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Like/Dislike: Figuring out the rookie fantasy backs

What we are talking about:

  • Aaron Rodgers

He's good at the football

  • Philip Rivers

Dreadful matchup for my dude

  • "Bachelor in Paradise"

Jerk alert!!!


"Remind me of how happy I was to make this pick" -- Adam Rank.

Yes, I'm quoting myself. Like a quote board in the cold open to one of those E! reality TV series. But those were my famous last words to my man, Doug D. One of the stalwarts in my League of Record. I was sitting next to Doug during our draft, which was a destination draft this year. Finally, we were able to corral most of the league to do a fun destination draft (which include a Rancid/Dropkick Murphys concert the night before!), instead of hanging out at his brother Mark's house on the Sunday before Labor Day like we normally do. Which is always kind of a bummer because I can't stay out late because I typically have some fantasy show to do the next day.

And I'll admit, Mark's house is much nicer than the hotel room we had taken over. I mean, it was a nice room. But after a night spent out in the desert, swilling beers like college sophomores, the aroma of the room had turned. Like when you forget to take your wet yoga clothes out of your trunk and it sits out there all weekend (Yeah, yoga. Way to know your audience, Rank. Fine. Gym clothes. Fine, that flannel shirt you were wearing to the pizza joint that you spilled wing sauce on and you left it in your trunk for four months. Happy?).

In any event, I was sitting on the button in the third round, ready to dazzle the room with my picks. So I got up and put on a show that looked something like this.

Although, this rendition was a little boozier. Certainly bluer. And then I took Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski back-to-back. And don't @ me. Our league has been around for a while and quarterback values are inflated. Or at least in concert with the NFL. Also, Brady was the fifth QB off the board, I believe. But I was pretty pleased with myself. Less pleased on Thursday night, though.

And a quick word on that. The Patriots are notoriously bad in the first quarter of the season. It's just the way they operate. But nobody is better at in-season adjustments than the Patriots. I know a lot of you want to be concerned about Brady, but I'm going to implore you to relax. The Chiefs always play Brady well. And if Brady's receivers weren't getting tackled in the end zone (which led to Mike Gillislee backing into three touchdowns), he ends up with a pretty great stat line and everybody goes home happy.

So don't panic about Brady or Gronk at all. They will be great. This guy, on the other hand.

Apparently, it is possible. It's very, very possible.

Oh well, on to Sunday.

And without further ado ...

Aaron Rodgers is 2-0 against Seattle with five touchdown passes, no picks and a 132.7 passer rating since 2015. I'm glad I was here to convince you to start him. This is a great beginning.

I had Jameis Winston on a lot of my teams. A lot. But the circumstance forced me to add and start Sam Bradford on nearly every team that I have. Although I considered Jared Goff. And Brian Hoyer.

Carson Palmer is another nice streaming option this week. He finished strong at the end of last season and I really like the matchup this week against the Lions.

Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota return for the first time since both suffered broken legs in Week 16. Both were excellent fantasy options last year and will pick up where they left off.

I'm sure the Panthers would love to ease Cam Newton back into the mix against the 49ers. I just feel like motivated Cam has other ideas and is going to make the 49ers suffer for the past year.

Image Football is back. And what a game it was, amirite? (I filed before Thursday's kickoff.) I guess the next big event we have to look forward to is Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. No spoilers or anything (like I starred in the movie), but it appears we are in for a darker movie. As if killing off Han Solo wasn't enough of a bummer. But it stands to reason because Episode IV was light-hearted (except for Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru being murdered) and Episode V (Empire) was more morose. I can get used to having a new Star Wars picture every year.

Image And we also have some Star Wars Rebels to look forward to as well. Here's the trailer. Truth be told, this was the first time I watched it, even though Jake Ciely has begged me to do so. Damn, I need a moment.

Marshawn Lynch still has the most rushing touchdowns in the NFL since 2011 (51 TDs). He missed all of last year. I'd be shocked if he didn't get double-digit TDs in a full season.

If you think I spent a high-round draft pick on Christian McCaffrey and I'm not getting him into the lineup, well then, you certainly don't know me very well. Actually, I got him on only one team.

I wouldn't even be afraid to start Jonathan Stewart if you needed to. The Panthers should be able to move the ball with relative ease against the 49ers.

We are going to get a clear snapshot into some clouded running back situations in Cincinnati and Seattle. I would advise you to add Chris Carson where you can before it's too late.

The Vikings finished with just nine rushing touchdowns last year, fifth-worst in the NFL. Dalvin Cook should get that many. He might get a third of that against the Saints run D this year.

Todd Gurley burned a lot of us last year. I get it. He's absolutely going to destroy the Colts this week. Indy allowed the sixth-most points to fantasy RBs last year. But man if he doesn't ...

Image Have we talked since "Wonder Woman" hit the big screen? Well, it's coming out on DVD or something. At least it's being advertised again. Whatever, here is what I've got. Wonder Woman was one of the most enjoyable comic book movies I have ever seen. Gal Gadot is the G.O.A.T. because she can blend butt-kicking action, but also capture that wide-eyed innocence of an Amazonian princess being dropped into the (somewhat) modern world. That's what made the humor so good. She's a real person, and not just some action here spouting out one-liners like Bruce Willis in "Die Hard" or any hero in a Marvel movie.

Everyone was down on Kelvin Benjamin last year, but he finished as the WR20. Which is better than you! But make sure you start him this week against the 49ers.

Ted Ginn Jr. could be a sneaky play this week. The Vikings are going to roll the coverage to Mike Thomas and that could open up things for Ginn. And if you look at the game Willie Snead missed last year, Coby Fleener did great.

Sammy Watkins will be fine for the Rams, and I wouldn't be shocked if they take a few shots to him this week. I really like that Cooper Kupp, though. I don't want to get too worked up about the preseason, but this dude is legit.

Kendall Wright is going to be the most-targeted receiver for the Bears this year. I'm not saying you start him against the Falcons this week. Actually, I am if you're desperate.

Sterling Shepard is a pretty good start this week. He had more than 100 targets last year and I wouldn't be shocked if he had more this season. For the record, I felt this way before OBJ went down, too. Though that doesn't hurt now.

Image I got invited backstage to the NXT show here in L.A. (sick humblebrag, brah - Franchise) and it was amazing to meet guys like William Regal (who introduced himself as Darren which made me swoon). Everyone was super cool, but the biggest mark moment might have happened when Asuka walked past us. So glad she got promoted from NXT with her perfect record and can't wait for her to go to the main roster to put over Natalya.

I feel like the Titans upset the Raiders this week and this AFC race (behind the Patriots) is about to get Lit!

Dak Prescott had 112.7 passer rating with Ezekiel Elliott on the field. And 92.6 without him. But I'm not starting him this week against the Giants.

Jared Goff is going to be much better this year. Much better. But despite needing a streaming QB all over the place this week, I didn't add him once. The matchup is great, but ... I'm out.

Matthew Stafford is one of my favorite players to watch. But while his season totals always look great, it's pretty tough to live through week-to-week.

Tyrod Taylor is another one of my favorite players. But he's been injured and the Jets finished 11th in total defense in 2016. This matchup isn't as one-sided as it seems.

Philip Rivers has struggled against the Broncos. He's thrown for more than 280 yards just twice in 23 career games against Denver, who allowed the second-fewest points to QBs in 2016.

Image Wait, who is that one jerk on "Bachelor in Paradise?" See, you knew I was talking about Dean without even having to say his name (and jerk casts a wide net at times). I'm now in my second "wheel" Bachelor Nation (seriously, nation? There's just one nation, Raider Nation. THINK OF SOMETHING ELSE POSERS). I don't think I've grown to dislike anybody more than Dean. Mostly because Kristina was one of my favorites. But he's a definition of a (expletive) boy and I hope it ends badly for him. And I think I care about this a little too much now.

Image I also have no idea for who this Arie Luyendyk Jr. is. He's the new Bachelor BTW. But I'm already a fan because it's not Dean. Wells would have been the much better choice, obviously. But we can't have everything.

I didn't draft Melvin Gordon at all this year. I don't think he's zero-TD bad; not sure he's 12-TD good, either. But he thrived when I dogged him here last year. So you're welcome.

Adrian Peterson is the sixth NFL running back to face his old team after he previously rushed for more than 10,000 for that club. Which is cool, but I'm not starting him.

I love Paul Perkins as a player. I'm just not sure the Giants are going to be committed to the run, nor have the offensive line even if they wanted to.

I really want to see if LeGarrette Blount is motivated to play for the Eagles after he rushed for just 36 yards in the preseason. Wendell Smallwood lurks in the background.

The Lions don't get enough discredit for having the most confusing backfield ever. I want to love Ameer Abdullah. The Lions just won't let me. Why won't you let me love you!?

Image I've been pretty disappointed with Big Brother this season. I think when you get me to root for Cody and Jessica, then something has gone wrong. I really don't like the idea of dropping veterans in the house. Because the new cast is instantly going to fanboy over him/her. And that's what happened with Paul. And then you gave him a special power where he couldn't be eliminated in the first three weeks and it became kind of a joke. Although, that being said, he's the only guy I would give the money to at this point. At least he's playing Big Brother. Everybody is afraid to make moves. Christmas and Josh need to get Paul out next week.

Watching Allen Robinson tumble in fantasy drafts broke my heart. He went pick 80 in one league. EIGHTY! And I was just about to nab him as well. He rebounds, but not this week.

Michael Thomas is a great receiver. One of the best talents in the game. But the last Saints WR to get 130 targets was Marques Colston back in 2012. We saw Thomas' ceiling last year. And he's going to draw all of the tough corners.

T.Y. Hilton could struggle without Andrew Luck at quarterback. He'll still be fine. But it really filters down to dudes like Donte Moncrief. But stash DM for later. Yes, let him slide into your lineups later. Later in the season. I'll show myself out.

The Bears are going to shutdown Julio Jones! Sorry, it's Week 1. At least allow me to harbor some optimism for the team.

Brandon Marshall seems like a nice person and he was one of my favorite Bears. But his time with the Giants seems like a nostalgia run you see in wrestling. Like when Rob Van Dam shows up for a few weeks to put some dudes over.

ImageI really kind of like Jinder Mahal. But I don't get the WWE's fascination with making heels look as cowardly as possible. It's okay for the bad guys to just be good at wrestling. Like part of the reason the Patriots are so hated is because they are so good. You want to see them loose. And when the Giants knocked them off a few years ago, it was meaningful because the team is great.

Image Have you signed up for my Survivor League? Oh man, you've got to do it. It's fun. The winner gets into one of my leagues next year. Here's the link. Make your pick.

Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @adamrank.

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