‘Hot Routes’ is a weekly feature where I’ll give some relatively educated (but possibly completely wrong) advice for who to think about starting this week on your fantasy team, typically with regards to a good matchup.
There are the every week obvious starters, and I’m not going to go there. I’m going to touch on some guys that are maybe starters, maybe not each week, depending on A) Who else you have on your team, and B) How deep your league is. There are a few players this week that particularly interest me.
1) Colin Kaepernick.
You may be starting Kaepernick anyway – but I’m guessing if you drafted 2 QB’s and the choice isn’t obvious who to start (i.e. – P. Manning, Stafford, Luck, etc), you’re a little leary and back and forth on it. Here’s why I think you play Kaep this week. Dallas has a good offense. They have for quite a few years. Their offense isn’t what loses them games typically. People like to scream and bark about how unreliable and not “clutch” Tony Romo is, but his stats make him almost a must-play each week. The Cowboys defense is what gives them problems. They lost 1 game last year 51-48 where Romo threw for 500+ and 5 TDs! It was the defense’s fault and now it’s only gotten worse. They gave up the 5th most points in the NFL last year and now they’ve lost Demarcus Ware to the Broncos and Sean Lee to the IR (again). Kaepernick has a lot more weapons in San Fran this year than he did a year ago. Additionally, San Fran’s defense could potentially be in big trouble. They’ve been stout year in and year out, but they’ll be hurting for at least the first 6-8 (or more) weeks. Aldon Smith has been suspended 9 games, Navarro Bowman is out for 8-ish, Glenn Dorsey went on the IR, Ray McDonald could potentially be kicked off the team – or at least suspended 6 games, 3 of the 4 members of the secondary weren’t in the Bay last year, and the list goes on. The reason I bring up San Francisco’s defense is because I think they’ll be playing from behind a lot this year, especially early in the season. Which means Kaep will be throwing the ball more than he has before. And with the slew of weapons they have this year – a healthy Crabtree, Boldin, Stevie Johnson, Vernon Davis, and a couple backs that can catch passes, he’ll be spreading the ball around a lot. And he can throw the ball – the guy’s got a laser rocket arm. So if you’re unsure of who to play at QB this week, start Kaepernick.
2) Emmanuel Sanders
Probably wouldn’t have been here had it not been for Welker’s Molly-gate scandal. But I think now he’ll be a legitimate threat to beat his projections. In Yahoo Standard leagues, he’s projected at 10 points. Yes, Manning has about 19 targets he throws the ball too in Denver. But somehow, someway, he seems to spread the wealth equally. Last year, everybody on the team benefitted – D. Thomas, J. Thomas, Welker, Knowshon, everybody. So with Welker out, Sanders will most likely start in the slot and he should get plenty of targets. With Luck at the helm and some decent targets in Indy, they’re going to put up some points – despite the “revamped” Broncos defense. Both teams will put up points, and both teams will pass the ball…a lot. Sanders will be a good play this week if you’re wondering who to play at your flex or WR 2/3 spot.
3) Zach Ertz
As of the time I wrote this, Ertz is being started in 51% of Yahoo leagues. He’s projected to score 6 points in standard leagues. The Eagles are playing the Jags this week, and according to Yahoo, they gave up the 3rd most points to TEs a year ago. He should be a bigger part of the offense this year. They’ve lost targets in Philly (D-Jax), and will need to find someone to pick up that slack. I think you start Ertz over a few other highly drafted TEs this week. As I (and a few colleagues) stated here, I think Vernon Davis, for one, won’t live up to his draft position. There are a few others (Kyle Rudolph against the Rams) who have a tough matchup this week. ESPN said this: “in the final five weeks of last season, only Jimmy Graham was targeted more inside an opponent’s 10-yard line”. So if you have a TE with a tough matchup this week, bench him and play Ertz, who has a significantly easier matchup and should outplay his projections.
So hopefully these pointers give you a few ideas of how to come out of the gate week 1 with a big win. If not, well – you didn’t have to listen to me.
image h/t: sports-kings.com, Denver.cbslocal.com, zimbio.com