After tackling five players in position to start the season fast, we explore guys set to disappoint early in 2017.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins
It’s the same ol’ song, but with a different tune in D.C. After doing a whole lot of nada in the regular season “dress rehearsal,” Cousins looks to start 2017 like he did 2016. Missing two of his top weapons and his offensive coordinator, this is a time of transition for the former Spartan. Struggling to build rapport with Terrelle Pryor throughout the preseason, and facing a formidable Eagles defense in Week 1, fantasy fans aren’t going to like much of anything from Captain Kirk in early September.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
There’s no denying Fournette’s upside or talent … but he is a rookie coming off a preseason foot injury. In Week 1, he’ll also be facing a Texans defense that Football Outsiders awarded with a power rank of 10 last year. Additionally, assuming Houston hosts the season opener, emotions on the Texans side of the ball will be flying understandably high. This squad is going to make Blake Bortles beat them via the air, which, for Fournette’s inaugural outing, figures to sting a bit. Oh, and he probably shouldn’t have motivated this less-than-bashful D-line by musing about NFL vs. SEC speed. I’m still bullish on the rookie, but would give him until October to reach his full fantasy potential.
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
I’ve been advising fake footballers to stay away from Hilton since mid-July. Coming off a career year, Indy’s No. 1 receiver figures to regress. Despite a preseason shoulder tweak, Donte Moncrief is a go for Week 1, which means fewer targets for T.Y. Plus, all signs are pointing to someone other than Andrew Luck starting under center for the Colts. If that weren’t enough, they’ll be kicking off their season in Los Angeles against the Rams top-10 pass defense. *SCREAM*
Bold Prediction: Sammy Watkins scores more FF points than Hilton in the season opener.
Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans
The fifth overall pick in April’s draft, Davis’ future is a pair of Tom Ford aviators bright. Scoring 52 TDs while at Western Michigan, he’s a “MAC Daddy,” who many considered the most versatile wideout in this year’s class. As talented as he may be, however, he’s still a rookie who needs reps. Week 1 will be his first NFL action, after having missed the entirety of the preseason due to a hamstring injury. With established and reliable target hogs Rishard Matthews (108) and Delanie Walker (102) ready, able, and willing to ease Marcus Mariota into 2017, Davis is likely to need a minute before blowing up.
Hunter Henry, TE, Los Angeles Chargers
Ya’ll already know I think Henry is a special player worth reaching for, but Antonio Gates is going to get his … especially at the start of the season. It makes sense that the Chargers will want to get Gates involved early, while his 37-year-old frame is still fresh. Motivated to feed the vet in the red area of the field in order for him to break the all-time TD record, Gates should see plenty of action near the end zone in September.
Regardless, I don’t see any piece of the passing game flourishing in Week 1 at Denver. With CBs as shutdown as the Broncos’, it makes sense for LA to focus on the running game. And while the middle of the field might provide more opportunity than the perimeter, the Broncos only allowed four TDs to the TE position in 2016. Henry is an ascending talent who will produce in 2017, but owners may need to wait until midseason before receiving a full return on their ninth round investment (Fun Fact: The Chargers TEs have the fifth most favorable strength of schedule from Weeks 11-15. Playoff run!)
Share your slowest starts with Liz on Twitter @LizLoza_FF.
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