Week 1 Fantasy Football Sleepersby Christopher Gallagher September 10, 2021 0 comments
With week 1 of the 2021 NFL season officially upon us, fantasy football is in full effect. With pre-season rankings and drafts now in the rearview mirror, the time to look at matchups and set rosters is here. Important to set the tone; gaining victories in the first few weeks of the year will go a long way to help capture your league’s championship.
Back with our weekly fantasy sleepers article, 2020 featured many breakout performances across the NFL that helped owners capture titles. Robert Tonyan finished as TE3 in PPR scoring, while James Robinson finished as RB7. A reminder that In choosing these players, anyone in the top 30 rankings for running back and wide receiver and in the top 15 for quarterbacks and tight ends aren’t eligible for the list.
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
Steady over the past three seasons, Kirk Cousins has finished as QB17, 18, and 13 in PPR leagues. Along with this, the 33-year-old signal-caller also racked up three games with over 23 points in standard-scoring leagues in 2020. With a road date with the Cincinnati Bengals on deck to kick off the season, Zac Taylor‘s group finished as the 29th ranked group a year ago. Struggling mightily against the pass, the team allowed more than 240 yards per game, leading them to give up more than 22 points on average to opposing wideouts.
Littered with talent on the offensive side of the ball, Minnesota returns the standout duo of second-year man Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. While they are likely to remain run heavy on the game script behind Dalvin Cook, Cousins offers low-end QB1 upside and high-end QB2 upside in super-flex leagues on Sunday.
Phillip Lindsay, Houston Texans
Agreeing to a one-year deal with the Texans in the offseason, Phillip Lindsay joins a crowded backfield. Already featuring veterans David Johnson and Mark Ingram, the franchise also came to terms with former New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead. Productive during his first two seasons in the league, Lindsay amassed over 190 rushing attempts in both years, leading him to eclipse the 1000 yard mark.
Finishing as a top 20 running back in both seasons, look for the 27 year old to become the primary ball carrier in a Texans offense that is expected to struggle mightily without Deshaun Watson. Putrid at slowing down the run a season ago, the Jacksonville Jaguars allowed over 30 points per game to opposing rushers. Along with this, they allowed more than six receptions per game to the position. While playing in catch-up mode constantly could handcuff his workload early on, start him as a low-end RB3/high-end RB4.
DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles
DeVonta Smith is set to make his NFL debut on Sunday after being selected 10th overall in the draft. He put together one of the most dominant college seasons of all time in 2020, leading him to be the first non-quarterback to capture the Heisman Trophy since Derrick Henry in 2015. With a matchup against the Atlanta Falcons on tap, start the Lousianna native as a WR3 this week.
One of the worst units across the league against the pass a year ago, the Falcons allowed nearly 294 yards per game through the air. Along with this, they surrendered 2.4 passing touchdowns per game on average, leading to almost 28 points per game given up to opposing receivers. Already the No. 1 option on the Eagles depth chart, look for him to lead the team in targets and move all over the formation.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
Unhappy with his contract situation during the offseason, Zach Ertz recently expressed his forgiveness to the Eagles front office as he plans to play out his deal in Philadelphia. One of the most productive players at his position over the last three seasons, the Stanford alumn has finished inside the top six in two of them. Along with this, the 30-year-old has established himself as a go-to target for quarterback Jalen Hurts during the pre-season.
Miserable at slowing down opposing tight ends a year ago; the Falcons allowed nearly 12 points per game. Remaining in a snap share with fourth-year man Dallas Goedert, look for both to possess the ability to have strong days. This makes Ertz a low-end TE1 for players in need of an option at the spot.
Marvin Jones, Jacksonville Jaguars
Landing with the Jaguars on a two-year deal during free agency, Marvin Jones has remained one of the most underrated wideouts in the game. Steady during his time in Detroit, the 31-year-old finished inside the top 30 during his final two years with the team. He racked up over 1700 receiving yards while also amassing 18 touchdown grabs. With a plus matchup on deck against one of the worst defensive units league-wide in the Texans in week 1, start him as a flex option in deeper leagues.
Houston allowed over 250 passing yards per game through the air in 2020 and allowed 1.9 passing scores each contest. Furthermore, they gave up the seventh-most fantasy points on average each week. Already establishing a quick rapport with rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence, look for the veteran to be in for a big day, with plenty of targets to go around in the Jacksonville offense.
Follow Chris Gallagher on Twitter @ChrisGally06
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images