy that will see the most of Patrick Peterson.
  • Demaryius Thomas, Chargers quietly have one of the better secondaries in the league, there are better options out there but he is likely starting in every league regardless.
  • Keenan Allen, This one is tough because if you drafted him you are playing him as long as he is healthy, but the Denver defense is still the best in the league so temper expectations.
  • DeAndre Hopkins, Jalen Ramsey has his number, see back to last year’s totals against Jacksonville.
  • Allen Robinson, Murky QB situation and Houston’s defense is 2nd best in the league if not the best, maybe a flex play if you are hurt by the change in the Miami/Tampa Bay game.

 

Position: Tight End

Upgrades –

  • Delanie Walker, If I recall correctly you could have had a top 5 TE had you started the player who was up against Oakland every week for the 1st 8 games. Get ready for an offensive explosion.
  • Jimmy Graham, As I mentioned above I expect this game to be high scoring and I think Jimmy is poised for a great season and a great 1st game.
  • Jordan Reed, Same reason why I have Crowder above, they could get down early and Cousins trusts Reed to get it done in crunch time.
  • Jason Witten, Historically he kills the Giants and I don’t think Dez will be all that effective this week.
  • Hunter Henry, He did well against the Broncos last year and I don’t like Allen this week, someone has to catch the ball and you could definitely do worse at TE this week.

Downgrades –

  • Tyler Eifert, Ravens seem to have a decent defense again this year and I think this will be a defense struggle.
  • Coby Fleener, Like him again this year but not this week, Minnesota can stop the pass pretty well.
  • Eric Ebron, Has already been hurt this year and it hasn’t even started yet. He may see the Honey Badger (Tyrann Mathieu) a bit on the field as well.
  • Jared Cook, I like the new placement for him in Oakland but it will take time to develop some real chemistry with Carr.
  • Antonio Gates, Not playing for me until he shows me he’s still got the goods.
*Photo courtesy of sportsonearth.com.