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Predicting studs and duds for NFL Week 1

Rachel Wold
Von Miller
Jan 17, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) runs with a recovered fumble during the fourth quarter in a AFC Divisional round playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season is finally here! This year kicks off at Gillette Stadium when the Super Bowl 51 champions host the Kansas City Chiefs. Each of these two teams sadly lost a star player during the preseason. Who will step up in their places?

This question leads us to discuss players who will either shine or flounder in the first week of action. An exciting slate of games awaits. Just as there will be players that knock it out of the park, there will be others who disappoint in a major way in Week 1.

Based on matchups and previous performances against their opponents, we predict the following studs and duds to emerge in Week 1.

Stud: Carson Palmer, quarterback, Arizona Cardinals

For starters, Palmer is fresh and has not been beat up yet. The 38-year-old quarterback will square off against a Detroit Lions passing defense that gave up a ridiculous 33 passing touchdowns last year. Palmer should not find it too difficult to hit up Larry Fitzgerald, David Johnson and Co., who will be primed for some red-hot scoring opportunities. Get your popcorn ready.

Dud: Kareen Hunt, running back, Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs have big plans for Hunt this season. But fans of the Toledo stud running back may want to temper expectations. Hunt will kick off his NFL debut against New England in Patriot territory. Talk about rookie jitters. The Pats defense was third-best against the run in 2016. This time around, quarterback Alex Smith is going to have to air it out to keep up with a high-flying New England offense led by Tom Brady.

Stud: Joe Haden, cornerback, Pittsburgh Steelers

What is not to love about this reunion? Haden is now with a contender and heading back to his former home to terrorize the Cleveland Browns. We’ll be watching closely to see Haden attempt to intercept a rookie quarterback. Cleveland plans to ride and die with DeShone Kizer, who is bound to feel the heat in Week 1. The two-time Pro Bowl corner is primed for a field day.

Dud: Adrian Peterson, running back, New Orleans Saints

Adrian Peterson looks to rebuild his career with the Saints.

Talk about reunions. In Week 1, Peterson returns to his former digs of 10 years, this time wearing black and gold and likely a chip on his shoulder. But, he won’t be met kindly by a Vikings defense that surrendered only nine rushing touchdowns last season. The 32-year-old running back will also share touches with Mark Ingram. Those who are anxious to roll the dice with Peterson in fantasy football need to be patient.

Stud: Von Miller, linebacker, Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos have their first of two seasonal meetings against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 1. It won’t take too long once the clock kicks off for Miller to appear in mid-season form. Odds are Miller makes life rough on quarterback Philip Rivers, who has been sacked 57 total times by the Broncos in his career. Miller should be up for a big night pressuring the heck out of the veteran quarterback.

Dud: Ty Montgomery, running back, Green Bay Packers

The Packers are rolling with Montgomery, who fully transitioned from receiver to running back. Week 1 will prove to be a brutal place to start against the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle gave up only 11 rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs and allowed just 3.4 yards per attempt per average last year. Lambeau Field in Week 1 won’t be an ideal setting for Montgomery to put his pedal to the medal and show off.

Stud: Todd Gurley, running back, Los Angeles Rams

Gurley and the Rams host an Indianapolis Colts defense that already looks defeated. The Colts are struggling at all levels, which is the perfect opportunity for Gurley to attack. Indianapolis allowed and average of 120.4 rushing yards at 4.7 yards per carry last year and look to be just as bad based on their preseason. If Gurley cannot take advantage here with a star performance, then something has gone awry.

Dud: Mike Wallace, wide receiver, Baltimore Ravens

Now the top-dog receiver in Baltimore, Wallace hits the field hopefully with quarterback Joe Flacco 100 percent healthy. But, beware. Wallace as a tough matchup with a Cincinnati Bengals defense that ceded only 12 wide receiver touchdowns in 2016. The Bengals also held opposing wideouts to an average of just 135 yards per game. Wallace will need to bust out with one or two big plays downfield to prove us wrong.

Stud: J.J. Watt, defensive end, Houston Texans

The 28-year-old defensive end should have a monster performance when the Texans host the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1. The sack master will be primed to feast on roasted Jaguar as he attempts to take down quarterback Blake Bortles. In Watt’s six-year career, 14.5 of his total 76 sacks have come against the Jags. Bortles was sacked 34 times last year. We predict a win for Watt here.

Dud: Paul Perkins, running back, New York Giants

The Giants are trying to establish a more efficient run game. But Week 1 is not the game that Perkins suddenly breaks out. The second-year running back has a terribly challenging meeting at the home of the Dallas Cowboys. Last year, the Cowboys gave up just seven rushing touchdowns and 72.4 rushing yards per game on average to opposing running backs. This is a sign of doom for Perkins.

Stud: Jalen Ramsey, cornerback Jacksonville Jaguars

The second-year cornerback should be off to a rousing start in 2017. He faces Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage, who has been far from stellar throughout his career. We will have to assume that Ramsey will cover wideout DeAndre Hopkins. This might be enough to keep the Texans signal caller from throwing much Hopkins’ way. If anything, Ramsey stands to gain his first pick of the year.

Dud: Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers finally have their No. 1 wideout back in action. But can Allen deliver the goods against the Broncos? Denver’s defensive backs should be suffocating Allen in coverage while Rivers looks elsewhere for open receivers. Also keep in mind, Allen’s career catch rate against the Broncos is just 58.1 percent. It might be a long and quiet evening for Allen.

Stud: Vic Beasley, linebacker, Atlanta Falcons

Beasley led the NFL with 15.5 sacks in 2016. He stands to kick things off in the right direction when the team hits the road to play the Chicago Bears. The third-year linebacker should be salivating over the devastation he can cause quarterback Mike Glennon and Co. This is a quarterback who has 18 official starts on record. Glennon is bound to become a victim of Beasley’s in one form or another.

Dud: Marshawn Lynch, running back, Oakland Raiders

We would like to hype up Lynch with his new team right out of the gate. Unfortunately, Beast Mode faces off down south against a vicious Tennessee Titans run defense. The Titans were second-best in defending the run last year. Plus, they gave up only six running back rushing touchdowns. Perhaps Lynch can score through the air so his story ends better in Week 1.

Stud: Le’Veon Bell, running back, Pittsburgh Steelers

It is difficult not to classify Bell as a stud in any given week. However, in Week 1 he gets to chew his way through the Cleveland Browns defense, which ranked 31st last year. This is a fantasy football matchup made in heaven. The Browns allowed 4.6 yards on average per carry in 2016. Even though they look much better this year, Bell has averaged 139.4 career-total yards per game against Cleveland in his career and averaged 157 per game last year. He is primed for a massive game.

Dud: Dak Prescott, quarterback, Dallas Cowboys

Say what? Prescott’s worst performances in his rookie year came against the New York Giants. Of his four total interceptions thrown, two were against the G-men. And, Prescott averaged just 4.78 yards per pass. His overall quarterback rating against the Giants stands at 58.6. Perhaps, he will shed this funk and look like a rock star in Week 1. But if history repeats, Prescott stands to deliver a dud performance against the men in blue.

Stud: Christian McCaffrey, running back, Carolina Panthers

This is bold, but we love McCaffrey’s road matchup against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1. The 49ers are a run defense that gave up 165.9 average yards per game and 25 total touchdowns on the season. The 49ers have attempted to remedy the holes, but McCaffrey is going to push the box. He stands to take it home on a long-yardage touchdown. Bye-bye defenders.

Dud: Ameer Abdullah, running back, Detroit Lions

Nobody needs to revive his career with the Lions more than Abdullah. Week 1 sadly stands to challenge Abdullah’s skills. He faces an Arizona Cardinals defense that ceded just 69.2 rushing yards per contest to opposing running backs last year at a pace of 3.6 yards per attempt. Abdullah has his work cut out to defy his odds in Week 1.

Stud: Richard Sherman, cornerback, Seattle Seahawks

Sherman has a tasty Week 1 tilt against a quarterback who has in the past been nervous to throw his direction. Yes. Sherman squares off against stud Aaron Rodgers to reignite his intimidation techniques. Rodgers’ philosophy is to be “aware, not scared” of Sherman. He is bound to rattle Rodgers and could easily neutralize whichever Packers receiver he is covering.

Dud: Kirk Cousins, quarterback, Washington Redskins

Cousins had a raw preseason, and his woes could spill into Week 1. Washington hosts the Philadelphia Eagles, whose defense forced 26 takeaways last season. Philly’s defense could certainly create some havoc for poor Cousins, who is without last season’s two best receivers. Typically, Cousins performs better than average against Philadelphia. As of now, he and his young cast of receivers are still trying to get on the same page.