Top 20 fantasy football kickers and defenses for Week 1



Sept. 4 (UPI) — Los Angeles Rams leg Greg Zuerlein is my No. 1 kicker and the Jacksonville Jaguars are my No. 1 defense for Week 1 of the fantasy football season.

New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz, Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby, Detroit Lions kicker Matt Prater and Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin tucker round out my top five kicking options for Week 1.

The Saints are my No. 2 defense for the week, followed by the Rams, Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Chargers in the top five of my rankings.

TOP SHELF

The Jacksonville Jaguars are my No. 1 defense overall for the 2018 fantasy football season and I also have them at No. 1 for a Week 1 matchup against the New York Giants. Jacksonville boasts one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL and Eli Manning is coming off of a down year. I expect plenty of turnovers in this clash between one of the best teams of 2017 and one of the worst teams of 2017.

The New Orleans Saints start the 2018 season with an NFC South clash against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. New Orleans had an improved defense in 2017 and looks to build toward a Super Bowl in 2018. The Buccaneers are going in the opposite direction and have to start backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick due to Jameis Winston‘s suspension. I expect a blowout here, resulting in a high-scoring day for the Saints secondary.

Greg Zuerlein was the No. 1 fantasy football kicker for the 2017 season, benefiting from a high-octane Los Angeles Rams offense. The Rams take the show on the road for a visit with the Oakland Raiders to open the 2018 season. This matchup could be another blowout and I expect plenty of extra point attempts and a few field goal attempts from Zuerlein.

Wil Lutz also benefitted from a great offense in 2017. I expect a big performance from the Saints kicker against the Buccaneers in a blowout victory.

SNEAKY PLAYS

The Los Angeles Chargers allowed 13 points or fewer in five of their last six games last season. They should also be able to limit the Kansas City Chiefs offense in Week 1. I expect several turnovers from the Chiefs, who are starting big-arm rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes for the first time in his career. I don’t expect Mahomes to come out and throw a lot, unless the Chiefs fall behind early. But you should still start the Chargers with confidence.

The Baltimore Ravens are another team heading into a matchup against a below-average quarterback. Baltimore is hosting the Buffalo Bills and Nathan Peterman in Week 1. Peterman completed just 49 percent of his throws last season and had two touchdowns against five interceptions in four appearances. Expect the Ravens to capitalize on Peterman’s inaccuracy and help your fantasy football team. Last season, the Ravens allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

Detroit Lions leg Matt Prater is my No. 4 option at the position. I don’t expect much defense in the Lions’ Week 1 matchup with the New York Jets. Prater should benefit from the offensive opportunity and will be playing indoors, away from possible bad weather conditions. He should be in starting lineups in all formats to kick off the season.

Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Chris Boswell was a top-five option at the position last season in fantasy football. He should have a monster season and I expect him to get off to a big start in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers struggled to move the ball in their Week 1 matchup last season against the Browns and Cleveland is improved. When the Steelers get stuffed, expect Boswell to convert.

RANK NAME TEAM OPPONENT
1 Greg Zuerlein Los Angeles Rams at OAK
2 Wil Lutz New Orleans Saints vs. TB
3 Mason Crosby Green Bay Packers vs. CHI
4 Matt Prater Detroit Lions vs. NYJ
5 Justin Tucker Baltimore Ravens vs. BUF
6 Stephen Gostkowski New England Patriots vs. HOU
7 Chris Boswell Pittsburgh Steelers at CLE
8 Matt Bryant Atlanta Falcons at PHI
9 Jake Elliott Philadelphia Eagles vs. ATL
10 Josh Lambo Jacksonville Jaguars at NYG
11 Ryan Succop Tennessee Titans at MIA
12 Graham Gano Carolina Panthers vs. DAL
13 Harrison Butker Kansas City Chiefs at LAC
14 Daniel Carlson Minnesota Vikings vs. SF
15 Adam Vinatieri Indianapolis Colts vs. CIN
16 Brandon McManus Denver Broncos vs. SEA
17 Steven Hauschka Buffalo Bills at BAL
18 Phil Dawson Arizona Cardinals vs. WAS
19 Randy Bullock Cincinnati Bengals at IND
20 Robbie Gould San Francisco 49ers at MIN

LONGSHOTS

If you didn’t prioritize a defense in your fantasy football draft, the Cincinnati Bengals aren’t a bad streaming option to start your season. Cincinnati battles Andrew Luck in Week 1 in the Indianapolis Colts quarterback’s first regular-season game since the 2016 season. The Bengals allowed the third-fewest passing scores to opposing quarterbacks in 2017 and I don’t expect Luck to come out on fire. Cincinnati is my No. 9 option in Week 1.

I also expect a better performance in the season opener from the Steelers defense compared to 2017. The Steelers are also facing the Browns to kick off 2018. Last season, the Steelers were tied with the Bengals for allowing just 20 touchdowns to opposing passers. While the Browns have plenty of receiving options, I don’t expect Tyrod Taylor to exactly torch the Steelers secondary. Pittsburgh should be a starting defense in your league if you have more than 12 teams. The Steelers are my No. 13 option in Week 1.

The Philadelphia Eagles had a ridiculous offense in 2017, but I don’t expect them to come out and torch the Atlanta Falcons with Nick Foles. Jake Elliott should benefit in the time that it takes the Eagles to work out the offense. He is my No. 9 kicker for Week 1.

Indianapolis Colts veteran Adam Vinateiri is my No. 15 kicker for Week 1. Although I do expect the Colts to struggle out of the gate, I don’t expect a down year for Vinateiri. He should be busy on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium and is worth a plug-and-play if you are streaming a kicker to start the season.



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