By Grant Ramirez
Delanie Walker, tight end, Tennessee Titans (vs OAK)
The Raiders have a great pass rush led by Khalil Mack; however, their secondary has its struggles, especially against opposing tight ends. Tennessee added a lot of talent on the outside this offseason, which should open up some space for Delanie Walker to work the middle of the field. In addition, it could take some time for Marcus Mariota to build chemistry with his new targets, so count on Walker, Mariota’s familiar security blanket, to produce quality numbers.
Russell Wilson, quarterback, Seattle Seahawks (vs GB)
Although this is a bit of a risky pick considering Wilson’s past struggles against the Packers, including a five-interception game last season, there are a few reasons he should have a good game. One: Green Bay’s shaky secondary allowed the second most fantasy points to quarterbacks last season. Also, I don’t see Seattle having much success running the ball with an extremely suspect offensive line and banged up Thomas Rawls, so Wilson will need to make plays through the air. Plus, Wilson’s scrambling ability is always a plus in fantasy and should get you a few extra points.
Los Angeles Rams, defense/special teams (vs IND)
Lucky for the Rams, they drew the Colts in Week 1, who are without quarterback Andrew Luck while he is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. While Luck’s replacement, Scott Tolzien, is a veteran with some experience, he doesn’t strike fear into any of his opponents. The Colts’ running game isn’t inspiring either, led by 34-year-old Frank Gore. Former Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has taken the reins in Los Angeles and should provide some juice to a relatively talented Rams defense, especially along the defensive line.
Michael Thomas, wide receiver, New Orleans Saints (vs MIN)
Michael Thomas had an impressive rookie season after being taken in the second round of the NFL Draft out of Ohio State. I expect him to have another successful campaign this season; however, he draws a tough matchup versus the Vikings in Week 1. Minnesota had the third-best passing defense last season, holding opposing teams to an average of only 208 passing yards per game. Also, Thomas will likely be facing off against Xavier Rhodes, one of the best corners in the league, for most of the game.
Tyler Eifert, tight end, Cincinnati Bengals (vs BAL)
Looking to bounce back from an underwhelming 2016 season that was shadowed by injury, Tyler Eifert’s first test will come against rival Baltimore. In the offseason, the Ravens added safety Tony Jefferson and first-round corner Marlon Humphrey, improving an already good secondary. Of course, the Bengals still have AJ Green; however, Cincinnati’s first-round speedster John Ross looks to be out for this game so the field won’t be stretched as much as hoped, allowing the Ravens to key in more on Eifert.
Leonard Fournette, running back, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs HOU)
While I expect Leonard Fournette to put up quality numbers in fantasy this season, I don’t see him having too much success in his first start. He is going up against a Texans defense that finished No. 1 in the league last year and is also returning JJ Watt. Even if Fournette wasn’t playing against a smothering defense, it most likely will take some time for him to adjust to the speed of the game and get his feet underneath him.