Here are locks, sleepers and busts at the three key positions for Week 1 of the fantasy football season


Lock: Marcus Mariota, Titans. We’re expecting big things from Mariota this season – like top five QB big – and it starts here in Week 1. He’s been excellent at home through his first two seasons and must be licking his chops as Oakland’s poor pass defense comes to town.

Sleeper: Tyrod Taylor, Bills. Taylor has cleared concussion protocol and should light it up against the Jets, who figure to have one of the worst defenses in the league.

Bust: Philip Rivers, Chargers. We have Rivers on two of our fantasy rosters, but we’re not running him out there on the road against Broncos and their stellar defense. This game figures to be a slugfest, so don’t expect great fantasy production from the Chargers’ passing game.

Running backs

Lock: Jordan Howard, Bears. Howard racked up 1,313 rushing yards, averaged 5.2 yards per carry and scored seven times as a rookie, and there’s no reason to think he’s about to slow down in his sophomore campaign. His season opens at home against the Falcons, who must be hungover from their devastating defeat in the Super Bowl and who allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to running backs last year.

Sleeper: Dalvin Cook, Vikings. If you’re hesitant to pull the trigger on this rookie because Latavius Murray is also on the Minnesota roster, don’t be. Cook goes into the season as the Vikes’ featured back and should get off to a fine start at home against a porous Saints run defense.

Bust: Frank Gore, Colts. Gore goes into L.A. to face the Rams without QB Andrew Luck and with a banged-up offensive line. That’s a tall order for an aging running back.

Wide receivers

Lock: Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers. After his disappointing second season, we loved what we saw out of Benjamin this preseason. He’s fully recovered from the knee surgery he had in 2015, and we expect him emerge as a fantasy stud this season, beginning Sunday at San Francisco.

Sleeper: Zay Jones, Bills. Jones caught 399 passes during his college career at East Carolina and 158 passes in his senior year, both NCAA records. Expect Taylor to look for him early and often against the woeful Jets.

Bust: Dez Bryant, Cowboys. Bryant caught exactly one pass in each of Dallas’ two games against the Giants last season. We don’t anticipate getting much from him Sunday night.

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