Marcas Grant: It's certainly one of the big conundrums that fantasy enthusiasts are facing to start the season. Both Alfred Blue and DeAngelo Williams are players originally thought to be handcuff options who have been thrown into the spotlight because of injury or suspension. For Week 1, however, it's simply a case of playing the matchups. The Steelers project to have one of the best offenses in the National Football League this season and get to face a Patriots defense that, on paper, appears to have some big holes. Williams also figures to fill a void not only for Le'Veon Bell, but could take some targets that had prevously been intended for Martavis Bryant. As for Blue, he isn't likely to see a full workload in place of the injured Arian Foster and will have to run against a Chiefs defense that has been stingy about giving up fantasy points to running backs over the past couple of seasons. I'm giving the nod to Williams to start.
M.G.: The knee-jerk reaction might be to roll with an agitated Brady in the season opener against the Steelers porous secondary. But the question is: who exactly will he be throwing to? Brandon LaFell will start the year on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list while the status of Julian Edelman is still unknown. There's still Rob Gronkowski, but beyond that, can you really trust Danny Amendola or Aaron Dobson? Then there's also the issue of New England's running back situation being as confounding as ever. Granted, the Falcons' backfield isn't particularly inspiring, but I have a greater sense of trust with Matt Ryan's passing options. Plus the Falcons and Eagles could play in one of the higher scoring games of Week 1. It's not a completely crazy idea to give Matty Ice a look this week.
M.G.: Absolutely. If you read what I just wrote about Matt Ryan (I hope you wouldn't give up on me just yet), that applies double for Bradford. Atlanta's defensive backfield isn't going to be confused for the Legion of Boom anytime soon, and the Eagles might have even more depth in their passing game. I'll go one step further and say that Bradford has a chance to be one of the most productive quarterbacks in all of fantasy football this season. The fears of past injuries have limited his ownership in NFL.com leagues to less than 49 percent, but don't be scurred. Bradford could be the waiver wire steal that leads you to fantasy glory.
M.G.: Dumpster fire might be a little strong for the Bears offense. I think they're currently more of a Pinterest fail. Things could get better for Chicago's offense once a few people get healthy, but for now I'm generally staying away from the Bears passing game. However, if there's one wideout worth taking a chance on, it's Eddie Royal. The slot receiver's best career season came as a rookie when he was catching passes from Jay Cutler in Denver. Still, I wouldn't use Royal as anything more than a matchup-based play. I wouldn't let any of this deter you from playing Matt Forte on a weekly basis ... so there's that.
M.G.: If Alshon Jeffery were completely healthy, I'd have no hesitation with starting him over Amari Cooper -- even though I love the rookie this season. But as I mentioned earlier, I'm avoiding any Bears pass-catchers for the time being. In this case, having Cooper on the roster is a nice alternative. Considering the state of the Raiders receiving corps and the expectations placed on the Alabama product, you can expect that he's going to see plenty of passes thrown his way. It's fun to have the Silver and Black be fantasy relevant for the first time in a long time.
M.G.: There are big hopes for this year's class of rookie running backs. While I'm very high on Ameer Abdullah and am hopeful about Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon, I'm not feeling the same way about T.J. Yeldon. I wrote back in April that his running style isn't conducive to longterm NFL success and he has the misfortune of playing behind an offensive line that was one of the NFL's worst run blocking units last season. There's also no certainty that Yeldon is going to hold off Denard Robinson at the top of the Jaguars depth chart. As for this week, I'd feel much better rolling with Davante Adams against an awful Bears defense.
M.G.:James Jones? I think you have me confused with someone else. While I've never truly faded Jones, I can't say that I ever actively advocated drafting him. That said, I do think the veteran can play a nice role as a matchup-based flex option in plenty of leagues and will have more value than Devin Funchess. This is a particularly nice week to give the San Jose State product a look. He's obviously very familiar with the Packers offense and has a nice rapport with Aaron Rodgers. Jones can definitely have a few nice weeks this season, but he won't be a weekly play. Still, Jones is a far more reliable option in a better offense than the rookie Funchess.
M.G.: Absolutely. Maybe we've gone too far with this whole "no Chiefs receivers caught a touchdown pass in 2014" thing. It's a fun and interesting stat. It's also a complete anomaly. There's no way it's going to happen again this season. What's even more exciting are all the reports that Alex Smith was throwing the ball deep in training camp. I know, right?! Jeremy Maclin is Kansas City's No. 1 receiver and he's far more talented than any of the top wideouts they've had there in recent years (see: Bowe, Dwayne). I wouldn't use Maclin as anything more than a WR2 this season, but if you're ignoring him altogether, you're making a mistake.
M.G.: Bri-an Quick. Bri-an Quick. Bri-an Quick. Bri-an Quick. Just keep saying that name over and over until it sticks. It's easy to discount any of the Rams receivers since they've been pumping out widgets of disappointment ever since The Greatest Show on Turf folded up its tent. But there's really some value there with Quick. He was easily St. Louis' best receiver at the start of last season with a 24/365/3 stat line after the first six games before a shoulder injury shelved him for the majority of the season. DeVante Parker could take off this year, but it would be nice to actually see him play first. I think it will be at least a year before Tyler Lockett becomes fantasy relevant.
DFS Question of the Week:
M.G.: This is one where you can never really go wrong since both players figure to have the ball in their hands quite a bit. However, I'd lean toward Beckham this week. One of my strategies this season will be to pick on the secondaries of the NFC East. No matter where you look in that division, the defensive backfields have issues. It would be a shock if Beckham makes another circus catch like he did last season against the Cowboys (you know the one), but since you don't get extra points for degree of difficulty, you'd probably prefer that he makes a bunch of conventional catches anyway.