Every week fantasy owners have to take their fate into their own hands and lock in a starting lineup they feel gives them the best shot at coming home with a W. Nothing is worse than being down ten points to your opponent while Desean Jackson explodes for 30+ on your bench. In an effort to make the fantasy world a little brighter for my readers, I’ve asked my people to send me player battles they’re struggling with this week, so that I can (hopefully) guide them in the right direction.
Royce Freeman vs. Chris Thompson
I’m a big fan of both of these running backs; Freeman is an intelligent runner still looking to carve out his role as the lead back in Denver, Thompson is a pass-catching maven who can quietly take over a game through steady production. Royce Freeman has a favorable matchup taking on the Khalil Mack-less Raiders at home this week. However, his lack of production in the pass game and the emergence of Phillip Lindsay have me questioning Freeman’s viability as a fantasy starter. Chris Thompson on the other hand, has much more NFL tape, and it’s easy to evaluate his role with the Redskins. Washington has the Indianapolis Colts at home this week, a team they should be able to exploit on the ground as well as through the air. Adrian Peterson will continue to see the bulk of the carries. However, Thompson should see at least 12-14 touches to keep AD fresh, and, with notoriously safe QB Alex Smith at the helm, expect Thompson to see plenty of targets through short passes. Freeman should continue to develop into a quality NFL running back, but the edge in fantasy this week goes to Chris Thompson.
Juju Smith-Schuster vs. Allen Robinson
This is an interesting pairing of wide receivers. Both guys have good size and the ability to make plays downfield, so how do we separate them? On one side, we have second year man Juju Smith-Schuster, the obvious number two behind Antonio Brown who has a knack for big plays and putting up strong WR2 fantasy numbers. On the other side is Allen Robinson, Chicago’s coveted new playmaking deep threat, who should emerge as the best wide out on the Bears revamped roster. Smith-Schuster is up against a shaky Kansas City secondary this week, while Robinson takes on Earl Thomas and the struggling Seahawks. ESPN has Juju ranked two spots above Allen Robinson this week and I’m inclined to agree. Juju Smith-Schuster has a better rapport with his QB, and should benefit from single coverage while the defense keys in on Antonio Brown. Allen Robinson has all the tools to lead Chicago’s wide receiver corps, but this week look for the Steelers to assert themselves as a premier NFL offense.
Will Fuller vs. Jamison Crowder
This is a matchup I went back and forth on a few times. My head says Crowder, but my heart says Fuller. The Texans offense, particularly quarterback Deshaun Watson, was underwhelming last week, so it’s hard to say that Will Fuller will be the guy to take the field in week 2 and reignite the offense. However, the Texans showed last season just how lethal they can be when Watson has both of his top WRs in the game. Crowder has the better match up, as the Redskins are set to play the Colts, but the Redskins entire group of receivers were relatively quiet in week one, and I’m not sure we should expect much more this week, especially if Washington is able to jump out to an early lead. I think that if Will Fuller is declared healthy before Saturday, you play him and hope for a big play. Jamison Crowder is the safe play, but Fuller’s big play potential gives him the edge here.
Emmanuel Sanders vs. Golden Tate
I’ll be upfront on this one, I’m rolling with Sanders. Nothing against Golden Tate, he’s good player in what should be a strong offense. But I strongly believe that Kenny Golladay is going to take a larger share of snaps and targets throughout this season, which will have an adverse effect on the fantasy production of Tate as well as Marvin Jones. Golden Tate and the Lions are on the road this week, and while I expect the offense as a whole to look better than they did in the season opener, I don’t expect Golden Tate to deviate much from his current projection. Emmanuel Sanders on the other hand has Oakland at home, and showed that at 31 years old, he can still get it done. ESPN has Tate ranked just a little ahead of Sanders this week, but I am all in on the Denver Broncos, give me Sanders over Tate.
Sterling Shepard vs. Devin Funchess
I can see the appeal for Sterling Shepard, the sure-handed route runner across from Odell Beckham Jr.. Shepard should be good for a decent workload against Dallas this week. However, Devin Funchess has a lot working in his favor. Cam Newton is currently projected to be the top option at quarterback for week two, and Funchess stands to gain from a strong performance by the Panther’s lead man. Newton will be without massive redzone threat Greg Olsen, and Funchess, a converted tight end, is a big body who has established chemistry with Cam. The Panthers are on the road this week, but I don’t believe the Hawks will have enough juice without Keanu Neal to keep Funchess quiet. Verdict: Devin Funchess > Sterling Shepard.