Matt Harmon and Tank Williams run through four players fantasy managers should start with confidence in the opening week of the NFL slate.
- All right. With lots of flex decisions every week, let's look at some players who have solidified their place in fantasy rosters. Finally It's Easy, presented by Autotrader. Just like Autotrader makes it easy to buy a car, these players are easy picks. Plug in your lineup each and every week.
Matt, Tank? Let's send it over to you for your must-starts, moving forward.
MATT HARMON: Oh, Tank, my buddy, my friend, it's so good to be back with you. It's so good to see you. You look great. You look fantastic.
But let's start off. How could we start this anywhere else? The guy who's graduated--
TANK WILLIAMS: I wonder.
MATT HARMON: --to a starting spot in your fantasy football lineup? It's Brandon Aiyuk, baby. We're back on the Brandon Aiyuk train like it never left the station, man, because here's the deal. Tank, we had a lot of fun with Brandon Aiyuk last year, but the reality of the situation is, from Week 8 on, the guy was a top-20 fantasy receiver, and that was with Jimmy Garoppolo last year.
I've said all offseason, basically since the moment they drafted Trey Lance, really, that his game-- even if we have some questions about how good he's gonna be, how up-to-speed he's gonna be from the jump, his game overlaps with Brandon Aiyuk better than it did with Jimmy Garoppolo because he can hit those passes deep and outside the numbers that Jimmy just-- God bless him, he loves throwing over the middle. He's really good at it. Sometimes, it gets him into trouble. But man, there has been a steady drumbeat all offseason that Brandon Aiyuk has been that guy for the San Francisco 49ers.
I think it's like a coin flip as to who has more receiving yards this year-- Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel. As good as Samuel is, I think Aiyuk is ready to take that next step. He has been my guy for a couple of years. This is the year, Tank, where, every single week, if you're gonna try to do some "yook" nonsense or not say his full name, you're gonna be regretting it, buddy. Get on the train, man. This is happening this year.
TANK WILLIAMS: Well, Harmon, you know why I wear my Tony Montana shirt? Because you're a fantasy guru that doesn't fly straight. You know what I'm saying, man? Because I feel like you're putting in a little bit of reception deception right here, because we both know that the 49ers have one of the most run-heavy teams, offensive schemes, in the entire NFL, and we also know that Kyle Shanahan likes to protect his young quarterbacks.
So what are we really projecting for Brandon Aiyuk to do this year when you have George Kittle, when he's healthy, that's gonna be on the field. You have Deebo Samuel that got all that money, so you know he's gonna get a bunch of targets. And then, obviously the guy who I'm going with, Eli Mitchell-- he's gonna be getting about 19 carries in the run game. Whenever he's healthy, he averages 19 carries and about 86 and 1/2 rush yards.
So when you got a guy like that that he's gonna feed you and he's the dude, how do you expect Brandon Aiyuk to be the guy? Because when he finished off last year, who was he with, as far as like his fantasy club? Van Jefferson, Marvin Jones, KJ Osborn, Tim Patrick, AJ Green. I don't know if that's somebody that I could depend in my lineup 24/7, dog, but I guess we will find out.
It's a new season, but to start off, his name is Brandon Aiyuk for now.
MATT HARMON: Well, we'll take that, Tank. I'm with you that Eli Mitchell actually makes for the better play in Week 1, 'cause those boys in Chicago are running with little puddles coming up in that weather there, man. It's not looking good. So I'm with you on Eli Mitchell.
I'm also with you-- let's stay with like the 49ers connection here, man. Mike McDaniel goes down to Miami. The first free-agent signing of the entire period was Chase Edmonds to the Miami Dolphins. And sometimes in the NFL, you just gotta follow the money. I think this one makes sense.
And I'm pretty bullish on Chase Edmonds, not just as an RB3, where he was drafted. I was ranking him, coming into this year, as more like a low-end RB2. I like him in Week 1 against New England Patriots in a game that should be slow-paced, low-scoring. No one's gonna pull ahead from the other, and I think Chase Edmonds is gonna have a lot of opportunity here as the clear-cut RB1.
And I think the reason that Mike McDaniel wanted to go out and sign a guy like Chase Edmonds to be, I think, the pretty clear-cut RB1 of this backfield-- he moves the chains, man. 27% of his rush attempts last year went for a first down, did Chase Edmonds. I really like him in Week 1. I think he's graduated to be at least an every-week flex, but I think he could be more of an RB2 this year.
TANK WILLIAMS: I love that, dog. Chase Edmonds-- he definitely has juice, and I like the way McDaniels draws up those schemes for the run game. I really like that play not only this week, but for the whole season.
But my guy's gonna be-- and ironic enough, I didn't expect Charles to talk about him-- it's Jerry Jeudy. When you look at that Denver Broncos offense, everyone's been high on Courtland Sutton. But one thing I noticed in the preseason-- we'll see if it holds true in the regular season-- that the quarterbacks are targeting the hell out of the slot.
Jerry Jeudy-- when he was coming out of Alabama, he was one of the best route-runners. They were comparing him to Calvin Ridley and some of these other guys. And so I feel like when you have a strong running game, like the Denver Broncos, where you have to dedicate an extra guy to try to stop Javonte Williams or Melvin Gordon, whoever they're feeding the ball to, they're gonna pay attention to Courtland Sutton.
Now you have Jerry Jeudy roaming the slot. We've already seen what he can do with a guy like DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. There's no reason that Russ can't do that with Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy, so I believe that he's gonna be somebody you can lock into your lineup. Every single weekend, he's gonna ball out.
MATT HARMON: Yeah, man. Tank, even if you insulted me with that reception-deception nonsense, I like the way you think about that one. I like it. I like it, Tank.
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