Austin’s Fantasy Train: Week 1


Austin West, Contributing Writer

Welcome to the Week one edition of Austin’s Fantasy Train, I’m your host Austin West. Obviously, you can’t see me and I finished this article prior to it being released so it’s more of a prerecorded show where there’s no show, no host, and it’s only the script. This column is the first of many for the great Tack Online from Buena Vista University. That’s right, you’re reading fantasy football advice from a college student, a senior specifically. I will mention though that this college senior is someone who has been playing fantasy football for a few years shy of a decade and hosting a football podcast for the past three years, so you could say that I have a little experience. Whether you found this on your own or through my own social media promotion, let me give you the rundown. NFL Hall of Fame head coach Bill Parcells once said “The train keeps moving whether you’re on it or not.” That’s the concept I’m taking into the writing of this column where every week a new column will go up featuring guys that are going to be on the train and those that are getting left behind. I’ll also feature quick videos going a little more in-depth on certain players each week. Along the way, I’ll also feature if the previous week’s predictions ended up correct or not. Have to hold myself accountable right? 

So why should you take the advice of some senior in college, who is writing a start/sit article for the first time? The great thing is, you don’t have to. Fantasy football is one of those things where it is built on gut feelings, luck, and a little bit of advice and research; but that’s what makes this game so great. With that being said, this week’s start/sits almost come up entirely on gut feelings. It’s Week one, which means you’ve most likely finished up your draft and know exactly who you want your starters to be. Whether it’s Justin Jefferson of the Vikings you drafted in the first round or Justin Herbert of the Chargers who fell to you in the sixth, you drafted your players based on either gut feelings, your own knowledge, or in-depth research. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have some stragglers who you are torn up about starting over another player this week. That’s where this article attempts to help you define your flex spots, the players you’re not quite sure about, and start your season off on the right foot. Let’s ride this fantasy train together, shall we?  

Players with tickets to ride: 

Derek Carr, Quarterback: The Las Vegas Raiders face off against conference rival the Los Angeles Chargers with new offensive addition Davante Adams alongside Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller, Carr looks to keep the pass heavy offense rolling. The Chargers give up an average of 19 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, as Carr was able to pick up 21 points against them in week 18 last year, but even with the defensive additions of pass-rusher Khalil Mack and corner J.C. Jackson, I don’t think it’ll stop Carr from trying to put the ball into his playmakers’ hands as often as possible. It also comes at a time where Derek Carr is now playing the toughest and pass-heaviest divisions in football so expect both teams to be locked in a shootout for four quarters. 

Javonte Williams, Running Back:  Williams is poised to be the Broncos’ number one workhorse ahead of veteran Melvin Gordon after serving as the backup in 2021. They face off against the Seahawks who averaged 21 points to running backs and while they held opposing backfields to seven receptions per game, running backs with 6+ receptions averaged five more fantasy points than those with five or less. Williams averaged at least seven receptions per game last year as the backup, expect that and more with the huge amount of rushing upside in a game the Broncos should run away with.



Adam Thielen, Wide Receiver: We all love Justin Jefferson. It’s obvious he’s a star in the NFL and in fantasy football, but let’s not forget about his teammate lining up opposite of him: Adam Thielen. The Minnesota Vikings have a new head coach Kevin O’Connell who looks to make this offense that was already passing for almost 250 yards a game and the 11th most in the NFL, even more pass-friendly. People tend to forget with all the hype around Justin Jefferson that Thielen is coming off a 700+ yard, 10 TD season while missing four games due to an ankle injury. With the Packers losing pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith to a back injury in 2021 and now to the Vikings in free agency this last offseason, look for the Packers to give up more than last year’s average of 20 fantasy points per game.  

TJ Hockenson, Tight End: This one might be one of the hardest decisions to make in this entire column. I can’t take the easy way out with a top five tight end and some of the lower-tier players all look poised for an average outing in Week one. So for this, it becomes not just stats but a gut feeling and hoping that I’m not wrong. TJ Hockenson and the Lions face off against the Philadelphia Eagles who allowed over 10 points to the position last year. Unfortunately, there’s a caveat to that: Hockenson only scored eight points in standard fantasy scoring. In PPR leagues, he scored a cool 18.9 but that’s a huge difference between league scorings. With the way the new Lions offense works through Amon-Ra St. Brown, D’Andre Swift, and TJ Hockenson and how they most likely will be behind in most of this game, expect a big passing upside.  

Players who missed the train: 

 Josh Allen, Quarterback: A lot of quarterbacks are looking at great fantasy seasons this year so choosing one that underperforms this week can be a challenge. Josh Allen is more likely to have hitchhiked his way on this train but just know this: it is less of a “hey don’t put this guy in your lineup” or “he’s a last resort” but more of a be prepared for underperformance. I feel nervous about this choice even as I’m typing this. One of the biggest upsides of Josh Allen is his rushing ability. When he has at least his average of seven rushing attempts per game he averages 30.5 fantasy points, but his Week one opponent, the Super Bowl Champions Rams, have only allowed one quarterback to rush for at least seven attempts: Kyler Murray. Only twice have the Rams have given up 30 points to quarterbacks in standard scoring leagues. Both quarterbacks threw for at least 45 attempts which Allen did six times last season but only two had a top 10 defensive front seven in which Allen scored 17 and 36 fantasy points. Again, not saying that Allen is going to score 12 points just expect something closer to the 17-20 range rather than the 21+.  

Saquon Barkley, Running Back: As much as it pains me to say it but former fantasy superstar, Saquon Barkleymisses the train this week. While I think Barkley could have a successful season barring injury, his Week one matchup against the Tennessee Titans could be the beginning of a slow start. The Titans had one of the best run defenses in the league last year only allowing 84 yards per game just behind the Baltimore Ravens. While Barkley will continue to get touches throughout the game, look for the Giants to have to play from behind in the second half and rely on the arm of Daniel Jones and the ability of their receivers including Wan’Dale Robinson and Kadarius Toney.  

Tyler Lockett, Wide Receiver: While there’s no arguing how good of a player this guy is, Tyler Lockett, unfortunately, misses the train this week. After the departure of quarterback Russell Wilson to the Broncos, Geno Smith has been named the starter for Seattle this season. Smith started three and played in four games last season in which Lockett averaged less than eight fantasy points a game, much of which came in a 14-point game against Jacksonville. As he watches his former quarterback across the field this week as he faces off against the Broncos defense who only allowed an average of 215 yards per game, Lockett stays even more touchdown dependent than when he was with Russell Wilson. Don’t risk it if you don’t have to.  



Zach Ertz, Tight End: As a starter on a team that was top 10 in passing yards per game last season with a major offensive pass catcher out for the first six weeks of the season, you’d think Zach Ertz would have a better outlook coming into 2022. However, he faces off against the Chiefs defense who allowed an average of under six points to the tight end position; Ertz scored six behind Dallas Goedert as a member of the Eagles against the Chiefs in Week four. That’s the story of Zach Ertz all last season as well. He averaged just 6.8 fantasy points per game as a member of the Cardinals even with WR 1 DeAndre Hopkins only playing in four games after Ertz joined the team. Be extremely wary of him this week and possibly the rest of this season.