First things first, we want to reiterate that if fantasy football had its own 10 Commandments, one of them would unquestionably be “NBYS — Never Bench Your Studs.”
With that in mind, we’ve identified a handful of studs who we believe are set to tip the scale in the favor of fantasy football general managers who have the opportunity to start them this week.
Here are our favorite starts of week 1:
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh — The narrative regarding Ben Roethlisberger after the 2017 season was that the 14-year veteran was “starting to slow down.” While that might be true from a football standpoint, he still finished 5th in the NFL with 4,251 yards passing last year, and his 28 touchdowns were tied for 5th in the NFL also. With an even further beefed-up receiving corps for the Pittsburgh Steelers, plus no Le’Veon Bell, expect him to air it out against the newly rebuilt secondary of the Cleveland Browns.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee — Finally, without Demarco Murray standing in his path, Derrick Henry becomes the official starting running back for the Tennessee Titans. You have to like how that sounds, considering his new offensive coordinator (Matt Lafleur) was part of an offensive staff with the Los Angeles Rams that helped Todd Gurley become the top fantasy football player of 2017. You also have to like the fact that Henry and the Titans are going against a Miami Dolphins team that gave up the 6th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs last year.
Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago — For all the focus on Mitch Trubisky and his new group of wide receivers in Chicago, the real secret is that running back Jordan Howard might be in for a ton of work this season. New head coach Matt Nagy oversaw an offense in Kansas City that handed the ball to Kareem Hunt 272 times last year (6th-most in the NFL). The run defense of the Green Bay Packers remains suspect, meaning there’s a good chance that Howard has a big game on Sunday evening.
AJ Green, WR, Cincinnati — Only someone as talented as AJ Green would look back at 2017 season, when he caught 75 passes for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns, and call it a “crappy” performance. Not only is Green coming into the 2018 season highly motivated because of his sub-par performance (according to himself), but he’s starting the year against an Indianapolis Colts team whose cornerback situation is a complete disaster. He could have a monster game against Indianapolis.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona — One of the interesting subplots of the trade that sent quarterback Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins was that Washington sent back cornerback Kendall Fuller in return. What does that have to do with Larry Fitzgerald? Fitzgerald’s career has enjoyed a renaissance since he became a slot receiver, and Arizona plays Washington in Week 1. Expect the Uber-productive veteran in Fitzgerald to run circles around inexperienced quarterback Fabian Moreau.
Jordan Reed, TE, Washington — On the flip side, while Arizona’s secondary is still among the better units in the NFL, they were a middle-of-the-pack team against tight ends, as far as fantasy football points allowed. Tight end Jordan Reed fell in many fantasy football drafts this year because of injury concerns, but he’s entering 2018 as healthy as he’s been in years, and could see a steady flow of targets in his direction as Arizona clamps down on Washington’s wide receivers.