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NFL Week 1

The Hard Bargain: Lessons

by Dave Stewart

“The Hard Bargain” is a year-round column by Dave Stewart offering parenting advice and weekly fantasy football advice for deeper (16+ team) leagues. Dave brings over a year of experience writing this column to NFL Week 1 and will be here throughout the fantasy football season.

Thriving in a New Environment

If you read my last column, you already know that “the Sneaky Girls,” my twin daughters, recently began second grade and, more importantly, their first in-person class experience. Having started school during the COVID-19 era, they completed kindergarten and first grade virtually.

Now they are in the classroom and thriving. A teacher already told me the same thing each of their previous teachers told me: “You have a couple of smart girls there.” It is both something I know and something I never tire of being told. I feel fortunate to have kids who enjoy learning. 

Early Readers

As a father and an avid reader, it has been especially enjoyable helping my daughters learn to read. They both love reading and are advanced readers for their age. 

They often surprise me with the words they can read without asking for help while also bemusing me with the words they ask for help to spell. I suppose spelling comes later than reading even big words. Though I am not an expert in child development, I suspect it has something to do with being able to use guesswork to some success while you are reading, whereas spelling is quite precise. You either spell a word correctly, or you don’t.

I was an excellent speller as a kid, and I am eager to see my kids flourish in this area. Until then, I will continue to help them learn.

A Delicious Lesson

We visited my in-laws this past weekend, and the girls spent their time being indulged by their grandmother, as usual. They like to “play kitchen” at grandma’s house, which typically consists of her giving them dried beans and seasoning that they mix up in a pot and “cook” for everybody. The rest of us then take turns pretending to eat it. What fun!

This time they turned it up a notch when grandma asked them to help her make brownies. Thrilled to help make actual food, the girls put on their aprons and stepped into the kitchen. I made sure to ask for a corner piece before the brownies were even in the oven.

They made brownies from a box, which the cook in me does not love. However, as I observed Grandma teaching the girls how to measure and mix, I was again struck by their interest in learning.

Learning From Our Mistakes Ahead of NFL Week 1

As fantasy football enthusiasts, many of us have spent the offseason studying and learning what we can to decode the mystery of the upcoming fantasy season. Still, no matter how much work we put in, we’re likely to find as many questions as answers when the 2022 NFL season kicks off Thursday night.

There is a certain discomfort in knowing you do not know what will happen despite your preparation. We can say that we have educated ourselves purposefully and have diligently readied ourselves to be as knowledgeable as possible regarding the upcoming fantasy campaign, but we can never remove uncertainty. Get ready to be wrong. Predicting fantasy outcomes is hard, but it is fun. I think that is why we do it, or at least why I do.

NFL Week 1 Crash Course for Deeper Leagues

Below, you will find my recommended deep-league starts for NFL Week 1. Each of the following players is a sneaky starter for managers in leagues of 16+ league teams who can each help you win your week. I worry I could be wrong, but I embrace the chance to keep learning and help keep you winning throughout the 2022 season.

Trevor Lawrence (QB, Jacksonville Jaguars)

Year No. 2 of Trevor Lawrence’s career looks primed to be a sharp contrast to his inaugural season. He has a new coaching staff with winning NFL experience and the Super Bowl ring to prove it. Lawrence is also been surrounded by an arsenal of new weapons and, as such, has been saddled with increased expectations. Thankfully, he also has a friendly matchup to get his year going.

The Washington Commanders gave up the fourth-most passing yards and the most touchdowns in the NFL last season, and they are returning the exact same secondary. With his new playmakers at his disposal, highlighted by Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, Lawrence should be able to take advantage of this Washington defense. Even amidst a disappointing rookie year, he still finished eighth in pass attempts and seventh in attempted air yards. I expect no decrease in volume in the new offense, and all signs point to increased efficiency this year. Lawrence is a worthwhile starter this week if you find yourself without a top-16 option.

Dameon Pierce (RB, Houston Texans)

We have all heard the hype and witnessed the roster moves that confirmed it. Dameon Pierce is locked in as the starting running back in Houston with reduced competition for carries following the release of Marlon Mack. By all accounts, the coaching staff is thrilled with what they have seen from the rookie ball carrier.

While the Indianapolis Colts’ defense is not exactly a cupcake, they are no brick wall either. They allowed a middling 4.4 Yards Per Carry  (YPC) in 2021. With the availability of star linebacker Shaquille Leonard still in question, there is a real opportunity for the Texans on the ground. Pierce is a high-upside play for those shut-out of the top-32 running backs.

DeVonta Smith (WR, Philadelphia Eagles)

With the addition of A.J. Brown to the offense, DeVonta Smith will benefit from no longer being the top target on the Eagles. This should allow him to play against more No. 2 cornerbacks, avoiding going head-to-head with top CBs. An NFL Week 1 matchup against the Detroit Lions is as soft as Smith could hope for.

The Lions’ defense expects to be among the league’s worst in the upcoming season. Cornerbacks Jeff Okudah and Amani Oruwariye are not regarded as elite. If quarterback Jalen Hurts can take the next step expected by many, Smith could feast in this game. Expect splash plays with his explosive speed after averaging 14.3 Yards Per Reception (YPR) in 2021. He is a lovely option as a WR3 or FLEX and should also slot in nicely as a WR2 if you do not roster two of this week’s top-32 receivers.

Noah Fant (TE, Seattle Seahawks)

Noah Fant finds himself in a new town, suiting up for the Seattle Seahawks in NFL Week 1. There is reason for optimism for a high snap share for Fant. Offensive coordinator Shane Waldron frequently uses 12 personnel (two tight ends on the field). While Denver is not the most favorable matchup for tight ends, being on the field a lot in a game where Seattle figures to be trailing is a positive.

When looking for tight ends that do not rank in the top 16 for the week, you have to look for positives. Fant may see a few red zone targets and figures to be a safety blanket for conservative quarterback Geno Smith. Fant scored four touchdowns in 2021 and managed double-digit fantasy outputs in each game he scored.

While I  recommend starting Fant for desperate owners, I do so with limited enthusiasm. Like most tight ends, Fant will be touchdown-dependent for his fantasy value in this game.

Life is hard, but it gets a little easier when we learn to lean on each other. Find me on Twitter @DaveFantasy for more life and fantasy sports content.

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