NFL Fantasy Picks: Hurts to make roaring start against Lions, Andrews a lock for huge Week 1

·3-min read

With a new NFL season brings another chance to gain bragging rights over your friends in the world of fantasy football.

The 2022 campaign begins with a fascinating clash between the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium, one which should have plenty of fantasy intrigue given the plethora of offensive playmakers on show.

While fantasy players around the globe will need to have their lineups set in time for kick-off in Inglewood, it is the Sunday slate Stats Perform is concerned with this week.

Here we have picked out four offensive players and a defense who should be in your line-up for the opening week, provided of course you had the good sense to draft them.

Quarterback: Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles @ Detroit Lions

One of the quarterbacks under the most pressure to perform in 2022 gets a soft landing to start the season.

Hurts didn't have to do much to help the Eagles to a 44-6 beating of the Lions last season, but the dual threat should be licking his lips at the prospect of facing a defense that last season allowed the fourth-most yards per game (379.8) in the NFL.

Only four teams allowed more rush yards per game (135.1) than the Lions in 2021 and, despite some impressive offseason additions, there is little to suggest Hurts should not be able to excel on the ground and through the air in the season opener.

Running Back: Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers

The Packers made steps to improve their run defense in the offseason, but slowing down Cook figures to be a difficult challenge.

Cook has eight touchdowns in his last five games against the Packers (seven rushing, one receiving), a run that has included two 150-yard performances on the ground.

Playing in Kevin O'Connell's offense, Cook should continue to receive a lot of the wide zone carries that suit his playing style, making him a candidate for another big game in what should be a compelling contest.

Wide Receiver: Michael Pittman, Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans

Pittman produced his first 1,000-yard season in his second year in the league in 2021 and will unquestionably be the top target for new quarterback Matt Ryan in this campaign.

That is a very favourable position for Pittman to be in against a Texans team that allowed the third-most yards per pass play (7.12) in the NFL in 2021. Look for Ryan and Pittman to combine consistently to exploit Houston's vulnerability defending the pass.

Tight End: Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens @ New York Jets

Andrews has cemented himself as one of the top tight ends in the NFL and an extremely popular selection in fantasy football.

This week, he is an absolute must start against a Jets defense that should be improved after a strong offseason but surrendered the third-most passing yards in the league in 2021.

No tight end in the NFL was targeted more often than Andrews (153) last season and he should expect to be the favoured weapon of Lamar Jackson as the Ravens plot a return to the playoffs. The route to the postseason starts against the Jets, and the combination of his role and the opponent should deliver a productive start to the season for Andrews.

Defense/Special Teams: San Francisco 49ers @ Chicago Bears

Week 1 can be strange, but the season opener at Soldier Field has all the hallmarks of a mismatch, one which San Francisco's defensive line should utterly dominate.

The 49ers' pass rush, led by Nick Bosa - who had 15.5 sacks last season - is ranked second in the NFL by Stats Perform AI, while the Bears' offensive line is ranked as the second-worst.

That is a recipe for a game in which the 49ers put Justin Fields under constant pressure and force a plethora of negative plays and turnovers en route to victory. Slide the Niners' defense into your line-up and profit.