Injuries always play a factor in fantasy football, but it's those nagging injuries carrying over from the preseason that are most confusing. It's never really clear if a previously injured player will be ready for the first week of the regular season. If you drafted a receiver who might be out this weekend, or perhaps you haven't yet completed your draft and are looking for some early value, he's some wide receivers worth taking a look at.
Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins
Hartline is probably the least-respected 1,000-yard receiver in the league when it comes to fantasy football. He broke out with 74 receptions and 1,083 yards catching passes from rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill last season. This year, he'll be the No. 2 guy behind Mike Wallace, but that doesn't mean he'll be shut out completely.
For one, Tannehill will be more comfortable throwing to Hartline, at least initially. He should be his favorite option out of the gate, which is important for Week 1. On top of that, the Dolphins are taking on the Cleveland Browns, who have some issues on both sides of the ball. While the Browns won't have as much turmoil in the secondary as they did last season, the fact that they allowed 217 receptions for 2,708 yards and 21 touchdowns to wide receivers last season (according to FFToday.com) only bodes well for guys like Hartline.
Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins
Washington signed a bunch of wide receivers in hopes of fixing the position last season, but it didn't work out so well. Garcon ended up playing in just 10 games, yet he still led the bunch, with 44 receptions for 633 yards and four touchdowns in his first season with the Redskins. Garcon still has injury concerns, but for now, he's healthy, and that means he'll be the No. 1 target in Washington.
Robert Griffin III might not run as much as expected in the first regular season game, and Garcon could be the primary beneficiary of his increased passing. On top of that, the Redskins are playing the Philadelphia Eagles, who have been unable to fix their secondary problems for multiple seasons now. Last season, Philadelphia gave up 160 receptions for 2,417 yards and 23 touchdowns to wide receivers. Garcon should have a big day.
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Vincent Brown, San Diego Chargers
Hear me out on this one. The Chargers absolutely need to come out throwing the ball, and Philip Rivers needs to impress early. With Danario Alexander and Malcom Floyd injured, the Chargers don't have many options. To be clear, Brown is the guy out of necessity, not because he's the best receiver on the team.
But Brown has been a solid receiver in the past, and many have liked his potential for years. Injuries have consistently gotten in the way of that potential, to be sure, but if you're looking for a guy to watch for in Week 1, then Brown is your guy. Couple that with the fact that the Houston Texans allowed 2,672 yards and 17 touchdowns to wide receivers last season, and he could be a smart option.
Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys
Miles Austin broke out big time a couple seasons ago, but injuries have kept him on the sidelines more often than naught. He's since gave way to Dez Bryant in Dallas, but he's healthy, got a decent amount of preseason time in, and is expected to be the No. 2 guy. The Cowboys will come out throwing the ball, and if Austin can stay healthy, then he should represent really solid fantasy value. Getting your value out him early is your best opportunity, and against the New York Giants, that's a smart bet. They allowed 177 receptions for 2,734 yards and 21 touchdowns to wide receivers last season.