Week 1 tends to sometimes be a little easier as far as lineup decisions because most teams are healthy and ready to roll. Still, there’s plenty of Fantasy Football Start and Sit decisions to be made!
Every week brings a whole new set of Fantasy Football Start and Sit decisions and Week 1 is no different. There are some matchups that look a little scary and there are injury concerns and generally just what we deal with every single week during the year. I had a couple of requests for players on Twitter, which we’ll get to here shortly. That goes for the whole season though. If there’s a decision you’re having issues with, tweet me @bucn4life and we can feature them here or I can answer any time during the week. Additionally, this is not going to be a “Start Antonio Brown” article. There are instances when we’ll touch on the studs(like a certain receiver this week) but the main focus is going to be on the players that are a real question this week. Let’s see what’s on tap!
Fantasy Football Quarterback – Starts
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts
It’s Week 1 and we have all 32 quarterbacks at our disposal and I still fully endorse starting Dalton, potentially even in 1QB leagues. The Colts finished tied with the Patriots allowing 5.7 yards per play last year and only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers allowed more yards per play. The Colts allowed 64 passing plays of 20+ yards which was the highest amount in football and they also allowed 11 of 40 yards or more.
This is a defense that can be had through the air and Dalton has A.J. Green who is one of the premier receivers in the league. He also has John Ross, who’s game is best suited as a deep threat. Even tight end Tyler Eifert is healthy right now and both Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard have receiving skills from the backfield. The Red Rocket should finish as a top 12 quarterback this week.
Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams at Oakland Raiders
The Raiders could very well lay an egg in this game after the past few days they’ve had. Their coach basically said they can’t compete when they traded Khalil Mack and I can’t imagine that went over too well in the locker room. Even when they had Mack last year, the Raiders finished 26th in passing yards allowed, only had five(!) interceptions, allowed a 101.8 passer rating(third worst in the league) and finished in the top 12 in explosive pass plays allowed.
Also, if you take away the 10.5 sacks that Mack had, that only leaves 20.5 for the rest of the Raiders defense from last year. The Rams added receiver Brandin Cooks as a replacement for Sammy Watkins and Cooks had the advantage of working with the offense for the entire preseason. Goff should be in line for a big game and it’s always a little fun to have a player going in the last game of the week.
Fantasy Football Quarterback Sits
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers
I did sort of touch on it in my DFS Game by Game Breakdown but I don’t think you can start Mahomes this week. I love his potential this season but going on the road against a good defense seems like it could end poorly. The Chargers finished tied for fifth in sacks last year and it’s not a surprise when your pass rush is spear-headed by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Those two combined for 23 sacks last year and they work perfectly with corner Casey Heyward and the rest of the Chargers secondary. Only three teams allowed a lower passer rating than the Chargers last season(Minnesota, Baltimore and Jacksonville) and were also one of only five teams to have more interceptions than touchdowns allowed. This one is a little scary because I expect the Chiefs to be behind on the scoreboard in this game but I think Mahomes is around QB15 or so in this spot.
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings
This is another repeat but I’m driving home the point that Jimmy G is a dangerous start this week. Also like Mahomes, I love Garoppolo from the full season perspective but this matchup is very difficult. The only two teams that gave up fewer points to quarterbacks last year was Baltimore and Jacksonville and Garoppolo did just lose Jerick McKinnon for the season, which hurts the passing game. The Vikings added to their defense in a major way this offseason and they were also one of the teams that had more interceptions than touchdowns allowed. The Vikings allowed the fewest points in football and also finished second to only Jacksonville in passing yards allowed per game. Garoppolo would be on my bench this week.
Fantasy Football Running Back Starts
Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings vs San Francisco 49ers
I’m typically going to fall into the “Start your Studs” category and from the limited sample size we have, Cook is a stud running back. He was third in rushing at the time of his ACL tear but he seems back at full strength. However, I can’t blame people for being a little nervous here because there have been reports of a split of some type between Cook and Latavius Murray.
The biggest question is how the split will work but the tough part is we don’t know how its going to shake out and we might not until the game is going on. The 49ers were in the bottom 10 against running backs last year and I’m not going to play Cook in DFS, I will absolutely play him in seasonal and he should get plenty of work in a good matchup. I’d feel worse seeing him go off on my bench after spending a high pick on him than a mediocre game in my lineup. Even if he gets closer to 60 percent of the work, he’s still worth starting every week.
Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots vs Houston Texans
As long as Burkhead is in uniform and ready to roll, he’s going to be in my lineup. The Patriots are part of the game that boasts the highest over/under according to Vegas and while I fully expect James White to have a productive game, Burkhead sure seems like he’s the red zone back. Last year, Dion Lewis and Mike Gillislee combined for 73.8 percent of all red zone carries. Lewis is in Tennessee and Gillislee just signed in New Orleans so there is a massive workload available from last year.
It would be unwise to totally ignore White as he did receive about 17 percent of carries and 15.8 percent of opportunities but Burkhead only played in 10 games last year. He was on pace to be in the top 12 in red zone touches among all NFL players. There should be plenty of scoring to go around in this one so I will happily roll out Burkhead and plan to just about everywhere I have him.
Running Back Sits
Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Raiders vs Los Angeles Chargers
This one hurts me in some type of way and I still love me some Beast Mode but this isn’t the game you want to play him. I don’t think the Raiders can keep this matchup close due to a variety of factors. When the Raiders were underdogs between 1-7 points in 2017, Lynch averaged right around six fewer carries, 15 fewer yards and half a touchdown less than any other game.
Basically, he needs the script to be right because he doesn’t bring much in the passing game. Lynch only has 33 receptions in his past two active seasons so if the Rams get their high-powered offense going, it’s hard to see how Lynch stays involved in the game. I would not be surprised if Lynch wasn’t a top 25 back this week.
Adrian Peterson, Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals
Another veteran who’s got a tough road ahead of him, Peterson appears to be the main running back in Washington. They didn’t pull him off the street to not carry the ball a whole lot in this offense and there are going to be weeks that Peterson might be a very solid start. The Cards were one of the best teams in football against running backs in 2017, allowing the sixth fewest rushing yards and Peterson certainly falls under the category of a limited running back at this stage of his career with just 22 receptions last year. This game should stay closer than the Rams and Raiders matchup, but it’s hard to see a lot of upside for Peterson. You’d have to hope he falls into the end zone to make it worth a start.
Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Starts
Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants vs Jacksonville Jaguars
I get it. You spent a top 12 pick on one of the best receivers in the game, and you’re all excited and then you remember the schedule and you realize that OBJ draws the vaunted Jacksonville defense right out of the gate. Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye are probably still the best 1-2 cornerback duo in football(although Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters could challenge that this year) and you have a little bit of fear that Beckham might have a pretty sub-par game.
While that outcome is certainly on the table, you can’t leave Beckham on the bench this week. It only takes one play to make a week and even the best corners can get toasted by one of the best receivers on one play. This is a spot where you know that there’s risk, so maybe you play some of your “safer” players with Beckham. For instance, if you’re deciding between someone like Will Fuller or Cooper Kupp, you lean Kupp because there’s a safer floor of receptions and possibly a touchdown. Don’t bench your first round pick in Week 1, even in a terrible matchup.
Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos vs Seattle Seahawks
Don’t let the reputation of Seattle and the fact that Sanders had a rough season last year stop you in this matchup. Seattle was generous to the wide receiver as it was a little above mid-pack in points allowed. Sanders is now fully healthy off an ankle injury and regardless of what you think of quarterback Case Keenum, he’s better than the circus that was the Broncos quarterbacks last year.
Even through his struggles last year, Sanders saw over 21 percent of the team’s targeted air yards and then 17.8 percent of the team’s share of red zone targets. That percentage would have been right at the number Demaryius Thomas posted(25.4 percent) had Sanders played the same amount of games. Last but not least, Sanders saw over 43 percent of the targets from Keenum this preseason. I think Sanders should comfortably have five receptions for around 60 yards and the ceiling is much higher.
Also Start – Cooper Kupp – Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders, Kenny Stills – Miami Dolphins vs Tennessee Titans, Will Fuller – Houston Texans at New England Patriots
Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Sits
Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos
Full disclosure, this is the pick in this article that has the best chance for making me look very dumb come Sunday night. However, I’m going to stick to my guns here and follow what the stats tell me. Last season, Baldwin ran over 70 percent of his routes from the slot. That just happens to be where Chris Harris Jr. lines up at the most and while that may shift a little with the departure of Aqib Talib, I think Harris will guard Baldwin a lot in this game. That would be bad news for Baldwin if the stats hold up for Harris.
This is on top of the Broncos defense ranking as one of the worst matchups for receivers in general and Baldwin already fighting through a knee injury. There are concerns all over the board and Baldwin has the talent to come through in any matchup, but I don’t think I’m starting him where I do have him this week. It feels weird to not want to play him, but there are a lot of factors working against him, including his own offensive coordinator having an awful track record of fantasy success.
Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns vs Pittsburgh Steelers
This gives me some itchiness because I think the Browns are going to put up points and Gordon is 100 percent healthy from his hamstring injury and is supremely talented. Here’s the issue – his own coach is saying Gordon is on a pitch count and we have no idea what that means.
The Steelers defense was giving up yards and points by the boatload last year after losing Ryan Shazier so Gordon has all the potential in the world to come through even in very limited action. I would just rather not have to rely on a touchdown when I have no idea how many snaps he’s in line for. What if it’s 20? That’s really not what I expect but it’s in the range of outcomes. I’m excited to see Gordon healthy and on the field(maybe less so this week as a Steelers fan) but I want to see how things play out this week before going full-bore with Gordon.
Fantasy Football Tight End Starts
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts
Not only did the Colts finish in the bottom eight against the position last year, Eifert will be one of the primary red zone weapons when he’s on the field. If you combine the one target he had last year and what Tyler Kroft had in his absence, they would account for over 21 percent of the target share in the Bengals offense. Now factor in Eifert is better than Kroft which could mean more targets in general and the fact the Bengals are talking about playing more up-tempo after finishing dead last in plays run from scrimmage last year and you have a solid start.
Now you add in all the stats we talked about earlier with the Colts defense and Eifert has a chance at a multiple touchdown day. The yards might not be very high but the touchdown equity is and that’s what you want in a tight end every week if you don’t have one of the more reliable ones.
Tight End Sits
I’ll be honest, I’m having a hard time recommending any tight end that would have been drafted as a starter as a “sit” this week. You’re pretty much never going to sit one of Rob Gronkowski, Zach Ertz or Travis Kelce, even though by the numbers all three have a matchup in the bottom 12. It’s still not enough to scare you off.
The mid-range class of tight ends looks pretty solid and while they all won’t hit for big points, they’re not really a sit either. So if you’re struggling with a specific issue, let me know and I’ll be happy to help. Past that, tight end actually looks like it’s in good shape for this week.
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