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Why You Want Sam Bradford in Your Fantasy Football Lineup and Other Start/Sit Advice for Week 1

Sam Bradford

Sam Bradford

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It’s finally here! Week 1 of the NFL regular season and fantasy football season is finally upon us. By now you’re all set with your dozen or so fantasy football teams and maybe this year you are also starting to dabble in some daily fantasy football as well. Life is sweet and it’s just about to get better.

But as kickoff creeps closer and closer with each ticking second all those tough decisions can no longer be avoided. You will have to choose who to start and who not to start. Should you stream your tight end and defense? Your stud running back is going up against last year’s No. 2-ranked rushing defense while your backup running back is going up against last year’s 27th-ranked rushing defense. What should you do?

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex

Thankfully by reading this, you will be able to sleep easier at night, knowing that you made the right decisions. And if not, you have no one to blame but yourself (okay fine, you can blame me). Here we go.




Aaron Rodgers (at CHI)

Cam Newton (at JAC)

Andrew Luck (at BUF)

Jay Cutler (vs. GB)

Matt Ryan (vs. PHI. Mon.)

Colin Kaepernick (vs. MIN, Mon.)

Tom Brady (vs. PIT, Thurs.)

Matthew Stafford (at SD)

Sam Bradford (at ATL, Mon.)

Jameis Winston (vs. TEN)

Ben Roethlisberger (at NE. Thurs.)

Marcus Mariota (at TB)

Ryan Tannehill (at WAS)

Philip Rivers (vs. DET)

Peyton Manning (vs. BAL)

Alex Smith (at HOU)

Eli Manning (at DAL)

Teddy Bridgewater (at SF. Mon.)

Drew Brees (at ARI)

Carson Palmer (vs. NO)

Russell Wilson (at STL)

Andy Dalton (at OAK)

Tony Romo (vs. NYG)

Nick Foles (vs. SEA)


Sam Bradford (vs. ATL, Mon.)
Bradford had a stellar preseason and Chip Kelly is going to show everyone why he traded for the former Ram in Week 1. Bradford has shown that his arm strength and accuracy are still at an elite level and with new offensive weapons all over the field, a three-touchdown pass day is not out of the question. It also helps that Bradford is going up against what was an absolute terrible pass defense last year in Atlanta. While the Falcons have upgraded their pass rush, it remains to be seen if they can stop anyone through the air.

Tom Brady (vs. PIT, Thurs.)
Think about all the times Tom Brady has played when he was pissed off and with a chip on his shoulder? What usually happens? He goes off – big time. Brady is going to go out there Thursday and shred a mediocre Steelers pass defense. Don’t be surprised if he approaches 350 yards passing and 4 TDs.


Ryan Tannehill (at WAS)
The Dolphins really upgraded their offense this offseason bringing, in Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings and Jordan Cameron and then drafted soon-to-be stud DeVante Parker in the first round. Put that all together with Jarvis Landry and Lamar Miller and Tannehill is going to end up as a top-6 fantasy quarterback at the end of the season and it starts in Week 1 one against the poor Redskins.


Cam Newton (at JAC)
This one is too easy, but Newton has always been touted and drafted as a starting fantasy quarterback. Some love his creativity and running ability, but he’s lost his No. 1 target for all of 2015 in Kelvin Benjamin and has no one to throw the ball too other than TE Greg Olsen. The Panthers are going to have to lean on their running game more than ever before and if (or when) they are down late in the game, they will have to let Newton air it out, where he excels at throwing to the other team. Stay away.

Running Backs



Adrian Peterson (at SF. Mon.)

DeMarco Murray (at ATL, Mon.)

Jeremy Hill (at OAK)

C.J. Spiller (at ARI)

Eddie Lacy (at CHI)

Devonta Freeman (vs. PHI, Mon.)

Jamaal Charles (at HOU)

LeSean McCoy (vs. IND)

Justin Forsett (at DEN)

T.J. Yeldon (vs. CAR)

C.J. Anderson (vs. BAL)

Benny Cunningham (vs. SEA)

Lamar Miller (at WAS)

Tre Mason (vs. SEA)

Ameer Abdullah (at SD)

Doug Martin (vs. TEN)

Melvin Gordon (vs. DET)

Giovani Bernard (at OAK)

Mark Ingram (at ARI)

Rashad Jennings (at DAL)

Marshawn Lynch (at STL)

Joseph Randle (vs. NYG)

DeAngelo Williams (at NE, Thurs.)

Darren McFadden (vs. NYG)

Frank Gore (at BUF)

Latavius Murray (vs. CIN)

Chris Ivory (vs. CLE)

Joique Bell (at SD)

Jonathan Stewart (at JAC)

Isaiah Crowell (at NYJ)

Carlos Hyde (vs. MIN, Mon.)

Alfred Blue (vs. KC)

Andre Ellington (vs. NO)

James White/Dion Lewis (vs. PIT, Thurs.)

Tevin Coleman (vs. PHI)



Jeremy Hill (at OAK)
Those of you lucky enough to get Hill in the second round, or if you were smart enough to take him at the end of the first round, are going to be paid off handsomely this season and it starts in Week 1 against a non-existent Raiders rush defense. Hill will rush for well over 100 yards and easily score at least 1 TD.

Adrian Peterson (at SF, Mon.)
The last time anyone doubted AP he was coming off a torn ACL and all he did was challenge the single-season rushing record. Now people are questioning him again after he basically took one year off. They say he is getting old at 30 and that he has lost a step. Watch out naysayers. Peterson is going to score the most fantasy football points in Week 1.


Lamar Miller (at WAS)
It sure doesn’t hurt that Miller’s first game of the season is against the Redskins, but with an increased workload of around 20 carries per game, plus more involvement in the passing game and the fact that there is no one behind him to challenge his starting job, Miller is set to be the Dolphins’ bell cow.

Ameer Abdullah (at SD)
By now I’m sure you’ve heard all about how good Abdullah was in the preseason and how he has been climbing up draft boards everywhere. Abdullah is the real deal and he is going to show it Week 1 in San Diego. Abdullah will carry the ball at least 15 times and he is a serious threat out of the backfield where he can get into open space and the Lions love throwing to their running backs. Abdullah is going to be PPR gold!


Marshawn Lynch (at STL)
This might come as a surprise, seeing that I just told you to start Lynch above. I did that because anyone who has Lynch drafted him in the first round and is going to start him no matter what. With that said, be wary of his opening matchup against St. Louis. The Rams have the best front four in the game and are going to stuff the box, where Lynch makes his living. Don’t be surprised if Lynch is held to about 70 yards total on the ground, but if you’re lucky, he’ll sneak in a touchdown to save you.

Joseph Randle/Darren McFadden (vs. NYG)
Dallas is going to have an excellent running game again in 2015. It’s almost impossible not to with that offensive line. The problem from a fantasy perspective is that it looks like Randle and McFadden are going to be running backs 1A and 1B, which doesn’t do anyone who owns these guys any good. Use the wait-and-see approach to see which one starts to get more carries, or if you own Randle, just wait until McFadden gets hurt – probably on Sunday.

Wide Receivers


Antonio Brown (at NE, Thurs.)
Ben Roethlisberger is going to have a field day against a New England secondary that lost its two starting corners from 2014 (Brandon Browner and some guy named Darrelle Revis). It’s already a proven fact that Big Ben looks for Brown early and often and isn’t afraid of throwing him the ball in coverage. What makes Brown an even bigger stud is that fact that he is now a serious red-zone threat and without Martavis Bryant (or Le’Veon Bell for that matter), Brown will be the go-to-guy in the end zone.

Jordan Matthews (at ATL, Mon.)
If you didn’t skip all the way to the wide receiver section, you’ll have noticed that I included Sam Bradford as a must-start fantasy stud for Week 1. So if Bradford is going to be a stud, who is going to be on the receiving end? None other than Matthews. They really showed excellent chemistry in the preseason and Chip Kelly showed great trust in Matthews’ ability when he let Jeremy Maclin go in free agency. Matthews and Bradford are going to connect early and often and if you have Matthews in a PPR league, watch out.


Eddie Royal (vs. GB)
Royal is going to have a huge game in Week 1. Why? There are numerous reasons that are going in his favor. He might be the healthiest Bears wide receiver come Sunday. Opposite him, Alshon Jeffery is going to start, but he won’t be at 100 percent, but he will still demand attention and most likely double coverage on the outside. The Bears are playing the Packers, meaning that they are going to be playing from behind probably the whole game, so they are going to have to let Jay Cutler chuck the pigskin all over the field, especially to Royal. You can probably start Royal as your flex (if you have one) and reap the rewards.

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Markus Wheaton (at NE, Thurs.)
In a lot of leagues Wheaton was going undrafted, if that’s your league, don’t worry checking the waiver wire, as a smart owner has already scooped him up. Wheaton is the No. 2 wide receiver in a pass-happy offense that doesn’t have its top running back (Lev’eon Bell) and is going up against a Patriots defense that no longer has cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Wheaton is in for a big day.


Andre Johnson (at BUF)
This is not a slight against Johnson, he’s a stud and is going to have a fantastic year. But he is going to get off to a slow start because he’s playing Buffalo, which might just have the best defense in the entire NFL. Last season the Bills only gave up 206 passing yards per game, good for third in the league and now with Rex Ryan as their head coach, they are going to be even better. This doesn’t bode well for Johnson’s numbers in his Colts debut. Look elsewhere if you can for a WR2.

Sammy Watkins (vs. IND)
Watkins is a sensational talent and there is no doubt that Buffalo will try to get him the ball, but he has a very unproven QB in Tyrod Taylor throwing him the ball and so far they have yet to develop any type of real chemistry. Plus, with LeSean McCoy being limited due to a hamstring injury, you know the Colts are going to focus on stopping Watkins, as he is the Bills’ only big-play threat (sorry Percy Harvin fans).

Tight Ends



Rob Gronkowski (vs. PIT, Thurs.)

Brent Celek (at ATL, Mon.)

Greg Olsen (at JAC)

Zach Ertz (at ATL, Mon.)

Martellus Bennett (vs. GB)

Heath Miller (at NE, Thurs.)

Travis Kelce (at HOU)

Austin Seferian-Jenkins (vs. TEN)

Jimmy Graham (at STL)

Larry Donnell (at DAL)

Jason Witten (vs. NYG)

Charles Clay (vs. IND)

Ladarius Green (vs. DET)

Owen Daniels (vs. BAL)

Delaine Walker (at TB)

Vernon Davis (vs. MIN, Mon.)

Jordan Cameron (at WAS)

Eric Ebron (at SD)

Jordan Reed (vs. MIA)

Dwayne Allen (at BUF)

Tyler Eifert (at OAK)

Coby Fleener (at BUF)

Kyle Rudolph (at SF, Mon.)



Rob Gronkowski (vs. PIT, Thurs.)
This may seem too obvious and Gronk might be listed as a stud here every week, but in Week 1 he is as studly as they come. Finally 100 percent healthy, he has a super-pissed of Tom Brady throwing the ball. As mentioned in the QB section, Brady is going to go off on Thursday night in primetime and his favorite target Gronkowski is going to be the beneficiary. Don’t be surprised to see Gronk go over 100 yards receiving with two touchdowns.

Martellus Bennett (vs. GB)
Everything that was said in the WR section about the Bears’ Eddie Royal applies to Bennett as well. The Bears are going to be playing from behind and are going to need to air it out. Plus, with Alshon Jeffery ailing, the Bears lack a real red-zone threat and Bennett will step in and be that guy. He has good chemistry with Jay Cutler and new offensive coordinator Adam Gase loves to feature his tight end in the red zone, just look at the results Julius Thomas was able to put up in Denver.


Jordan Cameron (at WAS)
Two years ago Cameron was being considered as an elite top-5 tight end, and he was in Cleveland with terrible quarterbacks throwing him the ball. Now in Miami, Cameron has up-and-coming Ryan Tannehill throwing him the ball in an offense that relies heavily on the tight end, especially when Tannehill needs an escape window.

Tyler Eifert (at OAK)
Because he was injured for basically all of last season, Eifert really isn’t on anyone’s radar heading into the 2015 season. However, if you were watching the preseason you saw that Andy Dalton was really comfortable throwing the ball to Eifert. It’s true the Bengals are going to be a run-first team, but Eifert is going to be the team’s No. 2 target behind A.J. Green.


Zach Ertz (at ATL, Mon.)
In the offseason and even in the preseason, all you heard about was how amazing Ertz was performing and how he was going to be a major part of the Eagles’ offense. Well, turns out that Chip Kelly really, really likes their other tight end, Brent Celek, a lot more. Mainly because Celek is an excellent blocker and can contribute offensively. It’s going to take an injury to Celek for Ertz to have any real fantasy value.

Dwayne Allen/Coby Fleener (at BUF)
Both these guys are good tight ends, and if either one of them gets hurt (most likely Allen as he seems to be hurt all the time), then whoever is healthy will be a must start. But for Week 1 both guys are healthy and will be playing and stealing targets and fantasy points from one another. Best to stay away.




Stephen Gostkowski (vs. PIT, Thurs.)Cody Parkey (at ATL, Mon.)Mason Crosby (at CHI)Dan Bailey (vs. NYG)Brandon McManus (vs. BAL)Matt Bryant (vs. PHI, Mon.)Chandler Catanzaro (vs. NO)Adam Vinatieri (at BUF)Josh Lambo (vs. DET)Andrew Franks (at WAS)Mike Nugent (at OAK)Zach Hocker (at ARI)Josh Scobee (vs. NE, Thurs.)

Steven Hauschka (at STL)Josh Brown (at DAL)Graham Cano (at JAC)Kyle Brindza (vs. TEN)Justin Tucker (at DEN)Blair Walsh (at SF, Mon.)Dan Carpenter (vs. IND)Robbie Gould (vs. GB)Nick Folk (vs. CLE)Matt Prater (at SD)Randy Bullock (vs. KC)Sebastian Janikowski (vs. CIN)


Stephen Gostkowski (vs. PIT, Thurs.)
Without LeGarette Blount and Brandon LaFell, the Patriots are going to struggle in the red zone. They can’t just throw the ball to Gronk all the time (can they?). There will be plenty of opportunities for Gostkowski to rack up the points.


Chandler Catanzaro (vs. NO)
Who? Catanzaro is the kicker for Arizona and he is set to have a great game in Week 1. Carson Palmer is back to lead what looks to be a potent Cardinals offense against a terrible Saints defense. The Cardinals lack a true red-zone threat, so they will probably be kicking their fair share of field goals on Sunday.


Steven Hauschka (vs. STL)
Hauschka is a great kicker, he just has a terrible matchup in Week 1. This game has all the makings of a 13–10 affair because both the Rams and Seahawks have such excellent defenses. Go with a kicker that has way more upside this week.

Defense/Special Teams (DST)



Seattle Seahawks (at STL)

Buffalo Bills (vs. IND)

New York Jets (vs. CLE)

St. Louis Rams (vs. SEA)

Carolina Panthers (at JAC)

Detroit Lions (at SD)

Tennessee Titans (at TB)

Arizona Cardinals (vs. NO)

Miami Dolphins (at WAS)

San Francisco 49ers (vs. MIN, Mon.)

Cincinnati Bengals (at OAK)

New England Patriots (vs. PIT, Thurs.)

Green Bay Packers (at CHI)

Minnesota Vikings (at SF, Mon.)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. TEN)

Kansas City Chiefs (at HOU)

San Diego Chargers (vs. DET)

Pittsburgh Steelers (at NE, Thurs.)

Houston Texans (vs. KC)

Baltimore Ravens (at DEN)

Denver Broncos (vs. BAL)

Philadelphia Eagles (at ATL, Mon.)

Cleveland Browns (at NYJ)

Dallas Cowboys (vs. NYG)

Indianapolis Colts (at BUF)



New York Jets (vs. CLE)
The Jets are poised to have a top-5 fantasy defense in 2015. Led by new head coach Todd Bowles, they welcome back DBs Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, who form arguably the best corner combo in the league. Plus their already stout defensive line welcomes first-round pick Leonard Williams, who tore it up in the preseason. Oh and the Jets are playing the Browns in Week 1. Enough said.


Tennessee Titans (at TB)
This has nothing to do with the Titans’ defense actually being any good or not, only time will tell. But this week they play Tampa Bay and rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, who is looking every bit the part and is going to serve up plenty of interceptions. If you stream your DST, this is the D to start in Week 1.


Buffalo Bills (vs. IND)
Most of the time the Bills’ D will be in the must-start section. Not this week though because they play Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. The Bills have an excellent front four that will no doubt pressure Luck all game but Luck is too good and will still lead the Colts to 30-plus points.

(Sam Bradford phoot courtesy of Getty Images)

— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.