Fantasy Football: Michael Crabtree a no-brainer fantasy start

Daniel Gluskoter/Icon Sportswire

Finally, the time has come. Fantasy football players can stop puzzling over who to draft and start puzzling over something more meaningful. Some are considering trades to shore up weak spots or waiver claims to steal before they become household names. Some are trying to figure out just what to make of the Ravens’ backfield. Perhaps most importantly, fantasy owners are trying to figure out who to start in Week 1.

Of course there’s always no-brainer starts like Antonio Brown and Cam Newton, but especially at this point in the season when injuries and bye weeks have not yet wreaked havoc, it can be tough to decide who fills out your lineup.

One player you can plug into your flex or third receiver spot and get top-notch production out of is Oakland Raiders’ wide receiver Michael Crabtree.

Crabtree’s 2015 successes were well-noted. His move to Oakland put him in the most potent passing offense he’s ever played in and led him to a career season. Crabtree’s 85 receptions, 922 yards and nine touchdowns were the first (tied), second and first (tied) highest totals of his seven-year career, respectively. The 28-year-old proved to be a valuable fantasy asset and, considering he’s had another year to build on his chemistry with quarterback Derek Carr — he looks poised for another strong season.

Oakland’s first opponent – the New Orleans Saints – give Crabtree a great chance to get his season started off on the right foot. The Saints were second-to-last in passing defense last season, allowing 4,544 yards and an astonishing 45 touchdowns. The latter mark is actually a league record.

New Orleans returns much of the same defensive personnel it relied last season, especially in the secondary, and so it’s hard to see the Saints making a major leap. The fact that New Orleans got absolutely torched by Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers in its third preseason game, when both teams typically play their starters the longest, seems to back that up.

Of course, New Orleans still boasts a high-powered offense and so this game has the makings of an entertaining one. The Raiders added some promising defenders to their own patchwork secondary in hopes of improving on their 26th-ranked passing defense. Still, Oakland’s new defenders will need time to work and gel together and, so, this game seems much more likely to be an offensive fireworks display.

Crabtree figures to see ample work against New Orleans’ sub-par secondary and, in turn, looks like a home run flex option to help you win your own opener. For DFS purposes, he could also help win you some money.

On DraftKings right now, Crabtree could be had for $5,500 imaginary dollars. That puts him in a tier with the likes of Allen Hurns, Kelvin Benjamin, DeVante Parker and Kevin White. This comes in spite of the fact that each have worse, and sometimes downright unappealing, matchups and some enter their openers with serious question marks.

Granted, Crabtree won’t be a home run play every week. And he’s not without concerns of his own.

He’s still fighting a diva label slapped on him early in his career and some fear his nice new contract (four years, $34 million) might make him lethargic. Nonetheless, even the most lackadaisical football players get amped up for their season opener and Crabtree’s is setting up nicely for the young man to prove why he deserves all that money.

He’s an easy start this week if you’re looking for big-time production out of a wide receiver of flex.

Fantasy Football: Michael Crabtree a no-brainer fantasy start

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