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Week 1 Fantasy Headliners (2020 Fantasy Football)

by James Bisson | Featured Writer
Sep 11, 2020

Chase Claypool is an intriguing early-season stash.

Here’s a collection of notable news and notes from all 32 teams entering Week 1 of the fantasy football season:

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Arizona Cardinals: Andy Isabella will be the Cardinals’ kick and punt returner to open the season, per the team’s official website. Isabella takes over for Pharoh Cooper, who bolted for Carolina in the offseason. Isabella’s prominence in special teams not only dampens his value in the receiving game, but also makes Christian Kirk that much more attractive as a sleeper option; he was also a candidate for kick and punt return duties.

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Atlanta Falcons: James Carpenter and rookie Matt Hennessey will rotate at left guard for the foreseeable future, according to the team’s official website. Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has confirmed that both players will see snaps in the early stages of the season – and Atlanta can only hope one or both of them can excel. The Falcons surrendered 50 sacks in 2019, tied for fifth-most in the NFL.

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Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens broke the NFL record for rushing yards in 2019 with 3,296; can they do it again this year? Running back Mark Ingram II certainly thinks so: “We’re trying to improve. We’ll be doing everything we can to try to top that mark this year.” Ingram, Lamar Jackson and J.K. Dobbins are all viable options in 12-team re-draft leagues, with Jackson a great bet to break the 1,000-yard barrier again in 2020.

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Buffalo Bills: Stability is the name of the game at Orchard Park, with the Bills rostering 10 offensive linemen they had in the fold last year. But as is pointed out on the team’s official website, while Buffalo had seven new faces in the room going into the 2019 season, there are only two additions to the 2020 O-line depth chart (G/T Daryl Williams and G Brian Winters). That camaraderie can only help the Bills’ offense as a whole.

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Carolina Panthers: It’s not exactly a ringing endorsement. Head coach Matt Rhule expressed frustration in the energy level the team’s starters showed in the last practice leading into Sunday’s encounter with the Las Vegas Raiders. “I was not overly pleased with the starters, which obviously always then goes back to the coaching staff and myself,” he told the team’s official website. Fantasy owners can only hope that ennui doesn’t extend into this weekend.

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Chicago Bears: Mission accomplished? We’ll know more this weekend as quarterback Mitchell Trubisky starts at QB against the host Detroit Lions. Trubisky was in a spirited battle with acquisition Nick Foles for the starting QB role, and was rewarded by coach Matt Nagy for a tireless offseason. “I think I just found my confidence this offseason when I figured out it was going to be a competition,” Trubisky said. He’s an intriguing streamer option for Week 1.

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Cincinnati Bengals: Few teams have experienced the kind of turnover the Bengals have seen. Nearly 40 percent of the players on the active roster weren’t on last year Week 1 roster, and three of the club’s seven captains for 2020 are newcomers.  That includes No. 1 pick Joe Burrow, who joins receiver A.J. Green and running back Giovani Bernard as offensive captains. Expect early growing pains for Burrow and the Cincinnati offense, and plan accordingly.

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Cleveland Browns: The perennially struggling Browns, who will roll out a new-look offense and playbook in their Week 1 encounter with the Baltimore Ravens. The new playbook is designed to wring the most out of a talented group of offensive players that includes twin running back threats Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and quarterback Baker Mayfield. Look at Cleveland fantasy players as major boom-or-bust options.

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Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys’ SB Nation blog has high hopes for rookie wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, projecting him to finish with 1,004 yards and seven touchdowns. And Blogging the Boys had this to say: “CeeDee Lamb isn’t a guy who will wait his turn. Everything he’s done in camp sets the table for this eventual star receiver to deliver a very strong first impression to the NFL.” Lamb is the WR42 in our ECR (1/2 PPR) for his Week 1 date with the Rams.

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Denver Broncos: After struggling through their Aug. 29 practice, morale was low among the Denver offense. Less than a week later, quarterback Drew Lock moved the ball with pinpoint precision – and in the process, gained some much-needed confidence entering a Week 1 showdown with Tennessee. With the Titans not having the benefit of exposure to Pat Shurmur’s offensive plan with the Broncos, Denver represents an intriguing DFS stack option.

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Detroit Lions: Kerryon Johnson might take a significant hit to his fantasy value, but the young running back doesn’t sound overly upset at the Lions having drafted D’Andre Swift and brought aboard Adrian Peterson. “I knew D’Andre was a good back and I knew I needed help,” he told reporters via Zoom. The additions might help Detroit win more games, but they won’t do you any favors in the fantasy realm; tread lightly with this backfield until we know more.

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Green Bay Packers: When asked about rookie RB A.J. Dillon‘s role, Packers.com senior writer Mike Spofford had this to say: “I really don’t know what the plan is with him. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are two experienced backs who have produced, and they know this offense well. I think the coaching staff will try to carve out a place for Dillon, but if it’s not right away in Week 1 that wouldn’t surprise me.” Dillon is little more than a stash for now.

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Houston Texans: From the fine folks in the Texans’ PR department: “(David Johnson) logged his longest rush since Week 11 of the 2018 season vs. Oakland and the longest rushing touchdown since Week 10 of the 2016 vs. the 49ers, both as a member of the Cardinals.” Johnson’s 19-yard TD run in the opening quarter produced plenty of satisfaction for those who drafted him (as did his 109 total yards on 14 touches). If healthy, he’s a borderline RB1 most weeks.

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Indianapolis Colts: QB Philip Rivers came to Indy in part because of the Colts’ elite O-line – and it hasn’t let him down so far. “They are so flexible as far as communicating in this, ‘Hey, what if we make this call or this? Will that be good?'” Rivers said. “They are just a very flexible, smart group, not only obviously physically really good and talented, but a really smart group that works super well together.” Rivers should be a popular streaming option in 2020.

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Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jacksonville running back room should have a revolving door on it given the sheer amount of turnover in the past several weeks. But the Jaguars insist undrafted rookie James Robinson will be ready to shoulder the load this weekend vs. the Colts. “He’s a very poised individual, no nonsense. He’s ready to go,” said Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. Robinson could be an interesting fantasy option as the season rolls along.

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Kansas City Chiefs: The only strike against Clyde Edwards-Helaire in his electrifying NFL debut: Zero receptions. But Patrick Mahomes suggests people shouldn’t worry about that: “He’s going to keep getting better. It’s another weapon that I kind of have in this offense. We’re going to keep doing whatever we can to keep moving the ball and scoring touchdowns.” Look for CEH to add pass-catching to his already impressive arsenal sooner than later.

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Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert might have been a top-10 pick at the draft, but Chargers SB Nation blog Bolts From the Blue predicts he could ride the pine for much of the year: “With the case of Tyrod Taylor being named the starter for Week 1, he’ll have a semi-lengthy leash before the “Herbert!” chants become loud enough that the coaching staff can’t ignore them anymore.” Taylor has value in 2 QB leagues, and could be an occasional streamer play.

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Los Angeles Rams: Rookie wide receiver Van Jefferson has earned plenty of praise in the offseason, but none more significant than the plaudits he has received from none other than all-world defensive tackle Aaron Donald. “That wide receiver, 12, has been making some real big plays,” Donald told reporters, while adding that Jefferson “can definitely make a big impact in this league right away.” Jefferson is a prime stash option even this early in the 2020 season.

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Miami Dolphins: ‘Tis the season for bold predictions – and ESPN Dolphins reporter Cameron Wolfe has a good one: DeVante Parker and Preston Williams will both finish with 1,000+ receiving yards. “With a better offensive line and a combination of (Ryan) Fitzpatrick or (Tua) Tagovailoa at QB, a healthy season by Parker and Williams could push them to … the record books.” Indeed, if healthy, Williams is shaping up as an absolute steal relative to his ADP.

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Minnesota Vikings: Dalvin Cook didn’t get the big contract he was hoping for this offseason – but he won’t let that keep him off the field, telling the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: “If Coach Zim calls my name, I’ll be out there.” His situation is dicey; he’s a top-5 fantasy RB when healthy, but has played just 29 out of 48 games through his first three seasons. Given the uncertainty surrounding him, if you roster him, you need Alexander Mattison, as well.

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New England Patriots: Make of it what you will, but head coach Bill Belichick had this to say about new starting QB Cam Newton: “We’ll just take it day-by-day, but he’s given us everything he’s had and we’ve tried to put the team in the best position we can competitively. We’ll see how that all comes out. I’m sure a lot of things will change as the season goes along.” Cam could be a stud in 2020, but he might also have less leeway than we had originally thought.

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New Orleans Saints: In case any of you who are rostering Alvin Kamara have any lingering doubts about what felled him near the end of the offseason, he says it’s nothing: “It’s something light. I kind of dealt with it a little bit last camp too, just a little flare up, a little SI (joint) flare up. It was just something that needed some rest and a little injection, but nothing serious.” Fire him up as a locked-in RB1 all season long; if healthy, he’s got a shot at the overall RB1 slot.

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New York Giants: Big Blue View, the Giants’ SB Nation blog, offers a crystal ball assessment of QB Daniel Jones in Year 2. The TL:DR version: BBV likes Jones to convert the Over on his Vegas season-long props of 3,799.5 passing yards and 26.5 touchdowns. It also has him recording fewer than 15 interceptions and 20 fumbles. Jones is a major wild-card in his second season, but well worth consideration as a matchup-dependent streamer early in the year.

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New York Jets: If you’re looking for a post-hype sleeper at tight end, lock in on Jets veteran Chris Herndon, who drew plenty of attention leading into 2019, but a suspension and hamstring injury limited him to one game. Adam Gase had this to say about him: “Chris Herndon was a pretty good player that first year that (he and Darnold) played together, and just getting him back alone I’m pretty fired up about.” Keep an eye on this guy (Herndon, not Gase).

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Oakland Raiders: Worried about Darren Waller? Perhaps this nugget from Jon Gruden will allay any lingering concerns about whether Waller can remain a top-flight fantasy tight end: “We think he’s a superstar. We think he’s a great tight end. He can do it all. He can block. He can run any route. He’s got great stamina.” The arrival of Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs might dig into his target share, but Waller is still an integral part of the Raiders’ offense.

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Philadelphia Eagles: The Zach Ertz drama continues in Philadelphia, with the talented tight end telling reporters Thursday: “I said all along I want be here for the long run. I don’t know if for sure that feeling is mutual. I’m going to play this year like it’s my last year.” The thing is, he’s under contract until 2021. Many are projecting Ertz’s target share to dwindle in 2020 – and if the Eagles see Dallas Goedert as their TE of the future, it could be a long year for Ertz.

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Pittsburgh Steelers: As long as Ben Roethlisberger is healthy, the Pittsburgh offense offers plenty of WR value – and one in particular has impressed Big Ben. “It doesn’t look like Chase (Claypool) is going to be able to sneak up on anybody right now because people are talking about him and deservedly so. He’s just making plays.” If you have bench space, you’d be smart to snag Claypool now, with the No. 2 spot behind JuJu Smith-Schuster very much up for grabs.

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San Francisco 49ers: SB Nation’s Niners Nation does a terrific job of explaining why San Francisco is expected to fare much better on the ground vs. Arizona than it did last year, when it produced just 150 yards on 50 carries. The offensive line will be much improved, while the Niners will likely lean more heavily this time around on Raheem Mostert, who had 14 total carries in those two games. Mostert is the RB20 in 1/2 PPR ECR, but his ceiling is sky-high.

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Seattle Seahawks: SB Nation’s Field Gulls provides a thorough examination of Chris Carson‘s fumble problems from 2019, and comes to the conclusion that the No. 1 running back in the Seattle rotation could probably stand to avoid contact a little more (and stop putting the ball in vulnerable positions while he’s at it). His problem is fixable, but if he can’t do something about it, he’ll almost certainly be replaced by Rashaad Penny or Carlos Hyde (when healthy).

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Buccaneers.com reporter Scott Smith offered this when asked about new arrival Leonard Fournette‘s potential Week 1 workload: “I would say that in Week 1, the Bucs still have (Ronald) Jones and (LeSean) McCoy in the roles they were expected to fill before the arrival of Fournette. Then I would expect Fournette to take a little bit from each category.” In other words, you should probably avoid this backfield altogether vs. the Saints.

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Tennessee Titans: A.J. Brown has plenty of fans – but at least one notable supporter sees big things for the Titans receiver in Year 2. “As he was coming on last year, I was like, ‘Oh, wow, maybe we were sleeping on him,” Michael Irvin told TennesseeTitans.com. “That guy, he is a big guy who can do anything, everything. I am expecting him to explode.” Brown has slipped to the WR15 spot in 1/2 PPR rankings for the opener, but is capable of big numbers in any week.

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Washington Football Team: While the Football Team has J.D. McKissic listed atop its Week 1 RB depth chart, the folks at Hogs Haven boldly predict that Antonio Gibson could be Alvin Kamara-lite: “Do not sleep on Gibson. With Adrian Peterson gone, and no clear-cut front runner for the lead running back role in Washington, I expect the dynamic running back, with a wide receiver skillset, to take the position and literally RUN with it.”

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