By MIKE HERNDON
The 2022 NFL season got underway Thursday night with the Buffalo Bills’ surprisingly easy 31-10 romp over the defending Super Bowl champion L.A. Rams. If you had pretty much any Buffalo skill player not named James Cook or Dawson Knox on your fantasy roster, you were a happy camper Thursday night. If you had any Ram not named Cooper Kupp, you were disappointed.
Either way, there’s plenty of time to salvage a win or blow a lead with a full slate of games coming up this weekend. SportsChasers will be here each week during the season to share our recommended starts and sits. You already know to start Justin Herbert and Jonathan Taylor every week, so we’ll focus on less obvious choices.
It also appears obvious, after Thursday night, that Buffalo is a Super Bowl favorite, so it may appear disingenuous to inform you now that the Bills are my pick to win it all. But it’s probably not the first time I’ll be called disingenuous, so I’ll share it anyway. You knew they could score, and with the improved pass rush you saw on display Thursday, they should be the team to beat. The limb I’ll go out on is in the NFC, where I’ll pick the 49ers to be the Bills’ final victim in February. The Niners were close last year with Jimmy Garoppolo. If Trey Lance is an upgrade, and I think he will be, they’ll be ready for the next step.
My other predicted playoff teams in the NFC: Rams, Bucs, Packers, Vikings, Eagles, Cowboys. In the AFC: Bengals, Ravens, Colts, Chiefs, Broncos, Chargers.
This week’s starts and sits:
Jalen Hurts, Eagles: The last time Hurts faced Detroit, he led them to a 44-6 bludgeoning and ran for 71 yards. He didn’t have to throw much in that game, but he’s got a new toy in A.J. Brown this year and one has to think he’ll want to develop some chemistry with him early.
Mac Jones, Patriots: Reports from Patriots camp on the new offense led by co-coordinators Joe Judge and Matt Patricia have been concerning. Not sure what else one should expect when a former special teams coach and a former defensive coordinator are handed play-calling duties, an unfortunate turn of events for Jones’ development. Brian Flores is gone from Miami, but the defense he built there is largely intact.
Elijah Mitchell, 49ers: The Niners will be heavy favorites against the Bears. With a new quarterback and likely without one of their top passing game weapons in George Kittle, look for them to lean on the run game. That should mean a big day for their lead back.
Josh Jacobs, Raiders: Yes, there’s some question about his workload this year, but he still appears to be the lead back for a coach (Josh McDaniels) who doesn’t mind running the football, and he’ll be facing what has been a run-funnel defense in the Chargers. Playing ball-control and keeping the ball out of Justin Herbert’s hands as much as possible wouldn’t be a bad game plan for the Raiders.
David Montgomery, Bears: In what’s expected to be a subpar offense operating behind a subpar line and with the potential of Khalil Herbert eating into his workload, we are going to have to pick our spots with Monty this year. A date with the Niners’ fearsome defensive front isn’t one of them.
Michael Carter and Breece Hall, Jets: If you drafted Hall, you drafted him to be a starter and he isn’t – yet. Carter is still atop the depth chart for now, but both will be operating against a tough Ravens defense without offensive tackles Mekhi Becton, lost for the year, and Duane Brown.
Mike Williams, Chargers: It’s only a matter of time before Williams becomes the go-to receiver in one of the better passing offenses in the league. That time could be as early as Sunday. Keenan Allen is 30 years old and was never fast. Williams got off to a hot start last year and cooled off in the second half of the season. An expected shootout with the Raiders is a great place to start off hot again.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chiefs: With Tyreek Hill gone, pegging the correct Chiefs wideout to target may be a week-to-week proposition. But Smith-Schuster has proven he can be a big-volume receiver in the past, and with the shootout potential of Sunday’s date with Arizona, we want a piece of this game.
Marquise Brown, Cardinals: On the other side of that likely shootout, Brown should get targets galore from Kyler Murray, with Deandre Hopkins suspended, Zach Ertz ailing, and Rondale Moore out. Don’t leave him on your bench.
D.K. Metcalf, Seahawks: Metcalf actually fared well with Geno Smith behind center last year, but opening against the Broncos and Patrick Surtain is not a promising spot. I’m looking for better options.
Michael Thomas, Saints: He’s been battling a hamstring issue, will be playing with Jameis Winston for the first time and will be operating against a pair of strong cornerbacks in A.J. Terrell and Casey Hayward. I’d like a show-me week.
Dalton Schultz, Cowboys: You drafted him because a thin Dallas depth chart behind CeeDee Lamb at receiver should mean plentiful targets. So start him against everybody until Michael Gallup returns (and maybe even after that).
Mike Gesicki, Dolphins: He wouldn’t seem to be a fit in a Mike McDaniel offense that asks its tight ends to be adept blockers. At the very least, I want a show-me game to see his snap count and how much he’s going to be involved.
Categories: Fantasy Football
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