Every week, at least one player becomes my fascination of whether he’s worthy of a fantasy football start or bench The decision can be a mental wrestling match, but for the purpose of brevity, only one player can be chosen as the fantasy football gamble of the week.
The best fantasy football gamble for Week 1
Dallas Cowboys TE Blake Jarwin at Los Angeles Rams
In 2020, the Los Angeles Rams underwent significant changes on defense, and the early going of it all suggests it will not be for the better out of the gates. LA’s best coverage linebacker, Cory Littleton, is now in Las Vegas, and the team also saw veteran safety Eric Weddle hang up his cleats. Furthermore, the entire defensive system is different. New coordinator Brandon Staley, a disciple of Vic Fangio, takes over as a first-time NFL defensive playcaller and makes his debut.
In 2019, the Cowboy hosted the Rams and ran all over the field on the field in the 44-21 win. Running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard racked up three rushing touchdowns and 248 yards, largely eliminating the need for Dallas to throw the ball against what was a formidable secondary. Los Angeles is bound to be better vs. the run in this one, although Zeke should feast.
One byproduct often seen when a team faces a strong secondary is checking down to the backs and tight ends. We saw that play out with the Rams in 2019, although not to an extreme degree. This was the ninth-weakest defense for receiving yards granted to tight ends and No. 12 for ease of touchdowns, and one of those scores came from Dallas’ Jason Witten.
Dallas boasted wideouts Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup going into the matchup, and they return for this one as the top tandem. Los Angeles stifled not just Cooper, as expected against cornerback Jalen Ramsey, but also held Gallup to a single grab. Witten finished with 13.6 PPR points.
Now also a Las Vegas Raider, Witten is out of the picture. His replacement, Jarwin, faces an even better matchup, and the Rams still have Ramsey to lock down Cooper. Rookie receiver CeeDee Lamb is the x-factor here, but he’s a rookie making his first appearance, so Jarwin has an advantage there. Realistically, there’s no reason both couldn’t shine if Cooper is blanketed again.
Gamers should strongly consider starting Jarwin if stuck with deciding against tough matchups facing the likes of Evan Engram (PIT), Hunter Henry (@CIN), Austin Hooper (@BAL), Rob Gronkowski (@NO) and a few others. Daily fantasy sports players should look to Jarwin as a low-cost dice roll in the season’s opening week.
My projection: 5 catches, 70 yards, 1 TD