Let’s take a look at several fantasy football sleepers for Week 1 of the NFL season. These players are currently being started in less than 50% of leagues and could be worthy of a starting spot on your roster this week due to a favorable matchup, injury, or other circumstances. If you have any fantasy football roster questions feel free to post them in our Fantasy Football Forum.


Ben Roethlisberger PIT vs. CLE

Call me a nut, but I sorta like Big Ben this week against the Browns, in a upside QB2 way. The Cleveland offense is a work in progress to say the least, and that should give the Steelers plenty of offensive plays. While the CLE defense does have Haden and Mingo, the Steelers offense has more than enough playmakers to keep them honest, and the Bell / Blount combo should be able to hammer away and open up the pass game. I like Ben to throw 2 TD, no INT, and about 250 yards, creating a solid Week 1 QB streamer situation.

Running Backs

Mark Ingram NO @ ATL

So I seem to recall the Falcons defense being pretty putrid last year (checks Internet). Yeah, they were awful. Guess what? They will be awful again. You’re going to want to be aware of whoever is playing Atlanta all year, as it should be a points bonanza. I don’t think Atlanta can hang with the Saints, even at home, and I think this creates a strong opportunity for Ingram to run out the clock and batter the Falcons D at the same time. Ingram is being started in less than 10% of leagues, so this is a deep league special for sure, but I definitely see him punching one across the goal line here with upside for more.

Chris Johnson NYJ vs. OAK

Most folks who drafted CJ?K most likely took him as a RB3 or a value RB2 depending on draft spot and strategy. I’m here to tell you to start him in Week 1. Oakland was a top-10-worst defense in 2013, and I don’t see a ton of reason for optimism in that area for this coming year. They’re not the most dysfunctional organization in football for no reason, folks. The Jets should coast to a win at home, especially against a rookie starter (Derek Carr). I see Johnson running for 80+ yards here and a late TD.

Ben Tate CLE @ PIT

Believe it or not, the vaunted Pittsburg Steelers defense was rated 21st against the run last year, and 19th overall. The Cleveland coaching staff recently made comments to the effect that they were disappointed with Terrance Wests effort, and I believe these two factors will lead to Tate getting 20+ touches and scoring from close yardage against the Steelers. The Browns won’t have much else going for them, and I think that they will ride a fresh Tate in the hopes they can keep Ben and the Steelers no-huddle offense off the field.

Wide Receivers

Brandin Cooks NO @ ATL

I’m doubling down on my Saints call here – I really like Cooks against the Falcons. He’s less than 25% started, but I feel like he’s in for a big game against the Falcons. New Orleans should look to get Cooks feet wet early against a leaky ATL secondary, and I believe he’s going to line up all over the place to create matchup problems. Cooks looks like a massive upside, ideal WR3 for Week 1.

Golden Tate DET vs. NYG

This is more about the offenses at play here than the defenses. The Giants defense actually graded out pretty well against the pass last year, but their offense this preseason has looked awful at best. I think that the Lions D holds the in-progress Giants offense in check for the most part, leaving plenty of time for Stafford to sling the ball to his multitude of weapons. Obviously the coverages are all going to be rolled towards Calvin, leaving Tate free to hit a big play at some point during the game.

Jordan Matthews PHI vs. JAX

Umm…so it’s PHI vs JAX, so you’re going to be expecting the Eagles to put up some points at home, in thie game. I really like Matthews as a sleeper here because there simply aren’t enough competent bodies on the Jaguars defense to cover the Philly weapons for the entire game. Even if Matthews only lines up in 3-wide sets, he should still get plenty of chances to break one, and if you’re the Eagles you want the kid to get first taste of the end zone in Week 1 if possible. If Philly runs up the score, he may even get a garbage time TD (they still count the same!). If you’re in a deeper league, you could do a lot worse than this rookie.

Kelvin Benjamin CAR @ TB

Tampa was the #9 defense overall last year, but they were lower than that against the pass. Without Darelle Revis (hurt or not) this years unit projects to show some regression against opposing aerial attacks. Cam Newton has very few legitimate passing options, and I expect Carolina to scheme Benjamin into as many high-percentage pass opportunities as possible in their opening game, especially in a hostile environment. I like Kelvin to finish as a WR3 or better for Week 1.

Tight Ends

Zach Ertz PHI vs. JAX

Jacksonville was a top 5 worst defense against TE last year. The Eagles were a top 3 offense overall. Philadelphia got rid of DeSean Jackson, which just means more targets for potential stud TE Ertz. Without major evidence refuting either one of the previously mentioned stats for the 2014 season, it is safe to assume the Ertz should be a major player in the Eagles passing game. I see Ertz finishing as a top 10 TE for Week 1.

Defense/Special Teams

Houston HOU @ WAS

The Redskins much-publicized offensive attacked has looked mediocre at best this preseason. They have yet to face blitzers the like of Watt, Cushing, and Clowney. The Washington offensive line is average at best, and seems ill-equipped to handle the Houston pass rush. With RG3 not fully acclimated to Jay Gruden’s new offense, I expect multiple sacks and at least one interception. The Texans D/ST should score above 10 against an inexperienced Skins offense.