QB Tyrod Taylor, Cleveland Browns
The former Bills quarterback enters a much more favorable situation from a fantasy standpoint, even if the Browns were a winless team last year. Buffalo ranked 31st in pass attempts last year and 29th in yards per play, while Cleveland was 9th in pass attempts primarily because of the Brownies horrendous defense. Taylor should have ample weapons at his disposal with Josh Gordon expected to suit up in Week 1 and slot-maven Jarvis Landry working the middle of the field. Cleveland hosts a Steelers team that fell apart defensively after ILB Ryan Shazier suffered a traumatic injury last year and Taylor is a dual threat capable of leading his team into a shootout against the Black and Yellow.
RB Jordan Wilkins, Indianapolis Colts
With Marlon Mack (hamstring) unable to practice early in the week, Jordan Wilkins looks like the frontrunner to lead the Colts in carries. His competition is journeyman Christine Michael, who couldn’t crack the injury-depleted Packers backfield, and Nyheim Hines, who struggled throughout the preseason. Michael is also questionable with a concussion and Robert Turbin (suspension) is unavailable for Indy. Wilkins rushed for 1,011 yards on 155 carriers (6.5 YPC) and added 241 receiving yards in his last season at Ole Miss, so he’s clearly a versatile weapon capable of complimenting Andrew Luck and potentially soaking up targets underneath if Luck isn’t healthy enough to throw downfield often.
RB Mike Gillislee, New Orleans Saints
The Saints will play their first four games without suspended RB Mark Ingram, who compiled 288 touches last year. That will force Alvin Kamara into a bigger role as a sophomore stud, but New Orleans HC Sean Payton has shown an affinity for using multiple backs and he’ll likely find an interior runner to fill the void left by Ingram. Enter Mike Gillislee, a hard-nosed veteran back with a knack for scoring short touchdowns. The Saints surprisingly cut rookie Jonathan Williams and signed Gillislee off the Patriots’ discarded scrap heap. Gillislee is more than capable of learning the playbook and contributing in Week 1 on simply interior running plays to give Kamara a breather and potentially punch in a short score or two.
WR John Ross, Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals have been looking for a receiver to compliment A.J. Green since they let go of Marvin Jones and John Ross seems to be filling that void. A former All-Conference wideout at the University of Washington, Ross ran a 4.22 40-yard dash at the NFL combine and flashed that speed while burning former Colts cornerback Vontae Davis for a 57-yard touchdown in the Bengals third preseason game. Davis was the Colts best CB over the past few seasons, yet Indy still coughed up the most pass plays of 20-plus yards (64) in the NFL last season, finishing dead last in DVOA pass defense.
WR Keelan Cole, Jacksonville Jaguars
With Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns banged up, Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook finished the 2017-18 season on a collective tear. Cole averaged 95 receiving YPG with 3 touchdowns over his last five regular season appearances and he should continue to operate as the Jags preferred receiver now that Hurns and Robinson are both with new teams. Westbrook will likely draw coverage from the Giants above-average outside cornerbacks, but Cole is a good bet for production in PPR formats and he’s proven quite capable of breaking big plays. The Giants allowed the third-most pass plays (13) of 40-plus yards last season.
TE Ricky Seals-Jones, Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals new OC Mike McCoy has a track record of featuring tight ends and that makes Ricky Seals-Jones an appealing option in all season-long formats. He could have a big game in the opener against a Redskins team that allowed the fifth-most receiving YPG (60.4) to opposing TEs last season. The Texas A&M product produced 201 yards and 3 TD over the Cardinals’ final seven games last year and is expected to start the season with little competition from washed-up veteran Jermaine Gresham, who may be unable to regain his playing form after suffering a torn Achilles last December.
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