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Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) returns a kickoff 96-yards for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

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Juju Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

In Week 1, Los Angeles Chargers receiver Keenan Allen had a monster day, catching eight passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. He ran 67.3 percent of his snaps form the slot according to Steelers receiver Juju Smith-Schuster runs the majority of his routes out of the slot and should be the beneficiary of a soft Kansas City defense. In what is shaping up to be a shootout at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Smith-Schuster should hit paydirt.  

Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson, RBs, Washington

After drubbing the Arizona Cardinals last week, Washington hosts Indianapolis in what is shaping up to be another favorable matchup for Washington’s running backs Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson. Peterson got a heavy workload last week and he could get more volume this week against a run defense that allowed a generous 5.1 yards a carry last week. Thompson makes the most of his carries and is a great weapon as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. Look for quarterback Alex Smith to target him frequently. Thompson is a solid play in points per reception and standard formats.

Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

I like Hunt in a bounceback effort at Pittsburgh. The Steelers run defense simply has not been the same since losing linebacker Ryan Shazier last season. Since that game against Cincinnati where Shazier suffered a serious spinal injury, the Steelers have played five contests including their loss to Jacksonville in the AFC Divisional round of the playoffs and last week’s tie with Cleveland. Pittsburgh has allowed 150 rushing yards or more in three of those five contests and only one team (the Patriots) failed to record more than 100 total rushing yards against the Steelers in that span. In a game that feels like it will be a shootout. Look for Hunt to return to dominance.

Jared Cook, TE, Oakland Raiders

It’s been known for some time that if you have to attack the Broncos’ No Fly Zone, use your tight end. Seahawks tight end Will Dissly was hot against the Broncos last week, catching three passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. Dissly’s day was highlighted by a 66-yard gain on first down. Raiders tight end Jared Cook showed great chemistry with quarterback Derek Carr in the team’s opener against the Rams Monday. I expect Cook to have another busy day Sunday at Denver.



Marshawn Lynch, RB, Oakland Raiders

Sitting Raiders back Marshawn Lynch is less of an indictment of the veteran  running back and more of a gameplan move to force Carr to be the one to defeat the Broncos in Mile High. Lynch was held to just 12 yards in the Week 4 of last season when he met the Broncos defense the first time. He fared much better later in the season at home with 110 yards from scrimmage and a score. Which version of Lynch will fantasy owners see Sunday? My take is that it will be the former given that A) it’s an away game much like the first matchup last year, B) Denver was in the seventh game of an eight-game losing streak when Lynch went off in the second game. Given how inept the Broncos were offensively at the time, I feel that Broncos’ lapse defensively had more to due with a lack of morale. Finally, game plan wise it makes sense to limit Lynch on the ground and force Carr, who has been struggling and has already taken some flack this season for his poor play by coach Jon Gruden, to be the Raiders’ hero. Skittles or not, I don’t like “Beast Mode” in this contest.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I mentioned in my waiver column that Sunday’s game against Philly would be the true litmus test for whether fantasy owners can trust Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Excluding an extraordinary performance from Tom Brady in Super Bowl 52, the Eagles have limited opposing quarterbacks to one passing touchdown or less in five of their last six matchups stretching back to last year’s postseason and end of the regular season. Philadelphia allowed an average of 14.7 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks last season.

Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers

Packers receiver Randall Cobb continued the good production he had from the end of last season with a monster game in Week 1 against Chicago. The veteran wideout put up a beastly stat line of nine catches for 142 yards and a touchdown, most of that coming on a 75-yard catch and run to the house. This week, the going gets tough for Cobb as he and the rest of the Packers host the Vikings and their stifling defense. Cobb has scored once in his last five contests against Minnesota and that was in 2015. He didn’t exceed 30 yards in both contests in 2017. Add to that the fact that quarterback Aaron Rodgers is highly questionable for Sunday’s game and you have what looks like a miserable outing for Cobb.

Carlos Hyde, RB, Cleveland Browns

I know what you’re thinking, the Bucs just destroyed the Saints for nearly 50 points in Week 1. It should be all systems go for fantasy relevant Browns players right? Wrong. Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber got a good amount of work last week with 19 carries, but he only had 69 yards on those carries for a 3.6 yard average. It’s not bad, but I think the path of least resistance when facing New Orleans defense is through the passing game. That favors Hyde’s teammate Duke Johnson. Hyde is a risky, touchdown-dependent flex play Sunday.  

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