This is New Orleans. We’re the underdog of underdogs and the darkest of horses. We’re the Saints, the Pelicans, and the Zephyrs. We’ve taken a disaster and turned it into a gift, rebuilding one of the greatest cities in the world. We don’t know when to quit because we won’t. In the 80s we were the Aints, where paper bags served as masks to shield our faces from a world of ridicule. We pushed through 20 years of misfortune and got to a super bowl. And won that super bowl.
I’m not here to tell you what you already know. As a citizen of New Orleans, you know all of this. You know that we’ll live in the weeds for years before we can cut our way out. But when we cut our way out, it’s big.
What I’m here to tell you is this: you remember what it felt like when the Saints finally won the Super Bowl? The crying, the happiness, the laughing, the disbelief, the pride. There’s one way you can feel that again, even if the Saints don’t get there again (and let’s face it, with that preseason, it’s not looking too bright). There’s a way you can build your own team and lead them to your own Super Bowl. If you’re looking to coach a fake team, with your favorite players, and win a fake Super Bowl that’s possibly for money, this is the place to be. My name is Taylor Lust, and I’ve been playing fantasy football for the past five years. I grew up in a New Orleans Saints family, and attended college at Ole Miss, so football has been a part of my life since I could say “football”. I’ve had ups, and I’ve had downs. I’ve won Super Bowls and I haven’t even made it to the playoffs. I’ve been on both ends of the stick. But one thing still rings true, I love football, and I love beating my friends at things. If you’re in the same boat, this is the place for you.
So join me over the next 15 weeks as I help you build, shape, and craft your fantasy team. Every week, I’ll tell you who I think you should play. Listen to me, don’t listen to me, either way, let’s keep those paper bags where they belong, yeah?
QBs to Play in Week 1:
- Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (vs. Detroit Lions): And with their number one pick in the 2016 NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts select, Ryan Kelly, Center from Alabama. First of all, if you know nothing about football at all, the word “Alabama” should still ring a bell. Alabama breeds monsters. Football playing monsters. The Colts offensive line gave up the second most quarterback hits in 2015. The center and quarterback relationship is like pitcher and catcher; it’s sacred. Kelly and Luck should prove to be close to the best, and with a Lions defense that was half way down the list for most passing yards given up per game last season, week one is the time to play him.
- Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (@ New Orleans Saints): I know, I know, this may be a tough pick to make. But if you’re a long-time fan of the Saints, you know exactly what I mean when I say this: we’re not very good. In 2015, the Saints gave up the most passing touchdowns per game, as well as the most passing yards per attempt per game. With Rob Ryan out, we might be able to see the light at the end of the defensive tunnel, but I wouldn’t count on anything superb. Derek Carr finished the 2015 season with a 61.1% completion rating, 32 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. While that may not be the cream of the crop, it’s enough to possibly topple the Saints.
- Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (vs. New York Giants): Be careful with this one, but if you don’t have anyone else good looking in your lineup, Prescott may be the way to go. He did incredibly well in the preseason, blowing up all of the rookies-never-do-that-well expectations. With Romo out for multiple weeks after his 500th injury, Prescott’s going to get the start, no doubt. Against a less than formidable Giants secondary, Prescott may be a good choice this week.
RBs to Play in Week 1:
- Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams (@ San Francisco 49ers): The 49ers didn’t do so well in 2015. Especially in the rushing defense category. They gave up 126 rushing yards per game, and the most rushing attempts per game last year. With Jared Goff’s subpar pre-season performance, Todd Gurley is going to be the go to guy for week one.
- Duke Johnson Jr., Cleveland Browns (@Philadelphia Eagles): With a still somewhat shaky quarterback position, the Browns will be struggling in 2016 to find a groove, even with a full overhaul. But they just might find that in Duke Johnson Jr. With Isaiah Crowell following closely behind, and an Eagles defense that allowed the third-most overall yards and the most rushing yards in 2015, Johnson Jr. would be a great RB2 or flex choice this week.
- Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Atlanta Falcons): In 2015, the Falcons rush defense was among the worst. Throughout last season, they allowed at 48.8% opponent rushing touchdown percentage. Not to mention, the defensive line allowed an average of almost seven rushing first downs per game. Side note: the Falcons did add LSU linebacker Deion Jones to their roster, but personally, I don’t believe he’ll be enough to make a drastic change in their rush defense.
WRs to Play in Week 1:
- Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints (vs. Oakland Raiders): With the retirement of Marques Colston, Cooks is looking to work his way into the number one receiver slot. Sean Payton is of course known for his love of variation on the field, and the Saints are known for their depth in positions like wide receiver and running back. But over the years, Payton has proved to have a favorite at each. And I think Cooks is inching his way into that role. Not to mention, the Raiders gave up an average of 259 passing yards per game last year.
- Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders (@ New Orleans Saints): I know this might be counter-intuitive, but the last thing we knew about the Saints defense, they were in the top three for most total passing yards given up, and most passing yards per game given up. They also allowed the highest average quarterback rating in 2015. Re-visit my Derek Carr pick up above, might give you some more insight into why Cooper should be played too.
- Brandon Marshall, New York Jets (vs. Cincinnati Bengals): Brandon Marshall is going to be Fitzpatrick’s top target this week. With the loss of Chris Ivory, and no early addition of running back at the draft, the Jets are going to be a mainly passing team to start the year. Eric Decker is going to split the load with Marshall, but with Marshall being 4th on the list of receiving yards in the 2015 season, I wouldn’t see Fitzpatrick changing targets anytime soon.
TEs to Play in Week 1:
- Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints (vs. Oakland Raiders): Fleener is moving from Luck to Brees, and to a completely difference offensive scheme. And again, with Payton’s love of changing things up, Fleener will look to be a primary target for Brees. It’s anyone’s game on the Saints offense, and I think Fleener, Cooks, and Snead will be top targets for Brees this year.
- Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans (vs. Minnesota Vikings): Walker impressed in 2015. He led the league in targets for a tight end, led the league in receptions for a tight end, and was third for receiving yard for a tight end. With Marcus Mariota looking for Walker on a consistent basis, he’s an excellent pick for week one.
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys (vs. New York Giants): During the preseason, Dak Prescott impressed, to say the least. And Jason Witten helped him out multiple times. Romo is slowly falling out, whether he likes it or not, and although the Romo-Witten connection has had its strengths, I firmly believe Prescott is an exception to the rookie rule. Expect Witten to rake in plenty of targets this week against a Giants secondary that allowed 298 average passing yards per game last year.