Fantasy Football Week 1 Preview of the Colts visit to play the Bills
Although the 2015 NFL season kicked off last night, the fantasy football season doesn’t really get into full swing until Sunday. Below is BuffaLowDown’s Week 1 fantasy football preview for the Colts @ Bills matchup.
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If you drafted Andrew Luck in your season long redraft league, he’s a no-brainer must start QB1 to open the year, even against a tough Bills defense. The Bills allowed the third fewest passing yards per game in the NFL last year, but they’ll be without perennial starter Leodis McKelvin.
Rookie cornerback Ronald Darby has shown some flashes of good play, but has been torched for big plays and penalties more often than not during the preseason. Luck will have some new weapons on offense this year as veteran Andre Johnson enters the mix opposite of Indy’s 2014 leading receiver, T.Y. Hilton.
Hilton should be considered a low-end WR1, even if he draws Bills top cover corner, Stephon Gilmore. More likely, Gilmore will be matched with the more physical Johnson, leaving a green light matchup for Hilton against Darby.
Luck should benefit from targeting Hilton early and often, putting the rookie Darby in a tough spot for his first ever start. Johnson’s matchup against Gilmore will be a bit tougher, but is still on the WR2 radar out of the gate, based purely on the Colts propensity to throw the football.
Aug 20, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore (24) at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Luck attempted the third most passes in the NFL last year, leaving plenty of opportunity to support multiple fantasy receivers. The Bills were strong in coverage against tight ends last year, leaving both Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen as middling low-floor TE2 options.
Both Fleener and Allen have a chance to score a short touchdown, with the slight edge favoring Allen in that regard, but either option is more of a dart throw than a sure thing. The Bills only allowed two receiving touchdowns to tight ends in all of 2014.
The Colts also signed the longtime San Francisco 49er Frank Gore to anchor their backfield. Adding a steadying presence like Gore should provide the Colts more balance on offense than they had a year ago.
Even at age 32, Gore still has some juice left in the tank, and figures to see an uptick in production this season as he transitions to a much more potent offense. Expected to be used more heavily in the passing game than he was his last few years in San Francisco, Gore should offer decent low-floor RB2 value in Week 1.
The Bills will be without freshly signed all-pro defensive tackle Marcell Dareus this week, as he serves his one game suspension. “Mr. Big Stuff’s” absence should allow slightly wider running lanes for Gore. Although head coach Chuck Pagano has stated Gore will be on a “pitch count” to open the year, there is no reason to think he can’t provide fantasy owners nice production on about 15 total touches.
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For the Bills, there are questions across the board at every skill position. The feel coming out of Buffalo is that of true optimism surrounding Tyrod Taylor’s prospects as their starting quarterback.
Taylor is an intriguing low-cost DFS option this week, given his ability to extend plays with his legs. However, he should not be considered more than a low-mid range QB2 in redraft leagues until we see how he handles himself in his first ever regular season NFL start.
Indianapolis boasted an above average pass defense last season (12th in the NFL) thanks in large part to a pair of excellent corners. Vontae Davis figures to shadow Sammy Watkins all over the field, as fellow corner Greg Toler has been declared out for the game.
Although supremely talented, and being drafted as a WR2 in most redraft leagues, Watkins falls more into the WR3 category this week. With Toler out, it could provide opportunities for either Robert Woods or Percy Harvin to produce, but there are still too many unknowns with how offensive coordinator Greg Roman will utilize either of them in this week’s gameplan.
Neither Woods or Harvin are anything more than extremely low-floor WR4/WR5 plays. Former Dolphin Charles Clay is an intriguing option as a dirt cheap TE play in DFS and appears to be over the nagging knee injury that had limited him throughout training camp.
The Colts were one of the most generous teams to opposing tight ends in 2014, ranking in the bottom five of all teams in a majority of standard type scoring formats, while allowing 10 touchdowns to the position. There are worse TE streaming options than Clay this week, especially given his athletic ability and the matchup.
LeSean McCoy, the expected centerpiece of Buffalo’s 2015 offense, is listed as probable for Week 1. However, he admitted to the media during a locker room interview that he may not be operating at 100%.
The Colts run defense was middle of the road in 2014 at defending the run (18th), but will be without defensive lineman Arthur Jones, who was place on season ending IR late last week. If the Bills expect to compete in this game, they will need to control clock with their running game, which should start with McCoy.
Not yet fully recovered from his hamstring injury, McCoy is more of a RB2 in Week 1 than a RB1. Karlos Williams, Bryce Brown, and Anthony Dixon all figure to see action in some capacity as well. Williams is an intriguing handcuff option for McCoy owners in redraft leagues, but none are truly on the DFS or redraft starting lineup radar for Week 1.