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Week 1 - Puff, Puff, Pass

My name is Josh ‘Smokey-Hell’ Nelson (@TNFF_Smokey) and this is “Puff Puff Pass,” my weekly start/sit article where I advise you on which players you should start and "puff" up the points in your starting line-up, or who you should sit and “pass” on down to your bench. Follow along every week to boost your knowledge and to gain an edge on your opponents.


Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Big Ben returns this season to right the ship in Pittsburgh and he gets a sweetheart matchup in the New York Football Giants who have less of a pass rush than my great grandmother’s nursing home. The injury he suffered last year is more common in baseball, but his recovery is on schedule and the last time he was healthy, he put up over 5,000 yards. He has excellent receiving weapons in Juju Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and new Canadian rookie Chase "Mapletron" Claypool, which should lead to a huge first comeback game.

Verdict - PUFF

Phillip Rivers (Indianapolis Colts)

Is this article from 2017? Yet, another old man QB who I think can puff up your Week 1 matchup is Father Time and the man who has enough kids to fill a high school, Phillip Rivers. He finds himself like most soon to be retirees - in the southern climates of Florida in nice warm balmy conditions. He faces a weak overall defense in the Jacksonville Jaguars and you should take advantage of his matchup. If he is on waivers in 1QB leagues, and you like to stream your QB, he is a must pick up for this week. The loss of Calais Campbell cannot be understated nor the effect it has on Jacksonville’s pass rush and Rivers should be able to stamp his name immediately in Indianapolis. Wheels up, walkers down!

Verdict - PUFF

Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals)

Murray happens to face the best pass rush in the league, who is also coming off a bitter comeback defeat in last year’s SuperBowl. The 49ers are going to be motivated and out for blood this year and Week 1 is that statement game. If you are in a 1QB league and have alternate options, consider fading Murray in Week 1. I would say the same for the Cardinal receivers as well.

Verdict - PASS

Running Backs

Mark Ingram II (Baltimore Ravens)

BIG TRUSS himself. Baltimore might have a tough time throwing against the pass and edge rush of Cleveland, but the Ravens have one of the most potent run games to make up for it. Expect big numbers from the ever-so-criminally underrated Ingram as Lamar freezes linebackers and opens up lanes for his RBs. I expect this game to be close and Ingram is going to have to carry a fair load.

Verdict - PUFF

Boston Scott (Philadelphia Eagles)

There’s a bug flying around Philadelphia and its name rhymes with shminjury. The Eagles are starting the season much like they left off, with a depleted, injured receiving corps and a solid pass-catching run game. Sanders is the top dog, but I think there will be enough meat left on the bone to make Scott a great flex option.

Verdict - PUFF

Saquon Barkley (New York Giants)

Man, this one hurts, as I have a lot of exposure to Saquon. Do you know who else is going to have a lot of exposure to Saquon? The Pittsburgh Steelers vaunted defense. Even for a generational talent like Barkley, that is a giant hill to overcome. Why would I include a guy likely drafted in the top five picks of your draft you might ask? Because many of you might have been smart and taken advantage of the landscape this year and gone “Robust RB” as your draft strategy. You might be able to sneak by without Saquon, or at least throw him in your flex. This is a jagged little pill to swallow to be sure, but we must be fluid like water and adapt to the situation at hand.

Verdict - PASS

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Wide Receivers

DK Metcalf (Seattle Seahawks)

With a running game that is limping into the season from last season’s injuries, QB Russell Wilson has the opportunity to cook. Who does Mr. Unlimited face Week 1, none other than PFF’s 3rd worst-ranked secondary heading into this season in the Atlanta Falcons. Metcalf is heading into year two with a head full of steam and he is going to shred the Falcons. Book it!

Verdict - PUFF

Hunter Renfrow (Las Vegas Raiders)

When Renfrow was healthy last year, he had a great connection out of the slot with QB Derek Carr. Now, he comes into this season on an improved Raiders offense still holding down the slot position, and this week they match up against the second-worst secondary according to PFF in the Carolina Panthers. Carr should be able to pick apart the Panthers all game long with Renfrow running screens, slants, and curl routes.

Verdict - PUFF

Chris Hogan (New York Jets)

This recent addition to the Jets is coming in as the #2 WR on the depth chart in New York, due to injuries hampering Breshad Perriman and rookie Denzel Mims. Hogan has had some serviceable time in New England, but he was acquired as a cheap fill-in for a banged-up receiving corps and faces none other than the $70 million dollar man Tre’Davious White and the Buffalo Bills this week. Hard hard fade.

Verdict - PASS

Tight Ends

George Kittle (San Francisco 49ers)

I know, I know, a softball choice here. But do you remember the tight end defense wasteland that the Arizona Cardinals displayed last season? Some improvements have been made, but do you think that’s going to be enough to stop the most dominant (yeah, I said it) TE in the NFL? Especially one on a team dealing with a depleted receiver corps? It’s Kittle Season kids, and the rest of the league is just playing in it.

Verdict - PUFF

Jack Doyle (Indianapolis Colts)

This choice is a bit deeper and makes up for the Kittle call. Do you know who is great for inflating tight end stats? Phillip Rivers. Just ask Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry if you need confirmation. Now, Rivers is on a team with one of the best offensive lines and Doyle has ‘jags’ for competition. Speaking of Jags, that’s who the Colts face Week 1 and their secondary has been decimated. Doyle, when given the workload, can produce and he is in a situation to smash in Week 1.

Verdict - PUFF

C.J. Uzomah (Cincinnati Bengals)

I sincerely hope you weren’t pinning your Week 1 hopes on Uzomah, but if you were, I would think twice. Yes, Joe Burrow made Thaddeus Moss a thing in college, but this is the big leagues and Cincinnati faces the formidable trio of Chris Harris Jr., Derwin James, and Desmond King II of the mighty Los Angeles Chargers secondary - one of, if not the best in the league. Even if this was Evan Engram with Wolverine’s healing factor, I would be fading him against this secondary this week.

Verdict - PASS

Thank you for reading my "Puff, Puff, Pass" article. Do you agree or disagree with any of my starts and sits? Please leave a comment or let me know @TNFF_Smokey

Editor: Joe Simonetti (@joesimonetti77)

Graphic work: Dan Made Graphics (@DanMadeGraphics)