Week 1 Fantasy Busts: Le'Veon Bell's status is uncertain, and so is his fantasy value

Each week the Noise highlights 10 somewhat un-obvious names whom he believes are leave egg on his face. To qualify, each player must be started in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week using the scoring system shown here (Thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 12 fpts, WR: 11 fpts, TE: 10 fpts). If you’re a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 1 Lames in the comments section below.

Red zone woes to continue for Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo, SF, QB (50 started; Yahoo DFS: $29)
Matchup: at Min
Vegas line/total: Min -6, 46

Forget GQ. When it comes to fantasy numbers, Jimmy G may have the look of Alfred E. Neuman come week’s end. Hyped ceaselessly this off-season after his breakout performance over the final five games of 2017, Garoppolo was often selected inside the QB top-12 of league exercises, a reach. He dazzled at times last year, finishing QB9 Weeks 13-17 in per game average, but his overall output masked inadequacies. He misfired often inside the red zone (No. 22 in RZ cmp%) and unimpressed downfield (No. 35 in deep-ball cmp%). The weather vane is pointing north, but expectations of a top-eight campaign need to be tempered. Week 1, he may not even crack the QB top-20.

The Purple People Eaters of yesteryear are alive and well. Minnesota is a widely perceived elite defense, up there with the likes of Jacksonville, the L.A. Rams and resurgent Chicago. The Vikes return Xavier Rhodes (73.2 passer rating allowed, 1.02 yards/snap allowed), Trae Waynes (83.0, 54 catch% allowed) and hard-hitting Harrison Smith. All together the secondary gave up 6.0 yards per attempt last year, the lowest in the NFL. Without Jerick McKinnon, who was expected to be an integral offensive piece, Week 1 could be the first of many unexciting Garoppolo performances.

Fearless Forecast: 260 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, 2 interceptions, 12.4 fantasy points

Pittsburgh’s Bell should not toll for thee

Le’Veon Bell, Pit, RB (90 started; Yahoo DFS: $38)
Matchup: at Cle
Vegas line/total: Pit -4.5, 45.5

It’s deja vu all over again for Bell investors. At this juncture almost a year to the day, the disgruntled rusher returned to Pittsburgh after a long, self-imposed hiatus. Unsurprisingly when he suited up, coincidentally against Cleveland, the accumulated rust was visible. He managed a meager 47 combined yards on 13 touches. If he arrives at Steelers HQ this week (which seems less and less likely) and is active for a critical division road opener in C-Town, he shouldn’t be viewed as “must start” material.

The Browns, who surrendered only 3.31 yards per carry and allowed the fewest RB yards before contact a season ago, aren’t some kiddie Paw Patrol. As exhibited throughout the preseason, they fly to the ball, plug gaps and suffocate rushers. Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi, who each ranked favorably in run stop percentage last season according to Pro Football Focus, are a formidable trench duo. James Conner’s impressive preseason only piles on the discomfort for Bell enthusiasts. Working as the primary rusher in August, he compiled 4.2 yards after contact per attempt, 0.26 tackles avoided per attempt and hauled in all seven of his pass targets. A 40-60 timeshare in favor of Conner is a best-case scenario at this point. For one week only, seeking alternatives for the top-three consensus pick is recommended.

Fearless Forecast: 10 carries, 37 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 16 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 6.8 fantasy points

Le’Veon Bell’s Week 1 status is up in the air, and so is his fantasy value against Cleveland. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Bumbling Buffalo offense to drag down McCoy

LeSean McCoy, Buf, RB (76 started; Yahoo DFS: $21)
Matchup: at Bal
Vegas line/total: Bal -7, 40

A dumpster fire swallowed by “The Meg” and regurgitated into a Hormel chili can is essentially what Buffalo is for fantasy purposes. When Nate Peterman outperforms your No. 1 pick, Josh Allen, and A.J. McCarron, it sums up the despair. The Bills’ above average defense lends hope, but likely exhausted by stalled drives, it will crumble often late in games. McCoy, heavily discounted due to the loathsome environment and off-the-field worries, fell into Round 3 or Round 4 of many 12-team drafts.

As the only reliable offensive weapon on roster, he’s sure to total a high volume, but inefficiency will almost certainly rule. Recall last year, McCoy ranked RB62 in yards after contact per attempt (2.1) and RB53 in missed tackle percentage (11.5). Buffalo’s permeable offensive line further compounds matters. A turnstile in preseason play, it’s projected as the fourth-worst line entering the year by Pro Football Focus. The matchup, too, is a concern. Despite his advanced age Terrell Suggs is a premier run stuffer. He along with Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce should again plug multiple gaps. As a unit, Baltimore allowed the fifth-lowest missed tackle percentage (10.0) on the ground last year. Toss in increased eight-man fronts knowing the shortcomings of the pass game and McCoy is avoidable Week 1.

Fearless Forecast: 18 carries, 61 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 14 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 9.0 fantasy points

Ramsey to talk the talk and walk the walk vs. Beckham

Odell Beckham, NYG, WR (97 started; Yahoo DFS: $34)
Matchup: vs. Jax
Vegas line/total: Jax -3, 43.5

Jalen Ramsey is the Eminem of the NFL. The man is opinionated, unrestrained and one of the best at his craft. The public diatribes touching on NFL quarterbacks to throwback NBA players cast him as the ultimate trash talker. His Week 1 showdown with OBJ, who isn’t shy of expressing his disdain toward corners (e.g. Josh Norman), should take on an old school Ali vs. Frazier vibe. Let the jawing begin.

Ramsey was every bit a shutdown corner in 2017. According to Player Profiler, he ranked top-10 among qualifying DBs in catch percentage allowed (51.3), passer rating allowed (55.5), fantasy points per target allowed and total pass breakups (19). Only Casey Heyward topped him in overall pass coverage per Pro Football Focus. If Jags defensive coordinator Todd Walsh decides to feature more man-on-man, it could be problematic for Beckham. A season ago, the receiver inflicted most damage against zone schemes. When pressed into man, however, he averaged a pedestrian 4.1 yards per target. Also worth noting, only four WRs topped 80 yards against Jacksonville last year. Total it up and it could be a quiet opening week for the popular first-round pick.

Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 56 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 8.1 fantasy points

Harris to have Baldwin’s number in Denver

Doug Baldwin, Sea, WR (85 started; Yahoo DFS: $24)
Matchup: at Den
Vegas line/total: Den -3, 42

Seattle’s in a state of transition. The talent exodus on defense combined with a reshuffled backfield and changes at WR/TE arrow to chemistry shortcomings early on. Baldwin is Russell Wilson’s steady rock, but admittedly operating at 80-85 percent due to a tender knee, he may not be the ultra-reliable slot machine seen in year’s past. His target share will likely again hover around 22 percent, but questioning his explosion off the line (No. 14 in target separation in ’17) is justified.

Denver may no longer feature “The No Fly Zone,” but even down Aqib Talib it still boasts a very talented secondary. Primary slot blanket, Chris Harris, yielded a 51.7 catch percentage and 70.4 passer rating to his 2017 assignments. His 0.79 yards per snap surrendered also ranked highly (No. 13) among corners with at least 100 snaps. Add in the hostile Mile High crowd and the ‘Hawk should stay mostly grounded in the opener.

Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 48 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 6.8 fantasy points

BONUS WEEK 1 LAMES (Over 50 percent started)

RB: Alex Collins, Bal (vs. Buf; $26) – The advanced metrics darling is the unrivaled RB1 in Baltimore, but John Harbaugh’s fascination with Buck Allen inside the red zone combined with Buffalo’s assumed stout run defense suggest a lackluster output. (19 atts, 68 yds, 2 recs, 8 yds, 0 TD, 8.6 fpts)

RB: Jay Ajayi, Phi (vs. Atl; $23) – He’s practiced in full this week, but unless the Nick Foles from Super Bowl 52 resurfaces, Ajayi will be gobbled up by Atlanta’s fleet-footed defense. (18 atts, 71 yds, 2 recs, 7 yds, 0 TD, 8.8 fpts)

WR: Amari Cooper, Oak (vs. LAR; $26) – Aqib Talib conceded the third-lowest yards per snap (0.57) among all eligible DBs last season. Expect Cooper’s sluggish production to pick up where it left off. (3 recs, 29 yds, 0 TD, 4.4 fpts)

TE: Travis Kelce, KC (at LAC; $25) – The Chargers are without question a top-five defense. They allowed a mere 48.0 yards per game to the TE position, including 47 yards in two combined games to Kelce. (FF: 4 recs, 41 yards, 0 TD, 6.1 fpts)

DST: Chicago Bears (at GB; $16) – Khalil Mack’s arrival conjures memories of The Monsters of the Midway. The Bears will finish inside the top-five among DSTs, but Aaron Rodgers simply owns this franchise. QB has totaled seven TD passes against the arch-rival in his past two meetings. (20 PA, 373 YDSA, 2 SCK, TO, 5.0 fpts)


Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their “Flames” (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?

Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also check out his TV show, “The Fantasy Football Hour,” now available in 91 million households on various regional sports networks, along with his work on the “Yahoo Sports Fantasy Podcast” and his award-nominated podcast, “The Fantasy Record.”

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