Ezekiel Elliott is back but should you trust him as an RB1 this week?
At the beginning of the fantasy football season, everything is new and exciting. It's kind of like when you do a deep cleaning on a room in your house. Everything is dusted, vacuumed, all the stuff is put away. The appliances are sparkling and you make a vow to keep everything that clean. That's your draft day roster. A list of guys that you have such hope and optimism for. A month from now, the kitchen counter is going to have three weeks worth of mail on it and the microwave is going to be splattered again. And your fantasy roster is going to look different than it does today.
But today, enjoy it. Enjoy that feeling of knowing that anything is possible. When you set your lineup for Week 1, go with your gut. If you drafted Frank Gore in the last round of your draft and you think he's going to have a great game, start him. Week 1 is about what you think and what you feel, before everything gets tainted with stats on the season. This column is based on news, notes, and gut feelings.
Please note 5 Up/5 Down is a guide on players that should exceed or fall below their rank this week. This is based on past performance, injury status and matchup. This is not a start/sit column, but rather a guide.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Newton is healthy, and when he's healthy, he usually performs well. He's ranked as the No. 14 quarterback for Week 1, and that seems low. He should be a solid QB1 this week. The matchup with the Los Angeles Rams game is expected to be a high-scoring affair. In order for those points to get on the board, a good fantasy game from Newton is likely. Whether he runs it in himself, finds his old friend Greg Olsen, or tosses it to Christian McCaffrey, Newton is going to be a top QB option.
Derrius Guice, RB, Washington Redskins
Guice missed all of 2018 with a torn ACL. The Redskins need to know what they have in him, and it sounds like they are going to give him that opportunity. As fantasy owners, it's hard to say how he'll perform, but if the Redskins make him the lead back, he can take the role and literally run with it. He's the No. 35-ranked running back, but if he is the top back in Washington (and the rumors of Adrian Peterson being inactive are true), he should exceed that.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks
With Doug Baldwin gone, Lockett will step up to fill the No. 1 wide receiver role. The pass catcher opposite him may vary (DK Metcalf, David Moore, or Jaron Brown), but Lockett has his role secured. The Seahawks run the ball a lot but still give Russell Wilson plenty of opportunities to heave it downfield, so this bodes well for Lockett. He is the No. 17 wide receiver for Week 1, and while that seems about right (he's a solid WR2), without a set No. 2 on the team, Lockett should exceed that ranking for Week 1.
Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans
When Fuller has been healthy, he's been solid. DeShaun Watson looks for him, and he has the ability to deliver. Fuller tore his ACL in 2018, cutting his season short. He's going to be active for Week 1, and if he's active, he’s a solid WR2. He's ranked No. 28, but he should put up WR2 numbers. He's got the speed and the ability to rack up fantasy points. Additionally, Watson looks for him in the end zone (Fuller had seven touchdowns on just 28 receptions in 2017), making Fuller a good fantasy play in Week 1.
Darren Waller, TE, Oakland Raiders
Waller has quietly been in the league for three years, but 2019 may be the year where he actually makes a fantasy impact. That should start in Week 1. Regardless of what is going on with Antonio Brown, Derek Carr is going to use his tight end. Waller is going to take over the Jared Cook role, and he has the potential to be better than Cook was. He's ranked No. 15 for Week 1 but can end up with TE1 numbers.
Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Wentz is the fifth-ranked quarterback in the rankings and while he's clearly a QB1, he may not hit top-five status in Week 1. With DeSean Jackson banged up, Wentz will be down one of his main weapons. While D-Jax may play, it's going to be tough to be effective with a broken finger. Wentz ended 2017 with a torn ACL. He returned (late) in 2018, but he ended that season with a back injury. He should be healed, but he also may need a game to get him back into it.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Zeke is back! The holdout is over and he's got his big contract. Fantasy owners can breathe a sigh of relief as he'll be in the Cowboys lineup for Week 1. However, the question is: will he be as effective as he was last year from the get-go? Rumors say he's in shape and healthy, but he hasn’t been playing and practicing with his team. There's no question of his talent, and fantasy owners are going to start him. But he's ranked No. 5 and may not finish that high.
Mark Ingram, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Ingram is with the Ravens this year, and while initially it seemed that he'd have the backfield to himself, the Ravens have Gus Edwards and Justice Hill in the mix as well. Ingram will be the lead back, but the other two are going to take down his value. The other hindrance to Ingram's fantasy value is quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson is known to run the ball himself, which hurts the running backs on the team. Ingram is ranked No. 15, but don't be surprised if he finishes below that in Week 1.
Robby Anderson, WR, New York Jets
Anderson was dealing with a calf injury, but he should be fine for Week 1. However, he has a tough matchup against the Bills. While it's not always easy to predict how matchups will be in the first few weeks of the season, this should be tough for Anderson. He's going to face off with Tre'Davious White, who is arguably an elite cornerback. Sam Darnold is still getting better, and he and Anderson will have some great games, but Week 1 doesn't look like it will be one of them. Anderson is ranked No. 32 and he may fall lower than that.
David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns
Many fantasy owners drafted Njoku as a tight end that could have a breakout season with Baker Mayfield taking the next step. In each of the past two seasons, Njoku has only scored four touchdowns. His yardage total was greater in 2018 than '17 and should increase this season. However, Mayfield now has more weapons (including new toy Odell Beckham Jr.). For at least Week 1, look for Mayfield to use his new targets before coming back to Njoku. He's ranked No. 8 and is a TE1 for Week 1, but may fall outside that range.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.