Bold Predictions for Week 1 (2021 Fantasy Football)
This week we have something great to celebrate: the 2021 NFL season has finally returned!
After a grueling offseason full of devastating season-ending injuries and COVID scares, a sense of normality is in the air. We all have spent countless hours reading articles, mock drafting, and listening to podcasts to gear up for the upcoming fantasy football season in hopes of winning a championship. We will soon reap the rewards of our offseason grind!
With draft season behind us, it’s time to turn our attention to Week 1 and identify players with juicy matchups who could exceed expectations in their first week. I am proud to bring back my weekly bold predictions column for the 2021 season. What better way to kick it off than diving head-first into my favorite sneaky plays for the first week of the NFL season?
Week 1 Bold Predictions
James Robinson (RB – JAC) will finish as a top-five running back in Week 1.
Robinson will take on what could be the NFL’s worst defense this season. The Texans struggled last year, too, as they allowed the third-most total yards per game. After the loss of first-round rookie Travis Etienne this offseason, Robinson is stepping into a situation with little competition yet again. During his phenomenal rookie campaign, Robinson excelled on the ground and through the air last season while providing reliability as a pass-blocker. Robinson will look to continue the hot start to his young career with an extremely favorable matchup in Week 1. I believe the Jaguars and first overall pick Trevor Lawrence will look to lean on the ground game early and often as the rookie gunslinger acclimates to the NFL. Look for Robinson to find the end zone more than once on Sunday while piling on a couple of receptions and racking up 110-plus yards on the ground. Robinson is a surefire RB1 this week against the Houston Texans.
Elijah Moore (WR – NYJ) will eclipse 75 receiving yards on five or more catches and score a touchdown.
The hype around Elijah Moore this offseason has been intoxicating. Between the mix of training camp videos and high praise from coaches, players, beat reporters, and fantasy analysts, Moore quickly skyrocketed draft boards to emerge as a viable fantasy option despite being a rookie. Moore has already established himself as a WR1 for the New York Jets alongside Corey Davis. With Jamison Crowder having missed time this offseason due to injury and getting held out of Week 1 due to the COVID protocols, Moore has a great chance to make a name for himself during his debut. Rookie quarterback and second overall pick Zach Wilson has already established a healthy rapport with Moore, furthering the chances of Moore breaking out at an early stage of his career. Against a middle-of-the-pack Panthers defense, Moore should see plenty of opportunities in what could be a high-scoring affair. Moore will look to make a name for himself from the very jump of his career as one of the league’s best young receivers.
Lamar Jackson (QB – BAL) will finish as a top-three QB for Week 1.
The Baltimore Ravens have been devastated by injuries this offseason at an alarming rate. The team lost running backs J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill to injuries over the last two weeks of the offseason. The Ravens are set to deploy 2020 UDFA Ty’Son Williams as their starter. Behind him, they signed Latavius Murray on Thursday and brought Le’Veon Bell onto the practice squad on Wednesday. Because of the uncertainties surrounding Baltimore’s ‘ backfield, Lamar Jackson will have to carry the load on the ground, and Monday night’s matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders is the perfect chance for Jackson to go nuclear. The Raiders allowed the eighth-most total yards per game, seventh-most passing yards per game, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game in 2020, which bodes well for the dual-threat maestro with game-breaking ability. Jackson will set himself up for numerous scoring chances on Monday, both on the ground and through the air, and I expect him to surpass the century mark with his legs while tossing 250-plus yards. Jackson is a locked-in, must-start quarterback regardless of the matchup, but the former MVP will put on a show that reinforces the notion that he still ranks among the league’s best behind center.
The worst thing a fantasy manager can do after Week 1 is panic. If some of the players you drafted with lofty goals don’t hit value right away, don’t throw in the towel too early. Dominating the waiver wire and staying aggressive on the trade market is the best way to bounce back from early losses. If you trust your gut and process, the results will follow.
I will return next week, and for the entirety of the season, with my bold predictions. I hope you, the reader, will return as well. Good luck this week as we embark on our quest to fantasy football glory!
Beyond our fantasy football content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – that optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football draft season.