Matt's Fantasy Football sleeper picks on week one of #ThePlank

It’s September, so that means it’s time for regular season football and Fantasy Football. Millions of people across the country will tune into games that they normally wouldn’t care about. But that is the beauty of fantasy football, every game counts and every game is important.  
 
I know most leagues do a good job of providing you updates and projections on players so I am not here to state the obvious and rank the top players each week.
 
We will discuss key injuries, a few potential sleeper picks, and of course we will talk about the Bucs fantasy matchups each week.  
 
Since this is week 1, there isn’t any regular season action to analyze, but we all know the Bucs made a lot of changes this off-season with new coaching staff, new starting QB, and a few new players.  Lovie Smith is back in Tampa after a few years of running the show in Chicago. Lovie is a defensive coach and worked under Tony Dungy as the linebackers coach for the Bucs a few years ago. His arrival should improve the Bucs' defense both on the field and in fantasy scoring.
 
But even more interesting to me is the hiring of new offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford. If you only follow the NFL, you might not be familiar with Jeff because this is his first NFL job.  But he is a well-respected college coach who is known for his expertise with quarterbacks.
 
During his 20 years as a college coach, he worked with 8 players who went on to become NFL quarterbacks, most notably the All-Pro QB for the Packers, Aaron Rodgers.  So, bringing in Jeff Tedford should improve the passing game for the Bucs this season.  Add to that, bringing in an experienced QB in Josh McCown who played well in the 5 games he started for the Bears last season, and the Bucs could score some points this year.  
 
Another interesting idea that stands out to me is how similar the targets are for McCown in Tampa as they were for him last year in Chicago.  Both teams will feature big physical threats at WR and Tight End.  The Bears have arguably the best combination of WRs and Tight Ends in the league with Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and Martellus Bennett. But when you look at what the Bucs did this offseason in the draft, it is very comparable, on paper anyway, with the Bears.  
 
So, even though Josh McCown will be wearing a different uniform and playing in a different system, he will at least have the same type of big, physical targets as he did last year. It remains to be seen if that will translate into touchdowns.
 
Injuries
 
  • Sam Bradford- torn ACL for 2nd time in 10 months.  Out for the season. Downgrade every WR on their roster.  
  • Wes Welker- suffered 3rd concussion. Missed 3 games last year due to concussion. With extra emphasis teams are putting on head injuries it will be interesting to see if Welker actually returns.
  • Cam Newton- cracked ribs.  He won’t miss time but it will have some effect on his playing style since running with the ball is a big part of his game.  
Top 5 sleeper picks
 
  1. Jordan Reed- Second year player out of University of Florida.  As a rookie, he was second leading receiver on the team even though he missed a lot of playing time due to concussions.  If he can stay on the field he could have 70-80 catches and 10 TDs.
  2. Carlos Hyde- This is probably Frank Gore’s farewell tour the 49ers are looking to pass the torch at running back.  Carlos Hyde is a rookie from Ohio State and has been great in preseason with almost 6 yards a carry.  Great goal line threat, could get 8 or 9 TDs
  3. Hakeem Nicks- last year entire Giants offense was a mess.  Nicks has a new team and one of the best QBs in the league with Andrew Luck, who will throw the ball over 600 times this year.  If Nicks and Luck can develop chemistry on the field, Nicks could be back to 1,000+ receiving yards. 
  4. Christine Michael- one of the backups for Marshawn Lynch.  Lynch had almost 400 touches last year.  That is a lot of wear and tear.  The Seahawks could be looking to share that workload this season and Michael is a very explosive playmaker who has big play potential.   
  5. Tavaris Cadet- This is my super sleeper. 3rd year in NFL and only 1 carry in his career but he is the closet thing Saints have on their roster to Darren Sproles who was traded this off season. Sproles averaged about 75-80 catches a year over the last 3 seasons but is now in Philadelphia. Those plays will have to go to someone else and Cadet is the running back whose skill set is most comparable to Sproles on the Saints roster.  

Watch "The Plank" every Thursday night at 7 p.m. on ABC Action News Now: www.abcactionnewscom/theplank  

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