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Bailey’s Opening Week Fantasy Football Dawg Pound

Our Jacob Bailey returns for the 2018 season to share his expertise on the upcoming week of fantasy football.

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Running back James Conner (#30) will look to carry the majority of the workload out of the Pittsburgh Steelers backfield in Le'veon Bell's absence. Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Running back James Conner (#30) will look to carry the majority of the workload out of the Pittsburgh Steelers backfield in Le'veon Bell's absence. Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Running back James Conner (#30) will look to carry the majority of the workload out of the Pittsburgh Steelers backfield in Le'veon Bell's absence. Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Jacob Bailey, Staff Writer

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The NFL season is upon us, and with that returns the intriguing fan experience of being able to figuratively sit in the owners box, pulling the strings on a weekly basis to hopefully, by the conclusion of week 16, hoist the virtual Vince Lombardi trophy as their league’s fantasy football draft.

Following the reigning Super Bowl champion, Philadelphia Eagles nail biting, 18-12 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night, it is time for fantasy owners to look ahead towards Sunday and Monday night’s action and put the finishing touches on their week one lineups.

The biggest news around the league has revolved around Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’veon Bell who has yet to report to the team due to a contract holdout.  Bell, who claimed the number one pre-season rank among all fantasy players will not be in Pittsburgh’s backfield, despite a favorable matchup with the Cleveland Browns on Sunday afternoon, and it remains unknown when the three-time pro bowler will make his 2018 debut. In a similar situation, as recent as last season, the Los Angeles Rams were without four-time (then three-time) pro bowl defensive tackle, Aaron Donald due to a contract holdout.  After sitting out Los Angeles’ 46-9 rout of the Indianapolis Colts, Donald would return to the field for week two, so do not give up on Bell too quickly.  With that being said, James Conner will be the featured back for Pittsburgh until Bell’s return.

In other running back news, those who drafted San Francisco 49ers running back Jerick McKinnon, who will miss the entire season due to injury, should consider picking up backup running backs Matt Breida  and Alfred Morris who will likely split the workload in McKinnon’s absence. Considering Breida has just returned from an injury himself, it is looking like Morris will likely be a three down back in San Francisco’s week one matchup with the Minnesota Vikings.

The Washington Redskins have decided to make veteran running back Adrian Peterson the starter this week going against an Arizona Cardinals defense who ranked 20th last year against the run. Peterson has potential to be a solid sleeper pick this upcoming season as the Redskins primary back, countering the air attack of the newly acquired Alex Smith and veteran tight end, Jordan Reed.

Other options this week in deep league formats would be CJ Anderson of the Carolina Panthers and Corey Clement of the  Philadelphia Eagles. Despite being behind Christian McCaffrey in the Carolina running back depth chart, Anderson should receive the majority of goal line opportunities against a Dallas Cowboys defense  which ranked 22nd against the run a year ago. Clement  could be very useful in PPR leagues as he had two receiving touchdowns in limited action during the regular season before hauling in four receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown out of the backfield in the Eagles Super Bowl LII victory.

Targeting owners that will look to stream or satellite defenses off the waiver wire throughout the 2018 season, the Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Chargers should all be highly considered depending on their availability.

All three of these defenses have one thing in common– facing some of the least experienced starting quarterbacks in the league. Baltimore will be going against second year quarterback Nathan Peterman, who threw just two touchdowns to five interceptions in four games under center last season. The Lions will take on the number three overall pick from this past years’ draft, Sam Darnold and the New York Jets. New York will travel to Ford Field for the first of two Monday night games on the week one ledger, while lining up against former New England Patriots defensive coordinator and newly hired Detroit head coach, Matt Patricia. In the first game in the post Alex Smith Era in Kansas City, the Chargers, who were among the strongest defensive units in the league last season will have the opportunity to challenge Patrick Mahomes who appeared in just one game in his rookie campaign and is still looking to throw his first career touchdown.

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Bailey’s Opening Week Fantasy Football Dawg Pound