Rank's 11 Week 1 fantasy sleepers: Dual-threat Duke


Duke Johnson is going to feast for the Texans this season. I'm not sure why more people aren't on board with this. I made the point Duke was the second-best receiver on this team once they made the deal. Something that will play out during the regular season, but you can trust me on this. And now that he's going to be the lead back, the sky is the limit for him.

Now before you ask, I'm aware the Texans brought in Carlos Hyde. This move needs nothing. The Texans just needed another occupant for the HOV lane. Once Lamar Miller went down, they needed a warm body. Which is a pretty accurate description of Hyde on the NFL level. (I mean, he's better than me, but I digress.) But this move is completely different to the Chiefs bringing in LeSean McCoy. If anything that move is one that should scare you because coach Andy Reid wasted no time in getting McCoy back into the fold. I mean, sight unseen.

It's like Reid was trolling his Facebook feed one night and noticed McCoy changed his relationship status from "it's complicated" to "single" and there Andy was, sliding in to this DMs immediately. He didn't even want to go to coffee. And he didn't even bother to get out of his current relationship, either. And the fact the Texans weren't in on McCoy should show you that they are very comfortable with Duke as their lead dog.

And I love the matchup this week, too. The Saints allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to running backs last year, but did allow backs to average 5.4 receptions per game. And also allowed five receiving touchdowns to running backs, the sixth-most in the NFL. Count me in.

I'm also aware that Watson has never really thrown to his running backs. Which is true. But he hasn't had an RB like Duke. Like my kids never wore Jay Cutler jerseys until I bought them one. (Seriously, check out my IG feed. Those kids are adorable.) Now that Watson has a reliable receiver out of the backfield, he will take advantage. Plus, when you have a bad offensive line (like seriously, Houston, how have you not figured this out yet?), the best way to combat that is to dump off the ball quickly to your running back. I love this.

All right, let's take a look at the rest of Rank's 11.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers

It's weird that Garoppolo has started less games than Baker Mayfield, because the hype for him (Jimmy G) has been huge. And I'm still a believer. But I'm going to need it play out for a season. The good news is that he has a great matchup this week. The Buccaneers allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks last season. I know things change and all of that, but I'm still committed to going with Jimmy G as a one-week streaming option.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Miami Dolphins

I'm half-way joking with this one. Like it's sort of irresponsible. The Ravens allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks last year. They added Earl Thomas. This is a terrible matchup and you probably shouldn't play it. But then again, Fitzmagic scored 42.28 fantasy points in Week 1 against the Saints. He had at least 25 fantasy points in three consecutive games to open the 2018 season. He's got a great beard like me. So I'm going to list him here.

Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills

The Bills made a shocking move when they released LeSean McCoy. Was coach Sean McDermott still stung by when McCoy had spoiled the ending to that Avengers movie during the string. Or maybe he saw that he had a budding superstar at running back who is going to demand some work this year. The Bills ranked sixth with close to 30 rushing attempts per game last season according to NFL research.

Justice Hill, RB, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens rushed for the most yards and averaged the most rushing yards per attempt (5.3) once Lamar Jackson took over as the starting quarterback. Mark Ingram is the unquestioned top running back in this offense, but Hill could give you some flex appeal with this matchup against the Miami Dolphins. There could be a good chance this game gets out of hand (I mean, it's the Dolphins) that Hill will get some extended looks.

Chargers running backs (Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson)

I'd probably lean more towards Ekeler in this matchup. The Colts were incredibly tough against the run a year ago, as they allowed the ninth-fewest yards per game (84.6) but did let running backs escape out of the backfield as receivers. Running backs averaged close to seven receptions for game last year, that was the second-highest total in the NFL. I look for the Chargers to hit their backs as receivers out of the backfield to move down the field.

James Washington, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have moved on from Antonio Brown. Oh man, I'm sorry if you're just learning about this now. But they have. JuJu Smith-Schuster is the man. The question will be who can be that second option that helped make JuJu into a star over the last two years. My pick is James Washington who crushed it with 10 receptions for 208 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the preseason. And they have a nice matchup against the Patriots. Mostly because the Patriots typical struggle in the first quarter of the season before turning it on.

Dede Westbrook, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

Nobody in the NFL targets his slot receiver more than quarterback Nick Foles according to NFL research. And in limited reps during the preseason, Foles hit Westbrook with seven of his 10 targets. The Jaguars open the season against the Chiefs in Week 1 if that game becomes a high-scoring contest, that could mean huge opportunity for Westbrook.

Curtis Samuel, WR, Carolina Panthers

I'm a huge fan of D.J. Moore and feel like he is going to breakout this season. But you can get some good value from Samuel who was the darling of the Panthers offseason program. Samuel has gone from being a talented guy who plays football to a talented football player. It's kind of like the way Matthew McConaughey went from being the goofy guy in "Dazed and Confused" to being like a serious actor.

Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans

Walker was likely forgotten in your season-long drafts, and that's understandable. But the Titans are being directed by first-year offensive coordinator Arthur Smith who was the team's tight ends coach for the longest time before Matt LaFleur was lured away to Green Bay.

Cowboys DST

Love the Cowboys opening schedule of games. They are playing quarterbacks Eli Manning, Case Keenum and who we believe will be Ryan Fitzpatrick. I mean, we just don't know. That could be the game where we go from Fitzmagic to Fitztragic. So I'm in. You can pick up the Cowboys and autopilot the thing until Week 4 when they play the Saints.

Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @adamrank